Few areas in your home take a beating like your deck. Not only does it withstand regular foot traffic, but it’s also exposed to the harshest elements Mother Nature can dish out, which is why annual maintenance is a must. Here’s a basic deck maintenance to-do list:
Before you make any deck repairs, it’s important to get the surface clean. You can remove dirt and wood fibers with a pressure washer, being careful to keep the stream moving so you don’t gouge the wood. Deck cleaning products are commercially available as well, or you can make your own deck cleaner using a solution of bleach and water. If you use deck cleaner, wash the railings from the bottom up to avoid splatter marks, and cover nearby plants to prevent damage.
If your deck needs sealing, spring is the time to do it (if you’re not sure whether sealing is necessary, just splash a little water on the deck – if it beads up, your deck is fine, but if it soaks in, it’s time to seal it). Allow your deck to dry for 48 hours after washing it, and then sand the surface with a pole sander to remove any furriness caused by washing. Choose the deck sealant of your choice, and be sure you have enough to complete the job. One gallon typically covers 200 to 250 square feet.
3. Inspection and Repairs
You can repair your deck any time you see a problem, but the warm, dry months of summer offer the best chance to give your deck a good inspection and see what needs to be done. Check for split wood, loose boards, wood rot and anything else that needs repair. Pay special attention to deck stairs, beams, posts, joists and the ledger – the piece of framing that connects the deck to your house. Nails that have worked loose can be hammered back in, or pulled out and replaced with deck screws slightly longer than the original nails.
Keep bushes and trees cut back at least 12 inches from your deck to reduce rot, moss and mold. Clean your deck periodically, and don’t let leaves and other debris accumulate in the corners and between boards. Also, you should occasionally move items on your deck, such as tables, chairs and planters, to avoid discoloration.