Over the years, pets, kids, and the elements can take a toll on our decks and porches. While we’re still in the summer season, considering a deck rejuvenation could save you money and give your deck or porch a facelift- improving the overall look of your property. Here are a few steps to lengthen the life of your investment so that you don’t have to prematurely replace it.
1. Check for Needed Repairs
Particularly areas like posts or joists that make contact with the ground. These will naturally age more quickly and may need some extra attention or even replacement. Black spots, rusty bolts & screws, or soft spots in the wood are all signs that repairs are overdue. Replacing or tightening the rusted hardware and checking for loose areas on the decking and railings is the first place to put your attention. No sense in sanding and staining a wobbly structure! Aluminum railings shouldn’t need any replacing since they are rust-resistant, yet pollen and dust will likely have collected on them so giving them a rinse is a good habit to get into.
2. Sand and Clean
Annual cleanings, as unappealing as the idea of that might be, are necessary for keeping your decks and porches in good shape. Be sure to start by sanding your deck so that the wood will fully absorb the stain. This can easily be accomplished with an orbital sander- or by hand in small areas where you notice the wood is particularly rough. There are many cleaning solvents on the market, but if you have kids, pets, and/or plants, a less chemically abrasive option might be your preference.
Here’s a DIY deck cleaner recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Products Laboratory, it’s good for mildew and dirt.
- 1 qt. sodium hypochlorite solution (household bleach)
- ⅓ cup powdered laundry detergent
- 3 qts. warm water
In a 5-gal. plastic bucket, add the bleach and detergent to the water, then brush the cleaner onto the deck. Rinse thoroughly before applying a finish. Caution: Do not use a detergent that contains ammonia. Ammonia and bleach react to form a poisonous gas.
Scrub-resistant stains and sun damage may require a pressure washer- so you don’t use up all your energy trying to tackle the stains with your wire brush. Make sure that you allow the cleaner to set in, rinse thoroughly, and then also give your deck and porch plenty of time to dry completely before applying the stain.
3. Time to Stain
If you’re staining older wood, a semi-transparent stain will help hide any imperfections in the grain, as well as any stubborn spots that your elbow grease didn’t completely clean. It also helps to blend areas where you added new wood and will last longer than a transparent stain. The beautiful thing about stain is that it is absorbed by the wood as opposed to sitting on top of it like paint, so it creates a finish that will never peel or chip. Old wood tends to be pretty thirsty, so plan to use more stain than you might think you’ll need. A 700ft deck can use up to 5 gallons of stain for instance. When applying, a brush is certainly an option, but using a sprayer will allow you to apply the stain much more quickly and then you can always go over any areas that may have puddled or pooled with a brush to smooth them out. If you plan to apply two coats you should do the second while the first coat is still wet or it will not absorb. Consider this for higher traffic areas of your decks and porches, as stain can still wear off, despite it not peeling or chipping.
It takes a little time and energy, but keeping up on your deck and porch maintenance will ultimately save you money in the end. Invite a few friends over and make a day of it!