Tips For Restoring Your Deck For Summer
Wooden decks and porches can quickly change from a quality wood surface to a mildewed and dry-rotted eyesore. At this stage, many people simply rip up the deck and build a new one. However, you can always restore your deck to its original pristine condition! Plus, there are many simple annual repairs that can be done to avoid problems in the future.
Before You Get Started Restoring Your Deck
Before you start restoring your deck, it’s important to make sure that there’s no serious damage. Dry rot, mildew, and even insects such as wasps and carpenter bees can damage the wood. Once the wood has gotten severely damaged, the integrity of your deck becomes compromised.
Common Deck Problems
Mildew is a fungus that forms in damp wood, mostly in shaded areas. Left untreated, it’ll spread and destroy the integrity of the wood, leading to structural failure.
Dry-rot is more common in sunny spots. Materials such as wood, rubber, and vinyl will get soaked and then dry repeatedly. This constant soaking and drying breaks down the material over time.
Insects like wasps, carpenter bees, and ants often burrow into deck boards and supports. Wasps, ants, and termites prefer to use wood pulp as part of their homes. Carpenter bees use holes, cracks, or other damaged areas for their homes.
Repairing Deck Damage
If the damage is mostly to the deck surface, cleaning and resealing should be all you need to fix it. However, sometimes it’s not that simple. If you can push a screwdriver into your wood deck at any area, it’s a tell-tale sign of decay. Wood should not have enough give to easily push metal into it.
Another common sign of major damage is if your deck shakes when someone walks on it. Usually, this tends to happen when mildew or dry-rot affect important support posts.
Those parts of the deck will need to be replaced, though not necessarily the entire structure. Removing mildew, dry-rot, or insect damaged wood regularly in small sections will keep your deck well maintained year-round.
Hardwood vs Composite Wood
Sometimes, it can seem cheaper to use a composite wood to replace the whole deck. Using standard hard wood can seem expensive, and repairs can be tricky if you aren’t experienced.
However, composite decking doesn’t last as long as standard wood. Plus, you can’t restore composite wood, only replace it. A well maintained wood deck lasts significantly longer than composite.
Deck Restoration Tips
While it’s fairly easy to restore your deck at home, it’s a time-consuming process. Expect to spend at least a couple of days on the process. Make sure that there’s going to be a stretch of good weather too, so you won’t undo all of your work.
Start With a Deck Cleaning
Every deck needs an annual cleaning. Not only will cleaning the surface bring life back to your deck, it’s a great preventive. Cleaning off surface mildew and dry-rot prevents it from getting deeper into the wood.
Often, it’s a simple process using generic deck or wood cleaners and a hard bristled brush to scrub. You can even just use a pressure washer to power wash the dirt and grime off the deck.
Consider Repainting or Re-staining
If you are considering painting or staining your deck, make sure you remove any paint or stain that was already there. Luckily, this is a fairly simple process with an electric sander. Avoid using plain sandpaper, it will take significantly longer.
Under most circumstances, it’s significantly better to use stain rather than paint. Paint sits on top of the wood, and is prone to chipping. Those chips will expose the wood, making damage significantly more likely. A stain, even a more opaque stain, will sink into the wood and both reinforce and protect it.
Allow your deck to dry before you apply the stain or sealer. Then choose a day when you are confident that you won’t have any rain for the next 24 to 48 hours. Rain could get trapped in the wood before the seal is made, causing mildew and rot.
When staining, use a sprayer on vertical surfaces. A brush is better to use on railings or other areas where a sprayer may waste stain. Don’t be worried if an old deck uses a lot more stain than recommended, older wood absorbs more!
Applying a Quality Deck Seal
Whether you’re painting or staining, it’s important to seal the wood to improve its lifespan. A water-proof sealant will help prevent mildew and dry-rot over time.
Some of the best sealants are the pigmented ones. The pigments absorb UV rays and help avoid the dinginess often seen on wood decks.
An epoxy sealant is another good choice. This type has chemicals that both deflect and absorb harmful rays. It’s a water based product that comes in various colors such as natural pine, cedar, and redwood.
Tinted finishes add color without hiding the natural wood grain, while more opaque stains add more color. Semi transparent stains also provide more protection for your deck.
Enjoying Your Deck
After properly cleaning and resealing your deck, it should look brand new. Now it’s time to decorate! Grab your patio furniture (or get a new set) and turn your deck into an outdoor paradise.
Make sure you take care of your deck regularly and perform preventative maintenance. Then you’ll have a beautiful structure that can be used every year for decades!