Why Deck Maintenance Is Important

Your deck should be regularly cleaned and sealed to prevent rot and mold growth. For cleaning, use a wood cleaner that will not damage or discolor your deck.


Sweep away leaves and debris to prepare for the cleaning process. Rinse thoroughly afterward. Examine the deck surface, railings, and stairs for loose or broken boards or nails. Use a screwdriver to check for soft or easily penetrated areas that may indicate rot. Visit Website to learn more.

If left unchecked, rot can compromise the structural integrity of your deck and cause it to sag or even collapse. To help prevent this, regularly check your deck for cracks and signs of rotting wood. This is best done by walking around the deck and feeling for spongy areas, loose boards and protruding nails or screws. Squeaky or wobbly boards can indicate rot in the joists, which requires replacement.

Foul odors are another indicator of rot and fungal growth. If you notice a musty or moldy odor coming from your deck, it may be time to call in professionals to assess the damage and determine whether repair or replacement is necessary.

Check the ledger board, which connects the deck to your house and is particularly susceptible to rot since it absorbs water and moisture. If the board has rotted, you will need to replace it before the rest of the deck collapses.

The joists, which support the deck structure, are also vulnerable to rot because they sit in contact with ground and often soak up moisture. Look for decayed joists by probing the area with a screwdriver. If the screwdriver sinks in more than a quarter inch, the joist is probably rotted and should be replaced.

Lastly, examine the posts for signs of rot. If the joists are damaged, the posts can fall out of place or cause the deck to sag, making it unsafe for foot traffic. Check the underside of each post for rot and make sure they are properly flashed to protect against moisture.

Checking the ledger board, joists and posts will provide you with an idea of how serious the rot problem is and help you decide if it’s worth trying to save the deck by performing repairs or if you should consider replacing it. It’s essential to use high-quality, rot-resistant lumber when replacing the deck and addressing any underlying issues that could be contributing to the moisture buildup, such as improper drainage or poor ventilation. Installing a drain system or adding vents can significantly improve the life of your deck.


Decks are a favorite spot for socializing with friends, grilling and relaxing on warm summer evenings. However, over time your outdoor living space may become marred with a variety of debris and stains. Stains can result from the weather, food and drinks spills, or from organic growth like mold, moss and mildew. Cleaning your deck will help keep it looking new and prevent damage to the wood.

Begin by sweeping the entire deck surface, paying special attention to the nooks and crannies where leaves or dirt may collect. Once the deck is free of large debris, prepare for a deeper cleaning with a pressure washer. If using a pressure washer, always select the lowest setting possible and leave at least a foot of clearance between the spray nozzle and the surface of your deck. Also, be sure to wear eye protection and rubber gloves.

A power washer is an effective method for removing stubborn stains, but it requires a high degree of skill to avoid damage. It is best to hire a professional who can provide you with the right equipment and know how to operate it properly.

Before using a pressure washer, it is important to clear the deck of containers, furniture and toys and to use a drop cloth to protect surrounding plants from chemicals in the cleaner. This will ensure that any over-spray does not affect desirable foliage.

For a more gentle approach to cleaning, a solution made with soap and water can be used to remove mild stains. Simply add soap to a bucket of water, mop the solution onto the deck surface and brush with a stiff bristled brush in the direction of the grain. For severe stains, try a specially designed deck cleaner.

Vinegar may be used to kill mold and fungus, but it is not recommended for decks. If left to soak into the wood, vinegar can leech the color from your decking and weaken it over time.

To maintain stain warranties, be sure to clean your deck within seven days of a food or drink spill. This will prevent mold and mildew that feeds on the biofilm. Once the deck is clean, apply a new coat of stain.


Sealing decks offers protection against mildew, mold and insects and extends the life of the wood. To ensure the sealant dries properly, it is important to thoroughly clean the surface before applying. Using a cleaning brush and deck cleaner that is specifically designed for wood will help to remove dirt, grime, mildew and other organic material from the boards. It is also important to thoroughly rinse away any cleaning product or water that may still be on the surface of the wood after scrubbing.

Before sealing, check the weather forecast and be sure that you have two full days of dry, clear weather with temperatures between 50-90 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s a good idea to remove any furniture, plants or other furnishings from the deck before beginning to allow you to work more easily and to make sure that the sealant dries evenly.

You should choose between a water or oil-based sealant depending on the type of wood your deck is made from and the amount of foot traffic it receives. The type of sealant you choose will impact the longevity of the coating as well as how quickly it dries and can affect the color of the board. Oil-based sealants typically take longer to dry than water-based formulas, but they provide a stronger, more durable coating and resist UV damage better than water-based products.

Once you have chosen a sealant, read the instructions on the label carefully to determine how long it will take to fully dry. You should also stay off of the deck during this process to avoid disrupting how well the sealant dries and to prevent accidental spills or smudges that could leave your deck looking unsightly.

Once the sealant has dried, you can use your deck as usual. To help protect the new coat of stain or sealant, it is recommended that you reseal your deck once a year. If you have questions about the proper way to stain or seal your deck, contact an experienced professional. They will be able to help you get your deck in top condition for outdoor entertaining and relaxing!


Leaving a deck unrepaired can cause safety issues. This is true for rotten planks that are split or splintered as well as loose nails, screws and t-clips. It’s a good idea to do minor repairs as needed throughout the year, especially if the damage has occurred from rain or snow. If you notice that a board is soft or splinters, replace it with a new piece of wood, making sure the replacement matches the color and stain of the other boards.

Stain the deck when the weather is dry, preferably in early fall. This will prevent the sun from discoloring the new stain before it dries. If you have a composite lumber deck, talk to the manufacturer about what type of stain is best for it.

It’s a good idea to bring a screwdriver when inspecting your deck. It’s easy to spot rot by attempting to sink the tip of the screwdriver into the wood. If the screwdriver penetrates easily, there is rot present and it may be time for a major renovation.

While you’re checking for rot, check the ledger board where it meets the side of your house and the stair stringers that contact the ground. Also, look at the joists and posts for signs of rot. Verify that they’re securely fastened to the posts and ledger board. Check all of the hardware, as well, for signs of rust.

Consider hiring a professional to complete structural repairs on your deck, if the damage is significant or if you can’t determine why the deck has shifted or moved. There are a number of forces that can make a deck unstable, including frost heave, extensive soil erosion and wet conditions that promote mold and fungus. A professional will know what repairs are necessary to stabilize the deck and ensure its long-term stability.

As you complete your annual deck maintenance, prioritize the work that will benefit you the most in terms of safety and cost efficiency. Investing the time in small repairs can keep your deck safe and sound, while saving you from costly replacement later on.