Your deck faces elements all year long. The best way to protect your deck is to create a routine schedule to care for your deck to avoid later repairs. With fall and winter months quickly approaching, the leaves will start to fall and can cause damage.
With an excellent plan, you will be able to mitigate any potential problems, and the amount of autumn deck care you’ll have to do. Dupont Decks will help you with your deck maintenance plans to keep your deck looking gorgeous all year long.
Spring Deck Care: Time for a Wash
As winter comes to an end, the melted snow and ice can leave your deck with a wet residue and various debris. The moisture is an invitation for mold and mildew, potentially causing rot. The best way to start fresh and remove any leftover gunk from winter is to wash your deck.
1. Remove all leftover debris. Take extra care to remove debris from between the deck boards and the cross joints. The best way to remove everything is to either use a putty knife or purchase a crevice cleaner.
Pro Tip: You can attach your putty knife to a length of 1 ¼ inch PVC pipe to keep from damaging your knees. Some putty knives will fit into the end of the PVC pipe. It will also allow you to get all of the hard to reach spots.
2. Protect your plants or landscaping. Water all of your plants and then cover them with plastic sheeting to prevent damage.
3. Meticulously sweep the deck.
4. Purchase the correct deck cleaning solution.
- Wood decks: Use a standard cleaning solution, but follow the directions on the packaging.
- Composite decks: use cleansers that are formulated with commercial degreasers and detergents to attack grease and oil stains.
- Vinyl (cellular PVC) decks: only require you to use warm water and a mild detergent to remove any dirt, mildew, or mold.
5. Wash your deck. It’s best to choose an overcast day. The decking will be cool to the touch, and the sun won’t evaporate the cleaning solution.
6. Once you have washed your deck and given it ample time to dry, seal it.
Midsummer/Early Autumn Deck Care: Inspecting and Repairing
Now that the weather is warm and dry, it is the perfect time to take a close look at your deck. It is important to pay attention to areas that are within six inches of the ground (these areas can show the most wear). Take special care to inspect areas that are close to any source of water, such as planters, downspouts, or spigot.
1. Check for any signs of rotting. Begin by carefully checking the stairs and other high traffic areas. Take a look at each perimeter post. If an area you suspect rotted, check to see by pushing a screwdriver a quarter-inch or more into that spot.
If you are able to do so, it will need to be replaced.
Pro tip: Remove any areas of rot that are lo larger than a silver dollar with a chisel, and treat the hole with a wood preservative. If the damage is more substantial, this can require a structural component to be replaced. Consult Dupont for help, and we will send one of our expert builders to provide you with an estimate.
2. Inspect the deck’s ledger. The ledger is the essential piece of framing that attaches the deck to the side of the house. Use a flashlight to check underneath and thoroughly inspect for any damages. A rotting or damaged ledger is the culprit of 90% of deck collapses.
Pro tip: The ledger is installed with lag screws, not just nails. The flashing, the metal cap that covers the ledger and prevents moisture from penetrating behind the siding, needs to be free from rush and holes.
3. Thoroughly examine the remaining joists, posts, and beams. Check all of the hardware underneath the deck. Pay particular attention to all of the joists and hangers. Replace any that are especially worn and rusted.
Check any rotting areas on the joists and posts. If any look unsafe, give us a call to provide an estimate for any needed repairs.
Pro tip: If a section of framing isn’t easily replaceable, it can be reinforced. If there is a joist that shows a large amount of rot, a splint of comparable pressure-treated lumber can be attached alongside the damaged area. The infected piece can then be chiseled away and painted with a wood preservative.
4. Look for cracks and rotting deck boards. Keep in mind that not all cracks are a threat to the dek’s structure, but cracks can worsen with time. Stay on top of your deck (literally) by replacing damaged areas when you find them.
5. Test out the railing. Please give it a firm shake to ensure posts are not loose or damaged. Loose connections can be repaired by drilling pilot holes and adding some lag screws.
Check for cracks that have developed around any faster or screw. To repair, remove the screw or fastener and seal the crack with an exterior-grade adhesive. Once the glue dries, drill a pilot hole to add a new galvanized deck screw.
Autumn Deck Care: Managing Maintenance
Fall is the best time of year to enjoy the extra outdoor space that your deck provides. Luckily if you did not make the time in the spring to wash and seal your deck, fall is also an excellent time to do it. The main point is to clean and seal your deck while the temperature is mild.
Late fall is the best time to sit back and enjoy the work that you have accomplished earlier on. This is the time to do some small preventive measures to keep your deck in tip-top shape.
Ways to keep your deck in the best condition:
- Trim back any trees or bushes. It’s best to keep them at least 12 inches from the deck to slow any mold, moss, or rot from happening.
- Keep the area clean by sweeping. Don’t let any leaves or other debris pile up in the corners.
- Shift around any planters, chairs, tables, or other outside decors to avoid discoloring the decks building material.
- Ensure that all nearby gutters and downspouts are in good condition and working order. They are essential to keep any water from flooding around the deck.
Contact Dupont Deck’s highly trained professionals today for free estimates on repairs.