A deck or porch for your home is a wonderful expansion of your outdoor living and entertainment area. They are perfect for casual dining, can offer a place for kids to play, and provide a great spot for container gardens. But without proper deck maintenance, you will eventually have a collection of planks with no value. Unlike other areas of your home, your deck is exposed to the weather year-round. From harsh rain, to snow and extreme heat, all these take their toll. Regardless of the materials used to build your deck, there are common maintenance tips to follow.
Like anything, having a plan makes it easier to see that things get done. Here is a simple approach on how to protect and maintain your deck for all times of the year.
Everyday Maintenance Tips for Cleaning Your Wooden Deck or Patio
Start by sweeping away all the leaves and other debris from your deck or patio. Gently wash down the deck and the surrounding bushes and grass with a garden hose (they will love it!). Mix up a batch of cleaner with your preferred formula. If the wood is dirty, use less water, especially for decks that have been neglected for a long time.
Using a pressure washer, a mop, or a bucket and brush, apply your cleaning formula. Just remember to wear gloves to protect your hands. To help the cleaner work better, keep the deck wet while working. Let the cleaner set for 15 to 20 minutes; as this gives the cleaner time to work on stains and grime. Finally, give the deck a good rinsing to ensure all cleaner was removed.
Preserving the Life of Your Deck
Once you have cleaned your surface, you are ready to apply a stain or preservative of your choice! Clear wood preservatives contain a UV protector. This helps protect your wood’s natural color from long-term sun exposure, like how sunscreen works. If you want to add color, use an exterior stain. You can choose from a solid or a semi-transparent stain. Deep-penetrating formulas are great for repelling water. Exterior stains are available as water-based or oil-based products.
Tips for Applying a Deck Stain
Cover all the surrounding areas with a cloth tarp. Apply the wood finish with a roller or brush. Let the product set for about 20 minutes so that it will penetrate the wood. Then go back over the surface with a brush. This technique is called back brushing. Back brushing will give the deck stain a more consistent finish when applied.
Brush out any stain puddles that you see to avoid shiny patches. Our deck builders always apply a double coat of stain for good coverage and protection. After that, allow the stain or preservative to dry for one to two days. Finally, be sure to dispose of old rags and empty containers properly.
Some Tips from Our Experience
Pressure-treated lumber prevents insects and decay affecting the wood. But, it is still vulnerable to moisture and the sun’s rays. This includes other exterior woods like cedar and redwood. To keep it looking new and lasting longer, regular maintenance is necessary.
If your deck has some age, a deck cleaner can be used to give it a clean and fresh look. Deck cleaners come in bleach and non-bleach formulas. However, either formula can remove surface and settled-in dirt. Bleach cleaners will lighten the wood color. Non-bleach deck cleaners gently remove dirt and grime without damaging wood fibers or their natural color. Non-bleach deck cleaners are friendlier to the environment and not as harsh on surrounding bushes and plants.
Seasonal Deck Maintenance Tips
Spring: Apply a sealer or stain at the beginning of the season. This is often a 2-day job and it involves first cleaning off the deck using a broom, followed by a soft brush and cleaner. Then, sand down the deck. Make sure to replace or remove any nails or screws that may have popped out. Finally, apply the stain or sealer to your deck. It is not always necessary to stain deck boards if they are made from composite materials. But if you do, be sure to use a deck stain designed for composite wood. To even better protect your investment, consider using a paint with UV protection.
Summer: Inspect your deck for signs of wood rot or decay. Begin by checking deck stairs and the perimeter of each deck post. Be sure to inspect the framing, joists, posts, and beams. Check the railing for any loose or damaged posts or connections. Look for cracks that may have developed since spring.
Also, make sure to sweep or dry up any water pools that may form. Standing water puddles create a breeding ground for mosquitos and other insects.
Fall: Don’t let leaves and other debris pile up in the corners or shaded areas of the porch. Leaves can decay and stain your deck, so be sure to remove any leaves that accumulate. Trim any nearby bushes or tree that could drop leaves or branches in the cooler months. They should be at least 12 inches from the deck to prevent and reduce the growth of mold, moss and rot. Occasionally move any planters, chairs and tables to avoid discoloring the deck boards. Be sure to keep the gutters and downspouts in good shape. Replace the ones that are damaged or cracked sooner rather than later.
Winter: Even though snow may be rare in the south, be sure to remove any snow and ice accumulation from your deck. Snow accumulation can damage and even ruin your deck. Be sure to shovel in the direction of your boards to avoid damaging your deck boards or finish. Salt or other ice melting agents can discolor or damage your deck stain or finish. Keeping your deck free of ice and snow not only extends the life of your deck. Most importantly, it will also keep your family and guests safe from slipping or falling on ice.
In conclusion, deck maintenance is an important step in taking care of your home. Proper care of your deck can extend the life and beauty of your outdoor living area. If you are interested in a new deck or renovating your outdoor living space, contact the premiere deck builders in Atlanta! Outdoor Makeover & Living Spaces has been providing excellent construction and landscape design services since 2001.