Every homeowner needs a deck; I’m mainly talking to those who do not have one already. You might be thinking that you are having the best life in your home but trust me, you can have it even better with a deck. If you are convinced to have one, you should also know how to maintain it to serve you for as long as possible. So here’s how to carry out outdoor wooden deck maintenance.
Some of the essential maintenance practices of a wooden deck include washing between 1-2 times a year. Also, you need to make a routine inspection of the deck to ensure no loose screws that can let in water leading to rotting over time. The loose screws can also cause injuries.
Installation of a wooden deck is one of the most expensive home extensions, especially if you have decided to construct a bigger deck. The materials such as wood are costly, and if you factor in labor, you’d understand why you must take good care of your deck. In the article, I’ll guide you through some of the best outdoor wooden deck maintenance practices. Stay with me…
How to Maintain a Deck
Proper maintenance of wooden decks can add years of good times to your home. Even so, it is inevitable that your deck will start to wear down over time, it might even begin to rot, but you can slow down the wearing down of this structure by carrying out the maintenance practices that I have discussed below:
1. Inspect the Deck Regularly
One fundamental aspect of ensuring your deck remains in top condition over the years is conducting a regular inspection. This action helps you to identify whether there are rotting parts of the deck. Summers, when the conditions are hot, is always the best time to look at your deck.
It would help if you did not fail to inspect sections of wood where the ledger board and the side of your house meet. Also, check the areas where the stairs contact the ground.
Ensure that whenever you inspect your deck, you wiggle or apply weight against the railings to ensure that they are tightly connected. Here are some of the things that you must rectify:
- If there are any raised or exposed nails, pull them up and replace them using wood screws.
- Fill the holes in your deck using exterior wood filler.
- If you notice any component that looks rusty, you must replace them.
- Clean your deck by removing all the leaves that fell on the surface over the summer.
2.Replace All the Damaged Deck Boards
Over time, especially if you factor in water, foot traffic, and more, some of your deck boards will likely start to wear out before others. Don’t just sit on them.
It would be best to replace them from time to time as they may cause accidents, among other issues.
A claw hammer will help you remove the old board.
Have a replacement board ready and cut to fit the same position. I recommend that when replacing these sections, use the same type of wood as well as a stain so that you don’t have a mismatching deck board.
Note: If you have so many deck boards destroyed and most calling for replacement, you should always prioritize replacing the whole deck. Replacing the entire deck ensures the safety as well as the beauty of the entire structure.
3. Annual Cleaning of the Deck
Much as your deck might appear to be in good condition all through the year, it would be best if you cleaned it at least once a year. Mild temperatures such as during the spring present the perfect opportunity to clean your deck. Here’s the step by step guide to the annual cleaning of a deck:
With the help of a putty knife, remove any debris that you can see between the deck boards, especially those that you can’t access with a broom or a brush.
Biodegradable deck cleaners make an excellent choice of detergents to clean the deck, especially those that can kill molds and mildew.
Consider scrubbing your deck with a stiff bristle brush if you find it necessary.
Rinse your deck with a garden hose.
Alternatively, you can use a pressure washer to clean your deck. In the process, ensure that you are using the right amount of pressure to avoid the chances of damaging your deck.
- Avoid using a pressure washer on a composite deck; the high pressure is not suitable for this kind of decking material and can cause damage.
- When cleaning the railing, apply the cleaner and scrubbing from the bottom, moving upward. Top-down scrubbing does splatter the cleaning solution onto the wood’s dry parts, which will leave marks. Bottom-up cleaning splashes only onto the already wet parts.
4. Preparing Your Deck for Staining or Sealing
Water and other elements such as UV lights are not suitable for your deck. Water especially can lead to the rotting of wood. At the same time, continued exposure to direct sunlight contributes to the discoloration of wooden materials, and that’s why you should consider staining or sealing your deck.
Staining and sealing are essential in that other than offering just protection, they also enhance your wooden deck’s natural beauty. Working with the semi transparent deck stains allows the wood grain to show pure beauty to the eye.
Some stains and sealers are only effective for a year, which requires that you apply them yearly to maintain your deck’s condition. I prefer the Ready Seal deck stain and sealer because it combines a stain and sealer in one. So here’s what you need to do before you stain or seal your deck:
Give your new, unsealed deck between 60 and 90 days to weather before staining.
A water drop test on your wooden deck will ensure that it is dry before you can go ahead with the staining and sealing projects. If the deck board absorbs the water sprinkled over it, it means that the wood is dry and ready for sealing or staining. If you notice water beading up, then the wood is not dry, and you must not go ahead with the sealing or staining process; instead, allow it more time to dry properly.
- Alternatively, you can use a wood moisture meter to check your deck’s moisture levels and contents before staining.
- It is also vital to cover any vegetation around your structure before you begin your staining and sealing projects.
- With the help of a painter’s tape, cover parts of your house where the wall meets the deck to avoid getting stain on your home.
- With a paint scraper, you can remove loose paint or opaque deck stain on the deck.
- You can remove the flaking stain or dirt with a stiff brush.
Note: You must not use a metal brush when working with cedar or redwood; the bristles may inflict scars on the softwood.
5. Sanding of the Deck
Sanding the deck is an important step, especially if you are looking to stain or restrain it. It helps improve the wood’s ability to absorb the formula for maximum protection. Additionally, a well sanded surface is smooth and reduces wood splinters that may harm your legs, especially if walking on the surface with bare feet.
There are many different wood sanders that you can use to smoothen the surface, and this is dependent on how large the deck surface is, employ a random orbital sander for the removal of old gloss from the surface.
For the cases of railings or balustrades, it would be best if you use a sanding sponge.
If you are looking to achieve the best possible results on the deck boards, you must use 60 or 80 grit sandpaper. For the handrails, it would be best if you use 80 or 100 grit.
Once you have sanded your deck, use a vacuum cleaner to remove all the dust from the surface, not to affect the new finish as soon as it is applied.
Note: Ensure that you are safe from the tiny particles of sawdust produced during sanding by wearing a reusable dust mask. Why reusable? Well, these gears are not one time off products, and you can use them over and over across many projects.
6. Sealing and Staining of the Deck
Usually, this is a step that comes after you have sanded and washed your deck. Therefore, you must ensure that you allow the deck enough time to dry before you can go ahead with the deck’s staining or sealing. So here’s how to go about with your staining and sealing tasks:
- The first thing you need to do is apply stain or sealant to the handrails with a paintbrush’s help. Start your application from the top and work down to the surface of the deck.
- With the help of a natural-bristle brush, apply the oil-based formula. Use a synthetic bristle brush for the case of water-based stains.
- As for the deck’s surface, I recommend the use of a roller attached to an extension pole; it will help with the proper spreading of the stain. Back-brush it using a stain brush. You can also choose to use a flat pad applicator- a method that is equally as fast as using a roller and comes with an added advantage, does not require back-brushing. One drawback to this method is that it’s not practical when looking to reach the spaces between the boards.
- Allow your stain enough time to soak into the wood, then use a rag to remove the excess ones using a clean rag.
Note: It is not a good practice to apply your wood stain in direct sunlight.
- If you are working with porous wood, it would be best to apply at least two coats of the formula. The second coat ensures that the surface is even.
- If you are working with pressure treated wood, you must not worry about staining the underside of the deck.
- Please keep your pets, children, and traffic away from the deck for at least 24 hours to allow drying.
- After the stain dries, you can go ahead and remove the painter’s tape and then return the furniture to the deck carefully.
Note: For the best results, it is essential that you stain your deck in small sections; this ensures that there are uniformity and excellent coverage.
Quick Summary on Outdoor Wooden Deck Maintenance Practices
It is important to rearrange your outdoor furniture periodically. This includes planters, fire pits, toys, and grills, moving to mismatched color patches due to UV lights. It also helps eliminate potential hidden water pools on the surface of the deck.
You must not use rugs or mats created with natural materials as they have a reputation for trapping moisture. Therefore, you should use synthetic ones which are less likely to give you this sort of a problem.
Ensure that you trim nearby bushes and trees, leaving a distance of up to 12 inches from the deck; it is a way of reducing the possibility of moss, mold, and rot.
Inspect for the deck sections that have raised, cusp, or warped, then smooth them using a wood sander to even with the other boards.
It would be best if you can consider applying a waterproofing solution using a pump sprayer. Ensure that you apply the waterproofing solution directly to dry wooden boards and allow it to cure for 24 hours. If you notice any crack on the wood’s surface, then use wood filler, then sand to smoothen the surface.
Decks are beautiful; they provide the much needed house extension you can use as a chill spot with your family and even friends. Well-constructed and maintained decks give the first impression of the owner and possibly what to expect when you get inside the house.
Considering how expensive it is to construct a good deck, every owner of this structure should be in the best interest to understand various outdoor wooden deck maintenance steps to ensure that they get the value for their money. By value for money, I mean that the deck should serve you for as long as possible. The information that I have provided above will help guide you through the maintenance of your deck. If you have a question, suggestion or opinion, kindly share it with me. Thank you for reading!