Decks are perfect for hosting parties and can greatly influence your curb appeal. Sadly, decks don’t clean or sustain themselves and in order to keep that flawless curb appeal, you must maintain them just like any other room in the home. As such, I decided to gather the five maintenance items all deck owners must know.
Use Deck Cleaner Regularly
All decks must be cleaned regularly, especially wooden decks (mot popular). First, spray your deck with a hose, removing any minor dirt. Then, mix your cleaning solution (can purchase at local hardware store) with water and fully coat your deck. If your deck is near a flower bed, clean carefully to limit the amount of solution that gets on nearby plants. Finally, scrub your deck as your cleaning partner continues to spray with water. The dirt and algae should come right off.
Note: Many deck cleaners will have specific instructions. Be sure to follow those instructions.
Seal Your Deck Annually
Wooden decks need to be sealed at least once a year in order to prevent damage to the wood and protect against the climate change.
Choosing the Right Type of Sealant for Your Deck
The kind of deck you have in place can help determine which kind of sealant is best for you. There are two major options to choose from: oil-based sealants and water-based sealants. Water-based options do not last as long, but they are better for the environment. You can also choose to have professionals apply clear sealants to allow for natural greying over time, toners for a slight color change or a solid paint that hides the grain and the natural color of the wood.
Average Cost of Professionally Sealing A Deck
Sealing a deck requires a lot of labor and it can take as many as two full days to complete the task. Expect to pay anywhere from $960 to $1,345 to have your deck professionally sealed.
If you are unsure on sealing, see if it’s right for your deck.
Inspect for Loose Boards and Nails
Now that we have covered the appearance of your deck, it’s time to jump into deck safety. Given that many homeowners install a deck to host family get-togethers, it’s imperative that you regularly check for loose boards and nails. If a board is loose or you can see it go down as you step on it, you should repair it immediately. As long as you have extra wood or find the same type as the original, many DIYers can replace the board themselves. With loose nails, all you need is a hammer to stick it back into place.
Fixing loose boards may be a bigger job than you can handle. If you’re looking to hire a pro, expect to pay approximately $1,000. To see the costs in your area, be sure to view our deck restore and repair cost guide.
Inspect Deck Surroundings
While we would like to stay on top of our cleaning schedules, often times, we just forget. Well, if you have neglected your deck for some time, it’s very important that you inspect around your deck for mold or dry rot. There are numerous items you can monitor. As our friends at HomeAdvisor say, look for plumbing leaks in and outside the home. Inspect your gutter system for proper alignment. Check your eaves to see if they are correctly installed. Examine the grading of your yard so water won't collect at the home's foundation. Also, look to see if your sprinkler system is in the right spot.
This is perhaps the easiest item to accomplish when it comes to maintaining your deck. Do not skip it.
Replace Rotted Wood
If you’ve failed to maintain and clean your deck, dry rot could creep up. Dry rot is a fungus which can cause mildew, mold, staining or decay in wood. Sadly, a minimal amount of heat and moisture is all it needs. Additionally, dry rot is a very prevalent issue when it comes to wood decks. When you spot it, you must remove it ASAP. If it isn't detected and removed immediately, it could spread quickly and create additional damage (more $$$).
Since you are dealing with mold and mildew, we highly recommend working with a professional contractor to replace the rotted wood.
You put your deck in for reason and chances are, it was to host the next 4th of July party or increase your resale value. Both items will be ruined if you don’t regularly maintain and inspect your deck. If you neglect to do so, chances are, no one will be attending your next summer BBQ.
For other deck repair options, see our DIY Tips for How to Refinish A Deck.