Decks, the outdoor jewel of our homes.
Not much brings homeowners greater pride than a newly installed wood deck. This large, stunning wood deck provides added living space and quickly becomes a focal point for outdoor activities.
But then, invariably, alarm sets in. What happened to my beautiful deck? It looks horrible!
Help is Around the Corner
Decks are not one of those low-maintenance, install-it-and-forget-about-it things. You cannot forget about a deck; it requires constant upkeep. The longer you ignore a deck, the more you will pay for looking the other way.
But that’s the bad news. The good news is your deck is probably just dirty – and needs a thorough cleaning. Learn how to stay on top of deck maintenance and how to clean it once a year. You will love your deck again.
Be Proactive About All the Things that Can Soil Your Deck
Wood decks get even more wear and tear than the exterior of your home. In addition to being exposed to sunlight, rain, dirt and debris, they also endure foot traffic. And if you have placed a grill on your deck, its good looks are threatened by grease and oil, too. These are the things to look for:
- Sweep dirt and leaves regularly. A small cluster of leaves looks harmless enough – until it gets wet and possibly gets moldy.
- Clearing puddles of water. A structural improvement may be your best bet, but until it is made, clear puddles before they can discolor the wood.
- Place planters on top of risers or cement blocks to avoid trapping dirt and moisture.
- Put a tarp under your grill and a grease catcher underneath the grill opening. Grease stains are difficult to remove.
- Make repairs promptly. Loose boards and railings threaten your deck’s structure and can start to rot and mold.
Deck Maintenance Pivots on Annual Cleaning
- Sweep your deck with a broom, working in the direction of the grain. A leaf blower might be quicker, but probably won’t loosen ground-in dirt.
- Hose down your deck with a moderate to hard stream of water from a garden hose. A pressure washer might be quicker, but the risk of gouging the wood with its force is too great. So-called “fireman nozzles” sold at auto parts stores can work just as well for the spray without the risk of tearing up the wood.
- Scrub the surface of the deck with a stiff bristle brush with a broom handle – again in the direction of the grain.
- Allow the deck to fully dry before sealing it.
Seal Your Deck Every Couple Years
Sealing your deck will protect it from swelling under the influence of rain and dew and shrinking from the sun. This cycle of expansion and shrinkage will cause an unsealed deck to warp and turn gray. Your deck should be lightly sanded first.
- Use a clear sealer, which will last longer.
- Sealant can be applied with a brush, paint roller
Use Deck Paint
Do not use paint as a sealant. It looks splendid when first applied, but it quickly deteriorates under the rigors of foot traffic. Plus, if you change your all of the paint will have to be removed first.
Follow these tips for a beautiful deck year after year.