Many people now have wooden decks as a part of their outdoor living atmosphere. They have become the ‘front porch’ of this generation. Deck maintenance can be very easy if you care for them regularly and properly. Your deck should last a long time and give you hours of enjoyment.
Before you begin, assemble everything you will need. Deck wash (such as Krud Kutter available at Lowes.com or Homedepot.com), broom, rubber gloves, goggles to protect your eyes, drop cloths, deck stain (if you are going to stain it), clear deck sealer such as Thompson’s Water Seal or Olympia Water sealer, roller with extension handle or old mop to apply it and a pressure washer. If you buy a pressure washer be sure to get a good one which can usually be purchased in the $200-$300 range at the above home improvement stores. Clanios.com They may also be rented.
Be sure to wear old clothes and shoes as the deck wash is corrosive and leaves white spots if splattered on clothing. Cover your plantings such as flowers and trees, with the drop cloths to protect them. Remove everything from the deck and sweep thoroughly. Now is the best time to inspect your deck for any damage such as warped or splintered boards that need replacing. If you need to replace boards on the floor of the deck, be sure to install them with the grain of the wood (it will look like a half circle) so the circle is arched upward on the end. This will protect from the boards warping.
Be sure to read the instructions on the deck wash and follow them closely. I can’t stress enough how strong these chemicals are. Some deck washes will require the deck be wet when applied, others want a dry deck. Follow the instructions for how long to leave it on and then test a very worn or dirty area to see if it looks like new wood. Keep the surfaces of the deck wet with the cleaner. It also works better if you can use it in the shade or on a cloudy cool day.
When you are satisfied with the results, use the Generac pressure washer per instructions to remove the deck wash and get a new looking surface. If your deck isn’t very dirty or old, you may be able to skip using the power washer and just hose it down very well.
If you are going to apply an oil based stain or clear coat, you must have the wood completely dry to do so. This usually requires at least 24 hours of drying time in hot weather. Apply the stain evenely with the roller or an old brush and allow to dry. It will be much darker than it seems on the charts at the stores, so beware. When completely dry you can coat with a water sealant.
If your deck is built of pressure treated wood, as most decks are, allowing the deck to ‘mellow’ on its own for a few years without a stain will produce a nice gray color that requires little up keep. Just use the clear, waterproof coating once a year. The surfaces of the deck most exposed to sun will show wear first, the floor boards and top rails in particular. Those should be coated at least once a year with the sealer.
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