Flexible Exterior Deck Coatings
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Flexible Exterior Deck Coatings

Oh, the indignities we subject our outdoor wood surfaces to in the winter! Take decking surfaces, for example. In the summer, we tread lightly on our decks, the stain providing them with a nice suntan lotion against harmful UV rays, and we promptly sweep away any intruding leaves or detritus. In the winter, those boards are left to shiver outside, the cold contracting the fibers and causing that protective coat of stain to separate. Add in the scrape of the snow shovel and the application of rock salt for de-icing, and it’s clear that winter can be more damaging to a deck’s protective surface than the hot days of summer. If you have winter stress on your outdoor decking, or your deck is full of gouges and splinters, it might make sense to apply a new type of decking protection, generally referred to as flexible exterior deck coatings, or FEDCs. While not solely meant as a winter application, FEDCs can provide serious protection against the injustices of Old Man Winter; think of it as giving those poor deck boards a Carhartt jacket. What they are Flexible exterior deck coatings are either oil-, polymer- or acrylic-based coatings, which are meant to provide a lasting coat over the wood surface. In other words, FEDCs don’t just bond to the wood, they also form a cohesive seal that resists cracking and peeling. Transformation Stain® Siding and Trim by Sascho is an example of an oil-in-water based formula that offers the protection of oil with easy water clean-up. As the names states, you can use it for siding and trim, but it’s also intended for decks and fencing, as well as interior applications like staining cabinetry. The dry time is engineered to hit that right balance, not too fast to cause lap lines, but not too slow to create annoying stickiness for weeks. It’s semi-transparent so it shows off the beauty of wood grain. Polymer-based coatings, like RockSolid Deck Restoration, require that you mix the polymer with water and tint prior to application. This provides an elastic, long-lasting, and thick coating that gives great protection from shrinkage cracks and resistance to abrasion. The addition of aluminum oxide into the polymer results in a deck surface that has great traction and added UV protection. Acrylic-based coatings, like Pittsburgh Paints & Stains Revitalize, incorporate similar elements, without the need for pre-mixing. These are somewhat thinner applications, and the use of rock salt is not recommended over most acrylic coatings. All coatings offer a level of mildew resistance too. Not just for decks There are FEDCs that can be applied over exterior concrete as well. The unique properties of these coatings allow you to fill in cracks and small gouges in both wood and concrete surfaces. The polymer-based coatings are even used on waterfront docks to provide a protective, slip-resistant finish. Application It’s always important to make sure your lumber is dry before applying stain; with FEDCs, it is critical that the wood is both dry and clear of debris. This allows the coating to adhere to the boards, and prevents moisture from being trapped inside the boards after the thick coating is applied. Once the wood is dry and clean, simply use a small roller to coat any rails or spindles, and use a small brush to cut into the edges of the deck/cabin interface. A large, 3?8-inch nap roller can be used for the broad application; most products require two coats. Duration FEDCs are relatively new to the market, so actual long-term performance is unknown. However, these are touted as highly durable coatings that are touted to look beautiful year after year when properly applied. RESOURCE Sascho, sashco.com/products/transformation-siding-trim/ WEATHERING THE ELEMENTS – For decks that take a real beating, there’s a new type of decking protection to consider: flexbile exterior deck coatings. Always be sure to allow new construction to season before applying any type of stain or coating. And avoid using a metal shovel on any wood surface, regardless of the coating. Photo credit: Thinkstock.com

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