The ABC's & D's of Deck Care

STEP A: ASSESS THE DECK

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What's going on with your deck?

Is it gray with dirt and may be mildew? Is there an old coating that is worn or peeling? Even if the wood looks pretty good, try the splash test. Just splash some water on a few boards and watch to see if it's rapidly absorbed. If it does, that means the wood is NOT protected from water damage and it's time to clean and seal your deck.
There are different formulas of deck cleaners based on the condition of your deck. One more thing to keep in mind when choosing a deck cleaner - is your deck made out of redwood or cedar? You'll want to pick a cleaner that won't dull the natural color of these woods. 

Time to Measure

Next, get some measurements. Measure the length and width of your deck and multiply them together to get the square footage. That tells you how many gallons of deck stain to buy. Be sure you have extra stain for railings or built-ins, like benches. Depending on the size of your deck, you might also think about recruiting a friend or family member to help so the project goes that much faster.

Assess the Deck Boards

While measuring, look at your deck boards to see if any are rotting or badly cracked and need replacing. When you clean the rest of the deck, the older wood will become much lighter. Then if you use a deck stain, you can get a fairly uniform color for the old and new boards.

Speaking of Stain

Take a few minutes to look around your outdoor space. If you have railings, you might think about staining them a different color than the deck boards. Or you might want to create a pattern on your deck using stain. This is a good time to start thinking about the final look.