It would be nice to think that your new wooden deck was maintenance free for life, and that you could enjoy its benefits without any effort beyond the occasional sweep of a broom and wiping up after a passing bird. The fact is, decks are remarkably simple to care for, but you need to apply some effort in preserving your investment. You should also know that each season brings a different approach to your responsibilities.
Every deck requires a thorough annual cleaning. Remember that any and all weather conditions affect your deck throughout the year. Between heat, sun, precipitation, and morning dew there is a constant assault on the wood. By cleaning your deck you will be replenishing the wood, eliminating any mold or mildew which has built up, and removing any twigs, leaves, bugs, and bird and animal waste which might be trapped between boards.
You should begin by choosing a cloudy, but rain-free two day period to perform the task. Hot sun and humidity could affect the final results. Next, take steps to protect any nearby plants, because even the mildest and most environmentally friendly cleaner can burn tender leaves. Water plants and grass around the deck before and after cleaning. Covering the plants with plastic sheeting is a logical precaution. Then take a putty knife and scrape between the boards, pulling out any debris which is lodged there. If you discover any nails which have popped or begun to protrude then whack them back into place, or replace them outright. Never pull them out without immediately replacing them. They were there for a reason.
STEP 1: Clean the deck from the bottom up with Rhino Hide’s UltraMean Exterior Stain Remover or another bleach free cleaner. Always test a product before use in a small inconspicuous place. Never let whatever cleaner you are using to pool up, and always scrub and apply cleanser evenly. Use of a hard bristle brush for scrubbing is recommended. Follow all cleanser instructions thoroughly! Allow several days for a thorough drying.
STEP 2: Apply a moisture barrier, such as Rhino Hide’s UltraBan. UltraBan should be applied annually for maximum protection. This will protect your deck from moisture damage and mold or mildew throughout the year. Between applications, the deck can be cleaned with a mild detergent. If a heavy duty cleaner is used, UltraBan will need to be reapplied.
Every six months, spring and fall, check the deck’s structure for any signs that repairs might be needed. Just figure that the beginning and end of each baseball season is also deck-checking season. You’ll want to inspect the joists, beams, and posts. Always test the railings by giving them a good shake. For the safety of all, and to avoid the risk of lawsuits, never let any problem go unresolved.
To cut down on yearly maintenance, there are a few simple tasks you’ll want to perform:
Always keep wet leaves from building up in corners or shady spots (this will promote mold growth)
Trim back trees and shrubs, so they can’t damage your deck
Look out for puddles forming, particularly near the bottom of posts
Rotate furniture and plants in sunny areas, to prevent discoloration
Your deck is an oasis from work and worry, but you need to maintain it so it stays that way.