How to Prepare Your Deck for the Spring
Everything looks better with a bit of spring cleaning — including your deck! Not only is now a great time for homeowners to spruce up, but it’s also the perfect time to assess any damage and needs for deck repair.
Here are a few important ways to prepare your deck for spring.
Looking for Signs of Damage
Through the long winter, as snow piled up on your deck boards, you may not have noticed some tell-tale signs of damage. But now, in the warm sunlight of spring, take time to do a thorough inspection. If you like to DIY, make a check yourself and look for:
- Wood rot. Look for soft spots, discolored wood, splintering, and any loose boards. Especially check the ledger board, where the deck connects to the house, as rot there can be dangerous to the entire structure.
- Mildew. While mildew is not as dangerous as rot, it still should be removed before more damage occurs. Please don’t use bleach, as it can discolor or damage your siding, walkways, and landscaping. Look for a wood deck cleaner recommended by the manufacturer of your deck stain (for wood) or composite decking.
- Loose hardware. Replace any missing fasteners or screws. If you see where nails have popped up, hammer them back into place.
- Insect damage. If you see signs that your wooden deck is being eaten away, you may need to bring in pest control.
If you’re not sure what to look for, or you spot damage and are unsure what to do next, call a professional.
Should I Pressure Wash My New Deck Before Staining?
If you have a new deck, be sure to wait a few weeks before staining or sealing. By waiting a few weeks, the treated wood has time to dry out. If you aren’t sure of the right timing, using the “sprinkle test.” Put a few drops of water on the wood. If the wood absorbs the water within 10 minutes, stain it as soon as possible. If the water beads on the wood surface, give it more time to dry out.
Before staining, it is a good idea to wash off your deck. Since it’s new, you shouldn’t need to do deep cleaning as you would a deck with months of grime. Of course, approach pressure washing with caution as high pressure can cause the wood to splinter. A simple sweeping and wash with soapy water is a better approach.
Do You Have to Sand Down a Deck Before Staining?
Whether your deck is old or new, washing it off before sanding is a good idea. You don’t want to sand the wood and press dirt into the fibers.
Once the deck dries, it’s a good time to sand. For best results, use a four-head random-orbit sander with 80-grit paper. Be sure to wear goggles and gloves and take special precautions when sanding any pressure-treated wood. Don’t sand too fine, which won’t allow the stain to really sink in, or too rough, resulting in new stain sinking in too deeply and getting too dark.
What is the Best Thing to Clean Decking With?
Avoid bleach or chlorine. Instead, use an oxygenated-bleach cleanser for the scrub-down. Test the cleaner on a small area before applying it across the entire deck.
Again, avoid power washing unless you use a low-pressure setting and keep the nozzle at least 6” from the surface. Use a hand scrub brush for any stained areas. When finished, thoroughly rinse off the cleaner with a garden hose
Should You Wash Your Deck After Sanding?
This is a tricky question. In general, the answer depends on the surface of your deck. If you have a rough surface with splintering and cracking, it may be advisable to sand first. However, you often don’t want to sand if your boards have any dirt or debris.
You will need to get the dust off your boards after sanding, but since you should have cleaned the deck before sanding, it’s better not to wash again. Instead, use a shop vac or leaf blower to remove dust.
What’s the Best Way to Stain a Deck?
Once you’ve washed and sanded your deck, you’re ready to stain. Start at the top (usually your railings) and work your way down. Protect your wood with a stain that has a built-in sealer with UV rays protection. If your wood is naturally gorgeous, you may want to use a clear seal or light stain. If the deck has more wear and tear, a darker stain might be better.
Give Your Outdoor Flooring an Upgrade
If you’re tired of staining every one to three years, consider upgrading to a composite deck. With composite boards, you only need to keep the boards clean, without having to ever stain or seal again! Composite decking is environmentally friendly and comes in numerous color choices.
Enhance Your Deck with Stylish Outdoor Furniture
Once your deck boards are spring-ready, it’s time to give your furnishings a refresh. Some of this spring’s most fun trends are retro items that hearken back to the 1960s and accessories in orange, aqua, and mint. Swing chairs remain popular, as well as Adirondack chairs and bistro sets. Outdoor rugs and side tables help to complete the space.
Also, think beyond the deck furniture and add accessories to elevate your outdoor living space. From lighting to structures such as a pergola or deck roof, you can create a year-round deck with shade and beauty.