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Wood Deck Maintenance

Keep your wooden deck looking new with these tips for cleaning and sealing

Posted in Decks over 13 years ago, 0 replies

Recently, decks have become a lot more conventional in modern home exteriors. This change has taken place because of the improved treatment of wood used to build decks, making decks more durable and long-lasting. Most decks of today are manufactured from pressure-treated pine, though some are made from traditional redwood with natural preservatives.

How Essential is Deck Maintenance?

Maintenance is very essential to the good of your deck. As stated before, most decks are made from pressure treated pine. A deck built with good quality treated pine can last forty years without substantial decay. On the downside, the pine can begin to stain and splinter within only a few months. Consequently, most people have to maintain their decks on a regular cycle. While neglecting your deck won't likely cause it to rot, it will undoubtedly cause discoloration, roughness, and increase the likeliness of splinters.

Do New Decks Need to Be Sealed?

New decks should definitely be sealed. As soon as your new deck is stabilized in its environment, it should be sealed. The sealing of the deck should take place after waiting a few weeks following completion of the deck. The benefits of sealing your deck will be very visible, resulting in minimal splintering and discoloration.

What Happens if I Don't Maintain My Deck Properly?

It is not uncommon for people to neglect to treat and seal their decks. The result of not treating your decks is not dramatic. Your deck will not rot away or deteriorate quickly. However, if not treated properly, your deck will acquire dirt and become rougher at a much faster rate. Slick surfaces and splinters are two common hazards of untreated decks. A lot of what is considered "dirt" on under-maintained decks is in fact living organisms. Similar to the growth of algae and moss on rocks and trees close to streams, organisms growing on a deck can cause a wet deck to become even more slippery. Maintaining and sealing your deck can eliminate, remove, and slow the return of organic materials on your deck. How Should Deck Maintenance Be Done Properly? To properly maintain your deck, you should be sure to annually examine for loose boards or protruding nails. You should also thoroughly clean and reseal your deck yearly. To clean your deck, you should remove any dirt, algae, moss, and any other organic matter. Resealing your deck can be done by applying a transparent liquid sealant to your entire deck area. While the task of deck maintenance can be easily completed by the average homeowner, it is safest to have them completed by a professional. Deck cleaning and resealing is offered by many professional home improvement firms at varying prices. The service is generally in the price range of $300-$600. In the process of choosing your firm, be sure to choose an experienced, high quality company. You would be better off maintaining your deck on your own than choosing an inexperienced company.

What is Good Deck Maintenance?

Preparing the Deck

Before any cleaning can take place, your deck must be cleared of any furniture or unnecessary materials. Any fragile plants on the deck should be covered. Next your deck should be swept free of large debris and garbage. Then check for any protruding or loose boards on the deck surface. Repair your deck prior to cleaning the surface. Be sure that no children are in proximity of the deck before cleaning.

Cleaning Supplies

Prior to using any cleaning solutions on the deck, follow any directions found on the containers. Some of these directions may tell you to hose down the deck and the surrounding area before applying any cleaning solutions. Applying water before applying solutions can help to dilute chemicals that can mistakenly come in contact with plants. Follow any instructions on the amount of solution that should be applied, since some chemicals can harm nearby plants and grass. Deck cleaning solutions can be either applied using a broom or sprayed on using a low pressure power washer. Wait the directed length of time after applying the chemicals to the deck. After the correct amount of time has passed, thoroughly rinse the deck using a hose. Using more power is helpful when rinsing the deck since the added pressure will rinse out dirt and chemicals more effectively. Be careful when applying pressure though, since too much pressure can have negative effects on the wood. The visible grain of wood shows the differences in density and hardness. Each grain has a relatively soft part of wood. The softer wood part can be easily rinsed away resulting from too much water pressure. Even higher pressures can even damage hard parts of the grain.

Sealing the Deck

After rinsing the deck area, let the deck dry completely. After the deck is dry, you can cover plants, air conditioners, and any other items you want to protect from sealant. Tarps should be used to cover those items depending on the method which you apply sealant. Sealant can be applied by being brushed on, rolled on like paint, or sprayed on. The best method to apply sealant is by spraying on. Though it is harder to control sealant through spray, it is the fastest method. It's important that you check the stain that you will be using; making sure that it will not have color that will stain your surface. Sealants can be harmful to uncovered plants, especially if sprayed directly onto the plant. Sealants can come in water or oil-based formulas. Professional sealants usually are made from oil-based formulas. Sealants with stain are intended to tint the color of your deck but they don't always deliver the same uniform color across the surface. You should test stain sealants on another surface to see the results. To avoid damaging effects from the sun, make sure you use a sealant with UV sunlight protection.

Alternative Decking Materials Options

Recently, new decking materials have come to the forefront. New non-splintering materials have been introduced as well as materials that don't require sealing or painting. Most of these new materials are made by blending wood and plastic. Results from testing of these products are positive so far. While these new products are more expensive than common wood products, the low maintenance costs will produce large savings in the future.

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