Deck Maintenance Tips
Home Improvement Help and Maintenance Tips:
Check out the deck
Thinking about kicking back and enjoying some nice quiet
time on the deck? Maybe doing a little grilling, inviting
friends and family over? If so, think about doing a yearly
maintenance check on that deck first. For many, the deck
is one of the largest investments made on the exterior of
a home. It pays to give it a thorough review once a year
to keep it in good shape, serving you and your family for
many years to come.
Here’s a checklist to use when reviewing your deck:
1. Check for surface damage. Look for signs of stress,
like excessive curling, cracking, or rotting in the boards
that make up the surface of your deck. Replace any
questionable planks with new wood that matches the
existing deck. Inspect all the nails, screws and/or bolts
that hold your deck together. Tighten screws that have
worked loose and redrive any nails that are not slightly
lower than the surface.
2. Check for structural damage. Not often do we have
occasion to look at the underside of the deck. Take time
to do so, using a high-powered flashlight. Look for any
signs of animal or insect damage, such as chewed wood,
holes or brittle areas. If you find any signs of insects
or insect damage, you may want to schedule a visit from a
pest-control expert. If the damage appears to be
animal-related, consider adding lattice or some type of
barrier around the edges to keep critters out.
3. Clean the deck. Dirt, algae, moss and smog can discolor
a deck and keep sealers from working effectively. Even
newly built decks should be cleaned prior to treatment to
remove mill glaze or excess wax, which will affect a
sealer’s ability to penetrate the wood. Use a reformulated
deck cleaner or oxygen bleach (now popularized under many
brand names) and a stiff brush to scrub the surface
(according to the manufacture's directions). Be sure to
loosen any debris that has built up between the planks.
You may need to consider using a power washer for more
difficult stains. Let the washed deck dry for 24 hours
before applying a sealer.
If you used colored stain on your deck in the past, you
may need to strip any deteriorating areas. Look for a
special deck stain and finish remover to do the job
quickly and safely.
4. Seal the deck. No finish, even pressure-treated wood,
is weatherproof. No sealer lasts a lifetime either. Until
recently, experts recommended sealing decks yearly. With
advances in finishes, treatment time now varies; check the
A simple test would be to check the deck after a short or
moderate rainfall – or pour a half-cup of water on slowly.
If water is beading and puddling on the surface, the deck
is sealed. If the water is absorbed quickly, it’s time to
There are many brands and types of deck finish; none is
perfect for all situations. Their success lies not in the
type of ingredients – or the price – but in how well they
penetrate the wood. The more they soak into the wood, the
longer the finish will last. Be sure, however, to get a
sealer with ultraviolet protection, since sun can be your
deck’s worst enemy.
Sealers can be applied with a garden sprayer, scrub brush
or a pad-type applicator. Follow the manufacturer’s
Enjoy! After waiting at least 24 hours, replace furniture
and start using your renewed deck. Please contact a
professional if you are uncomfortable doing the work