Your deck isn’t just your own private oasis or haven, it’s also an investment in the value of your home. To keep it look its best and to extend its life, it’s necessary to spend some time cleaning, sealing, and repairing issues to maintain your wood deck.
Cleaning Your Wood Deck
When: Spring, on a cloudy day to keep the deck from getting too hot
How Often: Annually
How: Sweep away any gathered leaves and twigs. Check in between the boards for debris and remove that as well. If necessary, cover any furniture or plants that cannot be removed from the deck.
In addition, trim back any trees or foliage that are getting close to your deck. This can slow the growth of mold and reduce the amount of cleanup you’ll need to do in the future.
Select a deck cleaner that suits your needs and read the directions. Most deck cleaners are easily applied with a paint roller or brush broom. After it has soaked as per the manufacturer’s instructions, rinse with your garden hose.
For railings, it’s advised that one begin at the bottom and work their way up so cleaner doesn’t splatter onto dry wood.
Once the deck has been rinsed, allow it to dry at least two days before applying sealant.
Sealing Your Wood Deck
When: A couple of days after cleaning
How Often: Annually after cleaning for sealers and toners, every other year or so for stains
How: Purchase the amount of sealer, toner, or stain that you need for your deck (no one wants to have to run out to get more mid-job!). Check the weather and find a two-day period sometime after you’ve cleaned your deck where it’s temperate with no chance of rain.
Start by sanding the deck and checking for nails or screws that are sticking out. Hammer in loose nails and fix any other issues you encounter.
With a roller, apply your chosen sealer, toner, or stain to the decking boards. With a smaller brush or roller, cover your railings and smaller architectural features like benches or planters. Reapply if necessary according to manufacturer’s instructions.
Repairing Your Wood Deck
When: While you’re cleaning, sealing, or just enjoying your deck. Consider doing a full inspection yearly.
How Often: As necessary
How: Small repairs like nails that have popped up can be taken care of year round. For larger issues, consider doing a yearly inspection of joists, posts, and beams. To begin, look for signs of rot. Rot is most likely to occur where any of your wood posts meet the ground. If the wood is soft, you may have rot. Small areas of rot can be removed and filled with wood preservative. Large areas will require replacement posts or boards.
Replace any rusted hardware and any cracked or rotten boards. Tighten the railing if it is loose. Creaking boards are likely the result of loose screws or nails. Tighten them if necessary.
Help extend the life of your deck by regularly cleaning, sealing, and repairing it. Regularly changing how your deck furniture is arranged can also reduce wear patterns and help your deck age more evenly.