Olympia and Thurston County Home Talk : Spring Deck Maintenance Tips

Submitted by: Dwayne Boggs (Dwayne is a home inspector serving the Thurston County area home inspection market)

I think summer has arrived in Thurston County finally but don’t hold me too that.

Each summer and fall before the rains start up again, it pays to do a major cleaning of your house decks. Start by hosing debris off the deck and while the deck is still wet, scrub the entire surface with cleaner and a stiff scrub brush or broom.

You may choose to use a homemade cleaning solution (just remember that bleach will lighten the wood’s natural hue) or a deck wash that chemically cleans the wood. Protect plants located near the deck by wetting them and covering them with clear plastic. Once you’re finished cleaning, be sure to thoroughly rinse the deck.
If your deck is particularly dirty and you decide a pressure washer is necessary use as light as pressure as possible, take care not to strip away the soft grain of the wood. Avoid rotating tips, which spin at the nozzle and may tear up wood. Once you’ve cleaned your deck, inspect it closely. Where necessary, sand splinters and repair damage.

Sun, rain, and foot traffic wreak havoc on a deck regardless of how often you clean it. For an extra level of protection, it may be time to refinish your deck. To determine whether you need to redo your sealer or stain, a simple test is to sprinkle water on the wood. If the water beads up, your deck may not require sealing yet. If the water soaks in, it’s time to get to work.

Before you begin, make certain you select the right finish. Sherwin Williams has a great line of product called DeckScapes. I have used this and found it to be a very good product and I recommend it to my buyers when asked about deck products.

To avoid sun damage, look for a penetrating deck finish that includes UV inhibitors.
It’s best to apply sealers and stains on a cool day. This leaves time for the finish to soak into the decking before the sun gets too harsh.
Some people prefer to paint their decks rather than sealing or staining. My advice? Think twice before using paint. Many deck paints are specially formulated to withstand weather, but like any type of paint they’ll crack and peel, particularly with the stress of high traffic and harsh elements. Plus the maintenance required of a painted deck is much more than that required of one that is stained or sealed—you’ll have to scrape and repaint often.

Besides, why would you want to cover up beautiful, natural wood when you can enhance them with clear sealers or stains? If you want color, opt for painting railings, overheads, and other elements that aren’t subjected to so much wear and tear.

Have a great summer it is finally here we hope.

About the Author

Dwayne is a former past President of the  Washington Association of Property Inspectors, Dwayne is also a committee member for the Washington State Pest Management Association (WSPMA), Dwayne has been serving the Thurston County home inspection markets of Olympia home inspection , Lacey home inspection and Tumwater home inspection for many years. Boggs Inspection Services can be reached at 360-480-9602.

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