Cleaning and caring for your home’s deck

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Tips for eradicating potential problems

Summer is prime time for tiki torch-illuminated cookouts and outdoor gatherings at which your deck takes center stage. It’s also an ideal time to inspect and repair your home’s hardworking deck.

Warm, dry weather presents a perfect opportunity to make sure your deck is in tip-top shape. However, determining which elements of your deck could use sprucing up isn’t always easy. While problems such as loose nails may beg to be fixed, other issues may be more subtle.

Here are a few areas and issues to pay close attention to if you’re endeavoring to fix up your deck, according to the experts at House Logic.

Problems to look for

After sweeping away any leaves, twigs, and dirt, scrutinize your deck for the following signs of damage:

  • Signs of rot. Grab a flat-blade screwdriver and check around stairs and perimeter posts for rot. If you can push the screwdriver a quarter-inch or more, you probably have rot. Small areas of rot can be removed with a chisel, and the hole can be treated with wood preservative. Consider consulting a professional for larger areas of rot.
  • A damaged ledger. A damaged ledger is the cause of 90% of all deck collapses, according to House Logic. To help prevent future issues, make sure the ledger underneath your deck is securely attached with lag screws, not just nails.
  • Rusted or rotted posts, joists, or beams. Check hardware for signs of rot or rust. Remove, replace, or reinforce the hardware as necessary.
  • Cracks or rotten decking boards. Cracks in your decking boards might not be an immediate problem, but they can be a ticking time bomb. If you find damage, it may be in your best interest to replace the piece.
  • Loose or damaged railing. Make sure your posts aren’t loose or damaged by giving it a shake. If it’s loose, drill pilot holes and add galvanized lag screws. Seal cracks around nails or screws with an exterior-grade adhesive, then drill a new pilot hole and add a new galvanized deck screw.

Reviving the wood

To cap off your deck care and maintenance routine, consider cleaning the surface of the wood. You can use one of several products on the market or simply use bleach, cutting half and half with warm water and a scrub brush.

A pressure washer can be used for larger decks. Before dousing your deck with the concentrated spray, be sure to put on long pants, goggles, and sturdy footwear.  

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