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Maintaining Your Project

So now you have built a beautiful deck or fence or gazebo that complements your home. It is now ready to be enjoyed and shared with family and friends. You will need to care for your deck to prolong its life and maintain its beauty. Below are some tips you should follow to protect your deck so it will stay beautiful for years to come.

MAINTAINING YOUR PROJECT

  • CLEANING
    • Scrape off loose finish
    • Scrub surface
    • Apply cleaner – (biodegradable soap and water)Outdoor appropriate GFCI-protected power cords
    • If desired, use pressure washer with great care (follow manufacturer’s instructions)
    • Let dry (use moisture meter to determine moisture level is below 17%) and apply waterproof-sealant with UV protection
  • FIXING, REPLACING BOARDS
  • RE-SEAL EVERY YEAR TO PROTECT DECK
  • RE-STAIN EVERY FEW YEARS TO MAINTAIN COLOR AND BEAUTIFUL LOOK
  • USE DECK BRIGHTENER TO REMOVE GROUND-IN DIRT AND MILDEW AND KEEP DECK BOARDS LOOKING FRESH
  • INSPECT ANNUALLY - USE THESE 4 SIMPLE STEPS TO MONITOR YOUR WOOD AND FIX ANY ISSUES
    • Take a walk
      • If your walk is bouncy and the boards are flexing, look for loose boards and nail or screw them in place
      • Look for loose nails, screws and bolts; tighten and replace any if needed
      • Look at hand rails and stair treads
    • Tap boards
      • Use the end of a screwdriver and tap the boards. If you poke into holes that shouldn’t be there, you have found a rotten board that needs to be replaced
    • Check for cracks
      • Remove and replace them as they detract from the appearance of the deck and can be pose a safety hazard.
      • Do a complete inspection (or hire a professional) to make sure your project is structurally sound for the safety of your family and friends.

REPAIRING YOUR PROJECT

    1. Replacing broken or rotten boards
      1. Cut out the bad board (piece should span at least three joists)
      2. Add cleats to support the new board
      3. Cut replacement board to length (use matching material in thickness and wood type) and pre-drill pilot holes
      4. Install the new board and nail/screw into cleats
    2. Strengthening wobbly posts
      1. Drill bolt holes through post and framing
      2. Offset holes to prevent splitting and angle holes to avoid joists
      3. Tap in carriage bolts and install washers and nuts
    3. Supporting a bouncy deck
      1. Tap in snug-fitting blocks between joists in a staggered pattern
      2. Square each block to joist and nail into joists
    4. Replacing loose, popped nails
      1. Grab protruding nail with a diagonal cutter and pry the nail up
      2. Protect the boards with a shim while pulling the nail out using a cat’s paw
      3. Replace the nail with a screw
maintaining a deck

Maintenance Do’s

  • Do wear eye protection, masks and gloves before starting any cleaning or maintenance projects
  • Do clean your wood regularly with a mild solution of biodegradable soap and water.  Clean allows protective sealers to penetrate deeper into the wood.
  • Do seal your wood every few years to protect from cracking, cupping or warping.  Make sure the wood is sanded before sealing to remove splinters or fuzzy patches.
  • Do be careful with a power washer as improper use can damage the wood surfaces, ranging from damaging surface fibers to carving permanent grooved or holes into wood.  Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use.
  • Do cover nearby shrubbery before using any cleaning chemicals and sealers to protect them from overspray.
  • Do sweep away debris regularly to prevent trapped dirt and leaves from leading to mold, rot and stains
  • Do rearrange furniture at least once a year to prevent trapping moisture under furnishings and rugs
  • Do be vigilant about damage – fix popped nails, split wood and missing boards promptly to prevent bigger problems over time

MAINTENANCE DONT’S

  • Don’t use a wire brush to scrub stains off wood – it can damage wood surfaces
  • Don’t use chlorine bleach or cleaners containing sodium or calcium hypochlorite to clean your wood – harsh cleaners can damage wood fibers, corrode hardware and can kill the surrounding plants and vegetation• Don’t ignore stress points like railings and stairs to prevent the problem from getting worse and becoming a safety issue
  • Don’t ignore stress points like railings and stairs to prevent the problem from getting worse and becoming a safety issue

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