A wooden deck or patio is a great way to enjoy the beauty of nature. In order to keep enjoying your deck, there are certain steps to take towards wood deck protection. Read the details below.
Whether you’re catching up on your reading, entertaining guests, or enjoying lunch with your kids, your outdoor space is an extended area of your home that offers endless benefits. However, take a look at your deck. Is it a structure that fits in with the beauty of your house, yard, and gardens? Or is it an eyesore of faded, cracked, and warped boards?
Forgetting about this important piece of your property is easy. But if you think about it, a deck is much like your body—if you give it the maintenance and care it requires, it will remain attractive and functional much longer.
Below is a list of some of the things that conspire to destroy your deck as well as a few wood deck protection tips. With this, you can fight back against the natural and human ravages that besiege your deck every day.
Wooden Decks Take Abuse from Nature
It’s true. Your deck takes a lot of abuse, which is why it’s essential to invest in wood deck protection. Foot traffic alone can take years off the life of your deck, but that isn’t nearly all of the mistreatment to which it’s subjected.
Consider these that nature inflicts:
Sun: The sun’s rays are one of the most destructive elements to wood. The horizontal surface of the boards on your deck means they are always exposed to damaging sunlight. UV radiation is tough on nearly any substance.
Water: When rain is allowed to pool on the surface of your deck, pollen and mold spores soon follow and eventually discolor your deck. Also, if your deck is within six inches of the ground or close to water spigots, it could be susceptible to excessive water damage that can cause the wood to expand and rot.
Snow: In the past, the Northeast experienced a massive storm that dropped about 30” of snow on the region. Can you imagine the weight that the average deck was forced to bear? Many tried to clear their decks by shoveling them, while others worked their snow blowers on to them. Either way, area decks took a tremendous amount of abuse.
Leaves: Leaves that are not cleared off in the fall can result in moisture damage and staining on the surface of your deck.
You May Be Too Hard on Your Deck
Yes, nature takes its toll on your deck, but you and others also do your share to shorten its life.
Here’s how it happens:
Foot traffic: If your deck connects your house to a driveway or detached garage, you and your family are making countless trips across it. That means high-heels, boots, and sneakers are compressing mud, soil, sand, and pebbles into your deck almost every day.
Parties: Remember your milestone birthday party? Seventy-five guests on the deck with groups gathered in different areas concentrating hundreds, even thousands, of pounds of weight on one small part of your deck. And how about those who sat on and leaned against your railings? No wonder it creaked and groaned.
Planters: You place flower planters on your deck to add color and beauty, but they can trap dirt and moisture on your deck’s surface. Those areas can become cracked or discolored.
Furniture: Think of all the items that go on your deck during warm weather—conversation set, wicker chairs, side tables, dining set, and fire pit. All of these help you to enjoy outside living to the utmost, but they can also add to the warping and rotting that could ultimately destroy your deck.
Grill: Grease stains from your grill are often some of the most difficult to remove.
Protect Your Deck with These Hints
- Place your planters on top of cement blocks to keep them from trapping dirt or moisture on the deck’s surface.
- Make sure you use a grease catcher if you have your grill on the deck.
- Sweep your deck regularly to prevent dirt and leaves from accumulating and staining the surface.
- Remove snow from your deck as soon as possible with a plastic (not metal!) shovel.
Proper Wood Deck Protection and Maintenance is Crucial
Wooden decks cannot last long without proper care and regular deck maintenance. Without wood deck protection, they will erode, splinter, and rot. With it, they can last for many years.
Here are some deck maintenance suggestions. Some of these are do-it-yourself projects if you’re handy around the house:
- Clean and seal: Either have it cleaned and sealed professionally every two or three years, or do it yourself every year. If you do it, be sure to sweep the surface and clean the cracks, then scrub the wood, and finally, apply the stain or a waterproofing deck sealer.
- Make repairs immediately: Decks need to be repaired for a number of reasons—some structural, some cosmetic. If you have carpentry experience, you may save some money by tackling it yourself. If you don’t, it’s better to hire a contractor. That way your deck will meet safety guidelines and you’ll save time and money to have it done correctly.
- Don’t use paint or solid stains: A quality stain and sealer will penetrate the wood grain to seal it, while still allowing moisture to escape from the wood. Paints and solid-color stains, on the other hand, help trap moisture. As your deck boards expand and contract with variations in temperatures and weather conditions, the paint will chip with the result being peeling paint and, eventually, rotten wood.
- Seal pressure-treated wood: Even though your deck may be made of pressure-treated lumber, it is not exempt from the maintenance that you would give any other wooden deck. Moisture swells the wood, and the sun does its damage to the surface, creating cracks and warping.
Don’t Take Your Deck for Granted
Your deck is a critical investment, and it gives much in return. But you need to keep it well-maintained so that it retains both its functionality and beauty. By taking proper care of this valuable asset with these wood deck protection tips, you will protect your investment, minimize repairs, and ensure that it has a long life.