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DIY Home Improvement: Deck Maintenance

grs - pressure wash decksThe warmer weather months aren’t over yet and chances are that you and your family will be spending more time in the backyard, hanging out on the patio or deck. A well maintained deck is not only important to make good impression on guests, but it can help preserve the value of your home. Failing to invest the time and effort into performing regular cleaning and upkeep on a deck can result in higher costs later on, or perhaps even a safety hazard to you or your family.

Chemical Treatments

You should treat your deck at least once a year to ensure that it stays it optimal condition. The four most common chemicals used to clean decks are:

  • Sodium hypochlorite
  • Sodium percarbonate
  • Oxalic acid
  • Sodium hydroxide

The first two ingredients are best for removing or preventing mildew from penetrating the wood. Mildew develops from humidity and will result in splintering of the wood or breaking a part. The last two act as stain removers and treatment options that can prolong the life of the wood and bring back shine to an old deck.

You might also consider creating your own cleaning solution to save money and a trip to the store. The same benefits can be achieved by mixing together 1 quart of household bleach, 3 quarts of warm water, and about 1/3 of a cup of laundry detergent. This will act as a cleaner and mildew repellant.

Manually Scrubbing

After treating the deck with the solution, take a scrub brush or a broom with thick bristles and make your way across the deck scrubbing away all the dirt and grime that has accumulated. Don’t leave the oxalic acid or sodium hydroxide on the deck too loo long if you have chosen to treat your deck with this solution; the acid will start to eat away at the wood and damage the deck if it isn’t washed away.

Pressure Washers

If you experience hard to reach places or can’t seem to get rid of a persistent stain, go out and acquire yourself a pressure washer. Even low cost washers can run you upwards of $200 or more, and if you’re going to buy you want to invest in a quality pressure washer which can get costly. Or you can inexpensively get a pressure washer rental for a day or weekend to save yourself some money.

Gas powered pressure washers are meant for heavy-duty projects like deck maintenance and can blow out more than 330 PSI to remove even the toughest stains.

Removing Damaged Boards

Rotten boards can happen to even the most well-cared for deck over time. After inspecting the deck, if you’ve found a board or section of the deck that is rotten or unsafe, you should replace it right away. Grab your power tools, or rent some for the project, and take out the rotten boards. Check the joists underneath to make sure that they are free from rot and can safely accommodate the replacement boards.

Drill holes into the new board and cut it down to size to fit on the joist and in line with the rest of the deck. Screw the new board securely in place and match the stain for a professional finish.