You love your deck, so don’t wait until it’s too late to start maintaining your deck. With proper care, your deck can provide many years of outdoors enjoyment.
The simplest maintenance is simply keeping your deck clean and free of debris that encourages water damage and mold growth. You will also want to make sure that your deck is sealed and protected. During the off season, you will want to make sure that plants and trees don’t grow too close to the deck.
Keeping Your Deck Clean
Expect to do a deep clean of your deck at least twice a year, in the spring and fall, or at the beginning and the end of “deck season”. First, sweep off and small debris that may have collected on the deck, including leaves and twigs from any overhanging or nearby trees. Use a putty knife to remove any built up debris from in between the deck boards.
Once the deck is free of dirt and debris, you can do a full clean of the deck with the appropriate cleaning solution. For a wood deck, you can use a standard deck cleaner. Just follow the directions provided on the packaging. For a composite deck, you will need cleaner made especially for the composite material.
Don’t use a power washer, as that can damage the composite and will void and warranty on a composite deck. For a vinyl deck, just use warm water and a little soap to remove stains from dirt, mold, and mildew. The best time to clean your deck is spring or fall when the weather is mild. That way, your deck is cool and the cleaner will not evaporate too quickly.
If your deck is made of wood, you can apply the cleaner with a paint roller, a broom with a stiff-bristled brush, or a garden sprayer. You’ll want to make sure the cleaner doesn’t pool and that the deck is scrubbed clean before it dries. The instructions on the cleaner will tell you how long to let it soak in, after which you just rinse the deck with clean water to finish.
If your deck is made of composite material, you will need to use a specialized cleaner to remove any stains or rust. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for best results and to avoid voiding your warranty.
A vinyl deck can be cleaned like an indoor floor. Just apply soap and water, or use a vinyl floor cleaner, with a mop or brush as you would a regular floor. Once the vinyl is clean, give it an extra rinse to remove any leftover cleaner or soap suds.
Protect Your Deck with Annual Sealing
If your deck is made of wood, it will require sealing. Sealing your deck on an annual basis will keep it from absorbing water, which can cause swelling and distortion of your deck as well as mold growth and water damage.
The best time to seal a deck is in the spring or fall when the weather is mild. Do it right after you clean the deck so that no dirt or debris gets caught in the sealer. Aim for a two day period when you there will be no rain. Make sure you have gloves, appropriate eye protection, and a safety mask anytime you are working with sealer.
The first thing to do, before sealing the deck, is to give it a light sanding with 80 grit sandpaper. Pull up any nails that are sticking out badly and replace them with screws slightly longer than the removed nail. Hammer down nails that just stick out a little. You are preparing a clean, smooth surface for the sealer.
Once the deck is prepared, you are ready to apply the sealer. You can choose a clear sealer or various colored stains and toners. Apply the sealer with a wide paint roller For railings and smaller surfaces use a brush or a small paint roller. Just like with the cleaner, don’t let the sealant pool or form small puddles. It is better to use two thin coats than a single thick coat.
Use a roller to apply the sealer to the decking, covering three or four boards at a time. Use brushes and small rollers for railings, planters, and benches. Don’t let the sealant dry or puddle. Two thin coats are better than one thick one.
You shouldn’t have to seal a composite deck, but if you want to color it there are some stains and toner available specially formulated for composite decks.
Protect Your Deck from Vegetation and Discoloration
A few times a year, check your deck for plants that have grown too close to the deck. Trim back vegetation to at least one foot from the deck. This helps prevent mold and moss that can attack your deck. It is also important to keep debris like leaves and twigs from piling up on the deck. A simple sweep when necessary will prevent mold and water pooling.
Make sure that you move deck furniture from time to time to avoid staining where the furniture sits. Also make sure to keep any nearby gutters in good repair to avoid water buildup and damage.
Proper maintenance will keep your deck safe and looking good for many years of outdoor fun! As always, you can find help with all your home maintenance on TrustDALE.com.