House & Home

Fresh Faced Deck

Posted June 11, 2008 10:06 a.m. EDT
Updated June 11, 2008 10:11 a.m. EDT

Fresh Faced Deck

As July fourth approaches many people are planning to celebrate with family picnics and barbecues. The backyard deck and the barbecue grill are usually right in the middle of the outdoor celebration and while a deck is the prime place for both cookouts and good conversation, chances are the weather has taken its toll on the wood surface since this time last year. Whether your deck is just plain old or has recently been installed, take the time now to get your deck ready for entertaining and protect it well beyond the barbecue season.

Tools and Materials:

You will need the following:

  • pump-up garden sprayer
  • garden hose
  • pressure washer
  • hammer
  • nails
  • pry bar
  • deck cleaning solution
  • sealant/stain
  • paint brush, roller or paint sprayer


Clearing and Minor Repairs

Completely clear the deck of furniture and accessories and sweep away any large debris. Inspect for damage and use an appropriate stain remover to lift any grill or dirt stains. Protruding nail heads should be tapped back in place so that you are not setting yourself or someone else up for an injury. Examine the deck for any rotten wood; this is especially important for decks that sit in the shade. Be sure to check under decking boards and on the underside of stair treads for wood rot which tends to occur in places that are hard to see. Areas of wood with extensive rotting, cracking or warping should be replaced. These will have to be measured and cut to the appropriate length.

Clean The Surface

Once you've got the minor repairs under your belt, you'll need to clean the surface of the deck. Generally a cleaning solution will help get rid of tough dirt and grime and improve your decks ability to soak up a new stain or sealer. Before applying any cleaning solutions read the manufacturer's instructions and recommendations. For some solutions, it may be necessary to first wet the deck and surrounding areas before application. Several deck washes contain bleach and other ingredients that may be harmful to plants so it's a good idea to cover them with a plastic drop cloth. One cleaner we found, Dekswood® from the Flood Company, cleans and restores natural beauty to gray, weathered wood and at the same time it contains no bleach so it's safe for use around plants and shrubs. Fill your pump-up garden sprayer with the deck wash and apply the solution first to the rails and benches. If you do not have a pump-up garden sprayer a mop or even a watering can will do the job. You can also apply the cleaner by hand with a stiff bristled brush, just be sure to wear rubber gloves. Once the cleaner has set for the appropriate amount of time, rinse it off with a pressure washer. A pressure washer will speed up the process and give improved results if used correctly. Too much pressure used to close to the wood will often splinter the wood. Too little pressure and you might as well use your water hose. After cleaning the deck let it dry for at least 48 hours.

Stains and Sealants

When at last your deck looks new again you'll need to protect it from future water and sun damage. Stains and sealants are almost as abundant as smoking grills on the fourth of July. Just remember when choosing a sealant to make sure that it contains a water-repellant, a UV blocker, and maybe even an insecticide to keep wood-eating bugs from harming your deck. Clear sealants will allow the natural color of your deck to shine through while semi-transparent sealants and stains such as Flood Semi-Transparent Deck and Siding Stain allow you to add a hint of color to your deck, while still permitting the natural grain of the wood to show through. Read the product labels carefully for information about how the sealant will perform. Each will give recommendations on how often you'll need to reseal or restain. Stains and sealants can be applied by using a brush, paint roller, or sprayer. Spraying is by far the fastest method. Work the entire length of a deck board until you reach a logical break such as a door frame. Follow the sprayer with a brush and back brush to avoid puddles. Keep a wet edge to decrease the chance of lapping. Usually two coats of stain or sealer are recommended.

Wood Deck Alternatives

Of course, if you're tired of the routine maintenance required of a wood deck consider replacing your deck boards with a composite wood such as TimberTech. Hassle-free composite decking never needs to be sanded, stained or sealed and is guarded against UV weathering, insect damage, rotting and warping. Although initially more expensive than the common wood products, composite decking offers large savings over time due to reduced maintenance costs. Regardless of the direction you decide to take your deck improvements taking care of initial deck maintenance and repairs now will give you more time to relax, sip some iced tea and enjoy your outdoor living area before the fireworks begin.