Study Shows Homeowners Still Crazy (About Decks) After All These Years
The number of U.S. homes with decks hit an all-time high in 2007, according to independent research conducted for The Thompson's Company, makers of the Thompson's® Water Seal® brand waterproofers, stains and cleaners. So Americans who are nervous about high gas prices and air travel fiascos heading into the summer of 2008 may find that the perfect summer vacation destination is right in their own backyards.
The percentage of U.S. homes with a deck reached 49% in 20071, compared to 36% in 2002 - an increase of 36%. Reflecting Americans' passion for outdoor spaces, the number of homes with patios also increased to 53% in 2007 (vs. 46% in 2002)2. Thompson's Water Seal research shows that the median size of a deck in 2007 remains the same as it was in 19933 at 200 square feet.
The research also found the median age of a deck is eight years4, so a makeover might be in order before checking into your outdoor oasis. Luckily cleaning and waterproofing a deck doesn't cost a lot of money, according to Jeff Wilson, a regular host for HGTV/DIY Network and spokesman for the Thompson's® Water Seal® line of products. "Most people probably will spend under $100 for a couple of gallons of deck cleaner and a waterproofer, unless you have an exceptionally large or intricate deck. That leaves money to splurge on some of the great new outdoor furniture and accessories for the deck. Two Adirondack chairs with a place to prop up your feet can suddenly make your deck feel like a living room. Add an outdoor rug and a solar-charging lamp, and you've got simple luxury."
Deck owners can also save money by sharing costs with friends or neighbors. "Consider splitting the cost to rent or buy a pressure washer," said Wilson. "It's a great tool for cleaning all kinds of surfaces around the house. Also, the cost-per-gallon is usually lower if you buy a five-gallon pail of waterproofer instead of the one-gallon size, so two households might team up to buy the five-gallon size."
Wilson added, Trading labor with friends is another great way to make the job more fun, and I've gotten into the habit of doing it with my neighbors. We'll help each other out on alternate weekends, and then have dinner at the house where the work is not taking place."
The Thompson's Company offers these additional tips for preparing your own personal "four seasons" getaway:
- A peeling or faded coating, or mildewed wood, is a pretty good indicator that it's time to re-do the deck. But if you're not sure if the deck is waterproofed, try the splash test. Sprinkle water on different areas of the deck. If the wood absorbs the water and turns darker in color within five seconds, then the wood is porous and needs to be treated. If water beads up or otherwise sits on top of the wood, then it does not need protection at this time.
- Don't skimp on cleaning the surface. It's critically important for the finished look, and the waterproofer will perform better if applied to a clean surface. "If you clean the surface thoroughly, then applying the waterproofer should go smoothly," Wilson said.
- If you do use a pressure washer, set it at 1500-2500 PSI, which should work for most woods, but use less pressure (1200-1500) for cedar and redwood.
- Read the label to find out how soon you can apply the new coating. Some coatings like Thompson's® Water Seal® Advanced Wood Protectors can be applied to damp wood, meaning a one-day makeover is a possibility. Other coatings must be applied to a dry surface. There can also be a short waiting period (30 days) before treating new pressure-treated lumber or freshly poured concrete (45 days).
- If you're using a tinted deck coating or a wood stain, test it first in an inconspicuous spot before treating the entire deck. The color of the wood can affect the final appearance of the coating, or you may change your mind once you see the color in your backyard environment.
- Use color and designs. "I think the most creative and frugal way to make a statement with your deck is to use color," said Wilson. "Try using a different color for each area -- cooking, dining, living. Or simply using complementary colors on the deck boards and the fascia (the vertical wood surface below the deck boards) can make your deck pop. Go a step further with a checkerboard design or 'faux' painted-on area rug, and the neighbors will really start talking."
HELP IS AT HAND (LITERALLY)
Before you kick back on the deck, sit down at the computer. Browse our site for the new features including the Do It Yourself section with step-by-step how-to's and short video demonstrations on projects like a one day deck makeover, cleaning and sealing concrete. Visit our gallery of inspirational photos to get you jump-started on turning your deck into the perfect destination for this summer — or any time of the year.
1,3,4 2007 Consumer Awareness, Attitude and Usage Study
2 2006 Exterior Surfaces: Update on Incidence and Materials Made of