Steps on How to Maintain a Deck

My Home Handyman deck multi level deck in Tuscany

Written by My Home Handyman

February 10, 2022

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A deck can be a beautiful addition to any backyard space. Depending on the deck’s construction, the layout of the yard, and the materials used, you can have a space large enough to accommodate grilling, hosting, and so much more.

To keep your deck looking its finest, proper maintenance is required. Your deck could suffer from warping, rotting, and excessive wear and tear without proper maintenance. You need to keep the deck clean, and power washing from time to time, before sealing to protect against weather. With proper inspection and repairs where necessary, you can keep your deck looking pristine for years to come.

Why proper maintenance matters

There are three things that can happen if you don’t properly maintain your deck: discoloration, splintered wood, and rotting. All three of these have potentially major impacts on your deck as a whole and proper maintenance can help avoid them.

1. Discoloration. Whatever material you choose will have its natural colour. And compared to the other two issues, discoloration is really quite minor. That said, part of the appeal of a deck is it’s aesthetic. Improper or lacking maintenance can take away from the visual appeal of your decking.

2. Splintering. Sanding and sealing your deck regularly is to prevent wood splintering. Without proper maintenance, splintering can happen, leading to a bit of pain when gripping railings or walking barefoot.

3. Wood rot. This is the big one to avoid. Wood rot is the last thing you want to have to happen because it can compromise the integrity of the boards and even the deck as a whole. Sealing the wood will ensure moisture cannot get inside and warp it.

Spring steps

There are proper steps to take in each season to ensure that your deck is properly maintained. Doing so will protect against the issues above and actually prolong the life of your deck for a long time to come.

There are two things in the springtime that will help maintain your deck: properly cleaning it and then sealing. Let’s take a look at each of the steps.

Cleaning the deck

This isn’t a simple sweeping. A thorough cleaning of your deck means taking the time to remove any debris. A deck that goes unwashed is a hub for mildew and mould, both of which can lead to potential wood rot.

When you have properly swept the deck and removed any debris, cover any shrubs nearby that could be damaged by the cleanser. Also, it is important that you find a cleanser that is rated for the material used to build your deck. You’d want a wood cleaner for wood, warm water and soap for vinyl, and a specifically formulated cleaner for composite.

After following the cleaner’s directions, break out the power washer and rinse thoroughly. Just make sure to not go overboard with the power washer as it could fade parts of the deck.

Sealing the deck

When you have finished cleaning the deck and it has properly dried,  it is time to seal. Sealing the deck is what protects it from the elements, especially excess moisture that can lead to mould, mildew, and potential rotting.

Weather is important here, so check the forecast to find a couple of clear days with moderate temperatures. Grab a pole sander, using 80-grit sandpaper, and lightly sand the deck. The goal is to remove any burs that can be caused by washing. Be careful not to overdo it here.

Check for any missing screws or popped nails before proceeding. If you find a loose nail, don’t remove it; pound it back into place instead. You could wind up doing more damage by trying to remove it.

Finally, it is time to apply the stain or sealer. Using a roller, cover anywhere from three to four boards in one try. This will keep the stain or sealer from being spread too thin. You can use brushes or smaller rollers for benches, planters, railings, and any other accessories. Make sure the sealer doesn’t puddle and give it a couple of days to dry. A second coat will likely be necessary as well.

Summer steps

The bulk of your maintenance work will come in the spring thanks to the cleaning and sealing. What remains is keeping a watchful eye and looking for any signs of damage, performing repairs where necessary.

Proper Inspection

Summertime is the best chance to do your inspection. Check out the posts, joists, and beams. Look for any signs of cracking and rusting while also probing for signs of rot. If anything looks questionable, repairs will need to be made.

Perform repairs

While performing certain DIY repairs on your deck is possible, it isn’t recommended. Call in a professional to repair the damage, especially in the railing and boards where structural integrity can come into play.

You’ll want to ensure that the railings and boards, in particular, are free of cracks and other damage. Over time, those can wear and become even further damaged, requiring replacement.

Fall Steps

Provided your deck is in good shape and doesn’t need repair, the fall looks a lot like springtime. It is about performing the preventative maintenance that will carry your deck through the cold months of winter and keep it looking healthy until spring.

Preventative Maintenance

Depending on what kind of sealer you used, you may have to reapply come fall. This will help protect against the harsh temperatures and excess moisture that comes with winter. Some sealers can last longer, though, so check before reapplying to save yourself some time.

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