Last year, over 50,000 new homes with decks were built in the United States. Clearly, homeowners love having a deck to enhance their backyard and enjoy outdoor living. To get the most out of your deck, you need to ensure you take good care of it throughout the year.
Below, you’ll learn the importance of regular deck maintenance and discover steps you can take to extend the life of your deck.
Why Does Deck Maintenance Matter?
Decks go through a lot of stress and damage throughout their lifetime. For example, they get hit with rain, snow, hail, UV rays from the sun and more.
You can’t completely shield your deck from the elements, but you should still try to protect it the best you can. You and your family can enjoy numerous benefits when you invest in regular deck maintenance, including the following:
Increased Property Value
Home improvement experts agree that building a deck is one of the best ways to increase property value. A wooden deck costs around $16,000 to construct and will retain about 66 percent of its value when you sell your home (assuming you’ve taken good care of it).
Improved Health and Safety
Regularly taking care of your deck will protect you and your loved ones from splinters and exposure to mold, mildew and algae. You’ll also enhance the deck’s structural integrity, meaning it’s less likely to break when people are standing or walking on it.
Fewer Future Repairs
Prioritizing maintenance now will reduce the number of repairs you have to make in the future. You’ll also be less likely to get hit with severe damage that is expensive to fix.
Regular Deck Cleaning and Maintenance Tips
If you want to enjoy the above benefits, include deck cleaning and maintenance in your routine. These tips are great starting points:
One of the first steps to maintaining your deck and extending its lifespan is to sweep regularly. If you leave dirt and leaves on the deck for a long time, they can contribute to mold and mildew.
Clean your deck at least once per year to remove stubborn dirt; eliminate causes of discoloration; and prevent mold, mildew and algae growth.
You can buy cleaning products made especially for decks or use everyday products like hydrogen peroxide instead.
Perform Repairs Right Away
If you notice something wrong with your deck, such as a splintered board or loose railing, take care of it immediately. Don’t wait until it escalates and becomes more difficult (and more expensive) to repair.
Use Quality Deck Stain or Sealant
High-quality, semi-transparent deck stain will improve the look of your deck and protect it from damage caused by UV rays. Many deck stains and sealants are also fade- and mildew-resistant.
It might be tempting to pressure-wash your deck to save time. However, high water pressure can soften the wood and make it more vulnerable to damage.
In general, it’s better to spray your deck with a garden hose instead. If you must use a pressure-washer, adjust it to the lowest pressure setting.
How to Protect the Deck from the Elements
Whether you’re building a new deck from scratch or want to preserve your existing one, there are lots of steps you can take to protect your deck from the elements. Here are some additional tips to keep in mind:
Use Quality Wood
Choose naturally rot or insect-resistant wood. Cedar, redwood and ipe are all good choices. You can also use pressure-treated lumber for similar results.
Alternative to Wood
In addition to natural wood options, composite decking is another alternative. Composite decking, such as Trex, is made of a combination of wood fibers and plastic. It is known for its durability, low maintenance requirements and resistance to rot and weathering.
Install Flashing Tape
Use flashing tape to protect the deck’s joists, beams, rims, and ledger board. The flashing tape will reduce the need for future maintenance, increase the deck’s lifespan, preserve its structural integrity and hold screws and fasteners in place.
Conduct Annual Inspections
At least once per year, take a walk around your deck and look for any potential issues, including the following:
- Splintered wood
- Broken planks
- Drooping sections
- Detached or loose railings
- Loose nails
- Loose steps
- Soft spots (which indicate mold or rot)
Check for missing or corroded metal beneath the deck floor, too.
Don’t forget to keep an eye on the plants around your deck. If vines start climbing up the deck, for example, they will expose the wood to more moisture and increase the risk of mold or mildew. Tree limbs hanging over the deck can also cause damage if they fall or get blown around by the wind.
Deck Repair Tips
As you now know, it’s important to repair damage as soon as it occurs. Don’t wait until the problem escalates. If you’re not sure where to start with repairs or part replacements, remember the following:
Use the Right Tools
You can do a lot with simple tools like a tape measure, circular saw, cordless drill and a sander or sandpaper. Make sure you have these tools on hand before undertaking any projects.
Know When to Replace
If you notice moldy or rotted boards while inspecting your deck, you must replace them. Unfortunately, no repair can restore those boards to their original state.
Know When to Call a Pro
You can do a lot on your own to maintain and repair your deck. In some cases, it’s better to call a professional if you’re confused about how to proceed or want to do more extensive repairs (such as building a new staircase), contact an expert.
Design Elements That Extend the Lifespan of Your Deck
If you want to add flair to your deck and extend its lifespan, consider investing in one of these additions:
- Awning: An overhanging covering that extends from the house’s exterior wall
- Pergola: A structure composed of vertical posts supporting cross-beams to create a shaded area on your deck
- Roof extension: A structure built out from the roof’s edge to provide shade and coverage.
All these options add style and character to your backyard while also shielding your deck from the elements.
Investing in regular desk cleaning and maintenance will extend the life of your deck, enhance your home’s appearance, and increase its resale value. Follow the guidelines discussed above so you and your loved ones can stay safe and enjoy your deck for years to come.