First things first; are you sure the failure is premature? Question that we hear every season is “our deck stain does not look new after one year, what did we do wrong?”. Deck stains usually begin to show signs of aging after one season. This is why natural decks are high-maintenance features of your home. We expect our deck stains to show some sign of failure within the first year and require refinishing every 1-4 years.
You may have water-based stain on top of oil-based stain.
If you applied any type of water based stain on a deck that was previously treated with oil-based semi-transparent stain, then the oil is rejecting the water. This is what oil based deck stains are formulated to do. Repel water. If this is the case, the failure of the top coat will be significant. You may have lots of peeling and chipping.
Solution: remove all coats down to bare wood and start over. This is usually not a DIY project and requires a team with the right equipment.
The boards were too smooth when stain was applied
Your deck stain will not last long if you apply any type of stain to boards that are smooth. All exterior surfaces require “teeth” to grab onto coatings. This is why we grind brand new decks, and never sand using orbital sanders which are meant to produce less-rough surfaces. Sanding with orbital sanders is on the very top of our “things you should never do to a deck” list.
Wooden deck surfaces are delicate. They require much more care than indoor hardwood floors. A single scratch, cause by dragging a BBQ or chair, is an entry point for moisture. Types of use that can shorten the lifespan of your deck stain include: Flower pots on the deck, BBQ grease drips, long nails on your dog, dragging furniture around, allowing wet leaves to sit on the deck for weeks, etc.
Solutions: BBQ grill tray, large outdoor rugs for high traffic areas, blow/clean leaves often, keep puppy’s nails trim or train Cooper to never run on the deck, and keep potted plants off the deck.