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Lumber sealers can rescue trouble-prone wooden decks

Is there a wooden deck somewhere around the house? Does it seem like a perpetual maintenance problem?

Not to worry: lumber sealers can come to the rescue. But first, a few facts and fictions about wood products:- Fiction: Pressure-treated lumber doesn't need waterproofing.

Fact: Pre-treated lumber is injected with insect-damage preventers, but it is not waterproofed. Actually, the chemicals used to treat the wood for bugs dry out the wood, which makes it want to absorb more water, hence, the swelling and shrinking that results in damaged wood. Wood should be pressure-treated, then waterproofed.

- Fiction: Water beading is a sure sign that the wood is waterproofed.

Fact: Some wood products are made to produce water beading without effectively protecting the wood from water penetration. Check to see that the product will continue to hold moisture out after the initial beading.

- Fiction: All waterproofing products are made equal.

Fact: Although there are standardized industry tests, they are pass/fail standards, and a score of 60 percent gets a passing grade. Sounds like a D- to me. Certainly not at the head of the class. Look for a company that exceeds the minimum grade. The key is to read labels. Check to see if the product will satisfy all your particular needs such as waterproofing, mildew prevention, wood rot, sun protection. Then check to see if the company guarantees what it sells. It is usually safer to purchase a recognizable brand name or at least a brand recommended by a source you respect.

Wood protection comes in a variety of choices, such as clear, scuff-proof, colored stains, easy-to-apply, one-coat coverage and the list goes on. There's bound to be something out there for every need.