Deck Maintenance Basics

Hardware tool inside pocket

Neglecting to perform regular maintenance is one of the easiest ways to ruin your deck. This is why it’s crucial to take the time to care for your deck and help it stay in great condition. Here are some deck maintenance basics that you don’t want to skip over!

Inspect Your Deck

While it’s not exactly “maintenance,” inspecting your deck on a yearly basis is very important when it comes to increasing your deck’s longevity. Before you begin to perform deck maintenance, get an idea of what you’re working with by inspecting your deck for any problems. Are there any loose boards? Is the wood rotting? Are there any protruding nails? These are just a few of the questions you’ll want to ask yourself when inspecting your deck. 

Wash Your Deck Each Year

The next step in maintaining your deck is cleaning it, and it’s best to do this on a yearly basis to minimize the chance of wood rotting. Use an appropriate deck cleaning solution to kill any mold or bacteria that’s accumulated over the last year. 

Usually, a cleaning solution is spread onto a deck using a broom or pressure washer. If you use the latter, though, do not go overboard. Pressure washing a deck too heavily can gouge the wood. Make sure to hold the nozzle far enough away from the deck’s surface so as to not damage the wood

Another important thing to be aware of is the type of deck cleaning solution you use. It’s definitely in your best interest to steer clear of chlorine bleach, as it can strip the wood of its natural color. Your best bet is to use a product with a non-chlorine or acid base. 

Apply Stain

While some choose to apply paint to their decks, deck stain is the more common route to go. If you’d like to preserve the natural look of the wood, it’s best to use a clear or lightly stained finish. Heavily pigmented or colored stains tend to show wear and tear more easily, and they’re prone to flaking and peeling. In order to achieve the best possible results, use a stain that actually soaks into the wood and doesn’t just sit on the surface.

When purchasing a deck stain, it’s important to know what to look for. First, make sure to buy a stain that is completely waterproof, not just water resistant. Secondly, try to purchase a stain that offers ultraviolet (UV) protection. This will help to prevent fading. Lastly, if you’re concerned about mildew growth, consider a deck stain that contains mildewcide.

Seal the Deck

After staining the deck, wait for it to dry, and then prepare for sealing. Before getting started, cover plants, decor, and other surrounding objects with plastic or a tarp so they are protected. 

When it comes to actually sealing the deck, you can apply it with a paintbrush, a paint roller, or a sprayer. Depending on which you choose, you may have to apply more or less coats of sealant. While a sprayer is the easiest and quickest, it’s harder to control and doesn’t apply the solution as thickly as rollers or brushes do. It’s best to start with a thin coat, and then apply a second if the first coat wasn’t enough. You can also go in with a paintbrush to apply the sealant in areas that the roller or sprayer can’t reach.

Deck Maintenance Tips and Pointers

The following are some tips and suggestions to keep in mind when performing deck maintenance:

  • Before staining your deck, check the weather to make sure there isn’t any rain in the forecast for at least two days. The last thing you want is for the rain to wash away your freshly-applied stain!
  • To determine if your deck needs to be sealed or not, sprinkle a few drops of water on it and watch what it does. If it seeps into the wood, it’s time to reseal. However, if the water beads up, sealing isn’t necessary right away, but may be in a few months.
  • While it’s true that deck maintenance is something you can do yourself, sometimes you may be better off hiring a professional, depending on the state of your deck. That way, you’ll avoid the hassle and any costly mistakes. 

If you have any questions on deck maintenance, or just need a little extra help, feel free to contact us!