Decks are a plein air accessory in your backyard. But they are not self-cleaning, and no deck lasts forever. Hence, you need to engage in frequent cleaning and maintenance activities to keep the structure safe and habitable. Also, it would be best to examine various new deck maintenance tips and give more life to your deck structure.
Decks are usually under the mercy of elements all year round. Thus, it is prudent to embrace an upkeep routine that protects the structure. In addition, you can avoid unnecessary and expensive repairs using a simple maintenance schedule.
More specifically, staining, sealing, pressure washing, frequent maintenance, and simple everyday routines make a significant difference in the deck’s lifespan. So, please read this article for more insight into deck maintenance and how to handle various routines.
How to Handle a New Deck
It would be best to treat the deck wood when it is new. This way, you give the wood the best start for a long, long life. Also, please consider setting up the following arrangements before installation.
- Hire a pressure washer if you do not own one already. This appliance helps you to clean the deck professionally. It also aids in killing any mildew spores and eliminates surface impurities. Thus, your sealing products will penetrate the wood fibers well.
- Get a local deck refinishing expert to stain and seal the wooden deck. Please also insist on a waterproof sealer. This way, you can keep the wood fibers safe from excess moisture. Remember that even pressure treated wood needs a sealant. The treatment does nothing to make the lumber weather resistant.
- In addition, the wood needs to ‘age’ after installation before staining, painting, or varnishing it. Therefore, it would be better to wait for about 60 days after building the deck before opening the stain or paint can.
Deck protection depends on how you frequently maintain the surface. For example, deck sealing is essential in the maintenance checklist. It protects the lumber from dew and rain, which leads to wood swelling.
Besides, the process protects the deck from excess sun exposure, which can dry and shrink the wood. Therefore, please consider ongoing weather wear and tear occurrences that make the wood gray, warp, and crack.
Look through these tips for your deck.
- It would be best to give the deck a thorough scrub. Two rounds of cleaning and rinsing with warm water and ordinary soap will deliver a perfect deck facelift. Also, it is okay to use bleach for a better result. But please avoid chlorine bleaches that can destroy the deck sealant. Rather, go for hydrogen peroxide or oxygen bleach.
- Deck sealing by a pro is unrefuted work and adds years to your deck. Thus, you can hire a professional every two to three years to clean and reseal the deck. But there is no harm in doing it yourself if you know how to get a sophisticated finish.
- On top of that, the deck’s color will gradually fade over the years. Therefore, it is always prudent to restrain the deck when necessary. In addition, you can add a stain coat when necessary.
- Remember to use an oil-based deck formula instead of a solid one. Oil stains are easy to maintain as they fade slowly and last longer.
The overall deck condition is a result of how you handle it daily. It would be impractical to expect a longer deck life span if you lack simple daily tricks to keep the structure in good condition.
For example, please consider keeping the deck clean at all times. Regularly sweep the wood to remove leaves and dirt. Also, shovel snow from the deck to prevent damage in the long run.
Please consider working with a grease catcher with a grill. Grease stains are among the most difficult messes to clean. Therefore, ensure that the deck is grease-free and wipe off spills as soon as they happen.
It would be best to always turn to a deck maintenance expert whenever you need help. A bad job fixing your deck is far worse than making no repairs at all. Therefore, it is better to spend a few coins on professional repairs.
The wood deck will gradually deteriorate depending on where you live. Deck wear and tear causes vary and have different effects on the wood. Thus, here are the top three culprits to watch out for:
- Water. Moisture causes the deck lumber to contact and expand with temperature changes. Hence, you will observe popped nails or fasteners, cracked or split boards, and rot. So, please clear away water puddles after a downpour.
- Sun. Ultraviolet rays can easily break down the bond between wood cells. This scenario is not that pretty as it lightens and weakens the deck’s pigment. Therefore, it would help to stain or seal the surface.
- Insects. Pests are a major threat to your deck. They compromise the structure’s integrity, and it may eventually collapse. Fortunately, there are multiple ways to handle insects. For example, trim all the shrubs and trees near the wood deck.
Believe it or not, yellow bug lights around the deck are an excellent way of keeping pests away. Therefore, you have no excuse for having unwanted ‘guests’ on the deck. In addition, please remove standing water and keep the surface sealed at all times for added protection.
You may not know the best maintenance routine for your deck without a proper inspection. Therefore, check out your deck and the most common threats in your environment. This way, you know what and how to fight.
Also, inspecting the deck is part of maintaining the wood. However, please clear the deck’s surface of any toys or furniture and sweep away larger debris. Thus, you can make a more accurate examination.
Some of the inspection tips are as follows.
- Check out the ledger. Use your flashlight and assess the deck’s underside. Also, pay close attention to the metal flashing that attaches the structure to your home. Here, look for water damage signs and make replacement and repair arrangements if you spot any anomalies.
- Examine the posts, joists, and beams as they form the structural parts of the deck. It would be b to look out for rot signs on these areas. Also, please note areas that need an expert examination and make arrangements.
- Search for rotting deck boards, cracks, and protruding nails. Do all it takes to get the correct assessment, even if it means walking around the deck to listen for squeaks. Also, feel for sagging areas or soft spots and note any loose nails or cracks. This way, you know which repairs to focus on or which expert to contact.
- Study the railing and stairs. For instance, give the railing a good shake to ensure that the posts are not too loose. Also, assess the surface cracks that may occur around screws and nails.
- Look out for signs of rot. You can use a flat-blade screwdriver for structural boards. Also, please check the stairs, especially where the stringers meet the ground. Stringers are the saw-tooth notched pieces that hold the steps.
- In addition, assess each perimeter post using the screwdriver. The best strategy to get an accurate assessment involves pushing the accessory into an area. Also, please note that an area has rot if you can push the screwdriver a ¼ inch or more into the wood.
Some deck owners prefer to have patio furniture on the deck. This way, they can sit out on them and enjoy a cool breeze or the warm sun. However, it would be best to remove this furniture from the deck from time to time.
This practice helps you to clean any dirt underneath the patio accessories. Also, it presents a perfect opportunity to reposition the furniture every few months. Therefore, you allow the deck to fade evenly in the sun.
The opposite is true because you will have deck parts that look dated and others that look pretty new. So, examine deck areas that look more faded and position the patio furniture accordingly.
Also, though it would be best to move the deck furniture frequently, please be more careful and gentle during the process. Otherwise, you may accidentally scratch the wood and remain with an ugly look.
When to Engage In Various Deck Maintenance Activities
Washing and Cleaning the Deck
Tasks such as washing the deck are perfect during the spring season. Please note that an unwashed deck is a silent invitation to mold and mildew. Even worse, these insects easily cause wood rot.
Here is an easy procedure on how to wash the deck.
- Get a putty knife to remove debris from deck boards. You can push the knife’s handle into a 1¼-inch PVC pipe for a makeshift extension. Also, please pay attention to areas where the deck boards meet or cross the joists.
- Protect all plantings and shrubs by wetting them. You can also use plastic sheeting for added safety. In addition, sweep the deck thoroughly to remove large debris and particles.
- Select the most suitable cleaner for the wood. It would be best to consider a standard deck cleaning agent and follow its directives. For instance, some products need to be wet for application.
- It is okay to use commercial degreasers and detergents for oil and grease stains. But please consider using only mild soap and warm water to remove mildew, dirt, and mold. Otherwise, you may end up subjecting the wood to harsh chemicals for no reason.
- Also, clean the deck during a cloudy but warm day. This way, you’ll do the work in a cool environment, and the sun will not evaporate the cleaner.
- Use a paint roller, stiff-brushed brush broom, or a garden sprayer to apply the cleaner. Then, permit it to soak for a few minutes, depending on the manufacturer’s instructions. In addition, please do not let the deck pool or dry before you scrub it clean.
- Clean wood railings and try to work from the bottom up. This exercise helps you to avoid splattering the cleaning solution on dry wood. And you won’t double bleach the surface or leave ugly marks after washing the lower area.
- Please get a soft brush for a composite deck and avoid pressure washers. Otherwise, the latter will damage the decking permanently ad void any warranty.
Sealing the Deck
Springtime is the best time to seal your deck. It allows the deck to dry and cure well without fear of an impromptu downpour. In addition, it also provides a perfect working session without strong winds that may compromise the finish.
It would be best to select a clear sealer that highlights the wood’s natural color and grain. Also, you can have a toner to brighten the wood’s color and provide protection against harmful ultraviolet light.
Alternatively, you can work with a semi transparent formula. It tints the wood but leaves some grain visible. Also, a solid stain may work for you if you want to transform the wood’s color.
Expect to reapply clear toners, sealers, and stains regularly, preferably annually. Also, have a safety mask, gloves, and eye protection during application. This way, you keep safe from toxic and strong formulas.
Please check out more sealant application tricks below.
- Listen or read the weather forecast for your project day. Then, select a two-day period where you are sure of moderate temperatures and a clear sky.
- Lightly sand the deck with 80-grit sandpaper. You can attach a pole sander to the accessory for hard-to-reach areas.
- Check out for any protruding nails with deck screws that are longer than the nail. Also, replace popped or missing nails and screws. Please note that you may do more harm than god trying to pull slightly protruding nails. Just pound them home!
- Use scrap wood as a fulcrum for more leverage when pulling out the nail with a pry bar or hammer. This way, you’ll get the nails out while keeping the deck intact.
- Get a roller to apply the sealer to the deck and cover three to four boards at a time. Also, it would be best to use small rollers and brushes for planters, railings, benches. This way, you’ll get rid of puddles and prematurely dried coats.
- Please avoid using deck sealants for composite decks. They will not deliver the same color density you would achieve with a wood deck.
Inspect and Repair the Deck
Midsummer is a perfect time to inspect and repair your wood deck. Here, the weather is warm and dry. Therefore, you can easily give the wood a close inspection and spot tiny imperfections.
Pay attention to areas close to water sources like planters and downspouts or within six inches of the ground. Also, probe structural parts with a flat-blade screwdriver. Check the stairs and each perimeter post.
Rot is one of the blemishes you will observe in an old deck. Therefore, please consider replacing rotten parts. Also, the thought of replacing deck boards can appear as surgery on the deck. So, ensure that you get compatible replacements and match the existing boards.
First, remove the ‘bad’ board from the joists at both ends. Then, remove the nails and rotten board. Also, it would be best to install nailing cleats for added support and lay flashing over decaying joists. This way, you’ll have a perfect place to fix new boards.
In addition, cut out areas of rot that are no bigger than a silver dollar with a chisel. Conversely, larger areas may need you to replace the structural member for a durable outcome.
It is okay to consult a professional deck builder if you are a newbie. Also, you can still consult with a pro for advice if you get stuck.
Check out the ledger, posts, joists, and beams using a flashlight. Remember that a damaged ledger causes about 90 percent of all deck collapses. Therefore, ensure that you do a thorough assessment and note down compromised areas.
Reinforce a framing member if you can easily remove or replace it. For example, add a splint of comparable treated lumber along a joist that shows rot signs. Also, attach the extension using two or three three-inch screws every 12 inches.
Cracks are usually not a structural threat, but they may get worse with time. Therefore, it would be best to replace cracked pieces before they get out of hand. In addition, give the posts a good shake to ensure there are no loose connections.
Fall is also an excellent time to wash and seal the deck, especially if you did not do it in the spring. The point is always to work during mild temperatures, and the fall season gives you the perfect weather.
Otherwise, it would be best to adhere to simple maintenance tricks such as trimming nearby trees and bushes. Ensure that they are at least 12 inches from the deck: this way, you slow down moss, mold, and rot.
Also, please do not let leaves, dirt, and debris pile up in the deck’s corners. Move chairs, planters, and tables occasionally and do a throughout cleaning job. Even better, moving furniture keeps the deck from uneven fading.
The Dos and Don’ts During Deck Maintenance
- DO clean the deck at least once a year. Your new deck needs an annual exfoliation to help sealants soak better into the wood fiber. Also, please consider using a utility brush to scrub the surface where mold and mildew may lurk.
- DO sand the deck wood before sealing. This way, you’ll remove fuzzy patches or splintery from the surface. Also, a pole sander with 80-grit sandpaper will work perfectly for hard-to-reach areas.
- DO cover plants and nearby shrubbery before cleaning. The chemicals in this cleaner can harm or kill plants. In addition, please cover all nearby vegetation with a plastic sheet or tarp before you begin the session.
- DO clean the deck at routine intervals. The walls and rooms of your home protect interior structures from snow, sun, rain, and wind. But the uncovered deck has to endure whatever mother nature offers. Therefore, please prevent water damage by sweeping away leaves, puddled water, branches, and other debris.
- DO be alert about deck wood damage. Inspect the lumber for splintered and soft spots, split or rotten planks, and loose nails or deck attachments. Also, promptly re[pair any damage that appears as a safety or health hazard.
- DON’T exaggerate when working with a high-powered washer. It is a time and labor-saving appliance, but it can compromise the wood’s beauty. Even worse, the deck may end up looking as if wood-boring beetle larvae were at work.
- DON’T clean the deck with chlorine bleach. Otherwise, you risk damaging the wood’s cellular structure and stripping its natural color. Alternatively, you can consider oxygen bleach that is suitable for wood cleaning projects.
- DON’T use paint as a sealant, even if it looks nice when you first apply it. Do not fall for the momentary glorious finish, as it will appear downright distressed within no time. Also, it would be best to work with synthetic sealants as some oil-based formulas attract algae and mildew.
- DON’T assume that treated lumber does not need maintenance. It may resist insect infestation and rot, but the wood still requires cleaning and sealing. Therefore, you keep it safe from solar and water damage.
- DON’T use natural materials under the deck furniture. Also, please avoid outdoor rugs with natural fibers. They absorb moisture and promote mold and mildew growth. Instead, go for plastic accessories as they avoid these issues and even last longer.
Wooden decks are perfect outdoor accessories for your homestead. However, it would be best to maintain them if you want value and longevity. In addition, they combat a lot of abuse from daily use, constant exposure to weather elements, and foot traffic. Therefore, you will do well to check out:
New Deck Maintenance Tips
Please heed the best deck maintenance practices for cleaning up and caring for the deck. This way, you’ll enjoy a perfect outdoor living room for a long, long time. In addition, you will spend less on repairs and part replacement.
So, keep your eyes on the deck and perform the above simple tasks to maintain it!