ONE of the most popular gathering places around the house when summer arrives is not inside the home itself but outside, on the deck or terrace.
And whether that deck or terrace is made of ordinary treated wood, exotic hardwood, cedar, redwood or one of the new composite materials, it will look better and last longer with regular maintenance.
Most decks are severely neglected. Every deck needs to be cleaned at least once a year, and now is the time to do it.
Following is his advice for giving an aging wooden deck a fresh face-lift.
A STEP-BY-STEP PROCESS
- Replace loose or damaged boards, tap in popped nails, and patch cracks with wood filler.
- Choose the right cleaning agent for the job. If you’ve kept up with regular maintenance, a basic deck wash will remove dirt, fungus, and traces of sealant. A heavy-duty deck cleanser will do all of that, plus eliminate spots and semitransparent stains. To battle heavy soils or remove waterproofing and opaque finishes, you’ll need a deck stripper. Cedar and redwood boards require a brightener, which restores the natural wood tones as it cleans. Pour your solution into a plastic pump-action garden sprayer.
- Drench surrounding plants with water (and cover delicate foliage with plastic sheeting). Working in an 8510-foot area, spritz the cleaning formula onto the deck. Let it sit (following the manufacturer’s instructions), scrub with a synthetic stiff-bristle brush, and rinse with the garden hose. Repeat on the rest of the deck.
- Let the deck dry (according to product specifications). Pick a water-, mildew-, and UV-resistant strain. Less drying time means the entire process takes hours, not days.
- Stain the deck when the weather’s warm and arid. Use a paint pad or roller on a long handle to apply the stain, going in the direction of the grain. Begin at an inside corner, and work your way out. To avoid lap marks, brush backward from dry area to wet, or use a paintbrush to even out strokes. Let dry completely.