Decks are constantly exposed to the weather and other elements, so it's important to develop a deck maintenance plan to keep them safe and avoid costly deck repairs. A well-cared-for deck can make a huge difference in the outdoor space of your home. Here are some deck maintenance tips to keep your deck in great shape.
Begin by using a garden hose or power washer to blast the debris out between the deck boards. Some treatments, such as bleaching, are good for getting rid of mildew, and others, like acid treatments, are good for getting rid of graying and stains. After eradicating mildew, bleach can leave a dull, washed-out surface. Use a decking restorer with acid for these kinds of problems. Or stick to bleach alternatives like oxalic acid to get rid of stains and discoloration.
Be sure to read the cleaning solution instructions and warnings carefully. The solutions can be brushed on or sprayed on with a low-pressure power washer. More potent chemicals require less scrubbing. After the chemicals have worked, rinse the deck. Remember, too much pressure can damage the wood.
Check the deck for damage once you've cleaned it. Check for sagging, cracked, or rotting planks. It's important to address even minor problems as soon as they arise to avoid an even costlier deck repair later. Nails and screws can become loose due to the expansion and contraction of aged lumber. Drive them back in with a hammer or a screwdriver. Rusty nails and screws can weaken a deck's stability and change the wood's color, so it's best to replace them as quickly as possible.
As part of your regular deck maintenance, check the flashing to avoid having to make expensive deck repairs in the future. These are the metal or plastic shields where the deck joins the house. Look for any cracks or fissures that could allow water to enter. Ideally, water should be able to drain off the deck and into the ground or grass below.
Use a brush made of natural bristles to effectively spread a deck sealer. While a roller would get the job done more quickly, a brush can get deeper into the grain and pores. If you want the sealant to hold, apply it where the boards are butting. Work the deck sealer along the length of three or four boards at a time.
The greater the sealer's opaqueness, the better its resistance to weather and wear. The texture and natural beauty of the wood are better highlighted by lighter coatings.
Decks made of any materials can attract a wide range of unwanted guests, such as bark beetles, carpenter ants, carpenter bees, wood borers, snakes, and rats.
You can also try planting herbs and flowers around your deck to deter insects. For example, using aromatic plants like garlic, citronella, and rosemary reduces the number of mosquitoes and other biting insects around your deck. Many pests can also be kept at bay with the help of plants like chives and lemongrass.
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