Once you’ve installed the best deck for your house, keeping it safe and looking great doesn’t have to be complicated. But it does require routine maintenance and monitoring for signs you need to make repairs.
We spoke with Gregg Cantor, president and CEO of Murray Lampert Design, for his tips on keeping your deck in tip-top shape.
Deck maintenance checklist
Follow these deck care tips to help identify potential safety issues and keep your deck looking its best.
Sweep the deck and remove stains
Clear leaves and debris from your deck’s surface regularly to prevent mildew. Spray it with a hose to remove pollen and other contaminants. If you have a wood deck, use a wood-safe cleaner to remove stubborn stains after sweeping and spraying it down. For composite decks, use a composite deck cleaner.
Inspect the wood
Deck care and maintenance includes looking for areas you need to repair. Check for cracked, splitting, warping, peeling, and discoloration. If the boards feel springy or spongy, there may be dry rot, even if there are no visible signs of damage. Repair or replace damaged boards. Remember to check the area where the deck attaches to the house.
Check the flashing
Flashing is a vital water barrier required where porches, decks, or stairs attach to a wall or other structure. Make sure it’s secure and replace it if it’s not preventing water from getting between the deck and your house.
Check nails, screws, and anchors on the deck railings, stairs, and handrails. Tighten them if they’re loose or replace them if they’re rusted or corroded. Also, check stairs railings and handrails and secure them if they are loose.
Power wash the deck
Even if you keep up with routine deck maintenance, there may be times your deck needs a more thorough cleaning. Power washing may do the trick if you have caked-on dirt or other stains. Follow the instructions carefully to avoid damaging your deck, and only do it as necessary. If it’s finished properly, you shouldn’t have to power wash it often.
Reseal the deck
If you have a wood deck, you’ll probably need to reseal it every year or two. You don’t need to refinish most composite decks because they have built-in UV protection. Rain and UV rays cause a wood deck’s finish to deteriorate over time, leading to discoloration and peeling. Deck care and maintenance for a wood deck include resealing it periodically. Regular seasonal home maintenance keeps your deck looking its best and protects it from wear and tear.
Cantor doesn’t recommend only waterproofing because it’s not very durable. It’s prone to cracking, peeling, and discoloration from the sun. He recommends using an oil sealant that penetrates the wood, providing more protection. Oil sealants won’t crack, peel, or turn yellow from exposure to UV rays. Plus, you can purchase tinted oils, saving you a step if you want to add color and seal your deck. No matter what finish you choose, find out how it will protect your home from UV rays.
If you plan to reseal your deck yourself, Cantor recommends going to a paint store or decking retailer to get advice on the best products. Or you can hire a professional to reseal it.