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Versatile Wood Decks, Plus Maintenance Tips

Versatile Wood Decks, Plus Maintenance Tips
Common sense maintenance will keep decks nice.
Wood decks are a sloping or irregularly shaped lot's best friend. That's because a well designed deck allows for a comfortable transition between the house and the site, as shown below in Plan 498-6

and in Plan 888-17 at the top of this post, all the while creating outdoor rooms for sitting, dining, 

and entertaining, as emphatically illustrated by Plan 552-2, above, where the deck is actually the heart of the house, accessible not only from the great room but also from the bedrooms.

Sometimes decks and porches overlap, as they do in Plan 924-3, above, and as you can see here

in Plan 497-36, which is treated as a "deck-like outdoor living porch" complete with fireplace.

Spring is the time to start thinking about getting your deck back in shape for warmer months ahead so I asked a contractor friend, Brian Garrison, who cleans the decks around his house every year, for his maintenance advice. Here’s his step-by-step guide:

1. Repair. Replace any nails or screws that have popped. Use galvanized square head deck screws: they last longer than nails and don’t pop out as easily. Fix squeaks by adding screws.

2. Clean. A power washer is quick but strips all of the softwood along with the dirt and grime, so use a deck wash or cleaner such as Behrs or a diluted bleach and water mixture of 10% bleach to 90% water. A broom or brush will help lift the dirt and tannins from the deck. Most of the deck wash systems recommend 2-3 rounds of applications. Do this early in the morning – don’t let the cleanser dry before you can rinse it off because it contains bleaching chemicals that will stain the wood.

3. Rinse thoroughly. Allow 2-3 days drying time before applying finish.

4. Apply a durable and long-lasting finish. An oil-based deck stain protects the wood longer than a water sealer, which must be applied at least once every 6 months to work properly. The finish should be water repellent or waterproof, not just water-resistant, provide UV (ultraviolet) protection, and contain a mildewcide if mildew is a problem. Brian used Preserva Wood® Pacific Redwood Penetrating Finish stain. Apply with a paint brush or sprayer — a roller will create a sticky mess. Don’t leave puddles or pools, which dry slowly and can become sticky. Allow a couple of days to dry thoroughly. Cost for finishing a 1,000 sq. ft. deck: about $75.

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