Annual deck maintenance will protect your investment and help keep repairs to a minimum.
Decks are exposed to the elements year round, and here in Minnesota the weather isn’t always so kind. It’s a good idea to establish some sort of routine that will protect your deck and prevent expensive future repairs.
Here’s a simple schedule to help keep your deck safe and looking great.
Late Spring : Wash deck
You don’t want mold and mildew to show up, this could lead to rot.
- Remove debris from between deck boards. A putty knife usually works great for this. Pay special attention to the areas where deck boards cross the joists and the support pillars.
- Protect all shrubs and plantings Cover with plastic sheeting.
- Thoroughly sweep the deck
- Choose an appropriate cleanser.
Wood deck: Use standard cleaner. Check the instructions, some decks require to be wet first some don’t.Composite deck: Use something specifically for composite material and can attack oil stains and grease.
Vinyl deck: This one is easy, just your simple soap and water will do the trick.
- Clean the deck. A cloudy day is perfect because there is less of a chance the sun will evaporate the cleaner.Wood deck: Use a paint roller, a garden sprayer, or a stiff-bristled brush broom to apply the cleaner. Don’t let it pool or dry until its completely scrubbed clean. Then let it soak according to manufacturer’s instructions (usually about 10 minutes) and rinse thoroughly with clean water.
Composite deck: Use a soft brush. Do not use a pressure washer as it can permanently damage the decking and will void any warranty. You can use deck brightener containing oxalic acid to remove rust and leaf stains.
Vinyl deck: Scrub in a circular motion using a stiff broom, then rinse thoroughly.
- Let deck dry. Wait at least two days before sealing.
Late spring: Seal deck
Sealers and stains are available at usually any home improvement store for about $30 per gallon — Which is enough for about 250 sq ft of decking. Your finish options include:
- Clear sealer for that natural color
- Toner that adds a bit of color but fully reveals the grain and provides some protection against sunlight
- Semi-transparent stain that tints the wood and allows some grain to come through
- Solid stain and opaque color to seal weathering damage and completely cover grain
Expect to reapply clear sealers and toners annually. Stain finishes semi-annually, but that could be different depending on location.
- Choose a two-day period When you’ll have clear skies and moderate temperatures.
- Lightly sand the deck. Use some sandpaper to get rid of any furriness left over from washing.
- Replace any missing or popped nails and screws.
- Apply the sealer or stain. Use a roller to apply the sealer to the decking, covering three or four boards at a time. Use a smaller brush for the railings. Make sure it doesn’t pool, and two light coats is better then one thick one.TIP: Deck sealants aren’t required or recommended for composite decks.
Midsummer: Inspect and Repair Your Deck
When the weather is warm and dry, it’s a good time to look your deck over.
- Look for signs of rot.
- Inspect the ledger. Use a flashlight to inspect underneath the deck. Especially the area that connects the deck to the house.TIP: The ledger should be attached with lag screws, not just nails.
- Check remaining joists, posts, and beams. Check all the hardware underneath, especially joist hangers, and replace anything rusted out.
- Check for cracks or rotten deck board. Not all cracks are a structural threat, but they can get worse over time.
- Check the railing. Shake the rail to make sure it’s not too lose or damaged. Loose railings can be fixed by drilling pilot holes and adding galvanized lag screws. Look for cracks that may have formed around fasteners like nails or screws. To fix, remove fastener and seal cracks with some exterior grade adhesive. Then, drill a new pilot hole and add a new screw.
Early Fall: Preventive Measures
If you didn’t wash and seal your deck in the spring, the fall is a good time as well. The best time is when the temperatures are mild.
Otherwise, to keep your deck in good shape:
- Trim nearby bushes and trees.
- Don’t let leaves pile up in corners.
- Move planters, chairs, and tables occasionally to avoid discoloring
Here it is important to keep snow off your deck. When you do your drive way get your deck too! Will be most helpful come spring time when the snow starts to melt. Less ice to worry about means less damage.
Also put away all your patio gear.
If you follow these steps you should be able to keep that brand new deck you just got in tip top shape.
Time for a new deck?
A new deck could be the next great thing to boost your property value and give you a great place to relax outdoors right outside your own house. Give Xpand Inc a call today, we would love to help you design your next deck!