Your Massachusetts home’s redecking project is finished and your new deck looks great. Not only will the deck makeover provide you with countless hours of outdoor enjoyment, but it’ll also boost your home’s curb appeal and resale value.
And remember, just because you chose a low-maintenance deck material, like composite, PVC or Ipe, doesn’t mean it won’t still need some annual TLC to keep it looking and performing like new. To ensure that your deck delivers years of hassle-free enjoyment, use these 5 maintenance tips from the pros at Seal-a-Deck.
It’s so important after spring’s arrival to inspect all your deck components for signs of damage. Moisture, sunlight, wood-boring insects and foot traffic can all take a toll on your deck, and if you live near the ocean salt water accelerates the aging process. Make sure to check all these deck components:
• Privacy walls
• Decking and fasteners
• Joists and framework
Look for any signs of warping, splintering, pest infestations, cracking, loose nails and fasteners, and mark any weakened planks that need to be replaced. If you’re not sure how to do a deck evaluation, it’s best to have a pro give it a “once-over”.
Once you’ve determined what needs to be fixed, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get to work. To prepare for your deck repair project, you’ll first need to:
• Sweep the entire deck with a soft-bristled broom
• Remove any sticks or leaves that are stuck in the cracks
• Gently wash the deck off with the hose or power-washer on a low setting
After that’s all done, you can get started replacing any damaged boards, nails, fasteners, steps and railings.
If you’ve recently replaced your decking material with a different one, learn everything you can about its care. Softer woods, like pressure-treated pine or cedar, have special maintenance needs as opposed to hardwoods like mahogany or Ipe. And, just because you went with PVC or composite doesn’t mean your deck is totally maintenance-free. Here are some of the specific maintenance requirements for the decking materials we install at Seal-a-Deck:
• Pressure-treated pine. Treated with chemicals to resist rot, fungus and wood-boring insects, pine needs to be washed every year, and re-stained/sealed every 2 to 3 years.
• Cedar. A softer wood, cedar should be washed annually and resealed every 2 to 3 years. It will also more easily dent or splinter than other materials.
• Mahogany. A harder wood, mahogany will retain its luxurious dark natural color only when sealed within 2 weeks of installation, and then every 12 to 18 months thereafter.
• Ipe. Ipe is a beautiful tropical hardwood with built-in resistance to fire, scratches, termites and decay because of its texture and interlocking grain patterns. However, for Ipe to maintain its unique look it’s best to re-seal your deck every year with a good UV-resistant penetrating oil.
• Composites. Made from wood chips and recycled plastics, composites won’t provide the same “wow” factor of natural wood, but they never have to be stained or sealed, and shouldn’t splinter or split. Composites do need to be power-washed annually to prevent mold and mildew, notably in shaded areas, and they can still decay or warp due to their partial-wood makeup.
• PVC. Like composites, PVC is not as aesthetically pleasing as natural wood, but it is highly resistant to scratches, warping, stains and mold. However, PVC decks can still show signs of wear after a few years, and an annual power-washing is recommended.
Even when properly maintaining your new deck, it can still get stained by spilled beverages, tree berries, mold and dripping grease. Here are some special stain-removal tips from the pros at Seal-a-Deck:
• Mold and mildew. Apply a material-appropriate deck-cleaning solution with a roller or sprayer, and then gently scrub the area with a utility brush. Avoid using chlorine bleach on wood decks, while substituting an acid-based alternative.
• Berry stains. Scrub the area with a commercial deck washing product that contains sodium hypo-chlorite.
• Grill grease. Use a water-soluble automotive grease remover.
• Candle wax. Place a Ziplock bag full of ice on the dried wax and wait for it to harden. Then, gently scrape it off with a playing card or similar object without scratching the deck’s surface.
Maintaining a deck can be time-consuming when you’d rather be at the beach or a Sox game. When you need a hand, call the deck maintenance experts at Seal-a-Deck. We’ve been assisting homeowners throughout Massachusetts with their deck check-ups, repairs, redecking and new construction projects since 2003. Affordable annual deck maintenance plans are also available, so to schedule an appointment for your deck today, call the Seal-a-Deck pros at 978-538-7325!