Decks are a wonderful amenity to have at a home. They provide dedicated space, functionality, and aesthetic qualities which make them a great choice to have, but they must be maintained. Decks are actually one of the highest wishlist items on the lists of homebuyers’ precisely because they are so enjoyable. These spaces offer a place for outdoor living and entertaining, from casual family dinners, to cook outs with friends and neighbors.
Over time, the majority of wood decks begin to show their age. Planks begin to warp, paint peels, and uneven areas are not uncommon, not to mention stairs that start to bow from years worth of use. The weather elements definitely take their toll, even here in sunny Sarasota. The salty air is yet another damaging component, along with inclement weather. While this environment is ideal for year-round outdoor recreation opportunities, it does take its toll.
Spring will be here before you know it, just about eight weeks away. That gives you ample time to address any problems to revive your deck so that you can take full advantage of all it has to offer in just a few weeks. Because the weather is so mild, you’ll have the benefit of working in very pleasant conditions in brisk, invigorating weather.
Assessing the Condition of Your Deck
The very first thing you ought to do is take the time to really inspect your deck. Unfortunately, that means having to almost completely clear it off, but, you ought to be thorough to ensure that you’re not missing anything. To do this, after you’ve cleared your deck of furniture, potted plants, and everything else, sweep it clean, brushing away fallen leaves and dirt. After sweeping, use the broom or another item to clear out the spaces between the floor planks to promote water runoff. Then, clean it with soap and water to reveal any problems lurking under the debris.
Before you clean, make repairs. Replace splintered and rotted parts, and sand down any rough spots. Be sure to use stainless-steel or weatherproof fasteners, not drywall screws or plain steel fasteners, which rust. If you haven’t checked your deck for structural soundness, now is a good time. —Popular Mechanics
Start with the obvious, make a list of problem areas, and also look for more subtle things, such as rust, mold, mildew, and the ground underneath. You might discover pests have built a home right under your feet and have burrowed a way in and out of your home. If you do discover mold has set-in, then use a bleach mix to get rid of it. Thereafter, you can truly find those problem areas, and might find that it’s time for a pressure washing, a new coat of stain, a new coat of sealant, or a combination. Typically, wood decks require re-staining or re-sealing every two to four years to keep them in good condition. This is a good time to change the color of stain, if you so wish.
Steps for Preparing Your Deck for Spring
Once the deck is clean, you can begin to make necessary repairs. This is the time to consider composite choices, ones that are specifically designed to withstand the outside elements and don’t need to be replaced periodically. This is also the ideal time to give your outdoor furnishings a once-over, clean them down, and allow you to assess their condition.
While replacing planks and stairs might be in order, there are more things you can do for preparing your deck for spring:
- Check underneath. No matter if your deck is elevated a few feet in the air or sits on risers that just separate it a few inches from the ground, you should be aware of any potential problems. While pest infestation is one, a sinking deck presents a real safety hazard if it isn’t fixed.
- Carefully go over each nail, screw, or bolt. Should you find any nail or screw head popping-up, do your feet and the feet of your family and friends and countersink it. You don’t want to step on one of these, especially if when in sandals or worse yet, barefoot.
- Consider making changes. This is the time to add-on to your deck or make other modifications. If you do want to expand it, do so in a way that compliments your landscaping theme and doesn’t take up precious space. You might also change the coloring, add built-in bench seating, or other amenities to enjoy. These could be a built-in storage bins for pool toys.
Protect your deck’s surface from things you put directly on it, like potted plants. Place plastic directly underneath potted plants to prevent water, plant food, and other things from dripping onto the wood surface. You can also take this occasion to either replace your furniture or change-out the chair cushions.