With proper maintenance, a well-built deck can remain a beautiful addition to any home for a very long time. Decks can be particularly vulnerable to wear and tear from the elements, so it’s important to perform regular upkeep. A quick and straightforward routine to preserve the quality of your deck can save you from costly repairs in the future and let you continue to enjoy your investment for years to come.
As the summer approaches, your deck may still be feeling the impact of winter. To avoid dangerous buildups of mold and mildew that can lead to premature rotting, it’s crucial for your deck to be washed and cleaned thoroughly.
Washing and Cleaning Your Deck
You will want to cover any nearby plants to protect them from being damaged by your cleaning process. Wet them down and cover them with plastic sheeting. Start your maintenance by getting between the deck boards with a putty knife and removing any debris that may have been left behind by melted snow. Sweep your deck to remove all of the leftover dirt and any excess material you may have pulled from between the boards.
You are now ready to clean your deck using cleanser. For a wood deck, you can use a standard deck cleaner as directed. Composite decks will require a specially formulated solution and can be cleaned in conjunction with commercial degreasers and detergents. A vinyl deck only needs to be scrubbed down with warm water and mild soap.
The weather will have a huge impact on your ability to clean your deck. Make sure it’s an overcast day or the sun will dry up your cleanser.
Sealing Your Deck
Wait at least two days after washing and cleaning your deck before sealing it. You will also need to set aside two days for sealing your deck. Unlike the cleaning process, you will need clear skies and moderate to warm temperatures. Be sure to use appropriate protective wear such as gloves, goggles, and a mask. If you have a composite deck, you usually will not have to use sealant, but you may want to stain your deck.
Begin by sanding your deck lightly to remove any furry buildup that may have resulted from washing. Replace any missing or protruding nails with deck screws that are slightly longer than the original nails. If a nail is only sticking out a bit, pound it in with a hammer.
Using a paint roller, apply the sealer to three or four boards at a time. Don’t let your sealer pool or dry out; apply it thinly so that you can reapply again shortly after.
The middle of the summer is the ideal time to inspect your deck and make sure that it hasn’t been damaged. Be especially vigilant about the possibility of water damage. Use this checklist to be certain that you’ve thoroughly inspected your deck:
- Rotting and damaged wood: Be on the lookout for parts of the structure that may have begun to rot. Softness is one of the telltale signs of rotting wood, so probe any suspicious areas with a flathead screwdriver. If the screwdriver can be pressed over a quarter inch into the wood, then it is likely that the board is rotting. Look for cracks in your boards as well and replace them if they show signs of damage.
- The ledger: The ledger is the part of your deck that connects it to your home. Perform a detailed inspection – damaged ledgers are the leading cause of deck collapses.
- The railing: Shake your railing to check if it has become loose or damaged.Check all joints, boards, and posts: Leave no part of your deck uninspected. The safety of yourself and your family is of the utmost importance.
When the fall rolls around, you can take advantage of the mild weather to perform any washing or sealing that you may not have had a chance to do in the spring. You can also maintain the plant life surrounding your deck by trimming them so that they remain at least 12 inches from your deck. Any closer and your deck runs the risk of developing mold or moss.
Have any tips for taking care of your deck? Let us know!