Step 1: Determine the type of deck materials you have. Deck maintenance involves knowing your materials – what type of decking do you have?
Wood (Pressure Treated SYP, Cedar)
Hardwood (Ipee, Mahogany, Ironwood)
Man-Made (Trex, Azak, PVC)
Step 2: Decide on a cleaning method that will kill and clean mold, dirt and surface salts from the deck. We use a mixture of 1 gallon of bleach and ¼ cup Dawn into a five gallon pail. (Dawn detergent is a surfactant and allows bleach to “stick” to the deck rather than bead up.)
Pressure Treated: Pressure wash the deck after applying the cleaner.
Cedar: Hand scrub the deck (pressure washers are too powerful).
Hardwood: Use a floor sander to sand the deck boards after the fasteners have been set. If the boards are uneven then it will have to be done by hand. I solicit the help from my friend and Pro, Ed Coyle, he has all of the equipment for sanding floors and decks.
Man-Made: Pressure wash lightly being careful not to use too much pressure, (no sealer required).
Step 3: Research a type and brand of deck stain or sealer. Deck stains should not be used unless the deck is in poor condition. Here’s why: deck stains allow the stain product to sit mostly on the surface and over time will show traffic patterns as they wear. Deck stain should only be used on wood decks and not on hard wood or man-made decks. If the wood deck is in poor condition or if it has numerous colors of old, new or faded product, then a deck stain is a good choice. Try matching the deck stain to the house siding and then making it a shade lighter or darker. One product I like to use is Cabots Solid Stain with Teflon. Or you could try Sherwin Williams DeckScapes. (Don’t make the mistake of staining the deck a redwood color – that’s an old look, leftover from redwood decks and furniture, very 70’s).
Deck sealer is the deck maintenance coating of choice for most wood decks since it soaks into the wood and allows the natural beauty and grain of the wood to show through. Unlike deck stain that can show wear patterns, deck sealer wears due to UV and the elements and it can easily be prepared and re-coated. Use deck sealer on wood decks and sometimes on hard wood decks. We like to use Wollman’s F&P in the Natural color, which is actually tinted light brownish red and looks very nice when done on a pressure treated wood deck.
Deck oil sealers should be used on hardwood decks. These sealers penetrate into the wood fibers and prevent aging of the wood while they repel the water. Oil deck maintenance sealers typically have to be applied every 2 years depending on the sun and weather. We use Penofin sealer due to its ease of use and qaulity.
Step 4: Keep your deck clean and over time you may get more life from the sealer or stain. Be prepared to wash down your deck with the hose and keep sand, dirt and leaves off the deck. These materials can be abrasive and cause premature wear to the finish. Leaves could cause staining from the tannin as well. Try not to drag furniture across your deck since it will scrape the finish, instead install plastic glides on chairs if it makes sense.
Proper deck maintenance starts with understanding the materials you have and making sure the correct long term deck maintenance system is followed so that your deck will look great year round and not become outdated. Not sure what to do? Call or send questions here and Paint Perfect will help you select a deck maintenance system that is tailored to your deck’s condition.