Having a deck on your home not only adds more living space for you and your family, but it allows you to enjoy the outdoors during the warm weather months. Be sure your deck lasts for years to come by properly cleaning and maintaining it. By following the steps outlined below, your deck will be ready for you to enjoy all summer long.
Maintaining a deck is a three step process. First you clean, then prepare the surface, and finally apply sealer. The tools you’ll need include basic hand tools, a shop vacuum, and a paint roller or electric sprayer.
Step One: Cleaning the Deck
The first step is to remove any furniture or other deck accessories so that you have an unobstructed work area, then the deck is ready to be cleaned. Thorough cleaning is necessary because dirt, mud and debris can collect and become caked on, which makes it tough for the sealer to adhere.
Start by using a long handle brush or broom to loosen the dirt from the surface of your deck. Be sure to get all the corners and seams along the base of steps, benches and planters. Next, clean these seams using a long handle scraper turned on its edge. If you don’t have a scraper, don’t worry. You can also use a square point screwdriver to clean the seams.
Visually inspect the seams to see if there are any areas that need more attention. If all looks good, use a shop vacuum or broom to completely remove all the loosened dirt and debris from the deck surface and seams. Now your deck is clean and it can be prepared for the sealer.
Step Two: Preparing the Deck for Sealer
If there are any screws or nails that have become loose or lifted now is the time to repair them. Nails that have risen can be reset using a steel mallet and nail set. Screws can be driven so they are flush with the surface of the deck.
Now use a pole sander with medium grit sandpaper to sand the entire surface of your deck. Sanding opens the wood grain so that the sealer can penetrate the material of your deck. You can do as little or as much sanding as you like – the more sanding you do, the newer your deck will look. Once you finish sanding, vacuum the dust and clean all the corners and seams.
Step Three: Sealing the Deck
Sealer should be applied the same day that the sanding is completed. Freshly sanded decks are vulnerable to the elements, and if allowed to penetrate the deck the sealer’s effectiveness will be reduced. Use a water-based sealer, which can be rolled or sprayed on. Be as uniform as possible in your application.
If you are using a roller, pour the sealer into a bucket and apply using a medium nap roller pad. A light bristle paintbrush can be used to apply sealer to the seams. Begin in one corner of the deck and work toward an open edge or exit area.
If you live in a humid environment, you may want to apply two to three coats of sealer. Allow the sealer to dry for at least three hours before walking on the deck.
By following the three steps above, you’ll be sure that your deck is clean and looking like new for years to come.
New Jersey real estate broker Sue Adler says, “A nice deck that has been maintained or recently stained makes a big impact on a buyer looking for an outdoor space for their luxury home in my market.”
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All statistics are gathered from the Buffalo Niagara Association of REALTORS®.
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