Is Painting and Staining Enough? Or is it Time for Deck Replacement?

calander Oct 19 , 2020 user-icon Nash Painting

Your outdoor deck is an extension of your home -- it’s where you host gatherings, relax after a long day, and enjoy an outdoor meal with friends and family. As such, you should take care of your deck like you would any other part of your home. Performing regular maintenance ensures that your deck looks its best and remains sturdy for years to come. Coating your deck with paint or stain is one such important maintenance task. However, even the highest quality coatings cannot completely prevent your deck from succumbing to the forces of nature and time. Eventually, you might find that parts of your deck are beyond saving. If the damage is widespread enough, it might be time to replace your deck entirely.

So, is painting and staining enough, or is it time for a deck replacement? Let’s explore this topic in detail so you can do what’s best for your deck and your home.

The Importance of Painting or Staining Your Deck

Understanding the purpose of deck paint and stain is a good place to start in this discussion. There’s no doubt that coating your deck with paint or stain enhances its appearance. Painting your deck allows you to introduce bold colors to its features and hide imperfections in the wood. Staining your deck lets you show off your wood’s natural beauty while adjusting its pigmentation and granting a glossy finish. Beyond these aesthetic implications, coating your deck is primarily meant to protect its surfaces from various sources of harm, such as sunlight, moisture, mold, and pests.

Just as deck stain and paint offer different visual outcomes, they provide different forms of protection for your deck. Simply put, paint rests on top of the deck’s wooden surfaces, providing a thick layer of protection that is difficult to penetrate, so long as the paint remains adherent. Stain, on the other hand, permeates the wood’s pores, essentially protecting the deck from the inside out -- moisture and other small particles struggle to enter the wood because the inherent stain is already occupying that space. Both stain and paint often offer ultraviolet (UV) protection as well, reflecting the sun’s rays away from the wood to prevent overheating and deterioration.

In short, both paint and stain serve aesthetic and protective functions for your deck, just in different ways. Both options are viable, but one might be more preferable than the other depending on your personal tastes, budget, and how much time you’re willing to allocate to maintenance tasks.

Deck Maintenance Goes Beyond Coating Surfaces

While applying deck paint or stain to your deck is a key component of deck maintenance, there is more to maintaining your deck than this task alone. Generally speaking, it’s best to apply a new coat of deck stain every 2-3 years, and deck paint can hold up for as long as ten years. In order to avoid re-applying these coatings sooner than this, you must take care of your deck on a regular basis. You should sweep away debris at least once a week (daily is ideal), clean up spills as soon as you notice them, perform a deeper cleaning at least once a year, and inspect your deck for damage often. If you live in a region that experiences harsh winters, it’s also worth covering your deck to keep it warm and minimize moisture intrusion. By putting in this effort, you promote the longevity of your deck coatings and deck as a whole, reducing the risk of major repairs and replacements down the road.

When Painting and Staining is No Longer Enough

No matter how well you care for your deck, it’s bound to undergo damage over time. It’s important to routinely assess your deck for damage in order to prevent small problems from getting worse. If you do come across an issue, such as split boards, isolated water damage, rot, you’ll want to take action before the issue spreads. While paint and stain can sometimes cover up or reduce the appearance of minor fractures and the like, this isn’t a real solution to the issue at hand. Instead, minor repairs are in order -- a handful of boards might need replacing, some cracks might need to be injected with wood filler, new nails or screws might need to be put in place, and so on. After these minor repairs have been made, of course, staining or painting might be required to protect any new components and/or unify the look of your deck. In this sense, deck staining services still have a role to play, but the staining and painting is the final step, not the main event.

Is Deck Replacement Necessary?

The situations outlined above do not constitute a deck replacement, but rather standard repairs that must be made periodically to maintain the existing deck’s overall integrity. The question remains, when is it time for a complete deck overhaul? The answer may not be all that surprising. A deck replacement is typically necessary when one or more of these conditions is met:

  • There is significant, widespread, noticeable damage to your deck, such as overwhelming rot, large holes, weakened/failing structural components, signs of termites and other wood-boring pests, etc.
  • The majority of deck boards are warped, fractured, or otherwise broken
  • Hardware is missing, broken, and/or severely rusted
  • Your deck is over 20 years old, showing its age, and maintenance tasks no longer protect your deck as they once did
  • You simply want a brand new deck

In any of these cases, a fresh coat of stain or paint won’t do much if anything for your deck aside from concealing a handful of otherwise obvious problems. Even then, certain issues cannot be covered up, and attempting to do so will likely just make things worse. If you take great care of your deck and the stars shine in your favor, you can enjoy your deck for as long as 40 years (perhaps longer in some cases). Eventually though, the time will come to tear down the old and install the new.

Don’t Neglect Your Deck

If you want your wooden deck to stand the test of time, painting or staining must be part of the equation, in addition to regular cleaning, inspection, and repair, of course. At Nash Painting, we want to help you avoid costly repairs and/or replacement jobs in the future. We’re more than your average Nashville painting company. In addition to offering standard interior and exterior painting services, we also perform deck staining and painting, door refinishing, pressure washing, and much more for our clients in Nashville, Brentwood, and Franklin, TN. To learn more about us, our services, and our values, call us at 615-829-6858 today!