Every homeowner wants their outdoor deck to look good for as long as possible. Unfortunately, the sun is a persistent enemy of wood outdoors. It is uncommon to see an outdoor deck that has begun peeling and flaking. Sometimes this can be repaired, but most of the time, it means you need to replace your deck entirely. In preparation for those days when you’ll have to redo your deck, here are some tips on how to keep your current outdoor deck looking great until then:
1) Make sure all surfaces are clean
The first step in preventing damage from the sun is making sure there is nothing on the surface of the materials that would cause them to age more quickly or fail before they should. To make sure your deck is clean, give it a thorough washdown. Use a pressure washer if the deck has been neglected for years and needs serious work before you can apply any protective coatings to it. For less dirty decks, use a good outdoor soap and a stiff-bristled brush to scrub away the dirt and grime that accumulated over time. After rinsing off the soap with a garden hose, make sure to let the surface dry completely before moving onto step two.
2) Apply an oil-based wood protectant
Choose an oil-based stain or sealer designed specifically for decks to moisturize your wood and help repel water at the same time. It’s best not to use anything containing silicone because it tends to dry and crack over time and can also yellow with age. A good quality product will provide a protective barrier that lasts for years, even through harsh winters and scorching summers.
3) Stain your wood regularly
Even if you apply the best water-proofing available, it’s still important to re-stain your deck as needed throughout the year. This is especially true just before those long summer days when your outdoor living spaces will be front-and-center of your family’s leisure activities. Pick a stain color that complements the tones of the landscape surrounding your home for best results.
4) Repair cracks early on
The single biggest cause of damage to an outdoor deck is water intrusion into its surfaces. Even a small crack can be enough to let all of the drying and moisture out from beneath your decking boards, causing warping and peeling paint or stain over time. Maintain proper airflow underneath your deck by repairing cracks as soon as you notice them appearing. If the damage is severe enough that it has allowed water to get in under your wood, remove any wet particles with a shop vacuum before sealing up the cracks with exterior caulk and re-applying the sealant every year or two after that.
5) Don’t walk on barefoot
This may go without saying, but it’s really important not to stand directly on bare wood outdoors for extended periods of time if you want to keep it looking great longer. Wood will quickly deteriorate under pressure, which is exactly what your feet are applying when they stand on your deck. Always wear shoes or sandals to protect the wood from excess moisture and unsightly staining.