One of the best parts of the summer in Ohio is the fantastic barbeques and deck parties. Entertaining friends and family is enjoyable when the weather is warm. But before you host a graduation party, cookout or just a peaceful family dinner on the deck, make sure that yours is in top condition.
When it comes to home maintenance, homeowners have a lot of things to keep an eye on. Exterior areas, like the driveway and deck, are often overlooked. Don’t be fooled, just because the deck is outside doesn’t mean that no care is required. Find out the most commons signs that your deck needs power washing, how to prepare it for staining and how to keep it looking great all summer long.
Making Your Deck Look Great
For most people, when we talk about deck maintenance, the first thought is sealing or staining the wood. This is a great way to spruce up the wood, but it’s not the first – or only – step. Before applying any products, the wood must be clean and dry.
Step 1: Clean the Surface of the Deck
Clear away dirt, leaves and debris by sweeping the deck. Then, use a large broom and a garden hose to scrub each plank. Your local hardware store carries deck cleaning detergents which can help with this step, or you can make your own deck cleaner.
Does Your Deck Need Pressure Washing?
Pressure washing is advantageous because it quickly removes built-up dirt, mold, algae and stains. Professional pressure washing utilizes a low-pressure spray to avoid damaging the material, but can also use high-pressure when needed to remove tough stains. Power washing can also help you remove old layers of stain and gets down into the cracks between boards. Homeowners love it because it’s effective, fast, safe for the lawn and garden, and saves a lot of backache.
Here’s how you to tell when it’s time to have your deck power washed:
- Look at the wood. If the finish has turned dull or it’s covered by a layer of grimy buildup, it’s time to have it cleaned.
- Inspect all the dark corners. If you see dark stains or streaks around the deck, especially in shaded areas, these are mold spots. Mold and algae will spread damage throughout the deck if left untreated. This is another good sign that your deck needs to be washed down.
- Feel the deck surface. If the wood feels damp or slippery, even when it hasn’t rained, this is another symptom of mold.
Step 2: Prepare the Deck for Sealing or Staining
After washing or, if it has rained recently, allow the deck a full 24 hours to dry. Next, remove any remaining finish and stains using a chemical wood stripper. The layer of gray, oxidized deck stain must be removed so that the new stain can penetrate into the wood when applied.
Step 3: Neutralize the Surface
After the deck has been prepped, it’s time to wash off the surface one more time. The goals is to clear away the tannin and any cleaner residue. This time pressure washing is probably overkill, simply spray off the surface with a hose. Then, let the wood dry thoroughly.
Step 4: Seal or Stain the Deck
Pick either a seal or stain that you prefer and apply it to the deck with a paint roller or brush. Follow the product instructions regarding dry time and applying multiple coats. Never try to use both stain and seal on the same wood as they are not designed to adhere to each other even when applied in separate coats.
Which is Better: Deck Sealer or Stain?
Sealing is great for decks because it preserves the natural look of the wood and protects it from water and sun damage. Sealer is a natural look and penetrates into the wood. Clear products with wax additives will actually cause the rainwater to bead up when it touches the surface and usually burn off in 8-18 months. However, our CWF-UV5 lasts up to 4 years in Northeast Ohio on horizontal surfaces, up to 6 years for vertical. Once it’s dry, it blocks moisture and mold growth.
Solid stain is also water resistant. It adds color to the wood for a more finished look. Solid deck stain has the added benefit of UV protection. More opaque stains provide higher levels of protection from the sun and are better at preventing damage caused by overly dry wood. On average, exterior deck stain also lasts 3-4 years before needing to be redone.
Keeping Your Deck Looking Great – All Summer Long
Maintaining a deck is a lot of work. After power washing, sanding and staining the wood, you will want to keep it looking that good for a long time. Here are some tips on how to care for the deck this summer and the rest of the year.
- To prevent stains, make sure to sweep the deck off regularly. Don’t let leaves and dirt accumulate. This type of buildup can lead to stains on the wood and facilitate mold growth.
- Protect the wood by brushing off excess water. Sitting moisture wreaks havoc on wood over time so help your deck out by keeping it as dry as possible.
- Be careful when using lawn and gardening products. Harsh chemicals can ruin the decks’ finish.
- Maintain your deck by keeping an eye out for festering problems. Look for nails that have popped up, areas of wood that have split or are being attacked by mold and rot.
Get more helpful seasonal tips from Trotta’s: Essential Fall Deck Maintenance and Paver Stone Maintenance.
Home Maintenance Made Easier – Trotta’s Power Washing
Spend more of your precious free time with your family and friends this summer. Trotta’s can save you loads of time on house care and improvement projects. We have a full range of residential services, including wood and deck restoration, soft pressure washing, painting and roof cleaning.
Located in Peninsula, Ohio, we’re your local partner for exterior home maintenance. Call Trotta’s: (330) 940-3705 or request a free quote online.