It’s the time of year where the smell of summer grilling slowly fades, and the spicy and crisp scents of fall lure us indoors. After spending all summer soaking up sun and having festive outdoor barbecues, your outdoor deck can take quite a beating. With exposure to sun, moisture, and extra wear and tear, the protective finish on your wooden deck may leave your decking vulnerable to damage.
Before you fully commit to pumpkin spice and cozy, autumn nights indoors, it’s a good idea to prep your wooden deck for the long winter months ahead, so it’s ready for use once spring has sprung.
End-of-Season Deck Maintenance Tips for Wooden Decks
No matter what type of decking you have, you should perform an annual deck inspection to ensure your outdoor deck is structurally sound. If you notice a problem with your decking in the fall, it’ll certainly get worse being exposed to a brutal winter season. By performing an easy checkup, you can prevent further damage to your wooden deck. It’s helpful to look at the following during your inspection:
- Support Structure (e.g. attachments to the house, support posts, joist connections, etc.)
- Hardware Condition (e.g. rusting bolts, bent brackets, missing screws, etc.)
- Railing Support (e.g. wobbly railings, missing spindles, etc.)
- State of Deck Materials (e.g. rotting, splintering, cracking, warping, etc.)
If you’re not sure what to look for, contact your local deck contractor to perform a deck inspection on your behalf.
Once you’ve performed a thorough inspection and addressed immediate safety concerns, your wooden deck needs a deep cleaning to prepare it for treatment. This will remove built-up grime, mildew, and mold from the wood, so any protective treatments can have closer contact with your decking material. To clean your decking, follow these steps:
- Sweep—Remove any obvious debris before you begin cleaning by sweeping away leaves, twigs, etc.
- Rinse—Hose down your decking to remove dirt. Depending on how much grime has accumulated on your decking, you may wish to use a power washer. Be careful not to nick the wood by getting the washer too close to the decking.
- Scrub—Using mild soap & water or a multi-purpose cleaner that’s suitable for wood, clean your deck to remove the built-up grime. Chlorine bleach will cause damage to the materials, so avoid any cleaners that contain this ingredient. Take your cleaner and a scrub brush and use some elbow grease to rid your decking of pesky stains. Once you’ve cleansed the decking, thoroughly rinse to remove soapy residue.
- Dry—Before you begin treating your decking, be sure to allow your decking to dry completely for about 24-48 hours.
During your inspection, you may have noticed some areas that require your attention. Before you use sealers, be sure to replace and/or fix any concerns you have. If you notice missing screws or bolts, replace them with new hardware. If a board shows signs of rotting, pull up the board, and swap it with a new one. If your railings are wobbly, take the time to replace them, or tighten the connections. It’s vital to make repairs like these now before snow and ice make these issues worse. If you have minor splintering or fuzzy wood patches, a simple sanding will rid these problems, and better prepare the wood for treatment.
After you have inspected, cleaned, and repaired your outdoor deck, it’s necessary to apply a protective treatment. Wooden decks require frequent waterproofing to defend it against moisture. Without this protective layer, wood is essentially defenseless against the elements, and it’ll quickly deteriorate. There are several different sealer options for homeowners, including clear sealers, semi-transparent sealers, and solid stains. It’s a good idea to choose one that also has the added benefit of UV-ray protection, which’ll help protect your wooden deck from sun-bleaching, graying, and drying out. Carefully read the directions on whichever sealant you choose, and allow at least 48 hours for it to dry before replacing any deck furniture, etc. By taking the time to protect your wooden deck, you drastically increase the lifespan of your decking.
UglyDeck.com Offers Maintenance-Free Decking Solutions
If the annual deck maintenance and upkeep that wooden decks require have you singing the winter blues, you may consider updating your wooden deck with a maintenance-free decking option. At UglyDeck.com, we offer customers top-of-the-line maintenance-free decking solutions that allow homeowners to spend more time outdoors enjoying the end of the season and less time preparing their deck for winter.
To get a hands-on feel for maintenance-free decking materials, come visit us at one of our showrooms and get answers to your questions from our decking experts who can recommend the best products and help flesh out your deck designs. With stunning railing styles, stylish yet functional decking accessories, and space-saving spiral staircases, our Twin Cities deck builders can help you create an outdoor deck that speaks to your unique style and achieves all your decking needs and goals. For more information or to schedule a free consultation and estimate for your maintenance-free decking renovation, contact us today!