If your deck gets damaged or begins to become structurally unsound, repairing or replacing it can get pretty costly. Maintaining your deck is a much better option that’s more economical in the long run.
To help prevent expensive problems from developing, here are some tips for extending the life of your outdoor wooden deck.
1. Regular Inspections
Twice a year – usually in spring and fall – it’s a good idea to check on the structure and overall state of your deck. Look for moisture build-up on joints, especially the butt joints, and also on the posts and beams of your deck. If water is pooling anywhere, it will affect the structural integrity of the deck. So you’ll want to make adjustments to see that the water drains, perhaps by adjusting the angle of the joints and beams so that gravity will take care of the water.
While you are inspecting your deck, remember to look for insect damage, too. Old wasps’ nests, carpenter bee holes, and other damage will need to be repaired. Wood putty works for repairing holes and gauges; wasps’ nests can be scraped off (just make sure they are not occupied!).
2. Keep It Clean
Regularly spray your deck with a garden hose. If there is some dirt build-up, algae, mold, or mildew, use a scrub brush and mild soap and water to scrub these areas. Just a note – make sure the scrub brush you use has nylon or natural bristles. A wire brush or steel wool pad can cause deep scratches with metallic stains.
Using a power washer every year or so can take this hose cleaning up a notch. Keeping the PSI under 2500 is recommended.
3. Sweep and Rake
Don’t let leaves, sticks, and so forth pile up on your deck. If you do, they will rot and stain your deck. They will also hold moisture close to the wood, leading to rot. So periodically get the “fall out” off your deck and let the air and sunshine dry the wood.
4. Paint or Sealant
Applying a coat of paint every five years is recommended. A fresh coat of paint or stain helps keep certain insects at bay, too, particularly carpenter bees. If you are using a sealant, you can stain the deck first and then apply the sealant. You might prefer a combination product that will seal and stain. Power washing before staining, painting, and/or sealing is recommended.
5. Prevent Insect Damage
Take steps to prevent insects from eating your deck or making their homes in it. Keeping it sealed and painted is a good first step. Also, be on the lookout for bees and wasps that may be building nests, and treat the area accordingly. Don’t have lights on all night around your deck, as this attracts bugs – if you want lighting on your deck at night, choose a variety that does not attract insects.