Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Proper Deck Maintenance Will Save You $Thousands$ in the Future



It’s that time of year again when our outdoor decks finally get pressed into service! There’s nothing I love better than a Sunday cook out or family get together on a beautiful summer day but even the best wood decks need a little TLC to remain beautiful and safe.

If you notice that your deck is looking a bit “worn” or it’s peeling than you need to do something about it right away. Once the wood is directly exposed to the elements it won’t take long for permanent damage to set in and at that point the only way to repair it is to replace the wood. If that happens you are basically building a new deck and that is an expense that is easily avoided with a little hard work and very little money.

Almost anyone with only moderate “handyman” skills can recoat their own deck and you probably have most of the tools that you’ll need sitting in your toolbox in the garage. Before you start you will need a cordless drill, an angle grinder, a 4 in 1 screwdriver, a dust mask, rubber gloves, rags, knee pads, a nail set, a paintbrush, a stiff brush, stripping discs and safety glasses to keep the dust out of your eyes. The only supplies required will be deck stain remover, masking tape, a plastic drop cloth, the stain or finish of your choice (this is a great time to get a different “look” than you had before!) and a good quality deck wood brightener or conditioner.  As you can see the cost is quite minimal and when you are done you will have a deck that looks like it was just built!

The first step to restoring your faded deck is probably the hardest. It’s not difficult to do but it is definitely a good work out! Using the paint scraper you will want to remove as much of the old finish as possible. While you’re there you will need to reset any screws or nails that may be sticking out from the surface.

Next you will use the stain remover that you bought. 1 gallon will cover about 100 square feet so be sure that you measure your deck before buying supplies. You will want to apply the remover in a heavy coat to get the best results. To protect damaging anything that the remover might come in contact with I strongly suggest covering siding with plastic and covering and wetting any nearby bushes, grass or plants that come in direct contact with the deck. You don’t want the stain remover touching anything except for the wood itself. It’s probably easiest if you apply maybe 25 square feet at a time with the remover. While the area is still wet with the stain remover you will use a stiff brush to scrub it.

Now comes something a bit less physically demanding! Simply spray down the deck with your garden hose to remove ALL residue that remains. If you still see some stains or patches of the deck that have become discolored you can remove them using the stripping discs that we mentioned earlier. The quickest method is to use an angle grinder with the rough discs. As an alternative however you can use a belt sander, orbital sander or even a drill but that will take some additional time to get the same results.

The next step is to apply the deck brightener/conditioner. This is pretty easy compared to what you’ve already done. In this case 1 gallon will cover about 200 square feet so you will only need about half as much of this as you did the stain remover. Now it’s time to finish the job! Depending on your taste you can stain the wood or you can apply a clear finish to show more of the natural wood grain. Keep in mind that clear finishes need to be reapplied every year unlike a solid stain that will last longer but is very difficult to remove. Many people like to use what is called a penetrating stain. Although they also need to be reapplied yearly unlike the other finishes there is no need to strip them off. This will save you a LOT of time and energy in the future and just might be your best bet!

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