Summer is right around the corner. Taking a little time now to give your deck some TLC will ensure that it’s ready for summer barbecues, backyard parties, or for kicking back with an ice-cold lemonade.
Choose a time when no rain is forecasted for a few days to begin your deck maintenance. Start off by moving everything off the deck, including the furniture. Use a leaf blower or a broom to clean the surface. Make sure you clean out all the corners, nooks, and crannies where dirt and leaves like to collect.
If your deck is particularly grimy, you may want to use a power washer to clean it thoroughly and remove mildew, moss, and algae that may have collected. If not done correctly and carefully, power washing can damage your deck. An alternative is to use a solution of bleach and water or oxalic bleach, also known as oxygen bleach. Apply it and let it soak for 10 to 15 minutes, scrub it lightly, then rinse it off with a hose. Let it dry for at least 24 hours before you begin staining or sealing it.
This is also a good time to inspect your deck for damage or other structural problems that may have developed over the winter and make any needed repairs. Things to look for include:
- Cracks on structural timbers, stair stringers, railings, or deck surface
- Loose railings
- Wood rot – You can test for this by gently pressing suspicious spots with a screwdriver. If it feels soft or spongy, rot has developed.
- Protruding nail heads or screws – Nail or screw them back in or replace them with galvanized deck screws.
- Rough spots or splinters – These areas can usually be fixed by lightly sanding them.
Your deck needs to be sealed periodically. How often depends on the type of sealant used. You can test your deck to see if it needs to be resealed by putting a few drops of water on the planks. If it does not bead and forms a dark spot on the wood in a few seconds, you need to reseal it. If the water does bead, your deck doesn’t need to be sealed. Use a penetrating sealer that is water-repellant or water proof, not water-resistant. You also want a sealer that includes UV protection. Don’t paint your deck. The paint will peel and make it difficult to refinish.
Now that your deck is clean and secure, consider making some upgrades. Consider adding built-in seating or planters, or even a pergola. Replace old railings with stylish wrought iron spindles and decorative embellishments. Use skirt boards or lattice to enclose the space beneath your deck to create a finished look, create privacy, or create handy storage for your lawn equipment.
If you’re wishing you had a little more space on your deck, spring is the perfect time to extend or add on to your deck. Consider adding a gazebo for covered space. Or add a bump out for your grill. Adding a second level to your deck makes the transition between the old deck and the new area less apparent. It is also a great way to create separate entertainment areas. Check with your local building department before starting to ensure you are allowed to add to your deck.