Deck maintenance is easily managed between three seasons—spring, summer and fall. It's a simple way to stay on top of the job. Exposed to the elements year-round, decks benefit from annual deck cleaning and routine maintenance. Upkeep to protect your deck thwarts and prevents expensive repairs and protects your investment.
Here's a simple deck maintenance schedule, along with a few tips, to ensure your deck has a long life and looks appealing.
Wash the Deck. An unwashed deck encourages mold and mildew, which can cause rot.
Here's how to wash your deck:
- Remove debris from between deck boards using a putty knife. Pay special attention to the areas where deck boards cross the joists—the structural members underneath the decking—and where stairs meet the ground.
- Protect all shrubs and plantings. Wet them and cover them with plastic sheeting.
- Thoroughly sweep the deck.
- Choose an appropriate cleanser.
- Wood deck: Use a standard deck cleaner and follow its directions. Some require the decking to be wet first. Some don't.
- Composite deck: Use a cleaner specifically formulated for composite material. Attack grease and oil stains with a commercial degreaser and detergents.
- Vinyl (cellular PVC) deck: You'll only need to use warm water and a mild soap to remove mold, mildew, and dirt.
- Clean the deck. Choose a cloudy day when the decking is cool, and the sun won't evaporate the cleaner.
- Wood deck: Use a paint roller, a garden sprayer, or a stiff-bristled brush broom to apply the cleaner. Don't let it pool and don't let the deck dry until you've scrubbed it clean. Then let it soak according to manufacturer's instructions (usually about 10 minutes). Rinse thoroughly with clean water.
- Composite deck: Scrub with a soft brush. Do not use a pressure washer—it can permanently damage the decking and will void any warranty. Remove rust and leaf stains with a deck brightener containing oxalic acid.
- Vinyl deck: Scrub in a circular motion using a stiff broom, then rinse thoroughly.
- Allow deck to dry. Wait two days before sealing.
Save with peace of mind
With short and long-term solutions, dollar by dollar you can begin building a brighter future.
Preventive Measures. Fall is also a good time to wash and seal your deck if you didn't get a chance to do so in the spring. The point is to do it when temperatures are mild. Otherwise, do these things in the fall to keep your deck in good shape:
- Trim nearby bushes and trees.
- Trees and bushes need to be at least 12 inches from the deck to slow mold, moss, and rot.
- Don't allow leaves and other debris to accumulate in corners.
- Move planters, chairs and tables occasionally to avoid decking discoloring. Keep nearby gutters and downspouts in good repair.
A deck provides an inviting connection with the outdoors, adds to a home's beauty and often serves as the first step into a world of outdoor activities. But decks endure continued exposure to weather. After a few years, without proper care, they become weathered and unappealing. Following the steps outlined above will ensure plenty of use in the years to come.
And regardless of the season, be sure to use a credit card with cash back and rewards so you can earn money back when purchasing supplies for your home's outdoor spaces.
Bonus: Grill Prep and Maintenance
One of the most important things you'll need for your deck is, of course, a great grilling set up. Here are some great barbeque grill tips and tricks.
- Season your grill. Some grills today have porcelain enamel grates which don't require seasoning, so check your grill's manual to avoid any unnecessary effort.
This isn't about spices. For grills, seasoning is about oil and helps avoid grate rust. For new grills, spray cold grates evenly with a high-heat cooking spray, like canola oil. Then, use medium heat for about 15 minutes until the oil burns off or starts to smoke. Then, at the end of each future grilling session brush off food debris. Now your grill is ready for seasoning before the next use.
- Fire safety. Always keep a fire extinguisher nearby while grilling. Ensure the area around the grill is clear of any flammable objects, including ample room between an open grill lid and other objects (like your home). Regularly check and empty the grill's grease collection tray. Avoid a grease fire by emptying a full tray.
- Prep food. Prep all meats and veggies inside before you bring them outside to the grill. You'll need a clean plate to place and serve the grilled food, as well as clean tongs and/or spatula. It's important not to use the same utensil used with raw meat to remove or serve cooked meat.
- Preheat. Gas grills only need about ten minutes of preheat time. Then, keep the grill's lid raised while lighting, turn the valve of your propane tank to open, turn one burner on and press the ignition button on the grill. Once the first burner is lit, continue turning on as many other burners as you'd like to use.
Charcoal grills need about 20 minutes to preheat. Discard ashes from any previous use. Next, open all the vents on the bottom of your grill to allow maximum airflow to fan the flame. Start your charcoal grill with a small amount of lighter fluid and some old newspaper or with a chimney starter. Your grill's manual will provide information about the right charcoal size and shape for your model.
- Grill maintenance. If you've regularly checked and emptied the grease tray and brushed food debris from the grates after each use, then you've already completed half the maintenance. Additionally, check your propane tank for leaks throughout grill season. Lastly, invest in a grill cover to protect it when not in use.
Resources: bobvila.com, CNET, HFTV.com, Home Depot, HomeTips LLC, Houselogic.com, DIY Network