Can I leave my deck untreated?

untreated deck

How do you maintain a wood deck?

Aaahhh … summertime in Georgia!  After a year of quarantine, we’re all ready for some partying on the deck. In between your entertaining times and relaxation times, make sure you keep a regular deck maintenance or next summer won’t be as much fun. Proper deck maintenance and repairs are pertinent to having the longest life possible for this outdoor extension of your home. 

By knowing how to maintain a deck and keeping deck board maintenance done, you’ll preserve your deck for years, protecting that investment.  Decks are exposed to the climate and elements year round, and without proper routine deck maintenance, you’ll be faced with expensive and extensive repairs every summer before you can use the deck. Here, we offer a brief and simple deck maintenance routine:.

Springtime Deck Maintenance: Wash the Deck

Mildew and mold love an unwashed deck and that leads to rot. The following steps are recommended for washing your deck:

1. Use a putty knife to remove all the debris in between the deck boards, making sure to get clean around the cross the joists and structural members on the underneath side of the decking.

2. Cover plantings and shrubs with plastic sheeting then sweep the deck thoroughly before applying the appropriate cleanser for type of deck you have: 

  • Wood deck can be cleaned with a standard deck cleaner, making sure to follow the directions. 
  • Composite deck use only a specially formulated cleaner. For grease and oil stains, use a commercial degreaser and detergent.
  • Vinyl deck can be cleaned with mild soap and warm water. .

3. Clean on a cloudy day so your cleaner doesn’t disappear using the following methods: 

  • Wood decks can be cleaned with a garden hose and sprayer, stiff push broom or a paint roller. Don’t allow the water to pool and don’t dry the deck until you have cleaned the entire deck thoroughly. Follow the instructions on the cleaner for soaking time, then rinse with clear water. 
  • Composite deck cleaning use a soft brush but never use a pressure washer Use an oxalic acid deck brightener to remove any leaf and rust stains
  • Vinyl decks should be cleaned with a round motion scrub using a stiff broom, then with clear water, rinse thoroughly. Allow time for deck dry before applying a sealant, two days is recommended. 

Springtime Deck Maintenance: Seal the Deck

One gallon of a sealer or stain will cover up 250 square feet of decking. A clear sealer will let the natural color and grain of your wood to show through. A sealer with toner will add some color but maintain the grain and protect it from the UV rays. You can also choose a semi-transparent stain that gives the wood a tint or a  solid stain that seals it from the weather and covers the grain.  The steps for the sealing part of your deck maintenance are: 

  1. Have two days set aside with clear skies and moderate temperature. Start by lightly sanding the deck with 80-grit. This will remove the furriness the washing process created. 
  1. Replace any nails and screws that are missing or popped, using a pry bar to remove them. If they won’t come out easily, pound them in all the way.  
  1. Using a paint roller, apply your sealer or stain, cover 3 to 4 boards at once, then use a small brush to fill in between the boards, the benches, planters, and railings. Never let the sealant dry or puddle up and apply 2 thin coats. 

Midsummer Deck Maintenance: Inspect and Repair 

  1. While you have dry and warm weather, inspect your deck, for any repair issues. The area six inches above the ground and where close to water need special attention. Look for rot on the structural members, stairs, stringers, and the perimeter posts. 
  1. Check the ledger using a flashlight for the underside, especially the framing  where the deck attaches to your house. Check all beams, joints, and posts, the hardware, with special attention to the joist hangers. Any rusted hardware should be replaced now as well as any joists and posts that are rotted.  
  1. Check all deck boards for cracks or rot and replaced as needed. Inspect the railing and any damaged or loose posts should be replaced with the connections retightened. 

Fall Deck Maintenance: Preventive Measures

Fall is the time to wash and seal the deck if you didn’t do it during the spring. Trim back any nearby bushes and trees at least 12 inches from your deck. Keep any debris ad leaves cleared off, especially out of corners. Rearrange the chairs, planters, and table periodically so they don’t discolor the decking.  

Should you pressure wash a deck?

While a pressure washer can clean a deck effectively, it can also cause damage. If you feel your deck needs power washing, it is recommended to hire a professional contractor. They have the commercial brand of power washers and the expertise to do the job without causing damage. 

Should I stain or seal my deck?

It’s a matter of personal choice.  After you’ve completed your deck maintenance, a deck sealer is clear and will either penetrate into the wood or form a clear film. A deck stain has the water-resistant quality as well but will give your deck some color. 

treated deck

How often do decks need to be sealed?

The industry recommendation is no less that every three years, but an annual application may be needed depending on how much the deck is used, the weather conditions, and how much sun exposure the deck is subjected to.

What is the life expectancy of a wood deck? A deck built with untreated wood can last up to 30 years but with little deck maintenance, you can expect to replace it within 10 years. If you want a deck low maintenance, choose a composite material, or treated wood and you can expect up to 50 year lifespan. Call (706) 814-3207 today for your deck maintenance needs in Augusta, GA.