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What is Deck Waterproofing?

Kevin Marshall
October 16, 2020

With all of the deck coatings on the market, you may be wondering what deck waterproofing is. What is the difference between the various types of products? Which provides a waterproof seal and which are just cosmetic? Do I need different products for different kinds of decks, such as those around a pool? Continue reading for your answers.

Why Waterproofing Your Deck Is Important

Decks are an expensive investment but are well worth it. Studies suggest that a deck has a 100% return on your investment. Because wood decks come into contact with the elements 24/7, it is essential to keep them well maintained not to deteriorate.

Your deck should be sealed and then waterproofed. If you have already done that, then you are ahead of the game already. But if it has been a while since you completed your initial seal/waterproofing, you may wonder when you will need to repeat the process.

Types of Deck Waterproofing

You will notice that both sealing and waterproofing were mentioned previously. These are two steps of one process, and the products to complete them are similar. Not only are there sealing and waterproofing products, but there are also decorative staining and coating products. All have different purposes.

Decorative Stains and Coatings

Decorative stains and coatings are just that — decorative. Most of these products do not provide any protection for your deck. They just make it look nice. However, there are "decorative" stains and coatings that seal and protect your deck, but you will need to read the package carefully or consult with a professional.

Deck Sealants and Waterproofing

So, what is deck waterproofing? Sealing your deck and waterproofing your deck is the same thing. Some products are presented as sealants, while others are presented as waterproofing. The language is confusing for many deck owners. Sometimes, the products are listed separately because you need a two-step process (aka sealing, then waterproofing) to complete the job. This is why it is recommended to hire a professional to do your deck maintenance. They are the best people to determine what you need.

Pool Deck Waterproofing

Products for pool deck waterproofing are a bit different. If your pool deck is wood, then the previous discussion applies to you. However, if your pool deck is concrete, then an additional (yet similar) set of products should be used.

All of the principles for staining, sealing, and waterproofing applies, along with some additional touches like adding nonslip elements to the coatings to provide better footing around the edges of your pool. It is a similar process to adding texture to paint for the interior of your home.

When to Waterproof Your Deck

There is a simple litmus test to determine whether or not your deck requires resealing and waterproofing. Take a glass of water out to your deck and spill it on the surface. If the droplets bead up, you are good to go. The deck does not need any maintenance. However, if the water soaks into the wood, it is time to waterproof your deck again. The same applies to concrete surfaces.

You will see that many experts recommend resealing your deck once per year. But the truth is that this interval will vary wildly based on the conditions your deck is subjected to; full sunlight, heavy usage, heavy rains, etc. There is no cookie-cutter solution when it comes to deck maintenance. It is better to use the "glass of water test" to ensure when maintenance is required. It is simple to do this test monthly and then act accordingly.