Decks made of composite materials have gained in popularity in recent years because, although they cost more to build, they are low-maintenance and last a long time. However, many people still have a wood deck and/or prefer the look and feel of a classic wood deck–which does take a bit of work every year. Even if your deck is just a few years old, it’s a good idea to start a routine now to increase its lifespan.
- Inspect the entire structure paying special attention to areas near the ground or water sources, like downspouts, planters and fasteners. These areas tend to remain damp and can trap moisture in the wood causing rot.
- Inspect the surface of the deck boards for excessive cracks, splintering, warping or decay.
- Check any decaying areas with a flat screw driver or ice pick. If the tip penetrates the wood more than a 1/4 inch, or the wood is spongy and soft, rot and decay may be present.
- Check for small holes, especially under rail caps, which may indicate an insect or pest problem.
- Inspect deckboards, joists, support posts and beams. Also check the ledger board, flashing & hardware for rust or boards that may have become loose over time.
- Check railings & stairs for any damage or looseness.
- If the deck boards were nailed, check for popped or protruding nails and consider replacing them with deck screws.
- Perform a water test by pouring a glass of water on the deck surface. If the water beads up the deck is still protected, however, if the water soaks in it’s time to wash and re-stain.
- Sweep the deck thoroughly.
- Remove dirt and debris stuck between the deck boards with a putty knife.
- Plan to clean the deck on a cloudy day when the wood is cool and the sun will not evaporate the cleaner.
- Wash the deck with a mild detergent or deck wash such as Mold Amor EZ Deck & Fence Wash®. Use a commercial degreaser for oil or grease stains and a brightener containing oxalic acid for rust and leaf stains.
- Use a garden sprayer to apply the cleaner, according to the manufactures recommendations, and scrub in with a stiff brush. Thoroughly rinse the deck with a garden hose or presser washer, set on a low setting.
- Allow to the deck to dry for 48 hours prior to sealing. A moisture meter can also be used to test the dryness of the wood.
Sealing & Staining:
- Sealing the wood preserves the life of the deck and prevents splintering and discoloration.
- Use 80 grit sand paper to remove any furriness on the wood from washing.
Choose a deck sealer or stain. Sealers are colorless and let the natural wood color and grain shine. Sealers protect the wood from the elements, but they provide very little protection, if any, from UV rays. Stains are available in many different colors and the darker the color, the better the UV protection will be.
- Clear – lets the wood’s natural grain and color show through.
- Toner – Adds a touch of color to enhance the natural wood.
- Semi Transparent – Lets some wood grain show through but tints the wood.
- Solid Stain – Completely covers the grain and covers weathered and damaged wood.