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Your home’s deck can be an excellent place to relax with family and friends on a warm day, but temperature fluctuations and sunlight can cause damage over time. Sealing the deck can provide a shield to help it stand up to the elements.

How Changing Weather Can Affect Your Deck
As the temperature rises and falls, wood expands and contracts. Water from rain or melted snow can seep into wood fibers. Then, when the temperature drops, that water can freeze and expand, which can damage the wood. Sunlight causes wood to dry out and shrink, which can result in cracking and warping. Sunlight can also cause discoloration and break down wood fibers.

Sealer Can Protect Your Deck
A sealer can shield your deck from potential weather damage. A deck should be sealed every one to three years, depending on the weather in the region, the amount of sunlight the deck area gets in the warmer months, how often the deck is used and the type of sealer applied.

A sealer is designed to protect wood from moisture but usually doesn’t color the wood. A clear sealer won’t provide much protection from the sun, but it will allow you to maintain the deck’s natural color, if you like it. A clear sealer will probably need to be reapplied every year.

If you’re concerned about the effects of sunlight as well as moisture, you can use a combination stain/sealer. A semitransparent stain will add some color and some UV protection. Solid stain will almost completely conceal the wood’s grain. In that sense, it is similar to paint. Oil-based sealers penetrate deeper into wood, but water-based sealers are easier to clean.

How to Seal Your Deck
Before you seal the deck, read the sealer manufacturer’s instructions. Check the local weather forecast to make sure the temperature will be within the recommended range and there won’t be any rain for a few days after you seal the deck, since that could prevent it from drying completely. If you plan to apply sealer to your deck with a sprayer, make sure the wind will be calm on your chosen day.

Wet and cover plants with a tarp before you get started to protect them from chemicals. Thoroughly sweep the deck and clean it with an appropriate deck cleaner to remove dirt, stains, mold and mildew before you apply a sealer.

Invest the Time and Money to Seal Your Deck
A deck is a refuge for many families in the spring and summer, but constant exposure to changing weather can take a toll. Not properly caring for your deck could lead to permanent wood damage, which means you might have to pay thousands of dollars to replace it. Regularly sealing your deck may cost money and take some work, but it’s worth it in the long run.