The Important Step You Might Be Missing When Using IKEA Deck Tiles

One of the easiest ways to transform your patio space is by changing out the flooring. And thanks to the folks at IKEA, that doesn't require calling in a contractor, violating your lease agreement, or becoming a carpenter overnight. IKEA's RUNNEN tiles are interlocking flooring that can easily be installed, cut to size, and removed upon move-out, and they add a ton of warmth and character to outdoor patios and balconies. However, while installation is pretty easy, you could be missing one crucial step to prolonging the life of these tiles: adding a protective coating. 

Given that the RUNNEN tiles are available in several finishes, you don't really need to worry about this if you are working with the plastic or artificial grass varieties. But the wood-toned ones are made out of actual solid acacia wood covered in an acrylic stain, not veneer and particleboard. This means they are prone to water, sun, and other weather-related damage given their porous nature. To prolong your investment in your patio space and the life of the RUNNEN tiles, it's essential to not only glaze them after installation but reglaze them as needed over time. 

Properly protecting your tiles

First thing first: pick out the right wood sealant for your needs. IKEA recommends using its own VÅRDA wood stain, which is a colorless seal that is said to protect the wood against weather and wind. But you don't need to opt for IKEA's selection. If you head to your local hardware store, there are a few things to look out for. 

For one, though acacia is a very durable wood, make sure the seal you choose is compatible with it and that you don't get upsold on seals meant for more delicate woods or food-grade stains since this is for flooring. Next, make sure the stain actually addresses your needs — if you are in a particularly sunny area, you will want to look for seals with UV protection to prevent sun damage. Live somewhere with a dedicated rainy season? Don't mistake wood conditioner for a protective seal, as a seal will help keep water from penetrating the wood. A safe bet is going for a stain with all-purpose weather protection. You can also choose between a more matte or glossy finish, depending on your preference. 

Most sealants require plenty of curing time, undisturbed by foot traffic or weather, so wait to apply the stain on a good weather day and when you won't need to get outside as soon after application as possible. If you start to notice signs of cracking, dry patches, and discoloration, it's time to give it another coating.