All outdoor structures require some form of maintenance. Just because it’s not part of your main home, doesn’t mean you can forget about its seasonal maintenance. It’s also important to maintain your deck. Your deck and other outdoor structures are getting pounded by the elements all year long. If you don’t take care of these structures properly, you’re going to find that they begin to fail and wear out a lot sooner than they should. You don’t want to have to replace a deck after 10 years because you didn’t do the recommended maintenance. Here’s what you need to do to keep your deck in good shape.
Begin Each Season with a Visual Check & Deck Maintenance
Before you pull out the barbecue and host your first party of the season you have one VERY important job to complete first: your annual visual deck check. Your deck is a major piece of structure, and if any parts of it are damaged, you could be looking at a serious accident if it fails. A deck collapse is a potentially deadly consequence of a weak or rotting deck.
Ledger Board Issues
Is your ledger board in healthy shape? The ledger board is what connects your deck with the rest of the home. It’s a longboard that runs the length of your deck and helps anchor your deck to the home. A rotted ledger board is one of the most common reasons for deck failure. Check the health of the board by looking for visible signs of rot on the board. Then, near the area with the deck joists attached to the ledger board, use a screwdriver and strike it with your hammer. If the screwdriver sinks into the wood, you’ve got dry rot. In this case, call in a professional immediately to assess the overall health of your deck and let them make some suggestions on how best to repair your deck problems.
Inspecting Your Deck!
You can perform a visual inspection of your deck yourself, looking out for instances of rotting wood, broken stairs or railings, rot, and other signs of damage, but if your deck is older than five years old, you may want to have it professionally inspected every few years to ensure you don’t miss anything.
Staining & Resealing is very Important Maintenance for your Deck
How often do you need to stain or perform a deck sealing? Well, there is no magic answer – there are a lot of factors that will decide that.
example – what kind of decking material you use, what kind of stain or deck sealer you use, and what kind of exposure to the elements the deck has. Of course, that means, even if you use the same stain each time, if you get hit by a particularly harsh and cold winter, or get a lot of rain one year, you may find yourself restaining much sooner than planned!
What’s the best way to dictate whether it’s time to reseal or restain your deck? After it rains, take a lookout at your structure. If the water beads up and stays for a while, the deck is still repelling water, and your protection is good, no beads mean it’s time for a new coat.
To be honest, one of the best things that will protect your deck, and reduce restaining is a good roof. However, we all don’t have roofs over our deck (and truly, not all of us would want one) – but anything that can protect your deck from getting the full force of the heavy wind, rain, snow, and slush can help extend the life of your stain.
Learning how to stain a deck will allow you to bring out the rich colors and textures of the wood’s surface.
What Kind of Deck Stain Do I Want?
This all depends on how much work you want to put into your deck. In general, the thicker the deck stain, the longer it will last. So it makes sense that a solid stain is the best protection for your deck and other outdoor structures because it has the most color and takes longer for the UV rays to break through and allow moisture to get in.
The debate generally boils down to aesthetics vs. maintenance for your wood decking.
You may want to use a translucent or semi-transparent stain because that will help preserve the great natural color of your wood. In this case, you’ll also have to do an anti-mildew treatment and add an additional coat of stain yearly.
How often should I stain my deck?
I recommend staining your deck every 2-3 years. Even if the manufacturer of the product says you can get away with doing it every five years, you still have to factor in what Nature does to the deck and the fact that there may be some kind of rot happening that you can’t see with your eye alone. It means you’ll be adding another coat of that stain more often than you think. That’s not necessarily a bad thing if you love the look, and are prepared to do the work. Just remember, to have a beautiful, long-lasting deck, you have to put in the time and effort in yearly maintenance to keep it looking good.