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Tips on Deck Maintenance

Decks have become an extremely popular, low-cost way to add living space to a home. Decks make it convenient to enjoy sitting outside day or night. They also open up the home and facilitate entertaining and outdoor dining.

Decks, however, are subject to the damaging effects of weather. A poorly maintained deck quickly turns a drab gray color. The discoloration is caused by dirt, moss, algae, and other plants, which soon begin to tear apart the surface of the wood. Splinters form, creating a rougher surface that is even more inviting to dirt and plants. Before long, you have a dingy deck that’s treacherous when wet and riddled with splinters. Here’s how you can protect your deck and prepare it for cleaning:

Inspect your deck every year or two. Repair any loose boards and protruding nails.

Clear the deck and surrounding areas of potted plants, furniture, toys, umbrellas, etc. (Make sure that children and pets will remain out of the area while work is being done.)

Remove all loose debris from the deck using a broom or blower.

Clean the Deck

There are many commercially available chemicals for this purpose. Carefully read all the directions and warnings on the label of the deck cleaning chemicals. Following directions is important for getting good results and for protecting you, your family, your pets, and your plants. In general, the more powerful the chemical, the less scrubbing will be necessary. Scrubbing can be done by hand using a basic scrub brush or a push broom.

Professionals use a power-washer, which is a device that sprays water under high pressure. For most homeowners (and inexperienced professionals), all that power can be a problem. It is very easy to damage the deck inadvertently with a power-washer. Some pros become so proficient at using power-washers that they skip the use of chemicals altogether. One substantial disadvantage of using chemicals is that the stronger the chemical, the harder it is on nearby plants and the more toxic it is to the environment.

Sand down any rough areas and splinters. Then clean away the dust.

Apply Sealant

Once the deck is thoroughly dry, use a roller, brush, or sprayer to apply a deck sealant. While water-based sealants are more convenient, oil-based sealants perform better.

Done correctly, these basic deck maintenance steps will yield a deck that looks practically brand new. Deck maintenance extends the life of the deck, improves traction, and makes it much more attractive!

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