Whether you built it yourself or hired professionals to do it for you, there’s something special about a great backyard deck. It’s where you relax on warm summer nights, host cookouts with friends, and soak up the sun on weekends.
Unfortunately, even the most well-built decks don’t stay in perfect condition forever. Constant exposure to the elements and changing weather conditions can warp the wood, loosen nails, create cracks, and wear away the paint.
So, if you want a deck that’s safe, sturdy, and looks great in your backyard, you need to know how to take proper care of it.
Here’s how you can maintain a long-lasting deck that your family can enjoy for years to come.
7 Tips for Homeowners Who Want to Maintain a Long-Lasting Deck
1. Pressure Wash at the Start of Every Season
Spring cleaning shouldn’t be limited to your home’s interior. Your deck deserves an annual cleaning, too!
Pressure washing your deck serves the dual purpose of preventing damage and ensuring your deck looks its best year after year. It removes dirt, stains, and loose wood fibres, and makes it easier to spot any actual damage you may need to address.
Whenever you use a pressure washer on your deck or patio, be careful not to hold the stream in one place for too long. Move the stream continuously to avoid damaging the wood.
For mid-season spot treatments, you can clean up a spill or mud using warm water combined with wood-safe bleach. Remember to rinse it off and allow to dry.
If you do have deck repairs to take care of – at any time of year – it’s important to wash your deck before working on it. Leave your deck to air-dry overnight before fixing up any chips in the paint or attempting any repairs.
2. Replace Loose Nails with Longer Screws
Humidity and changes in the temperature can create stress and swelling in wooden decks. This can cause the wood to shift and loosen up some of the nails. These loose nails tend to pop out of the wood, presenting both a safety hazard and an eyesore.
If you notice that any nails are sticking out or have come loose, don’t try to hammer them back into the wood! Instead, remove them completely and replace them with longer screws. If your deck is made of natural wood, use corrosion-resistant screws. For treated lumber, opt for plastic-coated screws instead.
3. Sand Away the Years
Sanding is like exfoliating your deck to give it a more youthful, fresh-faced look. Whether you painted your deck a few years ago and it’s starting to peel, or your deck’s natural wood finish is getting dull, sanding can breathe new life into an ageing deck.
As the years go by, wooden decks tend to develop a greyish hue and begin to feel rough to the touch. Sanding your deck with a belt sander, palm sander, or sanding sponge allows you to reveal the beautiful, smooth, natural wood just below the surface.
Make sure you only sand on days with a clear forecast, as sanded wood is particularly vulnerable. If it gets wet before you have a chance to re-seal it, you’ll have to go back and sand it all over again.
4. Protect and Preserve with a Waterproof Sealer
After washing and sanding your deck, it’s crucial that you apply a sealer that will protect your deck from moisture and sun damage. Choose a sealer that is water-repellant and provides UV protection.
If you want to spruce up your backyard even more, you can add some colour to your deck by applying a stain before applying the sealer. Your deck should be completely dry whenever you seal, stain, or add a second coat of either to it. Ideally, give your deck 48 hours to dry between staining and sealing.
5. Replace Warped and Damaged Planks
Aside from loose nails and faded wood, one of the most obvious signs of ageing in a deck is warping of the planks. Not only do uneven or tilted planks make your deck look slopping, but they can also cause someone to trip or stub a toe.
The longer the board, the more likely it is to warp at some point during the life of the deck. In most cases, your best bet is to remove and replace the entire board with a new one.
To minimize warping in the future, make sure any outdoor mats are made of quick-dry rubber and place protective saucers under plants to prevent water from pooling underneath them.
6. Avoid Dragging Furniture Across the Surface
This is an easy one, but it’s still worth mentioning. Dragging heavy furniture across your deck can scrape away the stain and sealer as well as cause chips in the wood if it catches. Instead, recruit a friend to help you lift, carry, and place your tables, chairs, barbeque, or whatever furniture you want to put out on your deck.
7. Stabilize Posts to Keep it Sturdy
Harsh weather conditions, excessive moisture, and the passage of time can all lead to problems with your deck posts. If you notice that your deck is sloping or uneven at certain points, take a minute to inspect the supporting posts below.
If a post has slipped at its base and is leaning over, you’ll need to reinforce the base. First, jack up the deck to make it level again. Then, use bolts to attach iron support brackets to stabilize the trunk of the post. However, if the problem stems from a rotting post, you’ll need to replace it completely.
Maintaining a Long-Lasting Deck Is Worth the Effort
Take good care of your deck today and you’ll be rewarded with a safe, reliable, beautiful outdoor space that your family can enjoy summer after summer.
Do you have any other tips for deck maintenance? Let us know if we missed something in the comments!
Main image courtesy of doityourself.com