Extend The Life Of Your Deck With Proper Care
When was the last time you did some maintenance on your decking? Most homeowners believe that the pressure treated lumber used to make the decking should last for years without needing any repair or maintenance. However, while decking is made of some of the toughest wood out there that can resist decay and insect infestations, it is still wood and wood is vulnerable to the sun’s rays and moisture. This applies to all types of wood including hardwoods such as redwood and cedar, which will start looking greyish if you do not perform regular maintenance. This guide here is a step by step guide on How to maintain a wood deck.
1) Scrape Off Loose Finish
The first thing to do is clean debris and any leftover finish and stains from the decking. Get a paint scraper and remove any opaque stains on the deck including any leftover paints. It is always good practice to remove any imperfections by scraping down to the wood. The most important places to ensure you have cleaned thoroughly are the places where the deck boards cross the structural members under the decking.
Note: Always do the scraping in line with the grain of the wood as any scraping against the grain may irreparably damage the wood leaving ugly marks.
2) Scrub the Surface
Once you have scraped off loose finish and debris, get a stiff brush to scrub off the debris from the decking. You can also use a belt or palm sander to scrub the paint and debris from the surface to get it back into the natural wooden state.
3) Apply Cleaner
While water is great for removing grime and dirt from the deck, you cannot get out the stains caused by algae, mold, and mildew without a cleaner. With a cleaner, you can get beautiful and long lasting decking that you will not have to clean again for weeks if not months.
To remove mildew and algae stains and some oxidized deck sealants, you need to get Non-chlorine oxygenated bleach. These brighten and clean the wood and are also environmentally friendly and biodegradable.
Get sprayer, roller or just the normal bucket and brush and apply the cleaner. Keep the deck wet while applying and then let the cleaner set for between 15 to 20 minutes.
Note that you should not use chlorine based cleaners for cedar or redwood as they may darken the wood. Always follow the directions on the label of the cleaner to determine if it is appropriate for the wood.
4) Pressure Wash the Deck
Once the cleaner has set, get a pressure washer with a good nozzle and power clean the deck to remove the cleaner and wash away any residue from previous steps.
While it can be tempting to go for the highest setting this may damage the wood and hence a lower setting is recommended. Nonetheless, reading the manufacturer manual for the best setting for the wood installed is always recommended.
To prevent damage to the wood, move the nozzle along the grain at an angle approximately 8 inches, and always move the nozzle anytime you are pressing on the trigger.
Once you have cleaned it, let it dry for two to three days.
5) Apply the Stain on the Decking
Once it is dry, get a staining pad, paint roller, paint brush or pump sprayer and apply your deck stain. This can either be an exterior stain or a clear wood preservative. Your clear wood preservatives are excellent for bringing the decking back to life and protecting it from the elements while exterior stains are excellent for repelling moisture.
Tip: Always apply the stain in small sections to ensure proper coverage and better uniformity.
6) Replace or Repair Damaged Boards
Depending on the extent of the damage, you may have to repair or replace damaged boards on the deck. You can get a claw hammer and replace old boards and replace with matching ones.
Unfortunately, this could result in a deck with mismatched sections given that wood is gradually weathered and new boards will stand out.
If you have the funds or do not want to have mismatched sections on the deck you can replace the entire deck with new boards all at once.
7) Tips for Maintaining your Deck
1. Regularly check for damaged boards that may have to repaired or replaced. Warped or raised boards should be sanded to be level with other sections and jutting nails replaced with wooden ones. Regular repairs and maintenance will keep the deck in good condition for longer.
2. Clean and seal the deck on the regular to protect it from the sun and rain. If you can, get a professional to do it for you which will get you a seal that lasts for up to three years. If you decide to do it yourself you may have to do it every year.
3. Clean the deck of dirt and leaves and shovel off the snow during the winter as soon as you can. This will present stains forming on the wood or the moisture getting into the wood, which could cause mold, mildew, and algae.
4. Always repair the deck as soon as you notice any problems. Remove any rotting boards when you find them and tighten railings and loose boards to maintain the structural integrity of the deck.