Three Key Steps for Wood Deck Maintenance and Repair
Spending time out on your deck visiting with friends, or just relaxing and soaking up the sun, is one of the best parts of summer. But if your deck is cracked, warped, or infested with moss or dry rot, it can become an eyesore and may even be dangerous to use.
Read on for valuable tips on how to fix and prevent deck problems to keep your wood deck functional and beautiful for years to come.
Step #1: Check Deck for Problems
The most important part of taking care of your deck is to stay vigilant. Finding an issue early can keep a small problem from turning into major deck damage. Check your deck regularly for:
- Loose nails. Drive any protruding nails flush with or below the surface, or replace them with deck screws. Check floorboards to make sure that they are evenly aligned, so they won’t pose a tripping hazard. Also, check any handrails to make sure they are sturdy; and examine the bolts, screws, or nails that attach the deck to your house to make sure they’re not loose or corroded.
- Cracked or warped boards. Examine your deck and replace any badly cracked or warped decking. Check the handrails, posts, sills, and joists as well. Look for any splintered wood on exposed boards.
- Dry rot. Dry rot is fungal growth that gets inside the decking and digests the wood, causing permanent damage. Check for shrunken boards, a musty odor, or boards that are soft, spongy, or discolored.
- Mold, mildew and other growths. Mold and mildew is fungal growth on the surface of the decking that can cause discoloration and a musty odor. It’s usually gray, black, or whitish in color and can be slimy and slippery when wet. Also check for moss, which can damage decking; lichen, which can cause pitting on decking; and green or black algae, which cause discoloration and can also make your deck dangerously slippery.
- Debris. Debris, such as leaves and pine straw, can lead to staining and hold moisture which can encourage mold and mildew to form. Keep your deck free of debris, and trim trees that overhang your deck.
Step #2: Repair Deck
Now that you’ve identified any problem areas, it’s time to fix them before they make a mess of your deck. Here are some deck repair tips:
- Dealing with cracked decking. If your decking is starting to develop small cracks, it’s probably a sign that it’s due for a new coat of stain. For bigger cracks a roll-on deck re-surfacer can fill in the cracks and extend the life of your decking. In severe cases where the boards have begun to split, you will need to replace the damaged boards.
- Replacing boards. In cases of badly split or deteriorated wood, replacing deck boards may be necessary. Where dry rot is concerned, any board that is infested needs to be removed and replaced in order to prevent the problem from spreading.
- Removing damaging growths. To eliminate mold and mildew on your deck, Wet & Forget Outdoor is an easy, no-scrub solution. Just spray it on, and Wet & Forget Outdoor works with the wind and rain to get your deck clean and keep it that way for a year or more in most cases. Wet & Forget Outdoor wipes out mold and mildew, moss, lichen, and algae without scrubbing, bleach, or pressure washing. Its gentle, non-caustic formula won’t harm your deck’s surface, like harsh chemicals or pressure washing can. Just spray and leave! Problem solved. Wet & Forget Outdoor is now available at The Home Depot.
Step #3: Deck Protection and Prevention
Once you’ve dealt with any problem areas, regular deck maintenance will help keep them from occurring again. Here are some key steps for protecting your deck:
- Staining your deck. Protecting a wood deck from the elements is essential for extending its lifespan. Most wood decks should be stained every couple of years, depending on the conditions where you live. Make sure that you pick a stain that contains a commercial sealant to keep moisture out. It’s best to use a stain that’s specially-formulated for decks.
- Preventing dry rot. Dry rot develops when moisture is able to get into your decking, so make sure that your entire deck is well-sealed, including any new boards. Putting a layer of plastic on the ground below your deck can help keep moisture away from the wood. Painting the underside of your deck with wood preservative will also add a layer of protection against dry rot. Keep a close eye on the boards next to where the rotten ones were to make sure the dry rot hadn’t started to spread before they were replaced.
- Keeping mold, mildew and other growths away. Once you’ve eliminated mold and mildew, moss, algae, or lichen from your deck with Wet & Forget Outdoor, keeping it away is even easier. Because Wet & Forget Outdoor works with the wind and rain to keep growths away for a year or more in most cases, simply make Wet & Forget Outdoor part of your annual deck maintenance routine, or re-treat your deck at the first sign of any new growth. This will keep these ugly stains from ever gaining a foothold on your decking.
Enjoy your deck!
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- How to Maintain a Wood Deck (video)
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- Which Deck is Right for You? (article)