Deck Care Tips

When the warm weather hits, people head for their decks. There are more than 30 million decks in the United States, and millions more being built every single year.

Certainly, a question that comes up for both new and not-so-new deck owners is how to care for their decks. Here are just a few tips for you on that all-important subject. Be sure to check with your locally owned paint and decorating store for advice for your particular situation.

The most important thing to remember before applying a protective finish to your deck is to do adequate surface preparation. Just as you would not wax your car without thoroughly washing it first, you should not apply any sort of coating on a deck without adequate cleaning.

Make sure your deck surface, whether new or previously stained, is free from oil, grease, dust, dirt and loose wood particles. You can remove some dirt with a hose, but use an appropriate wood cleaner and brightener to be absolutely thorough. If you need to remove mold, mildew or algae, you can use a product specifically suited to that task.

Chlorine bleach is excellent for removal of mold, mildew and algae, but it also can cause premature failure of the coating. Try using a non-chlorine bleach cleaner instead.

Something to watch for on new wood is mill glaze. If this glaze is not broken, any coating you apply will fail prematurely. You can eliminate mill glaze by using mechanical abrasion or buying a product suited to that purpose.

There are a variety of products you can use to coat your deck, from clear wood finishes to translucent to semi-transparent to solid-color stains. The type of product you choose will depend on a number of factors, including the amount of protection you desire and how much you want to see the natural grain of the wood.

When staining your deck, be careful not to apply too much of the product. You don't want to get surface film on the wood when what you're really going for is penetration. Also, be sure to keep a wet edge so you don't get unsightly lap marks. Apply stain in the proper weather conditions. Avoid applying the product in direct sunlight, and be sure there is no chance of rain for the next 24 hours.

Always follow manufacturer's instructions as listed on the label and product literature. When in doubt on any deck care maintenance, call the paint store from which you bought the product or call the manufacturer's toll-free number, usually listed on the can.

(The above advice from Wolman Wood Care Products, United Gilsonite Laboratories, Masterchem, The Flood Co. and Coronado Paint Co.)

Courtesy of the Paint and Decorating Retailers Association -