That bright, warm feeling when you go outside means it’s Deck Season! After sheltering in place for a few weeks, it couldn’t have come at a better time. But before you pull out your patio furniture and mix up a pitcher of your favorite cocktail, there’s some deck prep to take care of. We have you covered—just follow these easy steps and you’ll be enjoying deck season in no time.
Check for Structural Damage to Your Deck
The first thing is to check the structural elements of your deck. If you have a second-story deck, this should be relatively easy. If there isn’t much clearance under your deck you’ll need a flashlight and will likely have to take a look from a few different angles. You want to look for any rot or mildew on the wood that makes up the base of your deck. Nails that are working their way out of the support beams are a sign that the base of your deck may have shifted slightly over the winter and you’ll want to re-secure those supports. You can find a more detailed deck inspection checklist here.
Wood rot can present itself in a few different ways, so if you find any soft spots, discoloration, splintering or loose pieces of wood on the structural or surface beams, you will want to replace them. The good news is that replacing surface boards can be as easy as pulling out the nails and other connectors and removing it. You could even cut out a small section if you feel comfortable doing so. You can take the wood you’ve removed to your local lumber store and they can help you match your replacement pieces to the rest of your deck.
Clean and Protect Your Deck
Mildew is easier to deal with than rot, but will still need to be dealt with in order to keep your deck in shape for years to come. While we’ve heard some people recommend diluted bleach or vinegar solutions, it’s best to visit your local decking shop or lumber yard to find the wood cleaner that is recommended for your specific type of deck. Then it’s just a matter of scrubbing the mildew away.
Once you’ve dealt with any rot and/or mildew you will want to give the surfaces of your deck a good cleaning. It’s tempting to pull out the 8,000 PSI pressure washer, but not only is that overkill, it could damage your deck. Start with your hose and a standard sprayer nozzle. If this doesn’t get all the dirt and grime off, try loosening it with a soft bristled scrub brush, and then use your hose to rinse it away.
Now that your deck is free of rot and mildew, as well as dirt and grime, you can take a look at the deck’s finish. On average, you will need to restain your deck every two to three years. This is especially important for the horizontal surfaces that take a beating from the sun, rain and snow. If any of the previous coats of stain are flaking, your best bet is to strip and restain the entire deck to save yourself the trouble of restaining small sections every year. Plus this will give your deck a consistent look. You will want to do this early enough in the spring that it isn’t too hot, and preferably on an overcast day. Working on a cooler, cloudy day will prevent the stripper and stain from drying too quickly and unevenly.
Once you’ve done these steps, it’s finally time to pull out the patio furniture and mix up that cool pitcher of drinks!