As an extension of your living space, and an area you are likely to be spending a lot of your family time, your new wooden deck needs to look clean and sanitary, and feel stable for as long as possible.
It also helps if your deck can look new for longer, both for your family and the many friends you will be hosting and entertaining there. In other words, you want to maximize your new deck investment.
On this page, you will learn tips on how to take care of your new wood deck. We will also answer the most pertinent questions new deck owners ask on deck maintenance.
Deck maintenance tips: How to keep your wood deck looking new
If you don’t properly care for it, your wood deck will rot and break down long before it has to. A neglected deck also exposes your family and friends to the risk of injury.
Here are tips on how to maintain your new deck so it looks its best for longer:
1. Sweep your deck regularly to remove dead leaves
It sounds obvious that you should work out a cleaning schedule for your new deck to maintain its looks. But it is important to know that some types of dirt have a more damaging effect on your deck than others.
If you have tall trees around the vicinity of your deck, it is a given that you are going to have a lot of dead leaves falling onto your deck. Normally that shouldn’t be a big problem. But if your climate is wet and humid, dead leaves allowed to collect and sit – especially in the corners – will start to rot.
Rotting leaves will leave unsightly spots on your deck that will be hard to remove.
Even worse, if the rotted leaves are left uncleaned for too long, the wooden boards underneath will start to rot too. When that happens, it is not only the deck’s looks you will be worrying about. The deck may become unstable, putting the safety of everyone who uses it at risk.
When cleaning your deck, use a blower to remove both dead leaves, debris, as well as dust. Make sure to remove all dirt stuck between deck boards and to reach well into the corners.
2. Keep your new deck free of clutter
Cleaning and maintaining your deck becomes a challenge if there is clutter everywhere. If you have chosen to furnish it, make sure everything is kept tidy and orderly.
Make sure to move your couches, daybeds, and other furniture you keep on the deck every time you clean. Decluttering also makes the deck a safer place to lounge and to entertain guests.
3. Stain your new deck to prevent sun bleaching
We generally stain the wood to get the colour of shade we prefer. But for decks, in particular, wood stains have an aesthetic as well as a protective function.
But it’s important to note that staining your deck only protects it from sun damage. Staining offers minimal if any protection where moisture damage is concerned.
However, there are products that combine both staining and sealing qualities. This means you only apply once and your deck will be protected from both sun and moisture damage.
That said, sealants that contain a stain or pigment do not always produce the most pleasing results. The stain isn’t always uniform. So do a test first by applying to a small area to see if the result is what you are looking for.
4. Apply a sealant to protect your new deck from rot
Wood, unfortunately, is susceptible to damage by the elements. The most damaging of these is moisture from rain, which causes rot, mold, and mildew.
Rot destroys wood, ruining both your deck’s looks and structural integrity. So it’s important to waterproof your deck to prevent it from rotting. The best way to do this by applying a sealant.
If you are going to stain your wood deck, it’s best to do that before applying a sealant. But if you prefer your deck in your chosen wood’s natural shade, you can go ahead and apply the sealant. The deck will still be just as protected.
Sealants have a viscous consistency that seals the wood grain and prevents moisture from seeping in. So if you’re asking, yes, you do need to seal your new deck. But you shouldn’t do it immediately after installation.
In fact, there is a good reason to wait it out:
How long should you wait to treat a new deck?
For new decks, it is best to wait for the preservative on your wooden decking to weather out before applying sealant. That normally takes 30 days.
Why should you wait 30 days before treating your new deck? Because preservatives used on the wood prevent sealant from properly penetrating and adhering to the wood.
You should do a moisture test to know when to seal your new deck. Splash some water on the deck and see if it beads up or soaks into the wood. If it beads up, the deck is not ready. And if the water absorbs into the wood, the deck is ready to seal.
For the best results, wait until the deck is well dried and free of dust and dirt before sealing. You will not be able to clear any spots or dirt marks you seal over unless you sand the decking first.
Is it better to stain or paint a deck?
Besides applying a sealant, you can also apply a deck paint, although it does not work as best as a sealant will.
Basically, you want a sealant that will absorb into the wood and treat it from inside and not one that forms a film on the surface. Choose oil-based sealants over water-based ones for the longest-lasting protection.
To answer the question, it is best to stain and seal your new deck than to paint it. Staining shields wood against UV damage, but on its own won’t give adequate protection from moisture damage. Apply a stain of your choice and then, after it has fully dried, apply an oil-based sealant.
Consider hiring a professional deck maintenance service
While any person with good DIY skills can apply stain and sealant on a wood deck, for a regular deck maintenance regime, including periodic inspection, you probably need to hire a professional deck maintenance service.
Jay Fencing offers both deck installation and maintenance services in Southern Ontario. Let us install your new deck and help you keep it looking new for longer. Contact us below for more information.