Wood Deck Maintenance Tips – Prevent Major Repairs
Most homeowners breathe a sigh of relief when their new deck is installed. What they don’t realize is that maintenance begins as soon as the finish is applied! Here are some tips from the experts to prevent major repairs of your new wood deck.
1) Establish a deck inspection schedule.
Every year take a careful assessment of the condition of your deck. This is best done in the spring so you can take advantage of warmer weather to make any needed repairs. Damage such as dry-rot and other wood damage accelerates during the cold, damp days of autumn and the freezing conditions of winter.
Make deck repairs promptly. Not only will this save on additional repairs down the road. It keeps your deck safe for use.
2) Schedule a yearly cleaning.
Even if your deck doesn’t require touching up, it should be cleaned completely at least once a year. Don’t allow dirt and moss to accumulate. Debris between boards favors the conditions that lead to rotting wood. Moss also leads to degradation of the wood.
You can use a power-washer for most cleaning work as long as you use it carefully.
3) Establish a deck touch-up schedule.
Plan to apply a maintenance coat of stain every 12 months if you have used a clear finish or a water-based stain. Plan on a maintenance coat every 18 to 24 months if you have used an oil-based stain.
Plan on touching up heavy traffic areas every 12 months regardless of which finish you have used. If your deck is exposed to harsh weather conditions, including direct sunlight, the finish will fail faster. Opt for a more frequent touch-up schedule. If, on the other hand, your deck is a dark color, rarely used, and shaded for most of the day, you can probably get away with a longer time between touch-ups.
4) Schedule a complete deck refinish.
Plan on completely stripping and replacing the finish every 4-6 years. After 4-6 years, virtually every deck benefits from a more thorough sanding and restaining.
This is a good time to do a thorough inspection, one that may even require you to take up some of the deck boards to inspect the joists. This inspection may reveal repairs that are currently needed or reveal areas that might become a problem in the future (joists that collect moisture, for example).
One advantage of a complete deck refinish is the opportunity it gives you to reassess your stain choice. Remember, heavily pigmented stains require the least maintenance.
Budget a full weekend to refinish your deck; taking your time and doing it right will create a more satisfactory finish.