Exterior Decking Floors – To Coat or Not To Coat

When the majority of folks have a natural wood deck as a feature on their home, at some point in time, they will most likely come to a crossroads.

The question will pass through their mind as to whether they should treat their deck floor surfaces with some type of coating.

Now obviously if the deck already has some type of coating on its flooring, this is not a question that will arise, as whatever maintenance pattern the deck is in would clearly be present.

But if the deck flooring has never been treated before, it is understandably common for one to ponder if they should treat it in one capacity or another.

After all, shouldn’t the deck be treated in order to ensure it lasts as long as possible?

The short answer is – Not really.

Most wood decks are made out of either pressure treated wood, mahogany, or Ipe.

Each in their own right would be perfectly fine for years if left untreated with any type of coating.

Yes, they will weather.

If left unfinished with any type of application, over time, they will develop a grayish tone and possibly incur varying degrees of mold or mildew growth.

However, if maintained properly – i.e., cleaned when these types of phenomena set in, they will rarely experience any type of “rot” per se and will maintain their structural integrity indefinitely.

If this is the case, then why do people often treat their deck flooring with some type of stain or porch & floor enamel?

Great question.

The most logical answer I can come up with is that they believe that by doing so they are employing good practice from a maintenance perspective, they enjoy the way the application looks on their deck surfaces, or a combination of the two.

While there definitely is not anything wrong with applying some type of coating to your deck surfaces, it should be done with the correct expectation that in applying any type of coating system to your deck – particularly horizontal surfaces such as flooring – you are committing yourself to some type of long-term maintenance of the deck.

It should be further noted that the more solid the coating system (a porch & floor enamel as an example), the more potentially involved the maintenance of it will ultimately be.

While wood toning stains are fairly easy to keep fresh looking (needing a simple cleaning and recoating every now and again).

The more solid the application, the more of a chance that the coating will peel at some point (especially if the surface is not properly prepared/etched prior to being applied).

If a situation is in place where the product utilized is prone to peeling, it will be much more of a chore to keep looking good year after year than a system that is more likely to simply need some “light” refinishing.

I would never tell someone NOT to apply some type of a coating system to their deck.

Many coating systems look absolutely stunning when done and cared for properly.

I would simply caution whomever is applying the application to work to fully understand what they are signing up for in doing so.

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