Deck and patio maintenance means cleaning and sealing the wood surfaces and spring is a great time to restore a beautiful luster to your deck. Winter weather wreaks havoc with wood decks. Sun, wind, and rain penetrate the wood and cause cracks, fading, warping, splits, and checks. Unless a wood deck has been neglected for years, a good cleaning and application of a good wood sealer is all that is needed to restore your deck to like new condition.
- Cover all shrubbery and plants around your deck with plastic sheeting or tarps.
- Move all planters and deck furniture away from the deck and cover them to protect them.
- Sweep the deck surface.
- Check the deck surface, railing, balusters, and steps for damage, pulled nails, splits, and cracks.
- Repair any woodwork that shows damage.
- Drive in pulled nails or use screws to add additional holding strength.
- Replace any deck planking that is damaged. Now is a good time to check the steps and replace any treads that are split, cracked, or broken.
- Sand any rough spots on the deck surface, hand rails, uprights, or steps with 80 or 100 grit sandpaper.
- You can pressure wash your deck to clean it thoroughly. If you use a pressure washer, practice first on scrap lumber or an inconspicuous spot. The high pressure generated by this equipment can actually cut soft lumber like cedar. A moment’s carelessness with one can cause major damage.
- Mix the proper cleaner with water according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Attach a garden hose to the washer and pressure wash all the mold, mildew, dirt, and debris off the deck surfaces.
- Use a stiff bristle brush or broom to work the dirt loose and help remove stubborn mold or mildew and to eliminate puddles.
- Keep the deck wet with the cleaner. You may have to go back over areas more than once if your deck is large.
- Allow the cleaner to soak into the wood for at least 10 minutes or according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Rinse the deck off with clear water.
- Allow at least 2 days for the deck and associated woodwork to dry thoroughly before attempting to apply a sealer or stain.
- After the deck is completely dry, begin applying the sealer or stain of your choice.
- Make sure the weather will not be too hot.
- Double check that there are no rough or damaged spots that need to be addressed that may have been missed during the cleaning portion of the project.
- Apply the sealer with a brush, spray painter, or roller and extension.
- Make certain that the sealer does not puddle on the deck.
- If the sealer is a clear water transparent product or semi-transparent one, you may need to put on more than one application.
- Let the sealer dry thoroughly.
- Be sure to apply sealer to all accessible areas of the deck woodwork, including all end grain.
Be sure to use safety equipment when using a pressure washer with a cleaner. You can damage your vision if you neglect to wear safety goggles. Wear a dust mask when sanding finished wood. Safety gear is a good idea when applying sealers and stains, as well.
More pigment in the stain or sealer means better protection for the wood, although it tends to obscure the grain and texture of the wood surfaces.
Discuss this and other Home Improvement Topics in our How To Forum