A deck can be such a wonderful addition to a home. It's a gathering and entertaining space that can be as unique as your house is. Or maybe you'd rather have a tranquil oasis to relax and enjoy the outdoors. Either way, our real estate agents can tell you it's something that is high on buyers' lists of must-have features. Some maintenance will keep your deck looking its best and staying functional for years to come.
- Inspect Your Deck
You'll want to look for weather or insect damage, safety issues, rot, and other structural problems. If there are broken, cracked, or missing parts due to weather damage, you'll need to repair or replace them. Check the fasteners and any metal hardware for rust. Missing or protruding fasteners need to be fixed.
Check for rot on areas where wood meets the ground or areas that have a water source nearby. Poke the wood with a screwdriver. If the screwdriver easily goes more than ¼ inch into the wood, it's rotting. Small areas can be removed and repaired. Larger areas may require replacement of the wood or reinforcement.
Inspect the structural framing under your deck with a flashlight. The support framing and posts should be free from damage. Pay special attention to the ledger, where the deck meets the house. The metal flashing in this area should be intact and not rusting.
- Clean and Seal Your Deck
Once you've inspected and made repairs, it's time to clean and seal your deck. This will help protect it from mold and other damage.
Do it every spring when it's moderate temperature and dry. Sweep or use a leaf blower to remove debris. You may have a wood, composite, or vinyl deck, so use a cleaner that is appropriate for the kind of deck you have. Cover plants and grass around the deck to protect them. Apply cleaner per the manufacturer's instructions. Scrub with a push broom or scrub brush. Rinse and allow to dry thoroughly. Pressure washing isn't necessary. Throughout the year, you'll want to remove leaves and debris that can decay and cause discoloration or mold.
Composite or vinyl decks don't need sealing. For your wood deck, you can choose a clear or slightly tinted sealer that lets you see the wood. Stain will add more color and allow some wood grain to show. Or you can opt for solid stain or specially formulated deck paint that adds opaque color, seals up weather damage, and completely covers the wood grain. Clear or almost clear sealers will need to be applied every year. Other types of deck paint and stain may only need to be applied every two or three years.
Lightly sand the deck. Apply your sealer of choice with a large roller with a long handle. Use a smaller roller or brush for railings. Most sealers need at least a couple of dry days to cure completely.
- When to Replace a Deck?
It's time for replacement if there's significant damage, especially rot or insect damage to structural supports, or multiple problems like warped or loose boards and detaching railings that are a safety issue. The average lifespan of a deck is about 20 years, so if yours is around that age and starting to experience frequent repairs, it may be better to replace it.
With proper maintenance, your deck can provide years of enjoyment for you and your family. Laffey Real Estate can help you find a home with a deck, large back yard, or whatever other features are important to you. Contact us today to get started!