How To Preserve Deck Boards

The deck is a wonderful place to sit, read, or have a meal with family and friends.  Since decks are situated outdoors, they catch a lot of dust, dirt, grime and all sorts of organic matter.  Daily maintenance involves removing leaves, visible dirt and other objects that are not supposed to be on the deck. 

To preserve your deck, you need to clean it, repair it and coat the deck boards with a stain or seal.

Clean and repair your deck boards.  One of the best ways to dislodge dirt and grime that has been ingrained in the deck boards is to use a pressure washer.  The garden hose may not have enough water pressure to do the job.  Watch out though, if the pressure is too strong, it can damage the deck boards.  Use the lowest pressure possible.  For wooden deck boards, when using a nozzle set it to the wide fan pattern.  If the deck is made of vinyl, you can opt for a smaller nozzle since vinyl is more resilient to high pressure.

As for cleaners, its job is to loosen any dirt and grime so that the deck becomes easier to wash.  Cleaners come with different active ingredients.  Chlorine bleach cleaners are great on molds and mildew but can discolor certain types of wood and are not environment friendly.  Opt for oxygen-based bleach cleaners instead.  You can always test a diluted cleaner on an area of the deck that is not seen.  If the color fades, dilute the cleaner some more. If you are unsure, ask the deck board manufacturer for recommendations.  Otherwise, scrubbing the deck with a mild detergent should do the trick.  Whichever cleaner you use, make sure to follow the directions of the deck-cleaning product.

  1. Dislodge any dirt and grime with pressurized water.
  2. Apply the cleaner following the manufacturer’s instructions.
  3. After five minutes, scrub the deck with a firm bristled brush.
  4. Use a pocket knife to take out any dirt and grime between boards.
  5. Rinse the deck and let it dry completely.
  6. Inspect the boards for any voids that need to be filled.
  7. Fill all the voids with wood filler.
  8. Once the filler dries, using medium grit sandpaper, sand the deck board to smoothen it.
  9. Hammer any protruding nail heads.  Place additional screws in areas where warping has occurred.

Stain or seal the deck.  After thoroughly cleaning the deck, wait 24-hours before applying a staining agent or a sealer.  Wooden deck boards are protected against moisture if sealed.  But if you want to protect the deck boards against sun damage as well, use a stain.  Stains are tinted sealers that protect your wooden deck boards from turning grey due to the heat of the sun.  The stain or seal is applied every few years.

If you are not too keen on doing the job yourself, hire a professional to clean and maintain your deck.  They have the right tools and supplies that most homeowners do not own or have access to.  Professionals can also do the job faster.  It may seem to cost more but the results will be worth it.

You can enjoy your deck for years and years with the right care and maintenance. Periodic cleaning and proper coating preserves your deck boards.  Protect your investment by hiring a professional or by doing the maintenance yourself. 


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