A deck is an amazing addition to any home and something that can make a huge difference to how your property looks, feels and is perceived by others. However, a deck is not something that you can install and then forget about: you actually need to maintain and protect it from the elements.
You should always make sure that you inspect your deck regularly: yearly at the least. Checking your deck on at least a semi-regular basis will allow you to find damage, worn-out areas, and other causes for concern that you might miss if you are not actively inspecting it often.
A full deck inspection is not just about taking a look at the surface-level parts, though. You will want to move all of your furniture off the deck and start taking a closer look, using a flashlight as needed. It is important to check things like:
- Cracks and rotting boards, as well as more severe health hazards like nails.
- Areas where the boards are soft or sagging.
- Loose or damaged railings and stairs.
- Damage or structural issues with the posts, beams, and joists.
- The metal flashing that connects the deck to your home’s outside walls.
- Major areas of rot that might have gone unnoticed until now.
Rot is the most significant thing to look out for since it can have a significant impact on the structural integrity of the deck and the overall reliability of its materials. It can also make other problems just more prominent or increase the chance of more planks breaking over time.
Replace What You Can
Replacing damaged parts of the deck, even individual boards, can be much cheaper than having to do major renovations and repair work later on. It is even possible to do ‘deck surgery,’ replacing individual parts of the boards to remove rotten or damaged sections.
As long as you have the materials available, it can be much more efficient to cut away any ‘bad boards’ or sections that are no longer viable, replacing them with fresh ones instead. This is cheaper, simpler, and puts less strain on your schedule by limiting how often you need to hire specialists.
This can also be the easier option if your deck was built from scratch since it means that you might still have spare materials around to work with. On the other hand, decks made from hard-to-source materials might require brand new pieces to fix in this way.
Remove Potential Hazards
Always remove anything that could directly hurt anybody who is using your deck, especially nails and screws. These can often end up popping out of the deck itself due to major changes in weather and temperature levels, which makes them a fairly common threat and a constant annoyance.
Not only can hazards like this hurt pets and children using the deck, but they can be a health hazard to even the most careful adults. It only takes one trip or slip to cut yourself on a rusty nail or get a screw pushing into your foot.
There are two ways to deal with protrusions like this: the first is to hammer the nails back down temporarily, and the other is to tear the nail out. Ideally, you will be able to replace it with another nail almost straight away.
For splinters and other non-metal hazards, you will want other options. Usually, if a deck plank is splintering, then you should swap it out for another one: splinters usually mean damage or major wear and tear, which can only get worse if you do not change those planks.
Clean the Deck Regularly
Cleaning a deck is important to make sure that it does not wear out quickly, especially since mold and mildew are likely to cause rot. Depending on the season, cleaning may have different benefits, but you still want to be careful with how you clean the deck.
Using something like a pressure washer can be very effective, but you need to adjust the washer to match the materials that you are cleaning. Softwood should have a very low-pressure setting, usually under 600 pounds per square inch – harder woods can have a slightly higher pressure setting, but not much more.
If any parts of your deck are broken, remove them and make sure to clean away the resulting debris. You could use one of our dumpster hire options to quickly remove a lot of scrap wood, freeing up more time for you to keep checking the deck for other issues or flaws.
Use Sealers and Stains
Deck sealers and deck stains are both great ways to maintain a deck that is already in a good state of repair, but understanding the difference between them can be a major part of using them correctly.
A deck sealer is a clear coat that helps protect your deck’s boards from moisture, meaning that rot and water damage are far less of a problem. It is very easy to use and usually only needs to be reapplied yearly, so you can take your time with the process.
A deck stain is also good with handling moisture but adds additional UV protection to help shield your deck’s wood from sunlight-related damage. This stain can be more expensive than sealer but lasts a lot longer and has a much more reliable kind of protection.
Either way, this is the best place to turn if your deck is already in great condition. Preserving a good deck is better than trying to fix a damaged one.