Of all the joys of homeownership, there’s nothing quite like sitting outside on your deck on a summer day. Whether you have some friends over to grill some food, or are just kicking back in a lounge chair with a good book and a cool drink, a deck is one of the real benefits of having a house with a backyard. But if the deck falls into a bad state of disrepair, it will neither be esthetically pleasing nor completely enjoyable.
No one wants to have an old, decrepit, rotting deck, but you may not know how often you need to do restoration work on your deck. Here are a few points to keep in mind.
Restore or Maintain
When we’re talking about taking care of your wooden deck, we need to be clear as to what we mean. On the one hand, there’s routine maintenance, which is more of an ongoing need.. This includes checking for loose bolts and screws, boards or slats that may be coming loose, and wood that begins to show signs of rotting. Your deck, like all of the exterior of your home, is subjected to a barrage of weather conditions, including rain, heat, cold, and sunshine, all of which put wear and tear on the deck. This should be done almost continuous, but certainly a thorough check should be done at least once a year.
On the other hand, there are major restoration jobs, which will be necessary if you haven’t kept up with maintenance, or just after enough time has elapsed that some improvement to the deck is needed. Again, frequent examinations of the condition of your deck will help determine when these jobs are necessary.
Look out for rot.
Any natural materials will eventually decay when they’re subjected to the elements, and your wooden deck is no exception. You’ll save yourself some major work if you nip this in the bud, not to mention lower the risk of someone getting hurt, should the wood rot sufficiently that it weakens the structural integrity of the deck. Look out for warning signs like boards that are beginning to feel soft and mushy or have a funky, musty odor, or are shrinking or cracking. You may still be able to salvage those boards, though if the decay has advanced far enough, replacement may be the only option.
Clean up discoloration.
Your deck has no choice but to sit out in the elements all day and night. One symptom of exposure to every type of condition is that the wood may begin to become discolored. Mildew tends to cause dark stains. Greying of the wood may occur from exposure to the sun. Those mildew stains may respond to soapy water or bleach. If you’re not sure what you’re working with, you’ll do best to call in a professional.
Finish up with a sealant.
Once you’ve done the necessary maintenance work, use a sealant to lock in the benefits of all the hard work you just put into your deck. Some sealants are better suited for different types of wood, so be sure to check carefully before you make the purchase.