Who doesn’t love walking out onto a backyard deck to bask in the summer weather? You can decorate it with plants, host a barbecue or just sit and enjoy the breeze. Unfortunately, keeping a deck in beautiful shape is an expensive proposition. However, there are some things you can do to maximize its longevity and minimize strain on your budget.
Make sure it’s protected from the elements. The biggest adversary that your deck faces is moisture. When moisture penetrates the wooden boards it can cause them to go soft, warp or worst of all, rot. In order to keep your deck in top shape you’ll want to seal it with paint or a stain.
Choose the right sealant. Paint doesn’t require as much maintenance as stains, but it’s prone to peeling over time. When you do have to replace it, you’ll have to strip off the old stuff, which is a lot of work. Additionally, paint hides the natural beauty of wood. Most people will be happier with an oil-based stain. Some brands don’t require you to strip the wood after the first application. All you have to do is power-wash it and re-apply.
Sweep it regularly. Decks are magnets for leaves, small twigs and other debris. You’ll find them collecting and decaying in corners, grooves and in between planks. Over time, they’ll decay into dirt and collect moisture. Not only will your deck look dirty, the moisture can cause boards to rot.
Lift up your plants. Use trivets to keep potted flowers off the deck. If you don’t, water will accumulate underneath, leaving rings and deteriorating the wood.
Pick a simple fix now over an expensive fix tomorrow. If you notice something wrong with your deck, like a cracked or warped board, fix it as soon as possible. If you leave it be, it could impair the overall structure of your deck—a much more expensive repair than a single board.
Use a grease pan. If you like to grill on your deck, make sure there’s a pan to catch any grease that runs off. Grease stains can be very difficult to remove. Additionally, scrubbing off a grease stain may mess up your sealant. Refinishing just that spot will lead to an uneven look.
Regularly inspect your deck. Wood rot is most likely to occur in hard-to-see places, like the underside of your deck or in crevices. If you never bother to check out the wood in these places, you might not notice the problem until it’s too late.
Don’t sweat the snow. Unless it’s higher than the railing, snow won’t be heavy enough to cause any problems. Shoveling it will just scrape up your deck. If you absolutely can’t stand to look at snow and must remove it, use a broom to push it off.
After all your hard work, don’t forget to enjoy your deck. Get a table, umbrella and set of furniture, and invite your friends over to appreciate all your hard work. Just don’t forget to bring in the seat cushions when the evening is over.