When it comes to outdoor enhancements to your property, I can’t think of anything better to have with a home than a deck. With a deck, you are able to extend the inside of your home to the outside, creating a seasonal living room/kitchen that is just great for entertaining.
But decks can be costly and all the more so if they aren’t maintained properly. Besides making sure that your deck is structurally sound, you’ll want to clean and seal it from time to time to extend its life.
Deck Wear & Tear
Decks are prone to splitting, cracking, fading and warping thanks to penetrating sunlight, a variety of weather conditions including rain, ice and snow, age, and wear and tear. By periodically cleaning and treating your deck you can ensure that you’ll get many years out of it, adding to the look and value of your home.
Taking care of your deck isn’t a difficult process, but it involves four steps: clearing it of all items, hosing it down, applying a cleanser, and when it dries applying a sealant. Don’t count on doing everything in one day — you’ll be cleaning it off one day and applying a sealant the next. Just make sure that you have two consecutive days of no rain in the weather forecast before getting started.
Tips For Deck Cleaning
So how do you clean your deck? Do you use a hose or a pressure washer? That second question is open for debate as some people insist a pressure washer can damage the deck, removing an important protective coat if operated by an inexperienced person.
When I’ve cleaned a deck, I use a hose and I find a cleansing agent that is environmentally friendly. Harsh chemicals are no fun to play around with and I have to wonder what the long term residual effects are on people, plants and animals. Oxygen bleach is a product pushed by some people who insist on using a truly environmentally friendly product.
Choosing The Right Sealant
When it comes time to using a sealant, you’ll first want to identify what sort of results that you want. Most definitely, you’ll want a sealer to penetrate the wood and a product that is easy to clean up. This means you’ll be looking for a sealant that is oil-based and mixed with latex.
In addition, you’ll want a sealant that provides protection from UV rays and water damage. Whether you want to change the color of your deck or allow it to fade to a natural, weathered look is up to you. Just make certain that it offers the protection needed to withstand the elements. You can choose a color that will match or nicely contrast the color of your home, even choosing two different colors for a nice combination.
Tools You Will Need
To clean your deck, you can pick up a pump action sprayer to apply the cleanser and pick up a stiff brush for scrubbing. You’ll also need paint rollers and brushes to apply the sealant and you may want to tape off any adjoining section of your home to prevent painting it. Use plastic tarps to protect nearby bushes, walking areas, etc. from spray.
Count on setting aside a weekend to get this project done or any other two-day period. If you start early enough in the morning, you may be able to apply the sealant to a dried deck later in the day, but check the cleaning and application instructions carefully to make sure that you can apply a protective coat so soon.
If you’re looking for additional guidance, visit your local hardware or home store to talk with someone who can share with you their expert advice. You can handle the job yourself or farm out the responsibilities to a qualified professional.
Photo Credit: Dan Shirley
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