Deck Maintenance Tips

I often encourage readers to put on grubby clothes, roll up their sleeves, and try things. This is how we learn. Spring is the time of year that many want to enjoy their deck. So, it stands to reason that some are taking on deck maintenance and repair. When doing things around the home it is important to understand ‘why’ things are done certain ways. If you do not understand the ‘why,’ you might do something that seems like a good idea, but which is not.

My inspiration to today’s column was a deck I recently looked at. Somebody had taken their old deck and laid a new composite deck surface directly on top. They had not removed the old deck boards. Rainwater was trapped between the two surfaces and the lower (wooden) deck surface could never dry out, and it was quickly deteriorating.

Wooden decks need to dry out. This is why there is a crack between deck boards, to allow rain to drain through and then air to circulate. A deck over deck situation allows neither drainage, nor circulation. It was time to tear it all down and start over.

A brand-new wooden deck, made from pressure treated (PT) lumber must dry out before you paint or stain it. When driving in nails or screws you will often see moisture squeezing up. This is the wood preservative that will help extend the life of the deck. It can take 30-90 days in the sun for PT lumber to dry out enough to absorb stain or sealant. If stained/sealed too early, you will not get good adhesion and may end up with uneven color.

When ready to stain or seal a deck, be it new or existing, consider what prep work will be required first. Is it dirty from foot traffic? Does it have algae from overhanging trees and continuing dampness? How about bird poo? Some want to jump into the color application, but prep work comes first. A good cleaning may be needed with a bit of bleach water and a scrub brush. After cleaning give it a few days to dry before applying stain or sealant. If you apply stain over algae or bird droppings, you will again get uneven color as a result of all your hard work.

Decks are beautiful places to spend spring evenings and weekends with your family. If you are going to take on the work to beautify your deck, by staining and sealing it, or applying an all-new deck surface, keep the above tips in mind to get the greatest effect from your time and effort.

Also know that the professional staff at Mr. Handyman do this kind of work every week and can happily repair, upgrade or even replace your existing deck. The “trick” to a long-lasting deck is keeping up with maintenance and repairs. If you are not prepared to take this on – due to lack of time, tools or desire – we are happy to help.