Remove the Signs of a Harsh Winter from Exterior Wooden Finishes

Long after the snow melts, the signs of harsh winter weather remain, leaving wooden decks, doors, shutters and sheds looking shabby. Repairing, replacing and refinishing wood in preparation for spring can feel overwhelming, but the experts at Olympic Exterior Stains offer tips on how to tackle the task one step at a time.

  1. Take stock of your home's exterior wood and evaluate what needs to be replaced vs. what can be saved: Harsh weather can cause old or unprotected wood to warp, crack, grow mold and mildew. Look for any rotten or unsafe pieces and replace them before beginning the next step. Prepare the rest of your wood for cleaning. Remove all furniture and cover surrounding plants and bushes. While it's important to cover surrounding vegetation with a sheet or cloth before cleaning, Olympic Premium Deck Cleaner is biodegradable so it won't harm your spring blooms.
  2. Test for success: Two easy tests can help determine if cleaning exterior wood is enough, or if re-staining is necessary to protect and beautify wood.
    Water Absorption Test - Pour a small cup of water on a few horizontal surfaces. If water is absorbed in less than 10 minutes, or if the surface color darkens, then it is time to stain or seal your deck.
    Tape Peel Test - For older, weathered wood, take a putty knife or sharp blade and cut a small "X" in two or three random spots on the wood's surface. Cover the cuts with duct tape, press down firmly, and then quickly pull it off. If flakes of old wood stain are stuck on the tape, then you must first sand the surface or apply Olympic Stain Stripper to reveal a fresh layer of wood before staining.
  3. Clean and prepare: Snow and winter weather deposit a layer of dirt that must be removed before stain can be applied. Cleaning allows for better stain penetration, maximum adhesion and uniformity of color. Many turn to power washers to clean wood, but this can drive dirt deeper into the wood grain and potentially damage and splinter wood. It's best to use a cleaning product suited for the type of wood you have. For heavy-duty cleaning action on the majority of wood types, including composites, a product like Olympic Premium Deck Cleaner helps rinse away dirt and mildew stains in just five minutes without labor-intensive scrubbing. For a more gentle touch, use a product like Olympic Deck Brightener on tannin-rich woods like cedar and redwood.
  4. Protect with stain: After cleaning each surface, pick the protective waterproof sealant or stain product and color that's best for your project: clear, toner, semi-transparent or solid color stain. For systematic instructions on staining, color palettes and a description on Olympic Maximum(TM) Stains and Sealants, visit
    Test your color - Once you've chosen a color, test it on a small hidden area to determine how quickly your specific wood will absorb and retain a stain color. Different wood types vary in color, texture and absorbency and stain absorbency varies due to temperature and humidity, too. These factors affect the final color.
    5.Finishing touches: Once it's all done and your deck, shutters and front door look like new, consider decorating with potted flowers or an attractive bench to complement your refreshed exterior wood.

Olympic Exterior Stains, a brand of PPG Industries with products manufactured by the architectural coatings business of PPG, are available at fine home improvement, paint and hardware stores and Lowe's.


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