Like it or not, your wood deck will need maintenance to keep it in the best shape possible. As well as general wear and tear, your deck is exposed to the elements such as snow, rain, and UV rays from the sun. Maintenance is a vital skill for anyone owning a deck who wants to avoid expensive repairs and replacements down the line. Neglecting a deck can cause problems in terms of appearance and overall use.
There are quick ways, wrong ways, and correct ways to carry out maintenance on your deck. Make sure you carry out regular checks on your deck to keep the condition as high as possible. Regular cleaning and sweeping are quick ways to keep your deck looking at its best as well as repairing any minor damages to avoid them becoming larger problems. Applying a protective coating to your deck annually or bi-annually is also a great way to protect it against the elements.
Many people go to great expense and effort in having an amazing deck installed and then fail to maintain it for a couple of years or protect it in the wrong way. Reacting to a problem is almost always far more costly compared to being proactive. Taking regular steps to protect, clear and repair will mean that the time spent looking after your deck will be minimal.
How do you take care of wooden decks?
Before any kind of maintenance can take place, you must make every effort to understand what needs to be done. If your deck is in a shaded area, surrounded by greenery, then you should be protecting against potential moisture and mold from fallen leaves for example. A deck that is in a sun trap will need a totally different product applied to it such as one that is designed to protect against UV rays. Just make sure that when you are selecting a sealant, you are taking into consideration what you are protecting against.
Why should I maintain my deck?
Installing a good quality deck is a big expense so looking after it makes sense. People spend a fortune on a car and maintain it so that they don’t need to replace it every year. The same is true of your decking area, no matter the size. Your deck will last far longer and stay in a far better condition with proper maintenance. Using suitable products helps keep mold, mildew, and stains to a minimum. Wood and moisture are not a good mix so make sure you seal up your wood deck to protect it.
Are you prepared?
Choose the time of year carefully for any maintenance or cleaning. You need the outdoor temperature to be above 50°F during the day and night and for it to be a dry forecast. This stops the wood from contracting in the cold or swelling in the damp. Also, check that you have all the tools and equipment on hand. There is nothing worse than starting a task and then realizing you are missing a tool or a tin of oil.
How do I make my deck last longer?
In short, look after it! Regularly sweep leaves and dirt off the boards and deal with stains from food or drink quickly. All these little jobs will make a huge difference to the life span of your deck. Remember, a new deck should be left untreated for at least 60 days to allow it to settle and expand naturally. Painting or sealing before the 60 days is up can lead to cracks appearing.
How do you take care of a wooden deck?
This will depend on whether you have chosen a hard or a soft wood. Hardwood decking boards are generally more resistant to mold than softer woods, but this doesn’t mean they should be cared for any less. Hardwoods tend to be oilier in their make up so choosing a suitable sealant is important. It is advised that hardwood be left untreated for a period of 2-3 months to allow for oils to leave the wood naturally.
This is not the case with softer woods. These need to be treated quickly and on all sides to make them more resistant to rot, mold, and UV rays. When the initial seal is applied, it needs to be left for 24-48 hours before an oil or paint is applied to it. Applying this early will mean they will not bond with the wood and will crack.
How often do decks need to be sealed?
Sealing your deck should be repeated every 1 – 3 years. This will depend on the condition of the deck and what weather conditions have been like. A mild winter for example won’t have affected your deck as much as a harsh winter with snow and ice.
Choosing not to seal your deck won’t cause immediate damage such as rot and splintering but the overall appearance of your deck will diminish. Luckily, you can seal your deck later which brings out the natural grains of the wood again. Sealing your deck will help restore its natural color.
Should you pressure wash a deck?
There are mixed opinions around the use of pressure washers on decks. Some people love them, and some people don’t. If you are going to pressure wash, it is important to remember you will have to do something else once the washing has been completed. Pressure washing mold and mildew from decking boards is very effective, but it does leave spores behind. These need to be swept away as they can grow back very quickly indeed – and they look ugly!
It is also important to consider the strength of the water. Too strong a jet and you risk damaging the wooden boards. This can lead to an unnecessary expense of replacing part of the decking.
Is it better to sand or power wash a deck?
Sanding is better for the deck compared to power washing. Power washing is far quicker than sanding but is also the quickest way to damage your deck. A slight splinter or crack can be made into a major problem with a power washer as you run the risk of damaging the appearance of the wood. Sanding is more beneficial and is a more natural way of maintaining the wood. Sand with the grain to avoid unsightly scratches and sweep away any saw dust that is generated. Removing this dust is critical as the next step will be to apply a sealant to the wood. Any dust that is still there will spoil the finish of the boards and mean that the sealant will be less effective.
To paraphrase an old saying, look after your deck and your deck will look after you. Decks are a fantastic addition to a home and create brilliant outdoor spaces. Maintaining them properly shouldn’t be a chore and should be completed regularly. The little and often approach to deck maintenance is the best way to operate rather than waiting for a huge problem to develop which could involve an expensive repair.
If staining and sealing a deck once a year isn’t something you want to do it may be time to think about upgrading to a composite deck. Composite decking is a wood/plastic hybrid mixture that creates a product that is almost completely maintenance-free. I say almost because you still will want to clean it off every once in a while but you won’t ever have to sand and stain it.
If you are located in the Northern Colorado/ Southern Wyoming area, then give us a call today at 970-663-2868 or visit our Deck Services page and fill out the contact form to make an appointment to discuss your next home improvement project.