Assuming you’re planning to have guests over for barbecue this Fourth of July (and even if not), isn’t it time you gave your deck a little love? They take a beating through all of the seasons and can usually use a little maintenance, or, if you haven’t been keeping up with it, perhaps a lot. Before you decide to completely rip up your deck and build a new one, consider putting in a little effort into deck maintenance to make what you already have look stellar by the time guests start arriving for your one-of-a-kind barbecue!
Some other upsides to doing deck maintenance? It’s much cheaper than replacing the deck, especially if you do the work yourself. While there are plenty of professionals that can help you get your deck ready for company, deck maintenance can also be a DIY job without needing too much experience. We recommend checking the safety of your deck regularly; doing so may extend the life of your deck considerably. Plus, it’ll give your deck a nice shiny new update just in time for guests to arrive!
It’s important to start your deck maintenance with a good cleaning – it’ll help you see what’s just dirt and what needs repairing or replacing. Decks should be cleaned about once a year, and there are a couple of ways to go about it.
- You can buy product that you either apply directly to the deck or that you hook up to a garden hose, though either of these options will probably require you to also do some manual scrubbing with a bristle brush.
- On the other hand you can choose to buy or rent a pressure washer to use on your deck, but be careful not to damage the wood by leaving the water stream in one place for too long. You’ll also have to let the deck dry overnight, but sometimes a good cleaning is really all a deck needs to be in top shape.
Possibly the only thing worse than getting a splinter in your foot from walking across the deck is stepping, barefoot, on a nail that’s popped up from its rightful place (unless of course you’re a parent, in which case it’s hearing your 4 year old step on that same nail). Remove the nails that have popped up and replace them with screws, which won’t pop up the same way that nails do.
Repairs can range anywhere from a loose or broken board to rotting boards and nails, and you’ll want to take care of what you can individually before replacing the entire structure. If you have any DIY experience, you’ll most likely be able to handle a board that’s split down the middle or a loose railing, but be sure to check the pieces of the deck that attach both to the ground and to the house and contact a professional if the project seems too big to handle or if you’re worried about the stability of your deck (which, gone wrong, would definitely be worse than the popped nail).
Once the deck is washed and any repairs have been taken care of, the next step is to stain and seal the deck so that it gets a fresh new look and is more resistant to the effects of adverse weather.
Though there are mixed reviews about methods of application, you can either spray, roll, or brush the stain onto the wood. Remember that second coats will have to be applied while the first is still wet so that it can sink into the wood, and older decks will need more stain than younger woods.
After the stain is dry you can apply a sealant; though it’s not technically necessary, it’ll help keep your deck in good condition. Again, get a second opinion from local deck experts if you’re unsure whether your deck needs it or not, and once you’ve finished this last step, get ready to have guests over for delicious barbeque on your flashy, new(-looking) deck!