Fewer amenities bring homeowners greater pride – and joy – than a newly installed wood deck. This large, stunning expanse of honey-brown wood, solid and sturdy but soft underfoot, provides added living space and quickly becomes a focal point for outdoor activities.
But then, invariably, alarm sets in. And that's when homeowners call Experts in Your Home in an alarmed state. What happened to my beautiful deck? It looks terrible!
Help is Around the Corner
If the Experts installed your deck, we made it clear: decks are not one of those low-maintenance, install-it-and-forget-about-it amenities. You cannot forget about a deck; it requires consistent upkeep and even a watchful eye. More than many home amenities, 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 – maybe really dirty – and needs a thorough cleaning. Turn your alarm into an education by learning how to stay on top of deck maintenance and how to clean it once a year. You will – trust us – swell with pride again.
Be Proactive About All the Elements that Can Sully Your Deck
Wood decks sustain 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 a good deal of foot traffic. And if you have placed a grill on your deck, its good looks are threatened by grease and oil, too. Knowing this, be vigilant about deck maintenance by:
- Sweeping dirt and leaves regularly. A small cluster of leaves looks harmless enough – until it gets wet and possibly spawns mold.
- Clearing puddles of water. A structural improvement may be your best bet, but until it is made, clear puddles before they attract pollen and fungal spores that can discolor the wood.
- Placing planters on top of risers or cement blocks to avoid trapping dirt and moisture.
- Putting a tarp under your grill and a grease catcher underneath the opening. Grease stains are difficult to remove.
- Making repairs promptly. Loose boards and railings threaten your deck's veracity and can trigger 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 deliver an intense spray without the risks.
- Purchase a commercial deck cleaner that will attack dirt, mildew and oxidation (discoloration). These cleaners usually contain sodium percarbonate. Be careful to follow the directions, and wear rubber gloves and safety goggles.
- Scrub the surface of the deck with a stiff bristle brush with a broom handle – again in the direction of the grain. Work in one small area at a time and rinse the area with water before moving on to the next area. You'll be able to better assess the results of your efforts than if you tried to clean the entire deck at once.
- Allow the deck to fully dry – up to 48 hours – before sealing it.
Seal Your Deck at Least Every Two 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. Seal your deck at least once every two years – or let the Experts do it for you. It's a big job, especially considering that:
- Your deck should be lightly sanded first.
- An oil-based sealer is more resilient but is trickier to work with.
- A tinted sealer may be more aesthetically appealing, but it will fade faster than a clear sealer, which will last longer.
- Sealant can be applied with a brush, paint roller or a spray, with the first two choices being optimal for most decks. Spray is quick but difficult to control.
Using Deck Paint
Finally, no matter how tempted you may be – or how often you hear manufacturers tout the advantages of “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 mind – as many people do – and want to return to a stain, all of the paint will have to be removed first.
Follow these tips for a beautiful deck year after year. Feel free to contact our experts for help with your deck related projects.
After all, wouldn't it be nice – with a deck maintenance regimen like this – to be able to say, Look at my beautiful deck! Doesn't it look great?