It's been a long, hot summer and it's time to take a look at your long-suffering deck.
Caring for your home's deck before the weather turns cooler can actually make it much easier to enjoy when summer rolls back around again. When it comes to deck maintenance, it’s like the old adage – a stitch in time saves nine!
Here are few tips of keeping your deck clean and healthy.
The harsh summer sun is destructive enough, but cold winds and rain can really take their toll on your deck. Stains and dirt can ruin your deck's appearance, and, if you leave them there over winter, they get a lot harder to remedy.
Protecting from the elements
Cleaning your deck prepares it for the next step - protection. Consider a water-repellent treatment when you're preparing your deck for a change of season. Rain and frosts can cause the wood in your deck to split and deteriorate, but a sealant can help maintain your deck for months - or years - to come.
Look around the areas of your deck that are within 15 cms of the ground, or close to water sources such as planter boxes and drain spouts. Starting with stairs, probe structural members with a screwdriver and pay attention to where the stairs meet the ground. Also check perimeter posts, handrails and their supports. If you can push the screwdriver in, you probably have rot - consult a professional carpenter or builder.
You can give raw timber a good scrub with a stiff bristle brush and a specialist wood cleaner like Oxalic acid. You’ll be amazed at its restorative powers and how even quite old, natural timber surfaces can be freshened up.
Oiled or stained decks
If you’ve just built a new timber deck, allow the timber to season for at least 2 or 3 months before applying oil for the first time. With older decks, it’s best to re-apply oil every 6 to 12 months, so autumn and spring are the ideal times. Clean the deck before you start, leaving it to dry overnight.
If the paint has started to peel off, you’ll possibly have algae in the wood grain to contend with as well, so it’s best to strip the paint completely and give the deck a pressure wash with bleach and water.
Fixing popped nails
Popped nails aren’t just unsightly; they’re downright dangerous! They’re a trip hazard and an early sign that your deck is starting to fall apart. Don’t just hammer them back in as they’ll simply pop up again. Remove the nail with a cat’s paw or hammer, then use a screw that’s longer than the nail you just removed to re-attach the board.