As the temperatures warm and the trees and flowers begin to bloom, spring is finally emerging from a long and brutal winter. Days to come will be spent outside and you’ll be able to utilize your backyard and deck for the first time in months very soon, if you aren’t lucky enough to be utilizing it already. To use this area, you first have to engage in deck cleaning and maintenance.
Your deck is the backyard space that makes the outdoors comfortable. This may be where you entertain family and friends, host barbecues, or simply spend an afternoon reading a good book in the sun. Whatever your purpose, you want your deck to not only look great as the warm months approach, but you also want it to be safe for you and your family to use.
That said, springtime is the best time for deck cleaning to make sure it’s ready for summer. There are a few tips that will make this process easier and more productive, but they mainly include making sure your deck is clean and also making sure there are no imperfections in the structure of the deck that would make it unsafe or put it at risk of deteriorating more quickly.
Different Deck Materials Require Different Care
You’ll first want to consider what material your deck is made of before creating a deck cleaning and maintenance plan, as different materials need different care. Many decks are constructed of various types of wood, some pressure-treated, some not.
Pressure treated wood has preservatives forced into the wood by excessive pressure in order to protect it from damage by insects or growths like mildew. Composite materials are growing in popularity, as is vinyl. These varying types will all have different care plans so consider which will work best for your deck before moving forward with the process.
Check for Winter Damage First
Before beginning any cleaning or staining, you’ll want to check your wood deck for damage it may have incurred from being in the elements all winter long. These could include cracks, large splinters, loose nails, and mildew.
Be sure to take a look at all parts of the deck, including floor boards and railings as well as underneath the deck. This is a great concern for wood decks because they are often exposed to moisture all winter in the form of snow, rain, ice, or all three.
Rotting wood can result in deck leaks or structural issues, which can lead to issues of safety. Pressure treated wood, though it has an extra layer of protection, is still in danger of rot, so check your deck regardless of the material you’ve used to build it.
What to Do if You Find Any Problem Areas
If you find any problem areas, you’ll want to clearly identify them and then come up with a plan to resolve them so you can use your deck with comfort in the coming months. If you find wood rot, the only solution is to replace the rotten parts.
Usually this can be done by replacing one or two affected floor boards. Mildew, dirt, and other stains can be washed off of wood, composite material, and vinyl.
Tips for Deck Cleaning
Deck cleaning is an important part of deck ownership, and it’s something that should be done regularly–as in at least once a year.
Spring is the preferable time because you’ll have more days on which the weather is conducive to cleaning outdoors, and you’ll be needing your deck soon, anyway.
Consider these tips when planning to clean your deck thoroughly, whether you’re preparing to re-stain or seal it or not:
- It is best to use a power washer to clean off your deck; you could add a deck cleaning solution, or you could just use water. Make sure you avoid using too much force too close to the surface of the deck, as this could damage, dent, or splinter the wood.
- If your deck is a composite material, you may want to be even more careful with a power washer. With this material and with vinyl, you’ll be able to do the job just as well with a soft scrub brush.
- Provide your deck with plenty of time to dry completely before applying any stain or seal.
Staining Your Deck
Once your deck is washed and dried well, consider whether it needs a new coat of stain or sealant. This will protect the material (except vinyl) and help it remain protected from damage and wear.
Colored stains can also enhance the look of your deck. Make sure to use a stain that is appropriate for your deck material.
- For wood, there are many stains available in different colors and materials; some are even formulated to resist mildew.
- Some composite materials can be stained or sealed as well. Consult with a professional if you aren’t sure which stain would work best for your deck.
Re-staining should be done with relative regularity; it doesn’t have to be every single year, but every other year would provide the deck with ample protection.
Before staining, make sure the area is completely clear of any debris or stray leaves and blades of grass. Apply a layer of stain with a paint roller, taking care to avoid using too much of the stain at once. Be sure to protect your hands and eyes with gloves and goggles, respectively.
And lastly, you’ll want to allow at least one full day (if not more) for this to dry before walking upon the surface or applying a coat of sealant.
Your deck is a gathering place for your family and friends in the summer months; it’s also an investment that can either add or take away from the value of your home.
So, it’s definitely worth taking good care of your deck by planning yearly deck cleaning and maintenance procedures.
Deck cleaning is a simple process as long as you consider what type of material your deck is made out of, and sealing it with a new stain can freshen up the look and keep the surface protected throughout the long, hot days of summer.