Lessons From A Repentant Deck Owner
One of the first things that I’m going to do this weekend is to clean and seal my deck. Doesn’t sound like that much fun, but it’s better than replacing the deck, which is exactly what I had to do last fall. The old deck finally gave out after years of wear and tear. Constant exposure to UV rays and rain caused it to fade, crack, split and warp.
It was partially my fault. I knew that I should have taken better care of my deck, but I just had too many other things going on in my life. Ultimately, my laziness made me pay the price, not only in labor but in materials to replace the old deck.
So this weekend, I’m not wasting any more time or money. I’m preserving my deck.
Part One: Prepping and Cleaning the Deck
The first step to protecting and preserving your deck is to make sure the wood is ready to accept a stain or sealer. To find out, determine if the wood is “thirsty”. Test absorbency by sprinkling water on the surface; if the water soaks in rapidly, the surface is ready. And no, spilling your lemonade is not a good test, just sticky!
Before you can protect the wood, keep in mind that an ounce of prevention begins with a thorough cleaning. Start the process by removing deck furniture and making sure the kids and pets stay clear of the area throughout the process. Before cleaning, repair any loose boards and sand rough spots with a 100 to 80 grit sandpaper. A pole sander will make the sanding process go faster and save back and knee pain. Sweep off loose debris and clean between cracks using a putty knife or five in one tool.
Wet surrounding plants and shrubs, and then cover them with clear plastic. After the treatment is finished, rinse the plastic and then remove it from the plants.
You’ll want to remove embedded dirt, fungus and stains from your deck as part of the cleaning process. A one step cleaner that can be purchased at all home improvement stores will do the trick. Take a few moments to read the manufacture’s recommendations and follow them to the letter. Some cleaners require the deck’s surface to be damp before applying, while others require the surface to be dry. Make sure to read the label.
Use a paint roller with an extension handle or a garden sprayer to apply the cleaner to the entire deck. Don’t let the cleaner puddle; in fact, you should back roll or spread the cleaner using a roller or a broom to spread any puddles.
Scrub tough spots with a stiff brush or broom. Allow the cleaner to soak into the wood; this will usually take no more than ten minutes. After the cleaner soaks into the wood, rinse the deck thoroughly with a hose.
Allow the surface to dry completely at least two days before moving to the sealing or staining process. Wash all tools with soapy water.
Tune in next week to learn some tips for staining and sealing.