Do You Need to Stain All 4 Sides of Deck Boards?
Many people have asked whether or not it is necessary to stain all 4 sides of deck boards. To answer this question lets first take a look at why deck boards need to be stained at all.
When wood is exposed to the elements it can go through all sorts of changes. Wood is very absorbent by nature so whenever it gets wet it soaks up the moisture. This creates the wood to swell. As the wood dries it shrinks back to normal size. This repetitive swelling and shrinking begins to damage the wood causing cracks, splinters, and warping.
Furthermore, when the horizontal surfaces of a deck like the top handrails and decking are exposed to harsh UV rays the wood begins to turn gray. The top surface of wood fibers are actually being damaged and become soft. Prolonged exposure to the sun without protection will also start to break down the wood and cause permanent damage.
This is why it is important to provide the wood with weather protection by coating it with a deck stain. As far as staining all 4 sides of deck boards it really depends on personal preference. Obviously the bottom sides of deck boards are not going to be exposed to UV rays. Most of the time the undersides of boards are also not going to get wet from rain or other means.
The issue with staining all 4 sides of deck boards is that it becomes more trouble than it is worth. Once the deck boards are in place and have dried out for a few months the exposed sides of the decking should be stained as well as the gaps in between each board. So essentially, 3 sides of each deck board are being protected. Most experts do not find it necessary to stain the bottom sides of the deck boards.
In some instances, staining the bottom sides of deck boards may be done simply for appearance. An elevated deck for example would have a more exposed bottom side and for aesthetic purposes could be stained but certainly is not necessary. Another issue with staining all 4 sides of deck boards is time and cost. To stain the bottom sides of deck boards can be very labor intensive and it will double the amount of stain you have to purchase.
In summing up, it is not necessary to stain all 4 sides of deck boards. But you definitely want to stain all the exposed wood like the top and sides of each board to reduce weather damage.
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