One of the worst parts of being a wood deck owner is worried about yearly maintenance, and if worse comes to worst, replacing your deck. Wood decks are a wonderful addition to any home. There’s just something about the warmth and natural feel of a wood deck that is hard to beat. Maintenance is one major downside of owning a wooden deck. If you follow these tips, you’ll be enjoying your deck for years to come without having to worry about additional maintenance or building a whole new deck.
#1. Composite, or “Real Wood”
Cypress, Cedar, and Redwood were, without a doubt, the best choices for a wood deck for several decades. However, these days, other competing materials offer deck owners a great deal of longevity.
#2. Sticking with the Classics for Your Wood Deck
The warmth and natural feel of a wood deck made with “real” wood is a huge selling point. Real wood is beautiful these days because it is cheaper than composite. Most folks opt to go with pressure-treated wood PT.
Pressure-treated wood is essentially lumber that has been infused with chemicals to resist rotting and keep insects away. One of the big draws of real wood is it can be stained to match nearly any color or tone you desire. The drawback to real wood is the routine maintenance required to get the most years out of your deck.
BONUS TIP: You may be able to use Brazilian IPE. It’s an extremely hardwood that is naturally resistant to pests making it an ideal choice for a wooden deck.
The price tag is the main hang-up. You can pay 4× the cost of traditional woods such as Redwood or Cedar. As you might expect, the extra cost is mainly because it has to be imported from Brazil.
#3. Composite Decking
Composite decking is made from a mixture of plastic mixed with recycled wood. Some say composite wood lacks the natural warmth and beauty of real wood. However, in most cases, it more than makes up for this shortcoming with its durability. Many composites come with a 20-year warranty. Some offer a lifetime warranty. Unfortunately, this longevity comes with a cost. These days, composite can cost twice as much as traditional wood.
All wood, composite or natural, requires some sort of routine maintenance. For example, real wood needs to be refinished at least every year and a half. Composite wood can begin to grow mold if it is not thoroughly cleaned every couple of years.
#4. Framing Your Wood Deck
Unfortunately, you can’t use the same material for the deck’s surface as you do for the pillars and frame. Warren Professional Services recommend .40 pressure-treated lumber for the frame. You will need to go with something a bit more heavy-duty .60 Pressure-treated lumber does the trick here for the posts.
#5. Cleaning and Staining
Pressure-treated wood may be able to stand up to the insects in your backyard, and it resists rotting better than non-treated lumber. But, it is still wood at the end of the day, and it is still vulnerable to the wrath of mother nature. In addition, excess moisture will still lead to rotting over time. So, to keep your deck going strong over the long haul, you’ll need to keep it clean and stained. Think of lawn care cleaners as a prep to get the boards ready to be stained.
Cleaners come in 2 varieties: bleach and non-bleach. Both cleaners remove dirt and grime. However, cleaners with bleach will lighten the word’s color and could be troublesome for plants and animals. Regardless of which cleaner you choose, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application.
The rule of thumb here is to apply the cleaner with a roller and wait about 15 to 20 minutes for it to soak in. Then rinse it off before staining the deck. Applying stain works much the same way. You’re going to want to apply it with a sprayer or roller following the manufacturer’s instructions.
Almost all stain or sealant manufacturers are going to recommend making sure the wood deck is good and dry for at least 48 hours before putting on the first coat of stain. After that, we typically recommend putting on at least two coats to make sure everything is in good shape.
Tip: Whether cleaning or staining, it’s a good idea to put tarps over bushes or move any furniture. Not only does this ensure you won’t damage your flowers or furniture, but a clean surface free of clutter is also much easier to work on.
#6. Use Power Washers with Caution
Real wood or composite wood deck is going to benefit from a rinsing every now and again. It may be tempting and downright fun to use this as an excuse to go to town with your power washer. After all, who doesn’t like playing with the big toys when they get a chance.
Your power washer may simply be too much for the job. Standing too close or using too much force can cause your decking to splinter or crack. Your best bet is to use a hose with a high-pressure nozzle.
If you just can’t resist using a power washer, make sure to keep the force set too low and keep the nozzle a healthy distance away from any surface you are cleaning.