It is that time of year again. The occasional warm day reminds us of the full-on spring and summer ahead. Family grillers can be seen on their decks on the occassional sunny afternoon cooking their first-of-the-season barbecue feasts.
HOLD ON. NOT SO FAST!
Every year, NADRA (the North American Deck and Railing Association) designates May as deck safety month. Why? Because decks, especially in regions with four seasons, get dirty, wear, deteriorate, and may become a safety hazard. But, with the proper maintenance, you can make your deck safe, maintain its beauty, and extend its life for your family to enjoy for years to come.
Before we get to our 10-Point Spring Maintenance Checklist, a caveat. NADRA has a comprehensive six-page checklist for deck professionals to use when inspecting decks. Our 10-Point Spring Maintenance Checklist doesn’t replace NADRA’s checklist. In most cases, it will reveal problems and allow you to fix them. However, if you see issues not on the list, or are out of your element doing the inspection or repair work, the best way to ensure your deck is properly maintained and safe is to have it inspected, repaired, and treated by a deck-building professional.
10-Point Spring Maintenance Checklist
- Wash your deck and relating structures thoroughly. This should remove any mold. You can spray wash your deck. But, to prevent damaging your deck, use less than 800 psi with a fan spray pattern (> twelve inches), keeping the nozzle at least fourteen inches away from the deck surface. Consider using a product like Cutek’s QuickClean. It is a professional-grade biodegradable deck cleaner and restorer that removes grease and grime. A clean deck will make it easier to visually inspect to identify any problems.
- Inspect your deck boards for evidence of cupping or warping. Both of these can create a hazard that could cause someone to trip and fall. Cupping is when the board curls up or down across its width. Warping is when the board bows down its length. Both of these issues can be prevented during initial construction—a good reason to choose your deck-building professional carefully. First, the number and placing of screws used makes a difference. Second, pre-treating the wood with a weather-proofing product like Cutek Extreme Wood Protection Oil is critical. After the fact, you will probably be faced with removing and reaffixing or replacing the damaged boards. Cleaning, stripping, and water-proofing your deck at this point would be a good idea.
- Inspect your deck boards for splitting. Using pilot holes during the deck construction can prevent the deck-board ends from splitting. After the fact, though, split boards will probably need to be replaced if they are causing the boards to be loose or are creating a hazard.
- Check all wood for mold or decay. Boards can get moldy and soft, especially in areas where the deck stays damp. E.g., areas permanently in the shade because of a structure or foliage. Gently press a small screwdriver into the wood to see if it penetrates. If it does, the board will need to be replaced.
- Check stairs including the stair treads (step surfaces), posts, handrails, and balusters. Anything loose should be repaired.
- Check if any of the structure is loose. Any protruding screws or nails should be fixed as should any wobbly railings.
- Check the under-structure and posts of your deck. Is there any indication of rot? Are any of the joints loose? This should be fixed immediately.
- Check for pests. Pests—termites, powderpost beetles, carpenter ants, carpenter bees, rats, mice, raccoons, skunks, etc.—can all damage your deck. Ensure no critters have nested, e.g., in the barbecue, flametable, or in cabanas or outbuildings. You may have to call a professional pest control company. Depending on the damage, your deck may need to be rebuilt, at least in part.
- Check all outdoor electrical outlets, accessories and appliances. Make sure the wires weren’t eaten during the winter. If need be, call an electrician to make sure that everything is safe and up to code.
- Re-treat and re-beautify your deck. Re-treat your wood with Cutek Extreme Wood Protection Oil. You can make your deck look almost new again by colourizing Cutek Extreme with Colourtone. But, if other products have been used in the past, you will have to strip the wood first with a product like Cutek Wood Stripper before treating with Cutek Extreme. Check out our Cutek FACTSHEET sheet for more information.
It seems like a big job and a lot of work, but it really isn’t. A properly maintained deck will likely mean a cleaning and a quick run through the checklist and you’re done. It is only when you leave it for years and problems build that the job can become both big and expensive.
If you have any questions about maintaining your deck, please contact us. Until then, we’ll keep Building it Right.™
E. & O. E.
Products you may be interested in.
Cutek Extreme Wood Protection Oil: CUTEK® Extreme is a high-performance, oil-based wood stabilizer that deeply penetrates into wood. It highlights the wood’s natural grain and beauty while provide long-lasting protection.
Cutek ProClean Stain Remover: a professional-grade wood restoration product that will brighten, clean, and restore your wood to look like new and make it ready for applying Cutek Extreme Wood Protection Oil
Perdura Deck Boss Brush: the ideal tool for coating or staining large areas fast. Suitable for water and oil based paints, stains, sealers, epoxy and varnish for wood and concrete. And, its easy wash design extends the life of the brush.