3 Tips for Maintaining Your Home’s Wood Deck

by | May 15, 2020

Wooden decks are a gorgeous addition to any backyard. They’re rustic and charming, yet functional and low maintenance. They’re perfect areas for entertaining large crowds or lounging around and getting a little solitude. While there are plenty of other porch options out there, there’s no real substitute for the classic beauty of a wooden deck.  Wooden decks look terrific with virtually any home exterior color combinations. No matter what your outdoor décor or theme, a wood deck is sure to fit the bill. It’s one of the many reasons that homeowners continue to build wooden decks despite the array of other options.  However, wooden decks need a little T.L.C to maintain their appearance and functionality. Like most other lovely home additions, there’s a bit of upkeep involved. However, as long as you follow these three simple tips, you’ll be able to maintain your home’s wood deck for many years to come.

Tip #1: Wash Your Deck Thoroughly Once a Year

While your deck will get a natural wash from the rain throughout the year, it’s essential to do a thorough clean annually. Begin by doing a full sweep of the top of the deck. Then, take the time to clean up all the debris, paying particular attention to the debris in between the deck boards. Then, find an appropriate cleaner for your deck. You don’t want to use soap and water.  Instead, find a commercially available deck cleaner on the market. Then, be sure to follow the instructions on the label. Some cleansers will have you apply directly to a dry deck, while others require the deck to be wet first. So, make sure to follow the instructions for the specific cleanser you’re using.  Pick a day that isn’t too sunny because you don’t want the sun to evaporate the solution. You’ll want to apply the cleanser, and then scrub it clean while it’s still wet. Once you’ve scrubbed, allow the cleaner to soak according to the instructions, and then be sure to rinse the deck completely.  Tip #2: Re-Seal the Deck At Least Once a Year You’ll want to wait at least two days after washing before re-sealing your deck. Sealing is a vital part of maintaining a wooden deck. Wood is a terrific material, but it’s incredibly porous, so it’s subject to water damage. Sealing your deck helps prevent it from absorbing water. When your deck was first built, it likely had a sealer applied. However, over time, the sealers wear off, so you have to reapply.  An excellent way to test the state of your sealer is by pouring water onto your porch and seeing what happens. If the water pools and absorbs, it’s time to re-seal. If the water beads, your sealer is still working correctly.  Before applying a new sealer, you’ll want to sand the deck to ensure that the surface is smooth. Replace or level out any uneven screws and nails. Then, apply the sealer or stain. You can use small rollers or brushes for this process. Like with the cleanser, you’ll want to follow any specific manufacturer instructions to ensure you’re applying the sealant correctly. 

Tip #3: Inspect and Repair Problem Spots Regularly

While cleaning and sealing your deck will do a lot to keep it in great shape, you’ll still need to watch out for other issues. Check for signs of rot, look for cracks, and watch out for termites. Also, do a quick check of the ledger (the framing that connects your deck to your house), posts, beams, and joists.  If there are any signs of rot, either chisel out the rot and fill it with a wood preservative, or replace the problematic boards. If any of the structural elements, like the ledger, posts, beams, or joists look rusted or unstable, call in an expert to take a look. A quick repair of a small issue will be much cheaper than waiting until the problem becomes more significant.  Doing regular inspections on the deck ensures that you’re not missing anything that could be a quick fix or ignoring any signs of trouble down the road. 

Bonus Tip: Be Proactive to Prevent Damage

The above three tips are sure to keep your deck looking fantastic for years to come. However, to really ensure that you’re set up for success, take a few proactive measures to prevent problems.  Keep all the surrounding shrubs and plants maintained so that they don’t grow into the deck or contribute to mold, moss, or rot. Don’t let debris pile up, and be sure to move your furniture around regularly so that your deck doesn’t discolor in any locations. Wooden decks look amazing, especially when they’re against homes with cozy elements like vinyl cedar shake siding, beautiful landscaping, and rustic décor. And, as long as you follow these tips and proactively protect your deck from damage, you’ll be entertaining guests and enjoying your wooden deck for up to twenty-five years.  Matt Lee is the owner of the Innovative Building Materials blog and a content writer for the building materials industry. He is focused on helping fellow homeowners, contractors, and architects discover materials and methods of construction that save money, improve energy efficiency, and increase property value.
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