Decks in our coastal climate need frequent attention and care.
A few weeks ago we talked about the importance of deck safety – ensuring that your deck is securely fastened to the house and that the top deck boards, wooden beams and posts are still solid and sound.
A local building official or contractor can help you determine if yours needs repair or replacement. (Go to the NeighborWorks website at nwgh.org to see our May 19 column on deck safety for more information.)
Once you are certain your deck is secure to hold family and friends for upcoming festivities from graduation parties to Father’s Day to the 4th of July celebrations, your focus can change to improving your deck’s appearance.
Whether it is built from pressure-treated wood or some sort of Trex–like manufactured materials, it will likely need some attention annually to look its best and last for a long time.
For those who opened their pocketbooks a little wider when building or replacing their deck and purchased a manufactured wood product such as Trex, now is when you can thank yourself for doing that – and get a pay back in time and money.
Virtually every deck around here could benefit from an annual wash to remove mildew, moss and the dirt that encourages both. (Plus, you’ll likely be removing bird droppings, cobwebs, and maybe even the beginnings of a bee’s nest or two.)
For those with manufactured decks, a good scrub with Dawn soap and a nozzled-hose or pressure washer should do the job. Or, if you can actually see some green moss and mildew, first apply 30 Second Cleaner to the deck’s surface dry, lightly scrub it in and wait 30 seconds to a minute and rinse off.
The good news for you is that likely once the deck is dry, you are done for the season!
PAINTING WOODEN DECKS
Just as houses around here need to be painted every 5 to 9 years because of our salt-water environment, decks often need to be painted or stained quite frequently – typically more often than your house.
Many people make it an annual or biannual chore to paint their decks. Think about it. Just imagine what the walls of your house would look like if the sun hit them directly and people walked on them!
Before committing yourself to painting, you will want to wash the deck first. Do not use a power washer unless you are very, very skilled with it. A power washer can drive water so deep into the deck that it can actually cause damage, or at the least take a very long time to dry out.
Just like washing a deck with manufactured material, a better method of prep for a stained or painted deck would be to scrape off any loose material first, then wash the whole deck with something like 30 Second Cleaner and then flood-rinse it off. The dry time is much less and minimalizes wood damage scars that will be seen forever.
Who knows, after a good wash, you may determine the deck doesn’t need a new paint job at all.
Or, you may be like many people, who know that freshening up the deck with a coat of paint is just part of their annual list of summer chores.
In that case, buy stain or paint especially designed for the tough demands of a deck.
PAINT IN THE SHADE
Painting over moisture or painting a hot surface can lead to premature failure.
When applying the paint or stain, make sure to do so after the cleaned deck has a good chance to dry, when the morning dew is off the deck but before the surface temperature exceeds or is expected to exceed the max temperature allowed by the paint/stain manufacturer. This is important!
Painting in direct sun is usually a mistake and the paint product will nearly dry immediately after application. This can cause a stain not to penetrate into the wood as intended and a paint not to hold properly attach to the surface – both will be far less durable to foot traffic. You may have to create shade over the deck area by hanging tarps over the deck if you can’t wait for the sun to move off the deck and also cool down. A warm, dry, grey day is perfect. Hey we get those!
When the job is complete, try to refrain from putting back your planters and deck furniture – as well as walking on it until it is cured for a day or two or as per the manufacturer’s directions.
Once fully dry, replace the furniture and fire up the grill – It’s time to enjoy the beautiful outdoors on your freshly painted deck.
Dave Murnen and Pat Beaty are construction specialists at NeighborWorks of Grays Harbor County, where Murnen is executive director. This is a nonprofit organization committed to creating safe and affordable housing for all residents of Grays Harbor County. For questions about home repair, renting, remodeling or buying, call 360-533-7828 or visit 710 E. Market St. in Aberdeen. Our office is fully ADA-compliant.
Do you have questions about home repair, renting, remodeling or becoming a homeowner or one of our contractors? We have rehab loan funds at tailored rates! Call us at 533-7828, write us or visit us at 710 E. Market St. in Aberdeen. Our office is ADA compliant, complete with a designated disabled parking spot, ramp and ADA compliant restroom.