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How to Properly Maintain Your Wood Deck


Decks are like outdoor living rooms. They provide the perfect space for entertaining family and friends, or they can be an ideal spot for outdoor relaxation and quiet time. Throw a big barbecue, catch some rays or steal a quick nap in the shade.

Owning a deck comes with some responsibilities, too - particularly if you want to keep it looking good for years to come. The elements are tough on wood, so you’ll have to sacrifice a little sweat to combat their harmful effects. In the end, you should find that the effort is well worth it for the enjoyment a deck provides.

Keep your deck looking great for decades by following these tips:

1. Seal the Deck

Sun, wind and rain start to damage your deck from day one. Put up your best defense by sealing the deck as soon construction is complete. After that, seal your deck once a year. There are several methods of application - you can use a brush, paint roller or even a garden sprayer. This DIY Network guide explains the pros and cons of each method.

2. Clean It Regularly

Dirt and debris can wear down the surface of your wood. Keep the deck free of debris such as leaves and branches, and sweep it every so often. Also, keep in mind that plants - while a great decorative feature - can damage your deck. The water that seeps out of the bottom of the planter or flower pot can eat away at the sealant. When you move the plants, you’ll notice that the area underneath looks weathered.

3. Do an Annual Inspection

Once a year, check for damage or areas of the deck that need attention. Remove and replace any loose nails, which can be dangerous. Examine the joists to check for erosion. Examine the stairs to make sure they’re sturdy and safe. Address any problems immediately - before they cause further damage to your deck. And be sure to address any structural problems before you seal or stain.

4. Pressure Wash

Pressure wash your deck once a year, ideally a couple days before you apply sealant. This will remove stains, as well as any dirt or debris that remains after sweeping. If you don’t own a pressure washer, rent one from a home improvement or hardware store. To avoid damage to your deck, be sure you understand how to properly use a pressure washer before getting started. This About.com article offers some advice.

5. Strip and Stain

Over time, the color of your wood will fade, taking on a grayish hue. If you opt for staining instead of sealing, you’ll not only protect your deck, but regain its original vibrant color. Most experts recommend staining every two to three years, although some people can get away with every five years, depending on the deck’s exposure to direct sunlight and other elements.

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