Here’s how to treat and maintain your wood deck and balcony

Sep 5, 2019, 3:00 PM
(Shutterstock Photo)...
(Shutterstock Photo)
(Shutterstock Photo)

Wood balconies and decks take a beating in the desert sun and wet winters. A good cleaning might be all it needs to perk up. Because wood needs to breathe, it is not a good idea to seal exterior wood, though you do need to protect it from the elements.

There are some considerations before starting the project.

Determining what treatment works for your deck/balcony

“Redwood, teak, and pine will accept finishes better than others,” said master painter Don Brees, project manager for Rosie Right Remodeling. “Knowing the type of wood species and climate will dictate the type of coating to use.”

Cleaning your deck/balcony

Once those are determined, start perking up wood balconies and decks by scrubbing the deck on top and between boards to remove the grime that dulls a beautiful wood deck: dirt, fungi, moss, mildew and stains.

Use a stiff brush and a cleaner designed specifically for wood decks. Avoid chlorine bleach, which can drain the color out of your wood. Okon makes a good wood cleaner that can remove stains and rust spots. Skip the pressure washer; it can cause your wood deck to splinter and erode. Or, use a big electric sander and smooth the boards back out before sealing it with a water-repellent finish. Always sand in the direction of the grain.

If your deck has been stained and the stain is flaking off, you might need to strip it. Stain and finish removers formulated for wood easily and quickly remove oil or latex stains, including clear stains.

Treating your wooden deck/balcony

Next, apply a penetrating oil stain to finish the wood and then apply CWF by The Flood Co. over the top. This will keep the wood in good condition, repel water and allow the wood to breathe. Do not let paint stores talk you into “similar” products. We have found that nothing works as well as CWF, which you can buy at your local coating supply store. This process is for exterior gates, vigas, beams, etc.

Brees does not recommend using anything that creates a film, such as varnishes or urethane. “When the wood flexes, it cracks and will create fractures that will peel off,” he said.

NOTE: This process does NOT apply to solid wood exterior doors. Exterior doors DO need to be sealed. Additional information on exterior doors can be found here.

Frequency of treatment

In Arizona, you’ll probably need to repeat this process once a year, even if the manufacturer of the finish says you can do it every few years. In Phoenix and Tucson, the heat and sun affect the finish quickly, and decks in northern Arizona that sit snow-covered in winter and closer to the sun in summer take a hard beating as well.

If you do not have a deck or balcony now and are considering adding one, we suggest building with Trex products and a pressure-treated floor joist. Trex is a wood-polymer lumber made from reclaimed plastic and wood waste that will age to closely resemble grayed cedar and will require little or no maintenance.

Whatever materials you use, you will want to spend more time out on the deck instead of in the bathroom picking splinters out of your feet.

Join Rosie on the House every Saturday morning from 7 to 11 a.m. on KTAR News 92.3 FM. If you’d like to send us questions or comments, email Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

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Here’s how to treat and maintain your wood deck and balcony