How Often Do You Seal A Deck To Keep It Protected?

To keep a deck protected, it’s generally recommended to seal it every 1-3 years, considering factors like wood type, climate, usage, and sealant quality. Regular maintenance and visual inspections can help determine the optimal timing for resealing.

A man sealing a wood deck

How Often Do You Seal A Deck?

Most people seal their deck once a year. At most, they’ll seal their deck every 3 years. It mainly depends on factors like deck material, climate, and sun exposure. Not sealing your deck can lead to damages that can make it unsafe.

How Do You Tell If A Deck Needs Sealing?

A quick way to tell if a deck needs sealing is with a few drops of water. Sprinkle some water on your deck and see what happens. 

If the water beads up and stays on top then the sealant on your deck is fine. This means the sealant is still intact and working to keep moisture out of the wood.

If the water soaks into the wood then you’ll want to reseal it soon. This means moisture can get through the sealant and start damaging your deck.

What Happens To Unsealed Decks?

Unsealed decks can face a range of challenges that compromise their durability, appearance, and overall longevity. While some may underestimate the importance of deck sealing, understanding the consequences of leaving a deck unprotected can highlight the significance of proper maintenance.

In this blog post, we’ll explore what can happen to unsealed decks and why investing in regular sealing is essential for keeping your outdoor space in top condition.

1. Vulnerability to Moisture: One of the most significant risks for unsealed decks is their vulnerability to moisture. Without a protective barrier, wood absorbs water from rain, snow, and even humidity. Over time, this moisture penetration can lead to warping, cracking, and splitting of the wood. Additionally, the constant cycle of wetting and drying can cause the wood fibers to break down, resulting in a weakened structure.

A sealed deck with flowers hanging

2. Fading and Discoloration: Unsealed decks are more susceptible to fading and discoloration caused by the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. UV exposure can lead to a gray, weathered appearance that not only affects the deck’s aesthetics but also indicates the wood’s deterioration. Sealing the deck provides a UV-resistant layer that helps maintain the deck’s original color and prevents premature aging.

3. Growth of Mold and Mildew: Moisture trapped in unsealed wood can create an ideal environment for the growth of mold and mildew. These organisms not only mar the deck’s appearance but can also pose health risks to those using the space. Sealing the deck creates a barrier that inhibits the growth of these harmful microorganisms, promoting a cleaner and healthier outdoor environment.

4. Increased Maintenance Demands: Unsealed decks demand more frequent and intensive maintenance. Regular cleaning, sanding, and staining become necessary to try to counteract the effects of exposure to the elements. Sealing reduces the need for constant upkeep by providing a protective layer that shields the wood from moisture and UV damage, thus extending the time between maintenance cycles.

5. Decreased Longevity: An unsealed deck is more likely to experience premature deterioration, leading to a decreased lifespan. The combination of moisture infiltration, UV exposure, and the growth of mold and mildew accelerates the wood’s degradation. Sealing acts as a barrier against these factors, preserving structural integrity and extending the life of your deck.

*Composite decks, like wood decks, also need sealing. They are still partially made from wood, which moisture can still damage.


How do you know if a deck needs water sealant?

You can assess the need for water sealant by performing a simple water droplet test. Sprinkle a few drops of water on the deck’s surface. If the water beads up and forms droplets, the sealant is still effective. If the water is absorbed into the wood, it’s time to reseal the deck.

How do I know if my deck needs to be sealed?

A deck that needs sealing might show signs of discoloration, fading, or a lack of water repellency. Additionally, if the wood looks dry or weathered, it’s a good indication that the existing sealant has worn off and the deck should be resealed.

When should I water seal my deck?

The best time to water seal your deck is during a period of dry weather, ideally when no rain is expected for a few days. This ensures that the sealant has ample time to dry and cure properly, providing optimal protection.

How do I know if my deck is dry enough to seal?

To determine if your deck is dry enough to seal, perform the “splash test.” Sprinkle a small amount of water onto the deck’s surface. If the water is absorbed, the wood is likely dry enough for sealing. If the water beads up or remains on the surface, the wood might still be too damp.

How often should you water seal a wood deck?

Wood decks generally benefit from being water-sealed every 1-3 years. However, the frequency can vary based on factors like wood type, climate, usage, and the quality of the sealant. Regularly inspecting the deck’s condition and performing the water droplet test can help determine when resealing is needed.

Talk To Omaha’s Deck Experts

When you’re looking to bring the most out of an old deck or want a clean start with expert deck-building services, our team of experts is ready to answer all your questions and take you on a journey that will completely transform how you use your outdoor space.