One of the best ways to extend your home’s living space is with a deck and wooden decks offer a great deal of flexibility in design, function and shape. From a simple design to a complex series of patios and bridge-ways, wood gives you the flexibility to create a structure your family will love to use for years to come.
Yet for some homeowners, a wooden deck might be a little overwhelming. We’ve all seen the run-down, faded decks that are anything but appealing. How do you avoid having that attached to your home in a few short years? How do you make sure the wooden deck you install today will provide you with a quality look and last for many years?
In many ways, it starts long before you choose your first piece of wood or hammer your first nail. It starts with the design.
1. Choose Quality Products from the Beginning
Your deck will take a lot of abuse from day to day. It will have water puddling from rain and sprinkler systems. It will have many hours of harsh sunlight. It may even deal with ice, cold and snow. All of that can leave your deck vulnerable to deterioration in a short period of time.
The main thing to understand when living with a wooden deck is that trapped moisture within the structure promotes rot. So it’s vital to design your deck with as little wood-to-wood contact right from the beginning. Use quality wood, pressure treated to withstand moisture in the design. Use solid timber rather than spiking together smaller pieces. And use galvanized or stainless steel fasteners rather than ordinary nails and screws, which can corrode quickly.
2. Repair Damaged Wood as Quickly as Possible
As soon as you see a problem forming, fix it as quickly as possible to avoid larger problems down the road. Replacing rotted boards will prevent it from moving throughout the structure, making other boards vulnerable too. You should also perform regular maintenance by tightening any loose boards, railings or steps. Friction from loose connections creates openings for water to penetrate and accumulate, speeding up the deterioration process.
3. Treat a New Deck with Care
Whether you’ve replaced sections of an existing deck with new wood or have built a new deck from scratch, it’s important to treat the wood correctly from the beginning. Have the entire deck professionally cleaned to remove any surface impurities that can prevent your deck sealants from penetrating the wood and offering full protection. Then have it sealed with a waterproof sealer, adding stain and color if you desire.
4. Clean and Seal your Deck Regularly
A wooden deck will require regular maintenance throughout its life. The more you adhere to a regular maintenance plan, the longer life you can expect from your deck. Part of the maintenance process is to have your deck professionally cleaned and sealed at least every two to three years to provide full protection from even the harshest of elements.
As your wooden deck ages, you may see signs of wear on a more frequent basis. If that’s the case, it may be time to pressure wash and seal your deck on a shorter cycle. Sealant protects against moisture getting into the wood and causing it to swell. It also protects against the sun drying it out, causing the wood to dull and shrink. This shrinking and swelling is the main contributor to your deck weathering prematurely.
5. Always Choose the Right Stain
People often choose do-it-yourself projects because of their ease and their cost-savings features. And while staining your wooden deck may take some time, it’s possible to save money by looking for a good deal and applying it yourself. However, choosing paint or stain from the bargain table might do your wooden deck more harm than good. Choosing paints or the wrong kind of stain will leave your wood vulnerable to the elements, allow it to peel away from the wood quicker, and require a significant amount of maintenance to bring it back to acceptable condition. Always choose oil-based stains made for decks to offer full protection.
6. Protect your Deck from Dirt and Grease
Be conscious of the items you place on your deck, protecting the wood from accumulating dirt or grease underneath. If you choose to place flower planters on your deck, be sure to place them on cement blocks to prevent dirt and moisture from becoming trapped on the surface. Constant watering can also strip away the sealant’s properties, leaving certain spots on your deck more vulnerable than others. Also, if you choose to place a grill on your deck, always use a grease catcher, so grease doesn’t accumulate directly on the wood.
7. Don’t be Fooled by Pressure Treated Wood
Pressure treated wood is marketed as a product that will withstand the elements. It’s wood that is chemically treated through a process called pressure
treating, which wards off insects, microorganisms, and fungal decay. Pressure treated wood can last twenty years or more, and in many cases comes with
limited warranties. Yet pressure treated wood does nothing to protect your wooden deck from the elements; it still must have a sealant to provide you
with years of enjoyment without the possibility of warping and wearing away.
Learn more about our decking solutions.