Annual deck maintenance will forestall repairs, protect your investment, and boost your enjoyment of your outdoor space.
Mid-Spring & Mid-Fall: Wash the Deck
An unwashed deck is an invitation to mold and mildew, which can cause rot. Also could make the existing stain/seal to not last as expected. Here’s how to wash your deck:
- Remove debris from between deck boards and all wood cut ends using a plastic putty knife. Pay special attention to the areas where deck boards cross the joists (structural members underneath the decking)
- Thoroughly sweep the deck with an average soft bristle broom
- Choose an appropriate cleanser. A mild detergent or deck cleaner works great. Apply the cleaner with a garden sprayer evenly (not too much to take off the stain/sealer). Then use a soft bristle and garden hose to clean off the dirty areas. (BE CAREFUL NOT TO SCRUB TO HARD THAT YOU REMOVE THE STAIN/SELAER)
Mid-Summer: Inspect and Repair your deck
When the weather is warm and dry, it’s a good time to give your deck’s structure a close inspection. Pay particular attention to any areas within 6 inches of the ground or close to sources of water, such as downspouts and planters.
- Look for signs of rot. “Nicely” Probe around the cut ends of the decking, railing, and railing posts. You can use a screw driver and if it goes into the wood more than a ¼” or more, you probably have rot. (DON’T PROBE INTO THE FINISHED AREAS OF THE BOARD OR YOU COULD SCRATCH OR DAMAGE THE SURFACE – JUST THE CUT ENDS)
- Inspect the ledger. Using a flashlight underneath your deck, pay special attention to the ledger board – that all-important piece of framing that attaches the deck to the house. A damaged ledger is the cause of 90% of all deck collapses.
- Tip: The ledger should be attached with lag screws or ledge lockers, not just nails.
- Check remaining joists, posts, and beams. Check all hardware underneath and replace any that are seriously rusted.
- Check for cracks or rotten decking boards. Not all cracks are a structural threat. Cracks in 4×4 or 6×6 structural posts naturally happen and is not a structural threat. Also sometime in Joists. When the treated materials dry, they will naturally crack.
Early Fall: Preventive Measures
Preventive measures have many benefits in the condition and longevity of your deck
- Trim nearby Bushes and Trees. They need to be at least 12 inches from the deck to slow mold, moss, and rot
- Don’t let Leave and other debris pile up
- Move planters, chairs, and tables occasionally to avoid discoloring the decking. Keep nearby gutters and downspouts in good repair.