Jun 3, 2024

Outdoor Living

Top 10 Deck Maintenance Tips for Homeowners

Elevate your outdoor space.

Your deck is the heart of your outdoor living space. It's where you kick back in the summer, host gatherings and spark up the grill. A not-so-great deck? Well, that can be an invitation for everything from mold to mildew and those dreaded wood slivers.

Regular maintenance is essential to ensure your deck remains a welcoming retreat. Here are 10 pro tips to keep your deck looking great and lasting longer.

Pro tip #1: Inspect regularly

Routine inspections are crucial for identifying potential issues before they become major problems.

  • Check for rot: Use a flat-edge screwdriver to test for rot, especially in areas close to the ground or where water accumulates. If your screwdriver sinks easily into the wood, it's likely rotten.
  • Examine structural elements: Inspect stairs, hangers, joists, posts, beams, and the ledger (the piece that connects your deck to your house). Tighten loose screws and replace any damaged parts.

Pro Tip: For minor rot (smaller than a loonie), remove the decayed wood and fill the area with wood preservative. For larger areas, consult a professional for replacement or reinforcement options.

Pro tip #2: Clean thoroughly

Regular cleaning prevents mold, mildew, and dirt buildup, which can damage the wood and create a slippery surface.

  • Floss the boards: Use a putty knife to clean between the boards, especially where they cross joists.
  • Choose the right day: Clean on a cloudy day to prevent the cleaner from evaporating too quickly.
  • Select the right cleaner: Use a cleaner appropriate for your deck's material (wood or composite).

How to wash your deck

  1. Wet nearby plants. Cover them with plastic film or move aside.
  1. Sweep away loose debris.
  1. Apply the cleaner with a roller or stiff-bristled brush.
  1. Let it sit according to the instructions, then rinse thoroughly with water.

Pro tip #3: Seal & preserve

Sealing your deck protects it from the elements and prevents splinters, keeping it safe and attractive.

  • Choose a sealant: Options include clear, toner, and solid sealants. Pick one that suits your aesthetic preference.
  • Wear protection: Use eye protection, a mask, and gloves when applying sealant.

How to seal your deck

  1. Ensure the deck is dry (at least two days of moderate weather without rain).
  1. Wash and lightly sand the deck.
  1. Repair or replace any loose nails or screws.
  1. Apply the sealant as per the manufacturer's instructions.

Pro tip #4: Prevent water damage

Water can be a deck's worst enemy, causing rot and structural issues.

  • Ensure proper drainage: Keep gutters and downspouts clear to direct water away from the deck.
  • Use planter trays: Prevent water accumulation by using trays under potted plants.

Pro tip #5: Protect against pests

Wood-boring insects and other pests can cause significant damage.

  • Use treated wood: If building a new deck, opt for pressure-treated wood that resists insects.
  • Apply insect repellent: Regularly treat your deck with insect repellents designed for wood.

Pro tip #6: Refinish when necessary

Over time, the finish on your deck will wear off, exposing the wood to damage.

  • Sand and refinish: Every few years, sand the deck to remove the old finish and apply a new coat of sealant.

Pro tip #7: Avoid heavy furniture damage

Heavy furniture can scratch and damage your deck.

  • Use furniture pads: Place pads under furniture legs to prevent scratches.
  • Move furniture carefully: Lift rather than drag furniture to avoid gouging the wood.

Pro tip #8: Mind the gaps

Gaps between deck boards allow for ventilation and water drainage.

  • Maintain proper spacing: Ensure that gaps remain clear and free of debris to prevent water from pooling on the deck surface.

Pro tip #9: Keep it covered

A covering can extend the life of your deck by protecting it from sun and rain.

  • Furniture covers: Use drop sheets or furniture covers to protect your patio set from dirt and grime buildup.
  • Get shady: A retractable drop-down screen offers partial shade and can be a stylish addition to your outdoor space.

Pro tip #10: Regular touch-ups

Tiny touch-ups help prevent big problems.

  • Touch up paint and stain: Regularly check for peeling or faded paint and stain. It only takes a few minutes to touch up as needed. This keeps your deck looking pristine and keeps it safely sealed, year-round.
  • Replace damaged boards: Promptly replace any boards that show signs of significant wear or damage.

Consistency is key

Maintaining your deck doesn’t have to be a chore. With these simple steps, you can keep your outdoor space looking great and safe for years to come. Regular cleaning, inspections, and seasonal care are key. By following these tips, your deck will be ready for all your summer activities and beyond.  

Rümi can help with deck maintenance in Alberta

From General Carpentry & Home Repairs, to Pressure Washing, Exterior Painting and more, Rümi home services are here to take maintenance work off your plate. Give us a call for more information!