‘Tis the season to spend outdoors – summer is fast approaching, at last! Whether you use your wood deck for displaying potted plants or as a primary outdoor seating area, your deck is undeniably an important fixture of your home during the summer months. Your wood deck needs maintaining just like any other part of your home, however, and it is crucial to give your deck the proper care and attention to keep its aesthetic and ensure its long-lasting life. Without a good cleaning and maintenance routine, you run the risk of having to completely replace your deck in the future. Here is our step-by-step advice to establishing good deck care, from cleaning to re-staining to repairing your wood deck.
DIY Deck Cleaning Solutions
The easiest way to restore and maintain your deck is by giving it a regular cleaning. If proper care and maintenance has been regularly undertaken over previous years, a routine cleaning should be all you need to ready your deck for summer. Wood decks should be cleaned with deck cleaner at least once a year, but if you live in a warmer climate that allows your deck to be in more constant use, a good cleaning should be applied two to three times annually. Here are some easy tips to ensure a good, thorough deck cleaning:
- To remove tough stains, a power washer is your best bet. A fan-type nozzle is recommended over a pinpoint nozzle, as pinpoint nozzles can dig into and cause damage to the wood.
- To tackle mildew, feed your preferred cleaning solution into the power washer, careful to wear eye protection and gloves while doing so as well as protecting nearby plants. In terms of which cleaner to use, this list offers a terrific group of suggestions for DIY green cleaning options.
- To finish, scrub your wood deck down with a stiff-bristle brush and rise with regular hose. This will not only remove chemical residue from the cleaner but will also remove any loose dirt or mildew the power washer may have missed.
DIY Deck Re-Staining & Restoring
Erosion of the deck finish is common, and happens as a result of weathering, power-washing, or simply walking on the deck. Re-staining your deck will not only restore the wood’s aesthetic, but also works to protect against painful splinters, making your deck safer all-around. You can hire a professional to stain or re-stain your deck for you, but it is a very easy project to undertake yourself, and the DIY approach is always less costly.
- For new decks, applying stain is more about protection than it is about concealing wear or discoloring, and so clear finishes and transparent stains are fine to use. One good coat should do the trick. For a 700-ft. deck, expect to use approximately 3 gallons of stain.
- For older decks, a semitransparent stain is recommended, since older wood will start to become uneven in color (which is natural) and stained (often the result of infrequent cleanings, but which is also natural and fine in terms of the quality of your wood). Older wood often tends to become dry over time, and will thus require more stain to cover and protect. For a 700-ft. deck, then, expect to use close to 5 gallons of stain.
- For best technique, use a sprayer and 2-inch brush, starting at an inside corner and working outwards, applying stain parallel to the deck boards. Use the sprayer to apply the first coat, using the brush to remove puddles and make the stain more even. If adding more than one coat, be sure to do so while the first coat is still wet, or else the stain won’t absorb properly, putting your deck at risk for premature wear.
- For most efficient maintenance, apply a clear water repellant. Unlike cleaning, you only have to re-stain your deck every other year, but a yearly coat of water repellant is recommended for extra protection.
DIY Deck Repair
Worst-case scenario, you will find your wood deck in need of repair. This is also a common occurrence brought on by use and weathering, but is much more important to tend to than re-staining, as rotted or damaged wood on steps or the main deck can pose serious safety hazards. Sometimes, rotten or damaged wood is easy to spot, but in many cases your wood could be rotting and deteriorating right in front of you without you even knowing it. For a thorough guide to checking your deck (and the rest of your home) for wood rot, check out what the home improvement blog by WaterDamageDefense advises you look for. Once you determine a certain section of your deck is damaged or rotting, follow these easy steps to repair it:
- First, cut out the damaged board or section of the plank between one or two joists (your cut point will be determined by what will look most natural once the replacement board is in place). Make sure you wear proper eye protection when you do this, using a framing square as an edge guide for the jigsaw as you cut along the inside edge of the joists on both sides of the area you wish to remove.
- Next, install wooden support blocks at either end of the opening for the new plank. Use a circular saw to cut 2 12″ long sections of 2×4 support blocks. These 12″ support blocks are to be placed underneath the opening, alongside the joists (parallel, but touching), and pressed up hard to the underside of the existing deck boards. Making sure these support boards are perfectly centered in relation to the opening, nail these supports in place.
- Finally, secure your replacement board in place across the opening, and nail the new plank to the wood supports you just installed. Good as new!
Once your deck has been cleaned, re-stained, and repaired, don’t forget the final, and most important, step – getting the grill going, setting out the cooler, pulling up a chair, and enjoying the beautiful warm weather!
* As a small business ourself, Total Home Supply always advocates supporting your local hardware stores when purchasing wood, nails, saws, and other materials. Small businesses thank you for your support!