Decks are a popular way to add living space to a home cost-effectively. Decks make it easy to enjoy the outdoors, entertain, relax, dine and more. Unfortunately, decks are subject to the damaging and unrelenting effects of the elements. As such, deck maintenance is critical for its structural soundness and keeping to keeping it looking great. Below is a guide to the basic maintenance steps you should be taking for your deck:
Inspecting and Preparing Your Deck
Plan to inspect your deck once per year. Check carefully for loose or cracked boards or protruding nails that could be dangerous. Remove any furniture and cover all plants. Finally, sweep the deck clean of larger debris. Make sure no children have access to the area during the next steps of the process.
Cleaning the Deck
Before you apply paint or sealant, you must completely clean your deck of dirt and build-up. Debris clogging the areas between boards should be cleared out with a pressure washer. The water will also help dilute any chemicals that may come in contact with plants around the deck. Use a cleaning product with a base of non-chlorine bleach base or oxalic acid are to eliminate areas of discoloration or staining. Bleach-based products will eliminate mildew, while acid-based products will take off graying and stains. Please note that bleach used to kill mildew may leave a lighter or washed-out. To avoid this, an acid-based deck restoration product can be used.
Make sure to read cleaning solution directions and warnings thoroughly. The solutions are usually applied using a broom or sprayed on with a pressure washer using low pressure. Generally, the more powerful the chemical, the less scrubbing that is required. Scrubbing can be done by hand using a scrub brush or a push broom. After waiting the directed length of time for the chemicals to do their work, rinse the deck thoroughly. High pressure can be helpful, but too much can damage the wood.
Painting or Staining the Deck
Some people may choose to paint their decks, but most take advantage of the natural beauty of the woods by using a clear or light stain. If you choose to paint, use a stain-blocking oil or alkyd primer beforehand. Generally, the best finishes are those that soak into the wood, not those that leave a surface film. A heavily pigmented, solid stain isn’t recommended for decks because it shows wear and may peel. You want something that soaks in well. There are a few important characteristics to look for in a finish:
- It should be water repellent or waterproof, not “water resistant.”
- It should provide ultraviolet (UV) protection.
- If mildew could be a potential problem, it should contain a mildewcide
Sealing the Deck
Once the deck is dry, you must seal it. Put down tarps to protect plants, A/C units, and other items that need protection from the chemicals. The level of protection needed will depend on how you are going to apply the sealant. Sealant can be brushed on, rolled on, or sprayed on. Spraying is the fastest, but the hardest to control, which is especially bad if the sealant has a color.
Sealants are also hard on plants. While most plants won’t be harmed by wafting over-spray, direct hits can damage them. Sealants come in either water- or oil-based formulas. Professional sealants, which are usually superior, are oil-based. Always try a sealant in an out-of-the-way spot first to make sure the results align with your expectations.
Prefer to have a trusted contractor handle your deck maintenance or deck repair in Springfield IL? Call Capital City for a free estimate today!