How Often Should You Seal A Wood Deck?

Tom Gaffey
by Tom Gaffey

Wood decks are an amazing haven for homeowners. They provide a taste of the outdoors without even having to leave your property. They are great for outdoor gatherings, and when you list your property for sale they are a real selling point to most buyers. For these reasons, it is critical you maintain your wood deck as diligently as you can in order to help it last as long as possible.

You should seal your wood deck every 1 to 3 years. If you wait longer than three years your wood deck may begin to warp, crack and even rot. You can check if your sealant is still strong by pouring water on areas of your deck to see if the water beads up or soaks into the wood. Certain climates may require you to seal your deck more frequently.

Deck sealants provide more than simply a cosmetic finish. Sure, they make your wood deck look great, but they also keep them strong. Wood deck sealants help to provide essential barriers that protect your outdoor wood from harmful UV rays, water damage, and other outdoor elements that can harm your wood deck. The best way to know if it is time to reseal your deck is to check your deck and check your calendar.

When Is It Time To Reseal My Deck?

Most deck professionals say you should do your best to seal your wood deck once a year. While this might seem like a bit much, the suggestion is not without its reasons. Wood decks are susceptible to all of nature’s elements. Several of these elements, which will be detailed in this article, are quite harmful to your wood.

When you reseal your deck each year you are ensuring a fresh barrier between harmful elements and the wood. There are some sealants that market themselves as lasting several years. Still, it is best practice not to wait more than three years between sealing. Consider how much it costs to seal your deck versus how much it costs to install a new one.

Create The Habit of Sealing Your Deck Each Year

If you can get in the habit of sealing your deck annually, it may feel like less of a headache. Many homeowners use a pleasant and dry week in spring to perform this task. The mild temperatures are great for this type of work. Also, winter can be quite tough on decks, so repairing and sealing them before the sun and moisture can do damage is critical.

Check Your Sealant Or Stain Label

There might be guidelines as to how often you should reseal your wood deck, but not all sealants are the same. Some sealants provide mild protection from things like UV damage and water damage. Other sealants are specifically designed to repel moisture and block light for significant periods of time.

The best way to know how long your specific sealant should be reapplied is to simply check the label. Keep in mind, however, there are several factors that can break down your sealant quicker than the label advertises. You might want to test how effective your sealant is periodically.

Do A Quick Deck Seal Test

A quick and easy way to know if it might be time to reseal your deck is to do a quick deck seal test. Take small amounts of water and apply them in different areas of the deck. If the water beads up on top of the wood, the seal is still working.

If however, you pour water on your deck and you notice it partially or completely sinks in, ten your deck seal needs to be replaced right away. It is important to test the seal in all areas of your deck, especially corners and areas most exposed to the elements. Your deck seal is only as strong as its weakest area.

Signs Your Deck Needs To Be Resealed ASAP

Normal wear and tear happens, and sticking to a sealing schedule is ideal. But it is also important to inspect your deck regularly, as there are certain signs you may notice in your wood that may require you to act quickly.

  • Splintering. This can be caused by water damage or sun damage. Treat this issue sooner than later, as the worse splintering gets the more sanding and repair work you will have to do before you seal your deck.
  • Cracking. Cracking is a sign that nature’s elements or rot is weakening the wood. Address this immediately, as cracking can leave the inside of your wood boards vulnerable. 
  • Rotting. Once you notice wood rot you should remove and replace the area right away. Do not seal over rotted wood, as it will likely spread from within. 
  • Warping. Warping is a sign that your wood deck is not receiving the attention it needs. Early signs of warping can be sanded and improved, but as the problem persists, you may need to start replacing the wood itself.

Reasons You May Need To Seal Your Wood Deck More Frequently

Deck Furniture

Deck furniture can take a toll on your wood deck. This is especially true with metal or any other heavy types of furniture. Furniture can scrape and scuff the wood deck, which essentially breaks apart and removes the seal.

When this happens certain parts of your deck are vulnerable to water and sun damage, and even rot. Be careful when selecting and using deck furniture. If you use it frequently, you should likely re-seal your deck annually.

Sun Exposure

If you live in an area that has a high UV index and your deck is completely exposed to the sun, its seal will deteriorate quicker. While there are sealants that protect against UV damage, constant exposure and high UV exposure can break your sealant down faster than normal.

Rain And Snow

Rain, snow, and ice can wreak havoc on wood decks. If you live in an area with harsh winters or lots of rain, it is important you stay diligent in maintaining your deck. Make sure there are no areas on your deck where water can collect for long periods of time.

Salty And Moist Air

If you live in a humid or salty climate your wood is much more vulnerable than those in ild and dry climates. Wet and salty areas can cut down a seal’s effectiveness significantly. Be sure you check your wood often, and possibly adjust your sealing schedule.

Ask A Local Professional

It is always a good idea to ask a local professional how often you should seal your wood deck. The pro will likely point you in the direction of the best sealant for your area. Since he or she knows your climate, the product they recommend can go a long way in helping to best preserve your wood deck.

Summing Up When To Seal Your Deck

You should never wait longer than 3 years to seal your deck. Ideally, you should set up an annual cleaning and sealing schedule. This will help ensure that your deck lasts as long as possible.

If you are uncertain as to whether or not your deck needs to be resealed, simply perform a seal test by pouring water on the deck. Remember that heavy deck furniture, harsh climates, and moist or salty air can all impact how often you need to seal your deck.

Tom Gaffey
Tom Gaffey

Tom Gaffey is an expert writer who currently resides in Washington D.C. Tom has a passion for real estate and home improvement writing, as well as travel and lifestyle writing. He lived the last twelve years in Hawaii where he worked closely with luxury resorts and event planners, mastering his knowledge of aesthetics and luxury products. This is where he found his passion for home improvement and a keen interest in DIY projects. Currently, Tom resides in Washington D.C, and also working on his debut fiction novel.

More by Tom Gaffey