Wood Deck Maintenance – Yearly Checklist

Just as regular oil changes help your car run more smoothly and last longer, properly maintaining your deck or porch will help it last longer and look better. The finish, traffic on the deck, and the climate in your area will all impact how often you need to wash, restain, or even completely refinish your deck.

Here’s a checklist you should go through every year to ensure you keep that deck in tip-top shape.

1. Check high traffic areas for wear in the finish.

It can be difficult to identify wear when stain is clear. With a clear finish, plan on reapplying finish every year to the entire deck. This maintenance coat will extend the life of your deck by years.

When your deck stain is highly pigmented it’s more obvious if there is wear. The deck floor, stairs, and the tops of handrails are all areas that see a lot of use. These areas require the most attention.

If an area is worn, lightly sand the damaged spots and adjacent regions, then apply another coat of stain to the entire area—the whole floor, for example, instead of just the worn spots. This will prevent light and dark spots from appearing.

Remember if the stain has worn down, it’s no longer protecting the wood from the elements. That’s when cracks occur, water gets in, and the beginning of your deck going downhill starts. If you see wear, plan on applying a maintenance coat. Of course, be sure to pressure wash the deck first to remove mold, algae, and other stains.

Using a wood brightener will make things easier. Simply scrub the areas you are touching up with a stiff brush, allow the wood brightener to rest according to the package directions, and then rinse it off using low pressure- no more than 1500 psi.

In some cases, a good cleaning is all your deck needs. If the finish is in good condition, you can skip staining until next year.

2. Keep your deck clean.

The single most important thing you can do to maintain your deck’s finish is to keep it clean.

  • Sweep up dirt before it can scratch the finish.
  • Remove leaves and other debris before they get wet and cause tannin stains.


A gentle rinse with the hose every few weeks will keep the accumulating grime from taking over. Use only plain water. Harsh soaps and detergents can damage the finish if not completely removed.

3. Move Furniture Carefully!

In order to clean your deck thoroughly, you’ll need to reposition furniture, planters, or other heavy objects on your deck. Enlist a helper and carry the piece, instead of dragging it. Scuff marks, dings, and gouges can allow moisture to seep into the wood, causing the finish to fail prematurely.

Regular deck maintenance might seem like a hassle, but, like changing the oil in your car, you’ll be glad you did it. If you consider the process part of your necessary spring cleaning, you’ll be able to get full use out of your beautiful deck all summer long.

4. Do a Maintenance Check.

Every spring conduct a thorough evaluation of the overall condition of your deck. This will prevent major repairs.

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