As the temperature starts to drop during fall, you’re probably spending less time on your deck and more time indoors. But don’t forget about your outdoor entertainment zone so quickly. Fall is the perfect time to perform maintenance duties before the chill of winter settles in. Follow our essential fall maintenance tips for your deck, and you can enjoy more good times on your pristine-looking, functional deck next summer.
Clean Your Deck Thoroughly
In the warmer months, you’re probably too busy hanging out on your deck to notice the impact of your heavy use. However, dropped food and beverages, grease from your grill, and ordinary dust and debris can build up. These substances can trap moisture on your deck’s surface, eating away at the finish. Planters and outdoor furniture can also leave stains on your deck. Cleaning these stains in early fall ensures they don’t age your deck prematurely.
A broom or leaf blower can remove loose dirt and leaves sitting on the surface and between the boards. Early fall weather is still warm enough to wash your deck to remove any stains comfortably. A pressure washer can quickly wash away any stubborn dirt, but be careful. Keep the washer moving and hold the nozzle back from the boards to prevent splitting. You can always use an ordinary hose if you prefer. Scrub the boards with mild soap or commercial deck cleaner to remove stains. Then wash the cleaning agent away.
Keep up your cleaning efforts throughout the fall. Fallen leaves and decomposing jack-o’-lanterns can leave deep stains on your deck. Quick action helps you avoid the moldy stains they can leave behind. Fallen branches can also damage your deck. Removing these branches whenever you see them can reduce the risk of them doing any harm.
Clear Your Gutters
Leaves and other debris can clog your gutters and cause rainwater to spill onto unwanted areas below, including your deck. Clogged gutters are a real problem when so many trees drop their leaves during the fall. Set aside time near the end of the season, before the weather gets too cold, to clear your gutters. Removing accumulated leaves in your gutters helps rainwater travel through the gutter system, ensuring runoff moves away from your deck.
Remove Furniture and Planters
Furniture and planters can enhance your deck but also discolor it. Removing these items in the fall can improve the deck’s longevity. Moving your planters indoors can also help them survive when the chill of winter hits. Remember to clean away any dirt or vegetation that your planters leave behind. You can move your furniture to any secure, covered space, such as an outdoor shed or garage. Keeping your furniture out of the elements can prevent rust when winter comes. Bring soft furnishings such as pillows and chair covers indoors to prevent mold and pest damage.
Seal Your Deck
Sealing your deck adds a protective coating that can minimize damage. This coating protects your boards from cracking and splintering when the temperature changes. Sealing your deck before winter can help prevent mold and mildew from growing and eating away at the wood. If you decide to get your deck restored, many companies will also seal your deck as part of the service. Most decks need resealing every three to four years. If the wood on your deck absorbs water instead of the water beading on the surface, it’s time to reseal.
If you’re not getting your deck restored, you can buy a deck sealant from most home improvement stores. Make sure you choose a sealant appropriate for your deck’s wood. Sanding your deck before applying the sealer can help it penetrate your boards. Apply thin layers of sealant with a paintbrush, roller, or spray gun. You can reseal your whole deck or fix patches of peeling sealant if you’re short on time.
Landscape the Surrounding Area
Surrounding your deck with plants can make it look more inviting, but the warmth and showers of spring and summer rains can make plants grow out of control. When plants grow too close to your deck, they can encourage wood rot and the growth of moss, mold, and fungi. Plants don’t grow much in fall, so this is the perfect season to tame your greenery. Trim nearby trees, shrubs, and bushes, so their branches are at least a foot from your deck.
Check the structure of surrounding trees and lop off any loose or unstable branches. Winter winds and storms can snap them off, so removing them in the fall can save you from hefty repair bills later on.
Inspect Your Deck’s Structural Integrity
A deck with good structural integrity is a safe deck. Fall is the ideal time to inspect your deck and thoroughly address any issues. Check that your steps, railings, and boards are secure, and tighten up anything that moves. Replace rotting boards with fresh new ones. Tighten loose bolts and hammer down loose nails, so they sit flush with the wood. Before they splinter, sand down any rough edges until they’re smooth to the touch. If your deck feels soft or spongy to walk on, you may have a severe problem with rot that’s best left to a professional.
Don’t forget about your deck’s foundation. A problem underneath your deck can undermine its structural integrity. Use a flashlight to check the joists for wood rot, termite damage, mildew, and mold. Then check your deck’s ledger, where your deck attaches to your house, to ensure the attachment is secure. Problems with your deck’s joist and ledger can be complex for homeowners to resolve, so consider calling a professional if you have any concerns.
If you feel your deck needs more than yearly maintenance or you’re short on time this fall, speak to the outdoor wood experts at Teak Master. A friendly team member at Teak Master can go over our deck refinishing services to explain how they can bring back your deck’s former luster. Use our online contact form or give us a call at 888-972-9568.