Having an exterior deck can be great for social gatherings, although doing infrequent maintenance can cost you hundreds or even thousand of dollars in repairs if left unchecked. Today I will share with you some tips on how to maintain your deck so you don't end up with a rotting platform that you and your guests are scared to walk on. To begin with if your deck is brand new the first thing you should do is apply an oil-based exterior stain/sealer. If you prefer the natural look of the wood that is fine as well since most companies sell a translucent penetrating stain that won't add any undesirable color to your woodwork. If you are having trouble selecting a product my top recommendation would be Pro-luxe stain/sealer although Pennefin, and Benjamin Moore arbor coat are close seconds. Now I am certain that you have heard of several water-based products that claim to have the same longevity as higher end oil-base stains although from personal experience with these products I can attest that this is not the case. Water-based stains/sealers tend to not penetrate as deeply as oil-base stains (if they penetrate at all). As a result the water-based materials tend to need more frequent maintenance and offer less protection overall to UV rays and water damage. Now once you applied your oil-base coating to your deck please allow at least 72 hours before you walk on the surface. Also please insure that the weather does not call for rain during this time and that the temperature does not fall below freezing within the first 3 days from application. Now after the first coating has been applied you should apply a new coating of oil-base stain/sealer about 2 years from the initial application. Following that the time in between coatings becomes longer and longer. Being 3 years for the 3rd coating, 5 years for the 4th coating, and 7 for 5th respectively. Additionally pressure washing the deck before each application is recommended. While on the subject you should also make sure to pressure wash the deck at least once every year to keep your deck in good shape and looking clean. While on the surface this may seem like quite a bit of work to maintain your deck keeping to this process will keep wood from rotting and ensure the longevity of the deck.
If you deck is older then the process is rather similar although the prep work to begin the process will be more difficult. If there is severe or moderate UV damage (black/grey wood) you will want the pressure wash all of this off the wood before application. In extremely severe cases you may want to add a wood brightener to your power washer (Cabbot sells a good product for this step). Additionally if the deck has been poorly maintained there may be rotted wood that will have to be removed/replaced before going forward. Please note that even if you get the same type of wood for the replacement the stain will take different on the replacement plank. Most likely the new woodwork will take several years before it begins to look similar to the surrounding woodwork. Now the only base left to cover is in regards to sanding. If the previous material on the deck is peeling in any areas this should be thoroughly sanded until smooth before any application and after pressure washing. In regards to grit your best bet will likely be between 120 grit and 180 grit. Any rougher and you risk leaving noticeable scratch marks on the woodwork. Additionally please make sure to sand in the direction of the grain, failing to do so will leave scratch marks that will be highlighted by the stain that are very difficult to remove. Once prepped please follow the list of instructions in the previous paragraph and you shouldn't have to do this much work on your deck again. If you have any other questions regarding deck maintenance please feel free to contact us here at Busby Finishes and we will be happy to assist with your project. Thanks for reading and I wish you the best of luck in keeping your deck in tip-top shape!