Outdoor kitchens, extravagant patios and large decks are part of a growing trend in the U.S. to take advantage of outdoor landscapes for relaxation, dining and entertaining. A deck can function as a seasonal family room during the spring, summer and even the fall months of the year in some areas. Although deck living can be casual and easygoing, wood and composite decks still need regular maintenance and care. Even treated wood deteriorates over time, and the impact of water, humidity and sun exposure can have your charming, wooden oasis looking dirty and dingy after one season.
Use these DIY tips to spruce up a lived-on deck!
Start out the process by inspecting the entire deck, paying special attention to any part that is in direct contact with the ground like posts, stairways, and joists. Use a screwdriver to check for structural damage; if you can sink the tip of a screwdriver into a post, you have rotted wood and it may be time for some major deck renovation.
Look at the deck-to-house connection as screws and bolts can loosen and rust over time. Tighten the fasteners that attach the deck to your home and look for any signs of moisture.
On a cosmetic level, you’ll need to pay attention to any nails that have popped up. If you can’t tap them back down, consider replacing them with galvanized ring-shanked nails which won’t pop up. Also be on the lookout for loose wood, which could result in major splinters!
If you need to pull up and replace any damaged board, remove the fasteners and lift the board straight up with a pry bar to avoid damaging or loosening any adjacent boards.
CLEAN IT UP
You should be cleaning your deck annually regardless of age and wear. The good news is that decks that are maintained on a regular basis can be revived with a deck cleaner, like Olympic ready-to-use deck cleaner which simply attaches to a sprayer and removes dirt, stains, and mildew.
If it’s been a while since you last cleaned your deck, you may need to invest in a pressure washer to tackle tough, scrub-resistant strains. Use a fan-type nozzle instead of a pinpoint nozzle to avoid digging into the wood’s surface.
After repairing and cleaning your deck, you need to apply a protective finish. It is recommends clear finishes and transparent stains for newer wood, but if your deck is on the older side, use a semi-transparent stain to give the old wood a clean, uniform color while also helping any replaced wood boards blend in.
WEIGH THE OPTIONS OF STAIN TRANSPARENCY
Clear finishes showcase new wood beautifully but the clarity also gives way to harmful UV rays. Clear finishes need to be reapplied on a more regular basis (every 6-24 months).
Solid stains offer great UV protection and hide the wood’s grain under an opaque film. Solid stains typically boast a four-year lifespan, but beware! This stain can tend to peel or crack.
Semi-transparent stains are the most popular deck finishes and usually the easiest to maintain. They offer sun-blocking pigments more than the clear coats but not enough to completely mask the wood grain. Semi-transparent stains penetrate the wood surface so there is no film and can be reapplied as needed, usually after three years.