Whether you have a new deck or had it for years, cleaning and maintenance are probably at the top of your to-do list. Constant exposure to the sun and weathering from the elements over the years can wreak havoc on the color and integrity of your deck. To keep your deck looking its best you will need to give it a little TLC!
Inspecting Your Deck
Summer is the best time to inspect your deck for damage caused by bugs, mold, or mildew. It’s important to examine areas of your deck that are close to the ground, near water sources, or surrounded by plants. You can use a sharp-tipped tool like a screwdriver to test joists and beams for rot. If the screwdriver pokes through the wood the stability of the material is compromised and should be replaced. Also, check for any boards that might be splintering which can lead to excessive cracking and splitting of the wood.
A great way to see if your deck needs restaining is to pour a cup of water on a small section. If the water is absorbed quickly it’s time to reseal!
Washing & Cleaning
Sweeping your deck regularly is a great way to reduce stains from mud or dirt and it keeps debris from settling between boards. Using bleach is not recommended for cleaning because it can bleach the natural color from the wood. If your deck is new, a standard cleanser will do the job but if your deck is older you may want to use one that has a brightener in it. If you’re close to a body of water or if you’re just concerned about the environmental impact of a chemical cleaner, vinegar is a great natural alternative. You should apply your choice of cleanser with a plastic or natural bristled brush, a paint roller, or a sprayer that can be attached to your garden hose as to not scar the wood.
If you’re thinking about pressure washing your deck it’s important to weigh the benefits against the risks. Pressure washing your wood deck can cause chipping, gouging, lap marks, and warping if it’s not done properly causing irreversible damage. However, pressure washers only use water, reducing the need for a chemical cleaner that could harm surrounding vegetation. They can easily remove debris from between deck boards and strip away the surface layer of wood, removing stains and any old finish. Using a wide fan tip on your pressure washer at a low PSI can reduce the chance of causing damage.
Sanding Your Deck
Sanding your deck has many benefits and it is a must do if you pressure wash your deck. Sanding removes loose wood fibers that can cause splinters. It also opens the pores of the wood helping stain or sealant penetrate deeper. When sanding don’t worry if your deck isn’t completely smooth, sanding too much can reduce the absorption rate of the wood.
Staining & Sealing
Before staining your deck make sure there is no old stain or paint remaining. This can cause your new stain to sit on top and not penetrate down into the wood. When choosing a stain ask yourself if you want your deck to match your house’s color scheme or to stand out. To ensure you like the stain color you have picked test it on a small section of your deck before applying it all over. Stain should only be applied to dry wood so make sure to check the weather report before starting this project and to let your deck dry after washing! Make sure to let the stain dry in between coats to prevent discoloration and wipe away any pooling stain that can cause uneven drying.
Before starting your project talk with a Hammond salesperson to find out what materials would work best for your deck. Ask our experts all your deck questions about sanding, staining, and cleaning!