Wood Deck Maintenance Checklist

By Maintaining a Deck Regularly You Can Dramatically Extend its Life and Keep it Always Looking Like New

By Mark J. Donovan

Spring is the perfect time of the year to do a deck maintenance check. Winter can wreak havoc on a deck. Snow and ice, as well as frost heaves and ultraviolet sunlight, can damage the deck surface and framing members. For example, if the snow was left on the deck all winter the acid in the snow and ice can eat away at the deck finish turning the deck surface dull and grey, and leaving it vulnerable to moisture and ultraviolet sunlight damage.

By running through a wood deck maintenance checklist in the spring you can keep your deck looking like new and prevent major damage and repair costs down the road.

The best time to run through your deck maintenance checklist is when you’re pulling out your grill from winter hibernation. Summarized below is a list of my recommendations on performing a wood deck maintenance check.

Check Deck Finish

Check the deck finish for fading, peeling, and splotching. Also look for signs of mold and mildew growth. Any sign of these types of conditions is a sure indication that the deck is in need of a new coat of stain or sealer. For best results apply a similar stain or sealer that was previously applied to the deck. When refinishing a deck make sure to clean it thoroughly before applying a stain or sealer. A garden hose, a long handled stiff broom, and deck cleaning solution work best for cleaning a deck.

 Sand your deck and restore it to looking like new!

If there are signs of mold and mildew growth, scrub a highly diluted solution of bleach onto the deck surface to kill the mold and mildew spores. If the deck still looks a little dull after cleaning it consider applying a deck brightener before applying the deck stain or sealer.

When applying a deck stain or sealer always read the manufacturer’s instructions first before applying. Typically the temperatures should be between 50 and 90 degrees (F) for applying the stain or sealer. Also the deck should be thoroughly dry and no rain should be in the forecast for 24 to 48 hours after applying the stain or sealer. For best results apply the stain or sealer with a 4 inch wide brush. You can use a roller to help speed up the application process but always back-brush the decking boards as you apply the stain with the roller.

Checking Decking Boards for Damage and Dry Rot

While inspecting the deck surface check for damaged or loose decking boards.

Deck Installation Bid Sheet

Replace any damaged boards and fasten them down with new non-corrosive fasteners. If there are loose wood decking boards apply new deck fasteners, (e.g. screws or nails) right next to the original deck fasteners that have given way. You may want to actually replace the failed fasteners with the new ones. Also make sure to inspect the underside of the decking boards for rot and mold and mildew growth.

Make sure to also inspect the deck surface for dry rot. Moreover check underneath potted plants and other objects that have been sitting on the deck all winter. Often dry rot starts in these places.

Inspect Deck Framing

Make sure to look under the deck if at all possible and inspect the deck joists, the ledger board, and the posts. Make sure there is no rot and that the ledger board has not pulled away from the home. Heavy snow and ice left on the deck can often cause the deck to pull away from the home. Also make sure the deck posts are straight and still mounted properly to the deck footings or piers.

Inspect Deck Railings and Stairs

Make sure the deck railings are still fastened together well. Often deck railings, posts, and balusters can become loose or separated from one another.

Make sure they are still properly fastened as the last thing you want is for someone to lean up against the deck railing and it give way.

Also check the deck stairs to make sure the treads are still fastened well to the stair risers and that the base of the stairs is still level. If the base of the stairs is resting on cement blocks, frost heaves can cause it to become unlevel as the soil unthaws. This can cause the stair risers to twist and the stair treads to slope significantly to one side.

After completing the wood deck maintenance checklist and jotting down notes of items that need work, make sure not to procrastinate in making the necessary repairs. The sooner you can make the repairs the better off your deck, and your savings account, will be. By regularly maintaining your deck you can extend its life dramatically and keep it always looking like new.

For help on building a deck, see HomeAdditionPlus.com’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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