The Citywide Guide to Expert Deck Maintenance
Having a sundeck is great. Maintaining it is not. But with this simple guide to deck maintenance, you’ll know just what to do (and when) so you can streamline your time spent doing chores on your deck.
The most important activity to extend the life of your deck, keep it safe, and make sure it’s looking sharp is a periodic cleaning. At least four times a year, ideally when seasons change, deep clean your deck. Here’s how it’s done:
- Move any furniture off or to the side
- sweep off leaves, dirt, and debris
- clear any gutters or drains of build up.
- Hose down your deck
- Apply a non-toxic, biodegradable cleaner
- Scrub the deck to remove light stains and residual dirt
- Remove mildew with one part bleach, three parts water
You may need to clean your deck more often at some times of the year. If it’s located in an area that collects lots of leaves and debris, fall may call for frequent sweeping. If you enjoy barbecues and suntanning during summer, a weekly scrub can reduce the chances of permanent stains.
A dirty deck can accelerate the degradation decking, fasteners, and railings. Spending an hour or so each season to cleanse and inspect it will go a long way to reducing your costs and increasing your enjoyment of your deck.
Do rot reconnaissance
Along with your seasonal clean, check for signs of decay on your deck. On wooden decks, you can check for rot by testing areas with a screwdriver. If you can dig it in more than ½ cm or is you can break off a sliver of wood without splinters, rot is likely.
To check for rot on vinyl decks or decks with liquid-applied membranes, walk the surface of the deck in a grid formation. As you step, feel for soft or spongy spots. Take a close look at areas that are exposed to water or that stay wet for long periods of time.
To make sure the frame of the deck is structurally sound and rot-free, check the following areas for splitting, crumbling, or soft wood:
- The ledger board (where the deck attaches to the house)
- Support posts
- Joists under the deck
If you think you’ve found rot, it’s important to do something. The risk of not repairing rot is that it will spread. If left untreated, someone may fall through the deck or it could completely collapse.
Look for loose fasteners
If your deck is rot-free, fantastic. But it doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods. The fasteners of your deck are just as essential to your deck’s integrity. While you’re checking for rot, check your fasteners and supports, too.
Every season, tighten screws and anchors, hammer in popped nails, tests supports, and replace corroded metals. Rusted fasteners mean they’re weakened and they can also amplify wood deterioration.
Freshen your flashings
Flashing can be metal or plastic. It’s usually found where the deck and exterior wall meet. Ensure that it’s in place and doing its job to divert water away from the home. If there are areas where it’s corroded, broken, loose, or where water pools, avoid water leaking into your home by replacing the flashing.
You rely on your railings to keep you and your loved one’s safe. Make sure they’re up for the job.
First, check to see that they’re high enough. Vancouver deck building codes require 3-foot high railings with spindles a maximum of 10 cm apart so small children and pets can’t squeeze through.
Next, make sure they are sturdy. Do they give when pushed? If you have a wobbly railing, it may be due to rot, worn fixtures, or a poor fit. Find the source of the instability and remedy it before relying on your railings.
Redo your deck finish
Wooden decks require a new stain or seal every two years on average. Staining and sealing your wood deck helps defend it from weathering, rot, and insects. It also makes it look great.
If you’re tired of refinishing your sundeck every summer, consider renovating your deck. Vinyl membranes are the most popular decking in Metro Vancouver and composite decks are a beautiful alternative to wood. Both types of deck never require staining and are very low-maintenance.
To get a free quote on rot repair or a low-maintenance deck renovation, fill out the form below or give us a call at 604-786-3325.