Wood Deck Care

‘Tis the season of patios, BBQs, and the deck! But after a harsh Canadian winter, we realize how severely our decks have been affected by the snow and cold weather. Re-finishing or maintaining your outdoor space can seem daunting, but with a little education and guidance hopefully, you will feel more confident with it. This blog post is meant to help you figure out what steps are needed to maintain and renew your outside space, and to decide whether to do it yourself or hire a professional.

Existing Deck (Maintenance and Repair)

The first step of maintenance is a thorough inspection. You’ll be checking to see if any (or all) of the wood needs to be replaced. Take a screwdriver and poke around…the damage is not always visual. Some signs to look for that indicate wood needs to be replaced are:

  • Soft or “spongey” spots, which indicate rot or insect damage
  • Erosion surrounding the posts or supporting structure
  • Deep surface cracks or lifting grain that probably won’t be removed with sanding
  • Does it feel solid underfoot? If the deck is moving when you walk on it or sways in the wind, you may have to do something more drastic than replacing a few boards. Remember that structural repairs are a big job.

If the structure and the deck are in good shape (or, once you’ve made any necessary repairs), charge on!

Washing and Brightening

Next up is giving your deck a thorough cleaning. You will need at least a stiff brush and a hose, and a couple of free hours. If you are using a pressure washer, please remember to be very careful to avoid damaging your deck, especially if working on softwoods like cedar or pressure-treated – 500psi max is recommended. Most product lines offer chemical cleaners which can be useful for brightening and restoration, depending on the condition of your deck. Always check and follow the instructions on the product packaging.

The effects of Cutek’s ProClean on an old park bench. (Image courtesy of Cutekstain.com)

Fix Your Finish

If your finish is fading, cracking, or peeling, some more work is needed. For a faded finish, you may be able to simply recoat your deck with the same product you used previously. Many exterior finishes (such as Cutek Extreme and Sansin SDF) are designed to be recoated without sanding. If the finish you used allows for this, it is a matter of applying more finish to the clean deck, and then getting back to enjoying your summer. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for preparation, application and drying.

If the finish is cracking or peeling, or if you’ve used a product that isn’t designed to be easily recoated, it is time to sand or strip the finish. Sanding is a lot of work, especially on large exterior surfaces, but if done properly, it does give you a “clean slate” to work with. There are a number of chemical finish removers and cleaners that can help with the removal and prep process such as Cutek’s Naked or Sansin’s Wood Strip.

Using Cutek’s Naked Stripper on an existing deck

Sanding and prep are the part of the job where a lot of people will look at hiring a professional, since sanding is hard work that is helped greatly by having specialized tools and real-world experience. Before you start sanding, it is a good idea to decide what finish you’ll be using on your freshly sanded deck, and to sand as recommended by the product manufacturer. Remember that the quality of any finish is going to be closely related to the quality of the prep work, so spending extra time at this step will pay off in the long run.

We carry a wide range of exterior finishes from Sansin, Cutek, Penofin, Messmers, and Rubio Monocoat – feel free to get in contact with us for more information.

Keep in mind that every specie is going to take the stains and finishes differently, so its always best to test the product you intend to use on a scrap piece if you have one, or at the very least on the same specie your deck is built from.

When To Hire a Professional

Hiring a professional to do the job for you will ease your mind and spare you of the free time needed to complete the job, but it comes at a price. If you’re comfortable with the work, this is a great opportunity to save some money, and to shape your own outside space. If, however, you are thinking that the scope of work might be out of your comfort zone, it might be best to hire someone to do the work.

As always if you have any questions or wish to see samples of different finishes, please contact us!