Tips on Deck
Cleaning and Maintenance
Decks have become an
extremely popular, low-cost way to add living space to a home. Decks make it
convenient to enjoy sitting outside day or night. They also open up the home
and facilitate entertaining and outdoor dining.
Decks, however, are
subject to the damaging effects of weather. A poorly maintained deck quickly
turns a drab gray color, and that discoloration is caused by dirt, mold, moss, algae,
and other plants, which soon begin to tear apart the surface of the wood.
Splinters form, creating a rougher surface that is even more inviting to
dirt and plants. Before long, you have a dingy deck that's treacherous when
wet and riddled with splinters. Here's how you can protect your deck and
prepare it for cleaning:
Inspect your deck
every year or two. Repair any loose boards and protruding nails.
Clear the deck and
surrounding areas of potted plants, furniture, toys, umbrellas, etc. (Make
sure that children and pets will remain out of the area while work is
Remove all loose
debris from the deck using a broom or blower.
Clean the Deck
There are many
commercially available chemicals for this purpose. Carefully read all the
directions and warnings on the label of the deck cleaning chemicals.
Following directions is important for getting good results and for
protecting you, your family, your pets, and your plants. In general, the
more powerful the chemical, the less scrubbing will be necessary. Scrubbing
can be done by hand using a basic scrub brush or a push broom.
Professionals use a
power-washer, which is a device that sprays water under high pressure. For
most homeowners (and inexperienced professionals), all that power can be a
problem. It is very easy to damage the deck inadvertently with a
power-washer. Some pros become so proficient at using power-washers that
they skip the use of chemicals altogether. One substantial disadvantage of
using chemicals is that the stronger the chemical, the harder it is on
nearby plants and the more toxic it is to the environment.
Sand down any rough
areas and splinters. Then clean away the dust.
Apply Deck Sealant
Once the deck is
thoroughly dry, use a roller, brush, or sprayer to apply a deck sealant, and
please note that while water-based sealants are more convenient to use, oil-based sealants perform
better or waterproofing the deck materials.
Done correctly, these
basic deck maintenance steps will yield a deck that looks practically brand
new. Deck maintenance extends the life of the deck, improves traction, and
makes it much more attractive!
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