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Large deck attached to back of house

Maintenance Checklist for Decks

High-quality decks can last for decades if they are properly taken care of with yearly maintenance. Thorough maintenance should be completed at least once a year, ideally in the springtime before heavy use during the summer months. You’ll want the deck in good condition for your summer get-togethers! Here’s a list of tasks to complete during your yearly deck maintenance.

powerwashing a deck

Sweep and Wash the Deck

The first thing you’ll need to do with deck maintenance is clean it. Temporarily move all of your deck furniture to your garage or yard for temporary storage and start by sweeping all debris, like fallen leaves, off of your deck. Next you’ll want to wash your deck to clean and prevent mildew and other stains. Using a pressure washer will make this task easy but be careful with how strong you pressurize your machine. Pressure washing at high pressures will damage your deck more than help it. Keeping it around 500-600 psi is safe. If you don’t own a pressure washer, hand mopping and scrubbing is a good alternative.

Inspect Wood for Rot & Replace As-Needed

Once the deck is clean, you’re better able to inspect the wood for any rot or other damage. Don’t just look at the decking surface; go underneath the deck to inspect the joists, beams, and posts. It’s also very important to inspect the ledger board for any water damage to your house foundation. Any rotten wood you find will need to be replaced. If you don’t encounter any rotten wood, you’ll want to stay underneath the deck and move on to the next step.

Secure all Fasteners

After inspecting all of your wooden deck components, it’s time to inspect the hardware. All of your fasteners, screws, and nails should be tight and secure to their anchor points. Tighten any loose hardware you encounter and replace it if it’s unable to be tightened or is rusting. Once you’re done underneath the deck, head back to the top to finish your inspection. If screws or nails are protruding from the floor, hammer or tighten them until they’re flush with the surface. Sometimes, you may need a new nail or screw. Finally, push against all hand railings to ensure they are tightly fastened to the deck 

staining & sealing decking

Sand & Reseal Your Deck

Finally, with any new wood installed and everything tightened, it’s time to sand and reseal your deck. Do not do this step the same day that you wash the deck or after rainfall. You should allow 48 hours for the wood to fully dry. Sanding your deck with 80-grit sandpaper keeps it smooth and free from splinters or fuzzy patches. You can use an electric sander but it’s not necessary. Be sure to sweep or vacuum all sawdust before sealing.

Deck sealant protects your wood from cracking, cupping, and warping. Wood finishes made for other purposes, like varnish or lacquer, are no good here. Use protective sealant designed for decks. Similarly, paint is not recommended; it has a tendency to peel and crack. You can use a stain and sealant mix to recolor your deck instead.

Differences for Composite Decks

Composite decks are more durable and require less maintenance compared to wooden decks. This doesn’t mean you can skip out entirely on yearly maintenance. You’ll still need to sweep and wash your deck, the only difference being you’ll use a composite deck cleaning agent. You’ll still need to inspect any wooden elements for rot and check all of your fastenings. The real time saver with composite decks is that there’s no need for sanding and resealing.

snow shovel on a deck

Deck Upkeep Throughout the Year

Although the majority of deck maintenance occurs during the spring, you still need to upkeep your deck throughout the year to minimize your work and expenses in the spring. Regularly sweep your deck clean of debris, especially when leaves fall in autumn.

In the winter, it’s very important to keep your deck safe from snow and ice. Water can seep into your wood, freeze, and expand, causing cracks in your decking. You can lay a tarp across your deck to protect it from the snow. If you don’t have one, be sure to shovel immediately after a snowstorm. You can also use ice melt to prevent the buildup of ice on your deck; however, do not use a salt-based ice melt. Rock salt can scratch and damage your wooden decks. There are plenty of non-salt ice melt alternatives on the market for you to choose from.

Build a New Deck

Have you neglected your deck and it’s in disrepair? Or perhaps you’re just exploring the possibilities of deck ownership. Consider purchasing a new deck from E&E Contracting. Our expert staff are happy to answer any questions you may have about constructing a deck in your backyard. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Published by E&E Contracting

E&E Contracting is operated by Michael and Matt Esh. Michael is a detailed thinker and is the Field Manager for the company. Matt is the General Manager and the natural visionary of the team.