Whether you love eating outdoor or want to enjoy a cup of coffee and watching the sunrise, decks are a great way to add some outdoor space to your home. However, decks also need a lot of care throughout the year to keep them safe and looking great.
Learn how to care for your wood deck for each season and keep it a comfortable retreat instead of an eyesore.
1. Combat the Top Causes of Deck Wood Deterioration
- Water: Moisture will cause your deck wood to expand and contract when dry. This is the reason you’ll get cracked or split boards, popped nails or fasteners and rot. Prevention is as easy as sweeping your deck, clearing away puddles after large rains and removing dirt and leaves.
- Sun: UV rays can break down the bonds between wood cells which not only lightens the pigment of your deck but also weakens it. This only affects the surface of the wood, so the best maintenance to prevent sun damage is a good coat of stain or sealant.
- Insects: The best way to combat insects from destroying your wood is to trim all your trees and shrubs away from the deck, remove standing water and make sure your deck is sealed. Using yellow bug lights around your deck may also help keep the pests away.
2. Replace Rotten Deck Boards
Replacing deck boards can be thought of as performing surgery on your deck if you’re replacing one rotten board amongst other healthy ones. Make sure you know what species your deck wood is so you can try to closely match the existing boards.
- Cut the section of bad board free from the joists at both ends.
- Remove the nails and rotted board.
- Install nailing cleats for support.
- Lay flashing over the decaying joists.
- Insert new deck boards cut to correct length.
3. Clean and Stain Your Deck
Washing away the residue from fall and winter is essential to starting off your outdoor season on the right foot to avoid mold and mildew, which can cause rot.
If you are using a pressure washer, make sure you are using the lowest possible pressure that will still be effective. Pressure for softwood, like pine or cedar, should be 500 to 600 pounds per square inch. It’s a good idea to test an inconspicuous area like a stair tread to make sure it won’t damage your wood.
- Make sure your deck is clean and dry. Sweep it thoroughly and use a screwdriver or other small tool to clean out debris between decking boards.
- Check the forecast ahead of time to make sure you have several dry days ahead.
- Apply stain when the temperature is between 50 and 90 degrees.
- Stick painter’s tape on any surfaces surrounding your deck, such as siding, that you want to protect.
- Spread the stain onto your deck using a natural bristle paintbrush to force the stain into the grains and pores of your wood.