When you have a deck, it is almost always a focal point of your home’s exterior, whether the finish is in good shape or not! A deck that looks great adds to your home’s curb appeal. One that’s in poor condition can do more than reduce your home’s resale value.
1. Do clean your wood deck once a year
From Southern Pine to Western Red Cedar, and exotic hardwoods such as ipe and teak, natural wood decks come in a variety of options. While longevity and color change from one type to the next, they have the same basic principles in terms of cleaning. Tight-grained natural woods usually boast being “water-resistant” to “watertight”, but they do have a porous surface that will eventually absorb water and allow a foothold for Algae, Mold, and Mildew growth. Without proper cleaning and maintenance, wood decks can and do eventually rot away. The naturally occurring tannins and oils present in the wood need to be protected and preserved if you want your deck to maintain its like-new appearance for years to come.
2. Provide Regular Maintenance
You can keep your wood or composite deck looking good longer by getting a jump on potential problems. Sweep your deck frequently. Don’t let leaves, especially wet leaves, accumulate. Keep shrubs from growing within a couple of feet of your deck, especially on the shady side of your property. Use a five-in-one painter’s tool to keep the gaps between the deck’s floorboards free of accumulated debris. Clean food stains and bird droppings as soon as you notice them. If you have potted plants on your deck, elevate them to allow airflow underneath, or move them periodically.
3. Keep Your Deck Sealed
An unprotected deck will deteriorate quickly. Even though pressure-treated wood resists rotting and insect predation, it will still crack and split from water exposure. The only way to protect your deck successfully over time is to apply a deck preservative. There are sealers, stains, and paints on the market specially designed for deck use. Aesthetically, they look very different, but they protect the wood and composite decks from moisture damage, fungus growth, and ultraviolet light. Some also have built-in fire retardants.
4. Don’t panic if your cedar deck is fuzzy
When looking for a fast, relatively instant result, some people turn to the pressure washer. Pressure washing can damage wood, especially softer woods such as cedar. Done incorrectly, a pressure washer can take out landscaping, a window, or a chunk of your deck quickly as a wink. Even pressure-treated wood doesn’t stand up well to pressure washing, despite what the name might imply. While composite or synthetic lumber can better withstand the abuse, the bottom line is pressure washing, especially over 1500 PSI (pounds per square inch), can damage your deck.
Achieving an even, clean finish with pressure washing can also prove quite challenging. Streaking, striping, and an overall uneven appearance can often be the result of hurried pressure washing. Without proper tools and a “sweeping” and “feathering” technique, your hard work could result in a blotchy, uneven clean.