Keeping Your Deck in Top Shape

A deck is not only a place to hangout but it’s also an asset of your home. To keep your deck in top condition, always practice these good maintenance habits – regular cleaning, proper use of chemical-based sealers and cleaning materials, and the use of other good deck care products.
Keeping Your Deck in Top Shape

Most people would rather spend an afternoon sitting on their deck than a minute keeping it clean. But your deck is only as good as you make it; without proper care and maintenance, it can quickly turn from a home asset to a major burden and an eyesore. It takes some work, but as long as your deck is in top condition, you can be sure all your efforts will pay off.

Maintaining your deck involves two processes: keeping it clean and performing necessary repairs. Ideally you’ll only need the latter about once a year, but that depends on how well you do the former. Set aside a few minutes a day to maintain your deck and you can be sure it’ll last years of constant use. Here are few things to keep in mind when maintaining your deck.

Get good deck care products. Cleaning is essential to deck maintenance, but regular soap and water won’t do the job. You need a set of good deck care products that go beyond cleaning. A good cleaning product should do four things: block ultraviolet rays, keep out moisture, prevent mold and mildew growth, and enhance your deck’s color and finish. If you get a lot of sunlight, get a solid color or semi-transparent cleaner. The pigments will block more UV rays and take longer to fade.

Reseal every year. Most decks are made from hardwoods chemically treated to prevent rot. But the treatment doesn’t last forever; you’ll need to reapply the sealant every year. If you’re using naturally rot-resistant wood (such as cedar or cypress), treat it every two years, and every year after the third treatment. Don’t seal it right after installation—let it weather for about a year so it can better take the chemicals.

Clean regularly. Dust, soil and sand will get in between the deck slabs every day. Make sure to get it all out at least once a week, otherwise they’ll build up and erode the wood. A simple broom or rug can do the job, but there are also some cleaning products designed to reach the gaps. What’s important is to make sure the surface is clean and smooth. Try to give it a quick sweep once a day so you won’t have a lot to do at the end of the week.

Fix problems immediately. When you see a loose screw, wood splinters, or a broken slab, don’t wait until the weekend to do something about it. Chances are the problem will only get worse the longer you put it off. Check the steps and railings for wood splinters, and the gaps in between the wood for mold and mildew. Always have a supply of screws, nails, and spare slabs for quick repairs. If you can’t spare a few minutes to fix it, at least patch it up to keep the damage from spreading.

Be gentle with new decks. New decks aren’t necessarily much sturdier than older ones. In fact, new decks need more attention during the first year, and some materials get stronger the longer you use them. Don’t use bleach on new decks; give it a few years to weather and settle into its natural color. Instead, rinse the surface with a garden sprayer letting it soak for about 5 minutes before wiping it dry.

Don’t forget the railings. Railings don’t take as much abuse as the deck floor, but that doesn’t mean they’re impervious to damage. The seams in particular tend to weaken over time. Clean them along with your deck floor and base, making sure to clean the sides of each rail. Check for any loose parts and repair them immediately; these can lead to serious accidents especially if your deck is on the second level.

Keep it dry. Moisture is wood’s biggest enemy. Rain and humidity can greatly affect your deck’s structural integrity and eventually cause it to rot. You can’t stop it either, but you can minimize the damage by keeping your deck clean and dry. After a rainfall, dry the surface with a fan to prevent dry rot. Check the gaps regularly for fungal infestations; it’s important to catch them early so they don’t spread.