How to Maintain Your Deck

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Home Improvement


It's no surprise that there are thirty million homes in the U.S. have decks. With all weather types that we are able to enjoy, the deck does require maintenance on a regular basis. As a REALTOR® I often see homes that have been maintained beautifully however the deck looks sad and in need of maintenance. Often buyers will look at home and get to the outdoor area and all they can see is money they need to spend to restore the deck. With regular maintenance the deck can remain in pristine condition.

When considering how often you should refinish your deck, there are many factors to consider.

  • Is the deck covered?
  • How much sun/snow does the deck endure?
  • How often do you use the deck?
  • Will your pets with toenails damage the surface area of the deck?

Once you have the answers to those questions then you can choose the right protective finish. Your local hardware store will be able to give you sound advice.

Adequate surface preparation is the most important step of applying protective finish on your deck. Just as you would not wax your car without thoroughly washing it first, you should not apply any sort of coating on a deck without adequate cleaning. Is the surface bare wood or has it been stained/finished previously? To clear the deck of oil, grease, dust, dirt, loose wood particles and all other debris you may need to use a pressure hose and appropriate wood cleaner. To remove mold, mildew or algae, products specifically designed for that task are available as well. Good old fashioned chlorine bleach can be used for this purpose as well, but it can break down the coating.

If your deck is brand new, wood may be treated with mill glaze. If it’s not sanded, your coating will not adhere and will not protect your deck adequately. Rent a belt sander to roughen up the surface before applying your coating. There are also products available that will break down the mill glaze.

Once the deck is clean you can coat your deck with anything from clear wood finishes to translucent to semi-transparent to solid-color stains. The amount of protection your deck needs (covered vs. uncovered) will in large part determine the type of product you choose. How much you want to see the natural grain of the wood also will help you decide.

When staining your deck, follow the manufacturer’s label instructions. It’s important not to apply too much of the product. Apply stain in the proper weather conditions. Avoid applying the product in direct sunlight, and be sure there is no chance of rain for the next 24 hours.

Once your deck is sanded, stained and protected, it’s time to set the mood:

  • A wrought-iron table and chairs set that can withstand harsh weather conditions. Wrought iron needs little more care than an occasional wire brushing to clean off surface rust.
  • If your deck is uncovered, be sure to purchase an umbrella to protect the deck from direct sun. It will also provide shade when you want to relax outdoors.
  • Hanging baskets of flowers are low-maintenance and add color and texture to your deck.
  • Construct a living wall on one side of the deck. This can act as a privacy barrier too.
  • Plant an herb garden on your deck. Apart from the wonderful aroma's they give off, you will have an abundant supply of fresh herbs for cooking and salads.
  • Line the deck with flower boxes, or hang them from the deck's railings. Azaleas and begonias brighten up stark wood.
  • If you have the space, grow a small tree, such as a ficus, on your deck. This brings the outdoors right to your relax space.
  • Many home improvement stores stock strings of outdoor lights (they’re not just for Christmas anymore!) in decorative shapes (fireflies, Chinese lanterns, stars) to add a festive touch to your nighttime parties. Tiki torches are always a nice touch too.
  • Use Citronella lamp oil and candles to help keep the bugs away. If you use artificial floodlights, get yellow bug lights to repel those unwanted guests.
  • Don't forget to use fine-mesh wire to keep mice, skunks, opossums, neighborhood cats and other critters from taking up residence under your deck.

Then sit back and enjoy the wonderful space you have designed.

If you are considering a move, I am here to help you!

Call or Text Susan 704-651-9023


Photo credit by Greg Rivers on Unsplash