How To Maintain a Wood Deck: The 5 Best Steps To Follow Every Year

Wood decks are a fantastic, affordable way to obtain that beautiful outdoor space you’ve always dreamed of, but keeping them in good condition takes a little work. If you need to know how to maintain a wood deck, here are five helpful tips to follow each spring and fall to keep your outdoor space in tip-top shape.

Do Wood Decks Need Maintenance?

Wooden decks encounter lots of wear and tear from regular use, foot traffic, and exposure to elements. Sunlight and rain can take their toll, too, causing damage to the wood. To make the most out of your investment, it’s best to maintain your wood deck regularly. 

How To Maintain a Wood Deck: 5 Easy Steps

Discover how to take care of your deck so you can enjoy your outdoor space for years to come. 

1. Regularly Inspect the Deck for Damage

One of the keys to wood deck maintenance is regularly inspecting it for damage and rot and making sure it’s structurally sound. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, make repairs promptly before the problem worsens. Some main things to look out for include:

  • Loose or exposed nails and other deck attachments
  • Soft or splintered spots
  • Split or rotten planks
  • Rusty hardware

In addition, some other ways to regularly care for the deck include:

  • Wiggle and put weight against the rails to ensure their connections are tight 
  • Fill any holes in boards with exterior wood filler
  • Check connections where the wood meets the side of the house and where the stairs contact the ground
  • Sweep the deck and keep it clean of leaves and debris to prevent staining

2. Replace Damaged Deck Boards

If significant damage happens to a deck board, you’ll need to replace it. The steps are:

  • Use a claw hammer to remove the old deck board
  • Have a replacement board cut to fit in the space
  • Use the same type of  wood and stain to maintain a consistent appearance
  • Install the new deck board using a power drill and screw drill bit. 

Note: Keep in mind that the new boards might stand out compared to the old boards, even if you use the same wood and stain. If you have multiple boards to replace, consider replacing them all at one time for a fresh, uniform appearance. 

3. Stain or Seal the Wooden Deck

A protective coat is one of the best ways to maintain your wood deck. Using a stain or sealant will improve the deck’s appearance and protect them from the elements simultaneously. Whether you’re applying a stain for the first time or you’re performing a new application (most types of stains and sealants require a new application every few years), here are the steps to follow:

  • Evaluate if the wood needs to be stained with a water drop test: Pour a few drops of water on a deck board. If the board absorbs the water, it requires sealing for protection. 
  • Apply painter’s tape along the side of the deck where it meets the house and cover or remove plants to avoid them getting stained.
  • Before staining, clean the deck (see Tip 4)
  • Sand the surface to make the wood absorb the coating better (sanding also creates a smoother, more comfortable surface that is less likely to have splinters). Use 60 or 80 grit sandpaper on the boards and 80 or 100 grit on the handrails.  
  • After sanding, vacuum the surface thoroughly, so the dust doesn’t settle on the new finish. 
  • Apply stain or sealant to handrails first, going from the top down to the bottom
  • Stain the decking boards with a roller or flat pad applicator
  • Let the stain soak on the boards according to its instructions, then remove the excess with a rag
  • Porous wood may or may not require a second coat for even coverage
  • Stay off the area for at least 24 hours to allow it to dry completely

4. Deep Clean the Deck Once a Year

Proper deck care involves deep cleaning and exfoliating it once a year. Spring is an ideal time to do this, or when the air is dry and temperatures are around 60 to 70 degrees. To deep clean your wooden deck:

  • Clear any furniture or potted plants out of the way
  • Sweep the deck
  • Use a putty knife to remove any debris on the surface or between deck boards that a broom can’t get
  • Clean the area by spraying a biodegradable outdoor cleaner that removes mildew
  • Scrub the deck with a stiff bristle brush
  • Spray the area with a garden hose with a nozzle and a hard stream setting. Or you can pressure wash your deck if you’d like

5. Use a Power Washer To Clean the Deck (Optional)

Power or pressure washers are the fastest way to clear residue and clean the area. However, it’s essential to be careful and not go overboard. It can quickly eat away at your deck, leaving it looking worse than before you started.

If you’re unsure of your power washing abilities, hiring a power washer professional might be the best way to go. If you’re going to tackle the project yourself:

  • Use the power washer at a low setting with a fan spray nozzle (check the manufacturer’s recommendations for your wood type)
  • Sweep the nozzle along the wood grain at a slight angle, about 8 inches away from the surface
  • Always keep the nozzle moving while the trigger is engaged

We’re Here for You and Your Deck

If your wood deck has seen better days, it might be time for an upgrade. Whether you’re considering building a new wood deck or opting for a modern, composite decking solution like Trex or Azek, Standard Supply & Lumber has the materials and tools you need. Contact us today to learn more!