5 Tips For Maintaining Your Deck

Brown deck boards starting to show some wear.

A deck is a prized feature for many homeowners. Not only is a deck a wonderful place to relax and unwind, but also serves as a go-to spot for entertaining guests when the weather is pleasant.

Decks also add value to a house, particularly in regions where much of the year is fairly mild and a deck will get much more use. Decks also have a fairly good return on investment (ROI) compared to other home additions, often breaking even or helping the homeowner to even earn some money back when the house is sold.

However, a deck is only a valuable, pleasant entertainment space if it is properly maintained. Thankfully maintaining a deck isn't difficult, especially if the deck has been cared for and doesn't need major repairs.

Here are 5 tips for helping to keep your deck looking beautiful.

Take Extra Steps to Reduce Rooftop Deck Damage

Rooftop decks are unique style of deck that is most common in the urban East Coast region, though they have been growing in popularity all over the US. For the most part, a rooftop deck isn't too different than any other deck, but it is prone to showing weather damage more quickly.

Rooftop decking will require a little more TLC year round than other decks, simply because they are more exposed. These decks will receive harsher sunlight and often have less natural shading, resulting in fading. While you might be able to push re-staining or sealing a ground-level deck for sometimes close to 5 years, a rooftop deck should be re-weatherized at least every two years.

You should also anchor down any patio furniture you have on the rooftop deck. If a gust of wind happens to move furniture you could be left with gouges that water can permeate.

Sanitize - Don't Just Wash Your Pool Deck

Decks are a wonderful addition to any pool. They help keep mud at bay and certainly are a more comfortable surface to walk or lounge on than grass or rough concrete. Pool decks are often made of very water-resistant and low maintenance decking materials, such as thermally-modified wood or composites. Though these materials are tough compared to basic PT wood, they must still be cared for.

Aside from regular washing, don't make the mistake of forgetting to sanitize your deck as well. Sanitizing a deck may seem odd but it’s a must for pool decks as algae and fungus can easily grow. Begin by thoroughly cleaning the deck with pressure washing and a safe cleaning agent. Use a stiff brush to scrub it all down, then apply a pool-safe disinfectant to the entire deck. Allow to sit for a moment and rinse.

*Note - Be sure to use a disinfectant that is pool safe as there is little chance you won't accidentally rinse a little of it into the pool itself. Your local pool supply store will help you choose the right product.*

Don't Rush to Seal Your New Wood Deck

In the excitement of having a new deck many homeowners get a little gung-ho on wanting to stain and seal it, especially if they already have the products ready to go. But before you go ahead and start this process be sure your deck has actually cured.

What many homeowners don't realize, especially if they built the deck themselves, is that wood decks must be left to set for roughly two months before they are stained and/or sealed. This is because wood needs time to age a bit. Don't rush the process as it can result in a poor quality stain. Once the 2 months is up, it's wise to give the deck a thorough cleaning and even use a disinfectant to ensure any mold spores are gone before treating.

Think Twice Before Painting Your Deck

Although many people choose to paint or use a solid stain on their deck, you might want to reconsider. Painting is an easy way of getting an opaque look and a strong seal on your deck or change up the color of a composite deck but it actually results in more maintenance in the long run.

These thick coverings are more difficult to remove and are easier to chip. If it's a wood deck you may even damage the wood under it trying to remove the paint when it's old. Composites and vinyls often go through this same process of ugly chipping and flaking until eventually the whole deck must be addressed.

If you do choose to paint your deck use only the highest quality products and be sure to apply it as per specific manufacturer instruction. You should also use a quality finishing product to seal over the newly painted surface to reduce fading and chipping.

Be Mindful of What's On and Around Your Deck

Sometimes deck maintenance doesn't involve the deck itself but actually what is on and around it. The furniture you place on your decks shouldn't have feet that will gouge it and if this damage does occur, it must be fixed promptly. You should also rearrange furniture occasionally and/or remove them when they won't be used as they can discolor the deck.

Also, keep any plants around your outdoor deck at least a foot away, when it comes to shrubs, trees, bushes, etc. Container plants that vine or overflow from the container should never touch the deck surface. Grass should be kept trim around the edges as well. When greenery rests against or on your deck, mold, fungus, and moisture damage can occur fairly quickly.

Majority of deck maintenance is an annual cleaning, but depending on the deck location or material type, there may be other tasks to do multiple times yearly to keep it looking its best. It is worth it to have your deck inspected by a professional about every 5 years, especially if you live in a region that experiences major seasonal changes. Similarly, if you aren't confident in your handyman abilities, it is always wise to get the help of a professional contractor if significant repairs are needed.