Homeowners who choose to build decks for their homes should always consider weatherizing as a vital step towards porch decay prevention. Whether using pressure-treated wood or any number of other naturally durable options, taking simple precautions to protect and maintain the wood’s surface will insure a longer life for your deck and save money from costly repair or replacement jobs.
The Dangers to the Wood Deck
A common wood deck is vulnerable to heavily damaging elements such as rain and snow, where water collects and pools, promoting water damage and microbial activity. The sun’s radiation is a powerful enemy, in addition to constant erosion from everyday foot traffic and patio furniture scuffing the surface, resulting in degradation of the wood through cracking, splitting and rot.
Three Easy Steps for Prevention – Step 1: Cleaning
Fortunately, there are a variety of products and methods of sealing and refinishing that are easy to implement in order to prevent the premature deterioration of your wood deck. The first essential step is proper cleaning. There are many reliable brighteners and cleaners on the market that are formulated specifically for cleaning wood surfaces. Power washers are often used for this task, but amateurs may cause more harm than good to wood surfaces with improper use, due to the washer’s high-powered velocity. If you are inexperienced with a power washer, consult a professional who can do the job for you. Careful attention should be paid to debris, dirt and fallen leaves that have not only collected on top of the deck but also in the spaces between the boards because that is where moisture builds, resulting in mold and dry rot, a fungus that feeds off of wet wood, often times attracting destructive termite infestations.
Three Easy Steps for Prevention – Step 2: Sealing
Once thoroughly cleaned, applying a protective sealant or treatment will help combat these nefarious threats to your deck. For new decks, it is very important to apply a wood treatment which will help weatherize your deck for the first year, letting the wood open up and soak in the treatment, while protecting from the harsh exposures of rain, wind and sun. When applying protective sealants after the first year, it is important to begin anew with a fresh surface. Strip away any paints and old treatments, while also sanding away any dead spots, rough patches, splinters, and abrasions. The goal is to expose a fresh layer of the wood, which will absorb the new sealant. However, this pre-cleaning process must result in a completely dry surface, so waiting a few days to begin application of the new sealant is recommended, as wet wood will not absorb the treatment effectively. When choosing a sealant it is important to realize not all of them combat the same elements. Clear sealants will protect from wet environments, but they do not resist harmful UV radiation, which could bleach the wood. Pigmented sealants will do the job and can last up to three years, while clear sealants should be reapplied every year.
Three Easy Steps for Prevention – Step 3: Dry Thoroughly
Once the job is complete, you will find your wood deck to have a brand-new finish and it will last longer, but do make sure the wood has dried completely, allowing for complete and proper absorption of the new sealant. Otherwise all of your hard work will be undone since the sealant has not fully sunken into the wood and therefore it is not completely protected.