Can You Leave A Deck Untreated? (And What Happens If You Don’t Stain It)

To ensure that your deck lasts you for many years to come, it’s important to follow the proper maintenance procedures. Depending on the size of your deck, this could mean spending a good few hours treating it properly. 

So you may be tempted to skip giving it any treatment in the hopes that you can save yourself a good few hours’ of painstaking maintenance. Perhaps you even prefer how your decking looks without the treatment in place.

So can you leave a deck untreated? And what happens if you don’t stain it?

Can You Leave A Deck Untreated (And What Happens If You Don't Stain It)

If you want your wooden deck to last you for several years, then it will be important to stain it with a regular treatment once a year. This is to protect the wood from the elements. Because your wooden deck is out in all weathers, this means it needs a little helping hand to protect itself. 

Water damage and fluctuations in temperature can cause the wood to expand and shrink, which can then make the material warp or crack. Being exposed to excessive amounts of water will also make the wood more likely to rot. The treatment you apply annually works to protect the wood from this, so it will last you for even longer. 

Treated wood will always last longer than wood that’s neglected. So if you want your decking to last you for a good few years, it will be worth putting in the effort to treat it properly once a year. Some companies will even negate their anti-rot guarantees if you haven’t taken the proper care to regularly treat your wood.

How long can a deck go untreated?

It’s tricky to determine how long an untreated deck will last you. This is because it will depend on several different factors. If you have bought chemically treated wood, and then don’t treat this annually, it will last you a little bit longer. 

However, it won’t be able to last you for as long as it should do if you were to treat it properly. It will likely last you a couple of years at the most, but you will find that you will have to gradually replace boards as they become rotten. You will eventually have to replace the whole deck itself.

If you were to opt for untreated wood, and not give it any treatment at all, this would last you 3 or 4 years at most. The wood won’t have anything to protect it from the elements, meaning it will become more likely to rot, warp, and crack. 

Other factors such as the climate in your particular area will also come into play. If you live in an area that suffers from heavy rainfall, this won’t do your deck any favors. But areas that tend to be drier won’t be much better. The extreme changes in temperature between the hot sunny days and the colder nights will make the wood more likely to expand and shrink, causing warping or cracking.

It will be best to give your deck a treatment once a year to ensure that it will last you for as long as possible. A deck that has been properly maintained should last you for anywhere between 10 to 30 years. If you don’t treat your deck each year, it could cause irreversible damage to the wood.

Can I leave my deck natural?

Perhaps you prefer how your deck looks in its natural state and you don’t want to paint it a different color. While you may find it more attractive as it is, it won’t remain that way for long once the rot starts to set in. 

You don’t have to opt for a colorful paint to stain your deck. It will be best to opt for a natural stain that allows you to see the natural color of the wood, but while still protecting it in the meantime. If you don’t want to color the wooden deck, you’ll be better off opting for a sealant instead of a stain. 

You should treat your deck once a year, allowing the treatment to properly soak into the wood so it can protect it throughout the coming months. Remember to wait for a couple of dry days so that the treatment can be allowed to dry out properly.

What happens if you don’t seal wood?

Wood sealant works to prevent your wooden decking from rotting. It can also stop any unwanted moisture permeating the wood via condensation, which can make it more likely to crack over time. This issue can get especially bad during the winter months as the water gets into cracks of the wood. This water then freezes, causing the ice to expand the cracks.

So as you can see, it is very important to use a sealant or stain treatment to help keep your wood protected. A sealant will be better suited for a wooden decking that is exposed to the elements.

You should use a sealant on your wooden decking as soon as it has been constructed. If you leave the wood for a few days or weeks before doing this, you could accidentally lock in unwanted moisture, which will cause the wood to rot from the inside out. It will save you time and effort to properly treat your wood rather than having to replace rotten boards as they become unusable.

In summary

So there you have it! Even though you may prefer the look of your natural deck, or don’t want to have to spend hours painstakingly treating your deck, it will be best to give it a treatment once a year. This is because your deck needs a treatment to protect it from the elements. 

Wood that hasn’t been treated regularly will become more susceptible to weather damage. It will expand and shrink, which could then cause the wood to warp or crack. If you don’t treat your deck at least once a year, it won’t last you as long. A deck that’s been properly maintained will last you for a good few years, and potentially even decades.