How to Protect Your Wooden Deck From the Elements

Your backyard deck plays host to barbecues, dinner parties, sunbathing, family game time, and more, and thus you want to keep it looking its best. Unfortunately, outdoor wooden structures are susceptible to weather damage over time; rain and sun exposure alike can contribute to a wooden deck's aesthetic and structural deterioration. To help prevent this damage, you can apply a variety of weatherization products and sealants yourself, depending on the scope of the project and your level of home improvement skill, or you can contact a deck restoration professional to tackle the job.
Water Damage
Excessive moisture can cause wood to warp, rot, or grow mold. During and after a rainstorm, water can seep into the boards of your deck through cracks or splits in the wood, as well as through nail or screw holes. The longer the boards remain damp, the greater the chance of permanent damage. While certain types of wood resist rot more than others, most decks need to be resealed every one to two years.
So how do you know if your deck is becoming water-damaged? If the wood looks like it's absorbing water after a rainstorm, rather than the water beading on top of the wood, it's time to give your deck some TLC. Start the deck repair process by replacing any weakened, warped, or rotten boards. Sweep the deck and wash off any dirt using a deck wash or high-powered hose. Let the wood dry completely. Then, apply the waterproofing sealant of your choice, based on your particular deck's construction and materials. For best results, apply weatherization products when the sun is out and the temperature is between 50 and 90 degrees.
Sun Damage
Direct sunlight and extreme heat can fade wood, leaving your once-vibrant deck a dull gray. Heat can also dry out wooden boards, and dry boards are actually more susceptible to water retention. Bring back your wood's former color by applying a deck-brightening solution, available at most hardware stores. Or, take the opportunity to transform your deck by staining the wood. You can apply stain yourself, or hire a deck staining company for a professional, uniform finish.
After the stain has dried completely, apply a weatherization product that blocks UV rays. This will protect the wood and the color from further sun damage. As with waterproofing sealants, apply sun-protecting products to clean boards on a sunny, mild day.
Temperature Changes
Sudden temperature changes can stress wood. A major drop in temperature will cause wood to contract, while a sudden increase in heat will cause wood to expand. If the temperature jumps back and forth repeatedly, you might see an increase in popped-up nails as the boards shift around. Hammer these nails back into place or replace them with longer nails or wood screws to allow for some movement. Replace boards that have cracked to prevent people from tripping or getting splinters.
When doing any deck restoration or repairs, always check the structural supports as well as the top boards. Severely weakened wood can collapse, leading to personal injury as well as property damage. Even if your deck doesn't look like it's deteriorating on the surface, it is always a good idea to assess it once a year. Whether you make repairs yourself or call in a professional, a well-maintained outdoor deck will add value to your home and bring joy to your family for years to come.

1 comment:

  1. It looks like you can design and build some really unique decks. I've been thinking about building one on our house, and you definitely gave me some great ideas. Thanks!

    Decking Geelong