Exterior steps and stairs serve the important function of providing access to a home and other outside structures. These incremental areas of elevation also serve to complete the overall design of a porch, deck, or veranda. Although stone and concrete stairs naturally withstand years of ice, rain, and snow, wooden stairs require protection against those damaging elements. Applying a waterproof finish to your exterior stairs will help to maintain their strength and integrity, as well as preserve the wood’s beauty.
1 Prepare the stairs by removing all items from them, and cleaning off all visible debris: Use a sturdy broom to sweep away dirt and dried mud from the surface of the steps, or treads. Brush away spider webs, trapped leaves and other items, from the undersides of the stairs and from railings.
2 Spray the stairs with water with a hose, using a spray attachment that provides a strong stream of water; better still a jet wash. While the stairs are still wet, scrub their wood surface with a deck cleaner solution, following the manufacturer’s instructions for mixing and applying the solution to the stairs. Use a stiff-bristle brush to work the solution into stubborn areas of stains and greasy spots. Rinse off the deck cleaner, along with all loosened soil and other debris, after the amount of time recommended by the deck cleaner’s manufacturer. Allow the stairs to dry completely.
3 Apply deck sealer to the railings with a paintbrush: Deck sealer is a waterproofing solution. In the UK you will probably need to uy this from a specialty paint store like Arcrite Paints. Use a thin coat to avoid unsightly drips and smears, allow the first coat of deck sealer to dry completely, following the recommended drying time on the deck sealer’s label. Follow the first coat of deck sealer with a second coat, to provide adequate coverage.
4 Apply the deck sealer to the stairs. Use a paint pad to spread the product over the horizontal surface areas, and use the paintbrush to work the solution into cracks, and along the sides and front of the stairs. Let the first coat of deck sealer dry thoroughly before applying a second coat.
Tips & Warnings
Select a deck sealer product that contains wood preservative or stain, to help maintain the wood’s colour and provide additional protection against ultraviolet (UV) light. Although clear water repellents help to provide waterproofing action, they won’t keep wood from turning grey or warping.
Check the label on a waterproofing product, to determine whether or not a waiting period is necessary, before applying the product to new wood. Some products require waiting up to six months before treating new wood.