How to Care for Your Deck to Assure a Long Life
Weather can take a toll on wood surfaces.
Your deck takes a lot of abuse from the elements. Rain, snow, and the sun can work together to destroy your outside living space if left unchecked. It is extremely important to address wood decking problems as soon as they are observed. Wood decking problems left unchecked can lead to higher maintenance and home repair costs down the road.
After building a wood deck, it is important to seal it quickly with a stain, paint or water sealer. Even the hardest woods can quickly experience the effects of nature’s elements, such as rot, mildew and bleaching. By applying a protective layer to your wood decking, you can lock in its initial beauty and prolong the life of it.
Unfortunately, a wood deck needs constant maintenance, and even though you may have applied a water sealant over the decking when you initially built it, you will need to apply additional coats every year or two. Before applying a new coat of paint, stain or water sealant, it is imperative that the deck be thoroughly washed and dried. Also make sure to check the weather forecast. It should be free of rain for a couple of days, and the temperature should be at least 50 degrees when you apply a new coat of water sealant or paint.
With water sealants and paint, your deck could experience flaking. Before you apply a new coat of paint or water sealant, it is important that you first remove all of the flaking paint or sealant. Pressure washers can help make the job go quickly, but unfortunately, they can damage the grain of the decking. Consequently, it is best to use a scraper and elbow grease to remove the flaking paint. Once you have scraped off the flaking paint, lightly sand the decking prior to applying a new coat of paint or water sealant.
Fading or Bleaching
If your mahogany decking is looking faded or bleached out, try using a wood cleaner to restore it to its original color. After restoring its original color, seal it with a clear sealant. Again, you need to reseal it every year or two. Alternatively, you can apply a stain that matches the original color of the wood.
Rotted decking is associated with water problems. Either the water sealant, paint or stain has failed prematurely or you have a water source, such as a gutter, that is spilling and causing water to stand regularly on the deck. Frequent standing water on the deck can lead to rot and the infestation of carpenter ants and termites.
If there is deck rot, it is important to replace it to prevent a dangerous safety hazard. While replacing the rotted deck pieces, check the framing underneath it to make sure it is still structurally sound.
Mold and Mildew
You also may need to wash your deck regularly with a fungicide solution that can prevent and eliminate mold and mildew. Decks located on the northern side of a home are frequently susceptible to mold and mildew. Likewise, decks that have gutters or roofs constantly spilling onto them are susceptible. Make sure that your gutters drain either through the deck down to the ground below or away from it, to cut down on moisture.
With these few basic deck maintenance tips, you should be able to preserve the beauty and life of your wood decking for years to come. The most important thing to remember is that when a deck problem is observed, it should be addressed quickly. The effects of water damage can occur rapidly and can lead to higher maintenance costs later if left unchecked. Finally, keep in mind that a deck is an important asset to your home’s valuation, so it is important to keep it up.
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