#1: There Is No Such Thing as a Maintenance-Free Deck
Because they are under constant attack from the elements, all decks, regardless of the native climate or type of material they’re made of, require some degree of maintenance in order to retain their look and structural integrity over the years. While rain and moisture present a clear threat to a deck’s longevity, it’s the relentless UV rays of the sun that exact a particularly harsh toll. And while a deck in an arid, sunbaked backyard won’t last as long as one beneath the canopy of lush foliage. With proper attention, even the shortest-lived deck should last for at least 15 years (and possibly up to the lifetime of the home).
Homeowners are faced with a number of choices when it comes to choosing the type of building material for their deck. As the longtime industry standard, pressure-treated wood remains the most popular choice by far, and there’s good reason for this: it’s a reliable, cost-effective, and attractive option.
#2: Cleaning Before Sealing Is Absolutely Necessary
An incredibly useful tip for any homeowner reaching out to a deck contractor is to ask them what they’re going to do first, what steps they’re going to take and if they say anything about sealing it before cleaning it, they’re not who you want.
There was a homeowner whose beautiful deck lasted all of a year before mold took a hold and left it in a state beyond repair. Because the homeowner was given the impression by a negligent contractor that a new deck didn’t require cleaning prior to sealing, the microscopic mold spores that naturally inhabit the wood were trapped beneath the seal, left to multiply exponentially and wreak irrevocable havoc on the lumber. Needless to say, the homeowner was devastated to learn how easily this could have been prevented.
The real focus of the cleaning isn’t so much the removal of visible dirt and grime as it is the elimination of invisible microbes and mold spores. Homeowners should have the cleaning performed at a time when very little sunlight is hitting the wood so that the wood can remain as damp as possible. A simple blend of one part bleach to three parts water constitutes a cheap and effective cleaning solution.
#3: Sealing/Staining Is the Key to Your Deck’s Longevity
After the deck has been thoroughly cleaned and allowed to dry (which could take anywhere from 48 hours to a week, depending on the climate), it’s time to choose a sealant or stain. Ranging from transparent finishes to opaque stains, there are hundreds of different options from which to choose, and it can be downright overwhelming. While nearly all will afford protection from rain and moisture when properly applied, you should use oil-based solutions, as they actually seep into the pores of the wood and create a greater defense from the sun’s UV rays.
How often does the deck need to be resealed? There’s no simple answer to this, as factors such as climate, location (especially with regard to how much sunlight is received), and construction materials come into play. It’s a good idea to consult with a professional deck contractor, such as Steadfast Construction, since we are familiar with the area and therefore, be able to provide advice.