Summer Deck Care Tips from a Pro

By Diana Mackie, Hometalk

Summertime is deck time! Get your wood deck into tip-top shape for all the upcoming summer BBQs and family gatherings with these expert tips from carpenter and deck expert Kevin Stevens of KMS Woodworks.

1. What signs should someone look for to figure out if a board needs to be replaced?

You can check your deck’s boards for what are often called “signs of failure.” These typically fall into two categories:

The first is rotting or splitting. When a deck’s finish begins to fail, the wood is subject to moisture, which leads to rot and splitting. End splits can cause the nails or screws to lose their “grip” and the board can lift up from the floor.

The second is cupping, when a deck board twists or cups. Cupping can often lead to the end of the board lifting up above the deck’s surface, which can pose a tripping hazard.

deck care tips

A Clean Deck Ready For Guests via Our Fifth House

2. What types of protective finishes should be used on deck wood and how many coats should be applied?

My professional preference for wood deck finish is an oil-based, semi-transparent penetrating stain. These allow the wood’s natural grain to show through and often have UV protection as well as mildewcides (to prevent mildew). The frequency of application will vary by type of decking and local climate. To give you an idea, here in Colorado at 8,500-feet elevation I apply about every two years. Just ask this question on Hometalk’s Questions section, and I or other deck experts can give you geo-targeted advice.

3. What’s unique about decking screws and why can’t other screws be used for your deck?

Deck screws will be extensively exposed to the elements so they are specifically designed for corrosion resistance; other screws will need to be replaced frequently and you’ll end up with sizable holes in your boards from replacing them. My first choice for deck screws is stainless steel, particularly the “headcote” line of screws. They have colored heads that can be made to match the deck’s color. These are a little pricey but will last as long as the deck.

Also, make sure you regularly tighten the bolts and screws on your railings, especially if you’ll have children out on your deck.

4. To keep your deck looking fabulous all summer long, heed these everyday maintenance tips from Kevin:

  • Clean up BBQ grease spills immediately; the grease is not good for your deck’s finish.
  • Clean away debris piles (such as leaves or pine needles) every week to prevent mildew and mold.
  • Don’t use a bleach-based cleaner on a wood deck. An oxygen-based cleaner’s pH is much more wood-friendly and will get the job done equally well (Penofin is my deck cleaner of choice).
Keep your deck crack free

No Splinters or Cracks Here via The Deck and Patio Company

Now your deck is surely summertime fun ready. Get out there and enjoy! If you think your deck could use a good staining, check out this handy deck staining guide from Hometalk’s deck experts. Also be sure to browse through all the deck decor and outdoor living ideas to help your deck live up to its full potential.

About Diana Mackie and Hometalk
Diana Mackie is the editor for Hometalk, the largest home and garden social network on the web. Millions of homeowners and professionals use Hometalk to share their knowledge and find credible information and sources of inspiration.

Note: This is a guest post; the views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Redfin.