If you think about it, wooden decks take a lot of abuse. They get a lot of foot traffic, and because their horizontal surfaces are constantly exposed to sunlight and allow rain to pool on the surface, they’re more vulnerable to weather than any other type of wooden structure. That pooled moisture, in turn, attracts pollen and fungal spores, which can discolor the wood. Protect the investment in your wooden desk by taking these preventive measures:
Don’t trap dirt. If you have flower planters on your deck, place them on top of cement blocks to prevent the planters from trapping dirt or moisture on the deck’s surface.
Catch that grease. If you have your grill on your deck, always use a grease catcher – grease stains are typically some of the most difficult to remove.
Sweep it up. Sweep your deck on a regular basis to prevent accumulations of dirt or leaves that can stain the deck surface.
Shovel it off. When there’s snowfall, shovel the snow off your deck as soon as possible.
Clean and seal regularly. Have your deck professionally cleaned and sealed at least every 2 to 3 years to protect it against the rain and sun. If you opt to do it yourself, you’ll probably need to clean and seal the deck at least once a year, so in the long run, professional work pays for itself.
Take special steps for a new deck. If your deck is new, have it professionally cleaned to kill any mildew spores in the wood and to remove any surface impurities that may prevent deck sealing products from penetrating. Then have it sealed with a waterproof sealer. But be sure to wait at least 60 days after a wooden deck is built to have it cleaned and stained; wood has to “age” first.
No matter the age, always make sure your deck is sealed. Seal your deck to protect it against moisture from rain and dew, which will cause the wood to swell. Sealing the deck will also protect it against the sun, which can shrink and dry the wood. The alternating cycles of expanding and shrinking will cause the wood to warp, cup, crack and gray.
Even pressure treated wood needs to be sealed. Pressure treated wood alone does nothing to protect your deck against weather. In fact, pressure treated wood without sealant applied is even more porous and vulnerable to the weather.
Don’t apply paint or solid stains. Avoid painting or staining your deck with a solid stain because these finishes eventually peel and require a significant amount of maintenance. Oil-based stains are usually the best because they protect your deck and fade gradually and naturally.
Make repairs as soon as possible. Replace any rotted boards as needed to avoid having to replace the whole deck. Regular maintenance should also include tightening loose boards or railings.