One of your favorite activities is hanging out on the deck. It’s perfect for relaxing, breathing fresh air, and appreciating nature. Plus, your family loves it for similar reasons – and you may even have a family member or a friend or two who likes outdoor dining. Whatever the reason, or if your family enjoys the view, you want to ensure your outdoor oasis is safe and well-maintained.
You can do a few things to make sure your deck is up to par and will last for a long while. We’ll
go over waterproofing, maintenance, and safety.
A Sturdy Build Starts With a Solid Foundation
Yes, the old adage also applies to decks! Whether a deck is wooden or composite, the
foundation is made of wood. Most often, it is pressure-treated pine, which is a weather-
resistant option, rather than using untreated wood. Keeping your deck’s foundation or underside dry is essential to ensure your deck has an extended life. So, how do you do this? There are a few ways.
Waterproofing the Underside of Your Deck
This is easily done with a new build, but you can also waterproof it when performing maintenance on your existing deck. Applying joist tape is a simple and worthwhile way to protect your wood deck frame. Butyl tape, like Trex Protect, is a superior option because of these three reasons:
- Trex Protect butyl tape is easy to use and can be applied at almost any temperature. It smooths right over the joists and beams to create a watertight seal.
- Trex Protect tape will form fit over your fasteners and deck hardware, so you don’t have to worry about moisture affecting and corroding the deck screws.
- Trex Protect tape is one of the least expensive options, with a 25-year warranty giving you peace of mind!
Another note about Trex Protect is that contractors and homeowners can walk on it safely during the application process since it is skid-proof.
Maintaining and Cleaning Your Deck
Let’s look at a few things you can do to ensure your deck stays clean, strong, and safe.
We recommend a good cleaning once a year. First, sweep the surface, removing debris between the deck boards, like pine needles and leaves. Move your furniture, barbecue or grilling equipment, and planters. You can make a homemade solution with a soft-bristled scrub brush, or a pressure washer will work if you use a low setting. After letting your deck thoroughly dry, replace any furnishings – if you have a composite deck. If you have a wood deck, you might explore the option of staining, sealing, or painting it. A waterproof seal, a high-quality stain, or outdoor paint will protect your deck from the harsh weather elements. Day after day, sunlight, continued moisture, and freezing temperatures will eventually do a number on wood. We advise you to consider one of these treatments for a wooden deck.
Inspect Your Deck Regularly
We’ve discussed keeping your deck clean and well-maintained and waterproofing the frame. What are some things to look out for when safeguarding your deck?
- Check for mold, decay, and rot. Keep a careful eye on any discolored wood. Darker spots, green stains, and warping potentially mean the wood needs replacing. Cracked wood needs to be addressed, too. If you can insert one ¼ to ½ inch of a screwdriver into the wood, chances are some mildew and/or rotted wood are present.
- Inspect fasteners for corrosion. Any deck hardware, such as screws, bolts, and joist fasteners, should be rust-free. Flashing tape or joist tape is a valuable tool to protect these.
- Check deck stairs and railings. Don’t forget to pay special attention to your deck’s railings. They need to be at least 3 feet high and with no more than 4 inches of space between the balusters (vertical posts in a railing). For the steps, check the risers and stringers (those are risers on the side of the stairs), and make sure there is no mildewed wood.
- Remember to survey around fire pits, barbecues, and chimineas. Any heat element can add extra risk to the safety of your deck. Use a heat-resistant pad underneath this furniture, and be wary of any wood warping.
- Inspect for insects! Look for small holes, which could be evidence of pests like termites or carpenter ants. Remember to examine the underside of your deck for any beehives. Nobody wants bees in their beams.
Deck Safety Awareness
Although May is Deck Safety Month, you should take it seriously throughout the year. May, however, is a great time to review your winter deck – and prepare it for the summer ahead. NADRA, short for North American Deck and Railing Association, is a good hub of information about deck safety, building codes, announcements, and other resources.
Keeping your deck clean, waterproofed, and in good shape is paramount for a safe and enjoyable experience. Ensure you are cognizant of potential rot, weak areas, loose railings, and other hazards. Don’t forget to be alert for little pests like bugs, too. A bit of prevention will help your deck be robust and last for many years.