Deck Maintenance 101
Getting Your Deck Ready for Spring
For those of us in the Midwest, our winters can be pretty brutal. So once spring rolls around and we can finally survive in the outdoors again, we don’t waste any time getting back outside. Decks are the ideal spot for us Midwesterners to spend time relaxing, enjoying one another’s company, and even having a meal and a refreshing drink. If you’re lucky enough to have a view of a gorgeous lake, stunning rolling hills, or even a wonderfully landscaped yard, having an inviting deck is a must-have space in order for you to enjoy your beautiful backyard view!
To make that first breathe of spring air even more enjoyable, prepare your deck beforehand so that it’s ready for use as soon as the weather gets nice again!
Stick around and we’ll walk you through maintenance of different types of decking and their cleaning schedules that’ll help keep them in tiptop condition all times of the year.
Composite decking has become one of the frontrunners in decking material. Made out of recycled materials like sawdust, wood chips, and virgin or recycled plastic, it is not only eco-friendly, but also incredibly durable and much more low-maintenance than standard wood decking. Your days of sanding, stripping, and staining are over with this type of decking!
How to Properly Clean Your Composite Decking
With composite decking, your maintenance is relatively low-key – lucky you! Here’s what you’ll need to complete the job:
- Large bucket filled with soap and water
- Push broom or deck brush
- Hose or power washer
The first thing you’ll want to do is take a broom or leaf blower to your deck to get all of those leaves, twigs, and dirt out of there. If dirt is really caked on, you may need to use a power washer. Once all of the dirt and debris is swept off, pour your soap water onto the surface. Then take your broom or deck brush and scrub, scrub, scrub. Finally, use your hose to wash everything off.
Natural Wood Decking
Natural wood decking, while typically more affordable than composite decking, but still undeniably beautiful, requires a more in-depth cleaning and maintenance program. In order to prevent rot, splintering, and fading, there are a few more steps that must be taken.
While pressure treated wood is usually one of the more popular decking material choices due to its affordability, the following are some slightly less popular options to consider that are still durable and stunning.
The amount of cedar decks built each year have slowly decreased, but should not be overlooked. Cedar is naturally rot resistant and does not readily absorb moisture, also making it resistant to warping and splitting. To keep its stunning color, you will need to keep it stained and sealed; roughly once a year.
Mahogany decking is one of the best natural wood decking materials out there, which also means it usually costs more than pressure treated or cedar materials. Mahogany typically requires less frequent staining and sealing. However, mahogany-specific stains are recommended in order for the stain to penetrate its naturally deep grain.
Ipe (pronounced EE-pay) wood is actually a type of mahogany native to South America. It is known to be one of the toughest and longest-lasting types of natural decking materials. Ipe is naturally a rich brown color with hints of red and amber. Maintenance for this type of wood is similar to the previously mentioned steps.
Over time, the color of Ipe wood will fade to a silver/grey. If you’re fine with that color change, great! If not, you’ll want to apply a specific oil to the surface. First, you’ll need to sand any areas that you find require it, then you’ll simply apply the oil to the deck. Apply the oil whenever you feel that the coloring of your deck is starting to look worn down, especially in high traffic areas. However, don’t let the fading colors get ahead of you. If you allow the oil finish to be worn down to the bare wood, it becomes much more difficult to keep a consistent appearance.
Natural Wood Decking Maintenance
Some woods will require stripping to be done whenever the deck starts to look worn. Stripping of the wood is typically done by soaking the deck with water and then vigorously using a pressure washer to strip the surface. This process can be tricky, so hiring a professional to do this may not be a terrible idea.
Once the stripping process is done, you’ll have to wait anywhere from 2-3 days after to allow the deck to dry. Next, you’ll need to sand the surface to remove imperfections. As always, after sanding make sure to sweep or wipe down the deck to remove dust and debris.
Some may choose to use a brightener next, but this step is completely optional based on the look you are hoping to achieve. Whether or not you choose to use a brightener, the final step is to apply a sealer for another layer of protection.
Deck Railing Cleaning
If you’ve added decorative railing to your deck’s design, you don’t want to neglect cleaning them too. A majority of railings are powder coated aluminum. If this is the case for you, the cleaning of them is quite simple, especially if done so regularly. As is the same with the decking boards, all you’ll need to do to clean the railings is use soapy water and a gentle brush to clean away stuck on dirt and debris. If needed, use the pressure washer again to tackle the really tough spots. Once you’ve scrubbed, you can even go so far as to apply a coat of car wax to the flat surfaces for further protection.
When to Clean Your Deck
We recommend cleaning your deck on a regular basis to stay on top of all the wear and tear it’ll experience. We’ve broken down a cleaning schedule by season to help you get started:
Spring cleaning is always, by far, the most in-depth type of cleaning. Well, the same goes for the cleaning of outdoor living spaces.
During the spring, trees, plants, and flowers begin to bloom, filling the air with pollen and other allergens. Combined with this and the falling of spring rains, a slick finish will emerge on the deck’s surface. Because of the effect pollen and rain have together, it is recommended that you clean the deck shortly after pollen has begun to fall and once again after it has finished.
During the summer months, the amount of cleaning and maintenance you will need to do will be based on how much it is used. If you find yourself spending a lot of time out on your deck, you may need to clean it a few times. Otherwise, you may only need to clean it up once or twice to keep it looking spotless!
Fall and Winter
Before a harsh winter sets in, give your deck one final cleaning before its “hibernation” period begins. Again, brush and sweep off any dirt, leaves, sticks, or whatever else may have found its way onto the surface. Brush away any of those nasty cobwebs, too. Cover or store away any furniture or other surfaces you may want protected from the sun and elements.
Tips for Preparing Your Deck for Spring
• Before you can fully relax and enjoy your deck, you’ll need it to be all neat and tidy first. Use your leaf blower to get rid of leaves and dirt and then hit the deck with some power washing to help get rid of any mold or rotting wood.
• Make sure your deck has been thoroughly cleaned before you set out your furniture, plants, any decorations, and the grill.
• If any grills, pots and planters, or furniture were left out over the fall and winter months, give them a good cleaning (according to their directions) to keep them working and looking good. Typically a spray bottle and a soft sponge will do the trick, but check the care instructions first!
• The first thing you should do in regards to your furniture is to uncover it and let it air out. Give it a quick wash and let it completely air dry to prevent any mold buildup. Prop any cushions up so that all areas are sure to be dried completely.
• Add some personality and some color to your deck by incorporating umbrellas, accent pillows, and colorful furniture into the design. Choose colors that correspond with the existing colors of your home’s exterior, as well as the color of your deck. Top it all off with some statement outdoor dining ware – including plates, glasses, cups, silverware, and some fun centerpieces!
• Don’t forget about the areas surrounding your deck too, like your flower beds. Clean up the beds, pull any weeds, throw down some new mulch, and plant some cheerful flowers. Add some vases or hanging baskets with some more flowers on your deck, too!
• The springtime is the perfect time of year to spruce up or even completely rebuild your deck! Find a reliable builder during the offseason to get scheduled at the first sight of spring. Some amazing additions to consider are screened in porches, pergolas, and covered roofs!
Is Your Deck Spring Ready?
Time flies, so don’t waste any time getting your deck and other outdoor living spaces ready for the beautiful spring weather of the Midwest!
If you’re looking to fix up your deck, or start building one from the ground up, schedule your project today! The professionals at Above and Beyond Roofing and Construction are beyond ready to create for you a wonderful living space fit to entertain your family and friends! Above and Beyond services the Wichita, Kansas and surrounding areas.
Give us a call at (316) 719-2819 for more information or to schedule your free consultation.
We can’t wait to meet you!