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Letting Wood and Decks Gray Naturally

Is It Okay To Let The Wood Gray Naturally

Most homeowners know that untreated wood left to the elements will gray over time. This graying is due to the sun’s UV rays. When the wood is not treated with the proper wood stain, it turns a rustic looking gray.

Another enemy of exterior wood is moisture. This can cause the wood to warp, crack, splinter and eventually rot. To protect wood from water damage, a stain or sealer can be applied. When a stain with added color or toner is used it will not only protect the wood from water damage but also from sun graying. The added pigment of the toner helps block out the UV rays. When a sealer (clear stain) is used it will only provide water protection and no sun protection.

Some people like the look of weathered or grayed wood. But is it okay to let the wood gray naturally. Meaning is it okay to let the sun gray the wood even if it is still being protected from water damage with a clear sealer? For the most part the answer is no. UV rays are actually damaging the wood fibers, which turns them gray or causes them to become faded. If allowed to continue, these harsh UV rays will also cause more extreme damage like board cracking, splintering, and warping. This can also cause boards to become loose as screws are loosened from buckling and cupping wood.

Just like moisture causes water damage, UV rays cause sun damage. Both will jeopardize the structures integrity and decrease the wood’s overall longevity. If a rustic looking deck or other exterior wood structure is your thing there is a better way to go about it. Look for a semi-transparent stain in a gray tone. This would not only give the wood water and sun protection, but would give you the naturally gray look you desire. It is important to protect exterior wood from both water and UV damage. Allowing the wood to gray naturally without a stain will shorten the wood’s life costing you money.

Please Ask Any Questions Below

6 responses to “Letting Wood and Decks Gray Naturally”

  1. Portland Perplexed says:

    I live in Portland, OR – so lots of rain and lots of sun only 3 months of the year. I have been using clear water sealers for almost 20 years on one of our cedar decks. I've used different products – Olympic and Thompsons. I think I started with oil base and then 2 years ago used a water based Thompson "advanced" product. I've cleaned the decks only with Simple Green, not a stripper. I like the look but the unused Thompsons I planned to used curdled (they said I stored it in freezing temps but it has been in my basement where I shower – so no freezing there.) now I don't know what to buy that I can put over the Thompsons water based that will work. Can I put an oil product over the top? Do I really need to strip it first?

    • Yes you need to strip it all off. You cannot just add over top and then expect the new coating to adhere or soak in. Try the Defy Extreme Clear or TWP Clear after stripping and brightening.

  2. Stephen qualkinbush says:

    Very,that is what I want. Clear !! I have taken my 21 rear old deck and taken it down using power wash,then power to apply the wood stripper/cleaner,then applied brightened,now ready to apply the clear and will look for protectant!!!!

  3. Nancy says:

    I am about to reside our beach house with red cedar beveled siding – I do like the gray natural weathered look – but i know I need some type of protectant on the wood – what would you suggest??? I do not like the semi transparent look….thanks!

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*This is first and foremost a help site from our experience as wood restoration contractors. All stain and prepping manufacturer directions were followed with our reviews and ratings. We offer no guarantee of similar results. Take inconsideration that wood and deck stain results may differ due to prepping procedures, different wood types, exposure to UV radiation, natural weathering, etc.