Deck Care and Maintenance Tips

How to Keep Your Deck Looking Like New and Extending its Life for Years to Come

By Mark J. Donovan

Your deck takes a lot of abuse by Mother Nature. In addition, your family and guests provide their fair share of abuse to your deck with the constant walking and dragging of deck furniture on it. Consequently to keep your deck looking like new and in good functional order you need to provide regular deck care and maintenance to it.

Sweep Your Deck Regularly

One of the simplest things you can do to maintain your deck is to sweep it regularly. Pine needles and leaves left on the deck accelerate unsightly mold and mildew growth.

Similarly dirt left on the deck can accelerate mold and mildew growth, as well as damage the deck finish by effectively acting like sandpaper when it is ground into the decking boards. The frequency of sweeping your deck really depends upon where the deck is located relative to trees and how much dirt gets tracked on it. But on average you should plan on sweeping your deck weekly during peak use seasons.

Wash Your Deck Periodically

If mold and mildew growth are noticeable on the deck then use a deck cleaner to remove it. Deck cleaning should be at least an annual deck care and maintenance task. Plan to clean your deck in either the spring or fall, and preferably both seasons. While cleaning your deck inspect the deck finish. If the deck still has a good finish on it, water should bead up on top of the wood deck boards, versus absorb into them. If water is absorbing into the wood decking boards, and/or the deck surface is faded, peeling, or flaking it’s time to refinish the deck.

 Deck care and maintenance involves regularly sealing the deck to protect it from the harsh outdoor elements.

Refinish Your Deck

Regular deck refinishing is a must deck care and maintenance task if you want to continue to have a beautiful deck that lasts for years. If your deck is constructed with wood decking boards, expect to have to refinish the deck surface every couple of years or so. If you use a transparent stain or a clear deck sealer then expect to have to refinish the deck every year. A deck finished with a semi transparent stain will typically hold up 2 or 3 years, and a deck finished with a solid stain typically will hold up 3 to 4 years. A painted deck may last 3 to 4 years as well, as long as flaking and chipping are not occurring due to roof rain water runoff.

To refinish a deck it is imperative that the decking boards be thoroughly dry before applying the deck stain, paint or sealer. Thus, plan to refinish your deck only after several days of dry weather. In addition, make sure the weather is free of rain for at least 24 to 48 hours after applying the deck stain, paint or sealer. For the best application of decking stains, paints or sealers the deck board moisture levels should be below 15%.

Also, make sure to apply a deck cleaner to the deck surface a few days in advance of refinishing the deck. The deck cleaner will remove any mold and algae growth as well as brighten up the wood decking boards.

Deck Installation Bid Sheet

Make sure to use a stiff bristle brush when applying the deck cleaner to really help work the deck cleaner into the wood grains. This will ensure that all of the mold and mildew growth, as well as any dirt, is removed thoroughly from the decking boards.

Check Deck for Structural Issues

While performing the other deck care and maintenance tips mentioned above, also inspect the decking boards for any damage or rot. If you notice any, replace the boards prior to refinishing the deck. Similarly inspect the deck joists and posts, as well as the deck railings, for damaged or rotten boards/lumber. Also make sure all fasteners (nails, screws, and bolts) are properly secured into the decking lumber and that they are not corroding. If fastener corrosion is observed replace the fasteners.

With these simple deck and maintenance tips you should be able to keep your deck safe and looking beautiful for many years to come.

For help on building a deck, see’s Deck Installation Bid Sheet. The Deck Installation Bid Sheet will teach your how to hire the right deck contractor, and help to ensure that your deck project is completed on time and budget.

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