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Your deck works hard all summer to provide a place for your family to relax and enjoy the balmy temperatures, but once fall rolls around, it's time to show it some love. Try these tips for routine cleaning and proper care to help keep your deck looking like new.
What's in it for you?
- Safer deck
- Longer lasting deck
- More attractive exterior
How to Prep Your Deck for Winter:
- Start with basic weekly cleaning. If you're not already in the habit of sweeping your deck of debris once a week, start! This is especially important in the fall to keep leaves from decaying on the woodwork and causing a mildew problem.
- Wash your deck. If you have food stains, mildew or other problems with dirty on your deck, clean it up using a commercial deck cleaner or a homemade solution of 2 gallons of water, 2 cups of oxygen bleach cleaner and 1/4 cup of liquid dish detergent. Mop the solution over the deck and allow to sit for 15 minutes before rinsing with a hose.
- Trim landscape plants. If you have shrubs or other garden plants near your deck, prune them so they aren't touching the wood. Fall is the best time to prune most bushes, and this will keep your deck from developing mold or other problem due to plant contact.
- Inspect your deck. Look for signs of rot where wood posts meet the footing by poking at them with a screwdriver. If the screwdriver penetrates the wood easily and you feel soft, spongy or weak material, you may need to repair your deck. Check ledgers the same way, and give your deck a good once-over to look for popped nails, warped boards, loose railings and hazardous splinters. Make repairs as needed, or call a pro to help you out.
- Seal your deck. Wood decks need extra protection from both UV rays and water damage, and clear seal coats usually only last for a year. If you have a good two-day stretch of weather that will allow you to reseal your deck while it's warm and sunny, go for it! You'll need a roller and pan to quickly coat the floorboards and a paintbrush to do railings and smaller surfaces. Check the manufacturer's directions on your sealer for more details.
- Restain your deck every two to three years. If your fall inspection reveals that stain has severely faded or worn away, you'll need to power wash and sand your deck before applying the new stain.