How to Care for & Preserve Your Deck

If you have made the wise decision to add a deck to your home then you know what a bonus this can be. Having a place to BBQ with friends, hang out alone under the stars in the evening or make family memories that will last a lifetime are just a few of the added benefits. Of course in order to make sure you have that deck to use for years to come, it means also taking care of it.

Staying on top of deck maintenance means your outdoor living space will always look its best. The good news however, is that even if you have let it go a little you can still take steps to get this space back into tip-top shape. The best method for success though, is simply to get into a regular routine of caring for your deck so it is always ready for use.

Seasonal To-Do List

Most of us live in areas that experience enough winter that the deck becomes closed for the season. This makes it even more important to make sure you are prepping the deck for winter and revisiting the care needs come spring. Even if you live in a warmer year round climate, you can still follow these care steps for seasonal deck maintenance:

Late Spring: Wash & Seal the Deck

Mildew buildup is one of the main concerns for an exterior space, but this type of regular service can help prevent the problem.

  • Remove debris from top surface and from cracks and crevasses to help give the deck a fresh, clean start
  • On a warm and dry but cloudy day, use a warm water and mild soap concoction to clean the deck (this will help prevent the solution from evaporating too quickly)
  • For wood decks you should use a stiff-bristled brush or garden sprayer to do the cleaning and make sure it doesn't pool anywhere
  • Let your deck dry for a good two days before moving on to sealing it

After the drying stage is complete, it is time to take care of sealing your deck, which should also take place in late spring.

  • More than likely, you will want to chose a sealer that is clear and enables the wood's natural grain to show through
  • But you have other choices like semi-transparent which lets some grain show and solid that covers the grain but offers seals weather damage
  • You will need to reapply annually or every other year, based on the amount of wear, sun, traffic and weathering the deck endures
  • Before resealing this is the ideal time to take care of things like popped nails, loose screws or wood that has splintered
  • If you find signs of rot this should ideally be addressed with a professional deck builder but do not simply restain and ignore the problem
  • Also, this is an ideal time to check the railing for any potential problems

Early Fall: Preventative Measures

Just as your spring maintenance is about recovery from the winter and preparation for the summer, now you have the opposite. It is time to recover from seasonal use and prepare for closing up show for the winter.

  • If you did not have the opportunity to wash and seal your deck in late spring, now is also an acceptable time to do so
  • Trim back tree branches, bushes and other growth that could brush against the deck and lead to damage or mildew
  • Check corners - this is the ideal spot for leaves or debris to gather which does nothing but retain water and lead to mold
  • Move planters, tables, chairs into a shed or just relocate them throughout winter months to prevent discoloration
  • Check the condition of nearby gutters and downspouts and make any necessary repairs

All of this is a good method to follow for basic deck maintenance all year long. It is always a good idea to work with a deck cleaning professional in order to make sure everything is done appropriately and on time. Missing even one season of maintenance could lead to long term problems with your deck add on.