An easy summer deck tune-up project

Posted by Woodrow Aames ~ June 19, 2012

Mid-summer is a great time for enjoying your deck, patio and pool. It's also the best time of year for tending to outdoor improvements and routine maintenance. Juggling your time wisely, you won't have to give up a weekend barbecue or party because your deck needs painting. Schedule a free weekend for the work, whether you do it yourself or bring in painting contractors.

One way to handle a large deck project is to break it down into manageable segments. First, if you have moss on your patio deck, you may be able to remove it safely with soap and water, and a heavy hosing. Don't use a pressure washer that can damage your deck, gouge the wood, or peel off paint. Moss is slippery and can cause injuries, but you can probably remove it using elbow grease without resorting to a chemical moss killer.

Prepping the deck surface

Ideally, Benjamin Moore suggests you paint early in the summer before temperatures soar above 90 degrees or before sweltering humidity arrives for the season. Sweep your deck and remove any debris before using any cleaners.

Water-based deck cleaners are sold as concentrates that you mix with warm water in your sprayer. Use trisodium phosphate (TSP) if you want to avoid a commercial deck cleaning product. Soak a section of your deck and work in the cleaner with a stiff-bristled brush. Let it cut built-up grime and grit for ten minutes, then hose it off. Multi-purpose deck cleaning products are made for finished wood that has lost its luster. There are brightening solutions that can restore aged or sun-faded wood while removing dead fibers.

If you have sections of deck with grey, soft/mushy or discolored boards, they may be rotting. If you have to replace boards, you'll need to install foot-long, 2x4 support blocks of wood to shore up the new plank.

Putting on the finish

Your deck should be clean and dry for at least two days before finishing. Better Homes and Gardens recommends that you choose semi-transparent and solid stains that last two to four years. By contrast, clear or tinted stains typically last only half that long. A semi-transparent stain shows off the grain pattern in the wood. Be sure that the kind of finish you choose is an oil-based water repellant product or follow up with a sealer.

Remember to use eye protection when working with any caustic sprays, stains or cleaners.

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