How to Properly Seal Your Wood Deck

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how to seal your deck

Your wood deck takes a beating. Whether it’s covered or not, it is likely exposed to continuous weather, sunshine, and general wear and tear. To keep it looking beautiful and help it last for many years, you’ll need to re-seal it on a regular basis. 

There’s a lot of information floating around the web about how to seal a deck. Unfortunately, not all tips are helpful or equally accurate. That’s why we’re here to provide some solid guidance. 

  • Do you need to seal your deck? 
  • How often should you seal your deck? 
  • Is this something I should hire a professional to do? 
  • Are there different types of sealers? 

These are all questions that you might be asking – and we’ve got the answers. Take a look to learn about the best ways to care for and seal your outdoor deck

What is Deck Sealing?

What is deck sealing

Deck sealer is a transparent protective coating that lets the wood’s beauty and natural color shine through. It’s what makes your deck stand out when family and friends come over for cookouts or just to hang out. When applied properly, a sealer can help your deck look new again. 

Without the protection offered by deck sealers, exposure to extreme heat, cold, and elements will have a detrimental effect on your deck’s surface. Sealing provides benefits that preserve your deck for years at a time. 

The sealer forms a clear film on the surface, which maintains the wood’s natural finish. As it penetrates the wood, the sealer creates a protective layer that keeps out damaging moisture. This prevents fungal growth and wood rot, both of which will reduce the lifespan of your deck. 

Today, most sealants also have an added pigment to block UV rays. This keeps the deck from drying out and turning gray as it weathers. 

If you have questions about how to seal a deck or what sealants to use, contact an expert deck professional. At Teak & Deck, we don’t just point you in the right direction – we take care of the entire process for you to ensure it’s done correctly. 

The Different Kinds of Deck Sealers

There are different types of deck sealers, and if you want to know how to seal a deck properly, it’s essential that you pick the right one. For starters, we recommend familiarizing yourself with these two top options: 

1) Topical Finishes

Topical wood deck finish sealer

A topical deck sealant forms a protective film or coat that adheres to the top of the wood. This type of sealer stays on the surface and lasts as long as the substrate lasts. 

These topical sealants will not seep into the wood’s crevices. As a result, they may change the surface texture of your deck and add a glossy finish. Topical finishes can also include added color, further altering the appearance of your deck. 

2) Penetrating Sealers

Penetrating sealers finish

A penetrating sealer, as its name indicates, goes beyond the surface of the wood. It seeps into all the cracks and crevices of your deck, then protects it from the inside out. 

Because a penetrating sealer actually sinks in, it will typically last longer than a topical sealer. This provides more extensive protection and helps extend the life of your deck. 

Additionally, penetrating sealers usually offer a more “natural” look as they don’t change the appearance or the surface texture of your deck.

There’s a lot to think about when deciding on what type of deck sealer to use. If you have any questions, call a deck professional before deciding on the right product for your deck.  

The Dos and Don’ts of Sealing a Wood Deck

Dos donts sealing wood deck

Your deck is the center of your home. You cook out there. You relax. You entertain and watch your children play. 

It’s crucial that you know how to seal a deck if you are going to attempt it on your own. For starters, here are a handful of dos and don’ts you certainly need to keep in mind. 

  • Do wait at least 30 days before you apply a sealant to a new deck so the wood is ready to soak up the sealant.
  • Don’t confuse your sealant with paint or stain. They can all be beneficial but will do different things. If you have questions, contact a decking professional.


  • Do take care of any repairs, cleaning, or sanding before you apply the sealant. Once that’s done, make sure you thoroughly sweep your deck to remove dirt and dust.
  • Don’t apply deck sealant if your deck is damp, wet, or frosty. To ensure that the wood on your deck is ready to be sealed, wait 24 hours after a rain shower or snow. 


  • Do apply a sealant once per year to keep your deck looking like new and protect the wood.
  • Don’t take shortcuts when sealing your deck. You might be in a hurry, but your deck is a pricey investment. If you rush through it, you’ll have a mess on your hands, and your deck won’t be adequately protected. 


There’s a lot to keep in mind when thinking about sealing your deck. If you’ve never done it before or don’t have the right equipment, it’s probably a good idea to work with professionals, rather than tackle it on your own. 

Common Questions We Receive About Sealing Decks

Deck sealing faqs

Does a Deck Need to Be Sealed?

Yes, to preserve the natural look of your wood deck and keep it safe, you need to apply a sealant. This will protect it from graying and help protect it from weather and normal wear and tear. 

How Long Should You Wait to Seal a New Wood Deck?

While many deck contractors don’t want to seal a newly installed wood deck, we recommend that you seal your deck within roughly 1-3 months of installation. This will protect the wood, enhance the natural wood grain, and preserve it for years to come. 

Should I Use a Topical or Penetrating Sealer on My Deck?

There is a lot to think about when deciding on how to seal a deck. Topical sealers cover your deck and give it a new shine and some protection. On the other hand, penetrating sealers deep down into the wood provides protection without changing the natural appearance of the deck. 

At Teak & Deck, we typically recommend using a penetrating sealer. However, we’re also happy to discuss your unique circumstances to determine the best wood deck sealer for your deck. 

When Should You Apply a Sealer to a Deck?

You should always apply a sealer to your deck when it’s dry. Depending on where you live, this may mean waiting until the summer season, when rain and snow are less likely. 

How Often Should I Re-Seal My Deck?

Your deck should be re-sealed every 1-3 years if you want to protect the wood. This will help preserve your deck for years to come and help it to look brand new. The sealant will bring out the natural wood grain and the sealing will make it stand out. 

Should I Sand My Deck Before Sealing?

Cleaning and brightening a wood deck is a much better alternative to sanding. Cleaning and brightening will remove all contaminants while opening the pores of the wood’s surface to properly accept a penetrating sealer. Sanding will remove the top layer of contaminants but will close the pores of the wood, inhibiting the wood’s ability to absorb a penetrating sealer.

Should I Clean My Deck Before Sealing It?

Absolutely. You’ll want to clean your deck thoroughly and ensure it’s free of anything that can prevent the sealant from adhering to the wood. After you’ve washed the deck, sweep and vacuum it for the best sealing results. 

In Conclusion

You’ve spent a lot of money on your home and deck. To ensure it stays beautiful and lasts for years to come, you need to take care of it. That means learning how to seal a deck or hiring a professional to do it for you. 

Teak & Deck is here to care for, seal, and maintain your deck. We’ll protect your valuable outdoor investment so that it’s usable and attractive for years to come. Since 1999, we’ve proudly served customers in San Diego, Orange County, and Los Angeles – and we’re here to serve you, too. 

Contact us today for a sealing quote. One of our experienced technicians will come out to assess your situation and provide you with a professional recommendation. 


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