Late summer is the perfect time to throw a barbecue or get-together on your deck. There’s nothing quite like firing up the grill on a warm late summer day and enjoying some delicious food and good company. As you plan for your next gathering, make sure you do a little deck maintenance to get your deck in the best possible shape. Here are a few deck maintenance tips for summer as we move toward autumn.
Wash Your Deck
Before you make any repairs to the deck, take some time to wash it. Use a pressure washer to blast away dirt build-up and easily clean between the boards. You might need to scrub the deck down with a cleaner if it’s a bit older or hasn’t been cleaned in a while. Let the deck dry out thoroughly overnight before starting any other maintenance.
Fix Loose Nails
Look over your deck for any nails that have become loose from the boards. If you come across any loose nails, pry them out with a cat’s paw or hammer, then replace the nail with a screw that is longer than the original nail.
Replace Split Wood
If you find split wood on your deck, start by marking the damaged board by the edge of the first joist beyond the split. Don’t mark directly over the joist, as you could damage your saw when you start working. Remove any nails or screws, and cut away the damaged wood with a jigsaw. Use deck screws to attach a new support block made with pressure-treated wood. Then put the new board in place and attach it to the joist and support block with deck screws. The replacement board may appear larger than the other boards, but the new board will eventually shrink to fit after a few days as it loses moisture.
Stain and Seal
Sealant can preserve your deck and protect it from damage caused by bugs, moisture and sunlight. Stain the deck before applying the sealant if you would like to change the color. Stains come in either solid or semi-transparent finishes. Semi-transparent finishes are best for the deck in general, but solid finishes look great for highlighting railings and banisters. If you are using any spray equipment for the stain or sealant, be sure to cover up any plants growing near the deck with a cloth tarp as the chemicals in stains and sealants can be harmful to them. Wear protective eyewear and gloves while applying stain and sealant. Brush away any puddles of sealant to avoid shiny spots on the deck.