Decks are an attractive feature for many homeowners. They can act as an extension of your home, providing a place to gather with family and friends or just relax by yourself. If you want to make sure you are able to enjoy your deck to the fullest, there are some things you should be doing to properly maintain it.
Why You Should Maintain Your Deck
A new deck doesn’t come cheap. Sure, there are things you can do to decrease the cost associated with installing one. You could do a lot of the labor yourself, and you can find ways to get materials for less. You’re still going to be shelling out a decent amount of cash for it though. Decks offer additional utility and can make your home look more attractive as a result. A deck can increase your home’s value, but you’ll have to maintain it if you want it to retain that value. Maintenance is also important for making sure your deck is safe to be on.
Understand the Effects of Your Local Climate
The maintenance needs of your deck will depend heavily on your local climate. Temperature extremes can cause wood to expand and contract. Humidity can cause wood to warp. Sun exposure can make wood dry out excessively and cause it to become dull and brittle. You can address a lot of these problems through proper and consistent deck maintenance. Make sure you understand your climate and the impact it will have on your deck so you know how to take care of it.
Aging the Wood
If you’ve ever held a piece of new wood and compared its weight to a similarly sized piece of old wood, you’ve probably noticed that the new wood is heavier. Newer wood contains more water, which accounts for the difference in weight. New decks made of newer wood need to be allowed to age or dry somewhat before being cleaned and sealed for the first time. Otherwise, you’ll end up trapping that moisture in the wood. This can cause mold, mildew, and even wood rot to grow. Eventually that can weaken the wood and compromise the structural integrity of your deck. It is recommended to allow your deck to weather for about six months before staining. This allows the wood to dry out and become more porous, which lets the stain soak into the wood more to better protect it.
Keeping your deck clean is an important part of deck maintenance. Power washing can help get rid of dirt, grime, and any residue left over from the mill. This is an important step in preparing your deck for being stained or painted. The spaces between the boards, as well as the pores in the boards themselves need to be thoroughly cleaned to allow the stain to properly penetrate the wood. Power washing isn’t just a one and done task either. It’s a good idea to power wash your deck at least once a year, and always before applying a stain.
Staining your deck regularly helps protect the wood from damage caused by water, sun, and mildew. It differs from paint in that it allows the natural beauty of your deck’s wood to shine through. Once you’ve prepared your deck for staining, it’s time to start the application process. Start with any vertical features and work your way down. Use long, even strokes to apply the stain to the boards. A paintbrush can be used to apply it to small cracks and between boards. Allow your deck to dry for 24 hours. Choose a high quality deck stain for best results.
Treating the Deck
Once the stain is dry, you need to seal the deck. This provides added protection from the elements that is crucial to keep your deck in good condition. There are different ways to apply sealant to your deck, and which works best for you will depend on your level of experience. For optimal protection, seal your deck every 1-3 years. Don’t go more than three years without resealing your deck, as this allows the wood of your deck to become exposed to the elements and vulnerable to being damaged by them.
Prevent Pest Damage
As a wooden structure, your deck is vulnerable to certain pests. Whether they eat wood or just make their home in it, pests can cause significant damage to your new deck. Keeping your deck clean and removing tall grasses and plants can help prevent bugs from finding your deck so inviting. Consider laying down a protective bug-proof layer under your deck to keep them from getting to it from underneath.
You should be taking preventative measures to reduce the damage your deck incurs, but even the best preventative measures won’t be enough to prevent all damage. It’s hard to fix a problem if you don’t know it exists. As such, it’s important to regularly inspect your deck for any damage or defects. Carefully go over the surfaces of your deck and make sure the wood, hardware, and connections are in good condition. Don’t forget to inspect underneath your deck as well. The supports are crucial to your deck’s structural integrity. Allowing unseen problems to go unchecked can be a serious mistake.
Repair as Needed
At some point you’ll notice the need for repairs of some degree. Maybe a plank has broken or rot has set in. If you catch damage early enough, repairing it shouldn’t be too much of a challenge. Try to avoid putting off repairs. If it’s not something you can handle yourself, reach out to professionals who can take care of it for you. Remember, damage doesn’t fix itself.
Properly maintaining your new deck is critical to keeping it in good condition and looking amazing. There are some things that need to be addressed with some immediacy after it’s built. Other maintenance tasks need to be repeated in order to be effective. Keep your deck clean and inspect it regularly, making repairs as needed. This will help your deck retain that new deck look and feel for years to come.
We can power wash your deck and make it look as good as new. Contact us to schedule an appointment!