3 easy tips for maintaining your deck

A deck doesn't just add space to your outdoor living area, it can add real value to your home. But a wooden deck is constantly exposed to the elements and needs to be protected all year. Here are three easy tips to help you get started.

3 easy tips for maintaining your deck

1. Inspect it yearly

Give your deck a complete inspection every year.

  • First check for rot. Use an old screwdriver to poke around for signs of decaying wood. Wherever rainwater is likely to collect or you suspect rot, jab the wood with the screwdriver. If it feels soft, rot has begun. Pay special attention to stairways, places where decking meets a post, where the deck abuts the house and the bottoms of posts.
  • Repair any rotted area right away, because it will only get worse. To make sure the rot will not return, determine why the spot attracts and retains moisture, and take steps to make sure it can dry out quickly. For instance, sweep away dirt or leaves in cracks. If the rot is far along, hire a carpenter to replace the boards.

2. Easy ways to seal your deck

You need to reapply sealer every two to three years. Test how water-repellent the finish is by sprinkling water on it. If the water beads, the finish is intact. If it soaks in, it is time to add a new coat of sealer. Here are some options:

  • Plain, clear water repellents: Plain, clear water repellents effectively keep moisture from penetrating the wood. Water-repellent with preservatives contain a mildewcide or fungicide, in addition to a water repellent, for added protection.
  • Semi-transparent stains: Semi-transparent stains contain a small amount of pigment, which adds a bit of colour. These contain a UV (ultraviolet) blocker and will protect against the ultraviolet rays of the sun longer and better than clear sealers.
  • Solid-colour stains and paints: Solid-colour stains and paints are generally not recommended for decks. These finishes form a film on the surface and are easily worn away by foot traffic and must be reapplied often.

3. How to stain a pressure-treated deck

Pressure-treated wood makes it possible to build decks and other outdoor structures that are affordable and long-lasting. But most people are not fond of the greenish colour. (If you are building a new deck, consider brown pressure-treated wood, which is already stained.)

  • To make a greenish pressure-treated deck resemble cedar or redwood, apply a semi-transparent stain made for use on pressure-treated wood.
  • Check the colour first on a piece of scrap wood. You may need to do two applications.

The harsh ultraviolet rays of the sun cause discolouration, and moisture can lead to mildew or decay. Wood-eating insects and fungus also cause decay. Thus, it is important to treat your deck (and other outdoor wooden surfaces) with a protective sealer. Follow these easy tips and maintain a deck you can be proud of!

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