Keeping your wooden deck maintained can ensure that you, your family, and friends have a safe place to gather outside of your home. A deck that is not maintained can often become dangerous with rotted and warped boards. Luckily, inspecting, repairing, cleaning, and applying a finish to your deck is an easy process. You should inspect your deck at least once per year.
In this article on deck maintenance, we’ll explain how to properly inspect a deck for rot and damage, how to repair, clean, and maintain a wooden deck, and how to correctly apply a deck sealer or stain.
Part 1: How to Inspect a Wooden Deck
- Pry bar
Before cleaning and sealing, or staining, your deck, it is a good idea to inspect it for rot. If you have a wood deck and you’re lucky, your deck is built with pressure-treated lumber rated for contact with the ground. In addition, darker woods are generally better than lighter-colored varieties. Detecting rot and replacing any compromised wood can help you keep your deck in good shape for years. The section below walks you through the deck-inspection process.
Step 1: Check the tags or stamps. Check the ends of the boards for tags to learn more about a particular piece of wood.
Information on the end tag includes the retention level, the preservative used in treating the board, and the trademark of the company that inspected that particular piece of wood.
Alternatively, you can look for stamps on the wood that contain a variety of information, such as the species, moisture content, and the grade of the wood.
Step 2: Inspect the wood for rot. Examine the deck carefully to try and find signs of rot.
Rot might be hard to see, especially in places such as where the deck attaches to the house, under the stair treads, and under the decking boards.
It is important to crawl underneath the deck, if possible, to get a good look at the underside for rot.
Step 3: Replace the rotted wood. If you do find any rotted wood, take steps to replace the compromised pieces.
To replace rotted wood, carefully pry up any rotted boards using a pry bar. Replace any rotted boards with rot-resistant wood, making sure to also use the appropriate decking nail or screw.
Part 2: How to Repair, Clean, and Maintain a Wooden Deck
- Commercial deck cleaner
- Pressure washer (if needed)
- Putty knife or laminate scoring tool
- Rubber gloves
- Safety glasses
- Sturdy broom
- Stiff-bristled brush
Once you have inspected and replaced any rotted wood on your deck, it is time to clean it. The following section outlines the steps for cleaning a wooden deck.
Step 1: Clean away debris. Start by cleaning any debris from between the deck boards.
Using a putty knife or laminate scoring tool, remove the debris.
Follow up by sweeping away any debris removed using a sturdy broom.
Step 2: Wash the deck. Start by washing the deck using a commercial deck cleaner.
This should remove any dirt, mildew, or oxidation.
Look for a deck cleaner that contains sodium percarbonate for best results.
Make sure to wear the proper protective equipment, such as safety glasses and rubber gloves.
Step 3: Scrub the deck. Next, use a stiff-bristled brush attached to a long, broom handle to scrub the deck.
When scrubbing, scrub in the direction of the grain of the wood.
Focusing on small areas, rinse frequently with clear water.
Step 4: Allow the deck to dry. Allow the deck to dry completely before moving on to the next step.
Step 5: Use a pressure washer if needed. If you have a larger deck, you should consider using a pressure washer to make cleaning the deck easier.
Set the pressure for 600 to 800 PSI.
Wearing safety goggles, spray the deck with the nozzle about 6 inches above the surface.
Spray slow and steady in line with the grain of the wood, making sure to not stay in one spot for too long.
As before, allow to dry thoroughly before proceeding.
Part 3: How to Stain or Seal a Wooden Deck
After cleaning your deck, you want to seal or stain the wood to help protect it from further damage by the weather. When treating your deck’s surface, make sure that you have at least two days of dry weather. Also, the temperature should be between 50 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit for best results. The section below talks about the steps you need to take to properly treat a wooden deck.
Step 1: Prepare the deck area. Before you begin applying a sealer or stain to your deck, you must make some preparations first.
First, make sure the deck is dry.
Sweep the deck to remove any dirt or debris.
Wet and cover any bushes or plants within the vicinity of your deck with clear plastic.
When preparing the sealer or stain, stir it, do not shake, as bubbles can form in the finish of your deck if you shake it.
Step 2: Apply the sealer or stain. Working in two to three board sections, apply the sealer or stain with a paint roller.
Use an extension handle to make the job easier.
Do not allow the sealer or stain to puddle.
Step 3: Back-rolling. You can use a technique called back-rolling to work the finish into the wood of the deck.
When back-rolling, you use the paint roller to press the sealer or stain just applied firmly into the surface of the wood. This helps fill any small cracks, holes, or crevices, and it leaves a better finish.
Step 4: Painting corners. Use a paint brush when tackling corners and hard-to-paint areas to apply sealer or stain.
Some of the areas you might need to use a paintbrush include the stairs, along railings, and on the ends of boards.
Step 5: Apply a second coat. Many experts recommend applying a second coat to make sure that the sealer or stain adheres properly to the deck’s surface.
Step 6: Allow the deck to dry. Allow the deck to dry completely before using it.
You can also rinse the clear plastic on the nearby plants and bushes and remove it once finished.
Keep your deck in great shape by following the steps above. Just make sure to wear the proper safety equipment when doing so to protect you from some of the harsh chemicals involved. In addition, make sure to inspect your deck each year for damage and rot, and then perform the appropriate repairs when necessary.