Keep your deck looking like new this spring and summer

With the weather getting warmer, it’s time to take care of the back deck. Here’s what the experts have to say about keeping your deck looking good. This story was published in the May 7, 2010 Newcastle News in the Home and Garden section. Read it on Newcastle News’ website here.

As the weather gets warmer, most people search for more outdoor activities in which to take part. Some go to the pool and some head to the mountains, but some just head to the back porch to relax.

No matter what kind of deck you have, there are a few easy steps you can take to keep your deck looking good for the spring and summer. The first thing to do is clean your deck, said Ron Spillers, president of West Coast Decks in Issaquah.

“Probably the easiest way will be using deck detergent, which you can find at any home improvement store,” he said.

Of course, if you have not cleaned your deck in some time, mold or algae may have started to grow, especially given the often-soggy conditions in the Pacific Northwest.

Craig Koelling, an owner of Evergreen Wood Restoration based out of Mercer Island, said that using a light bleach solution is the easiest way to wash away mold and algae.

“Err on the weak side,” Koelling said. “If it’s strong enough to work, it’s strong enough to hurt.”

He said he recommends using a 10-1 ratio of water to bleach in a solution with a little dish soap, and he said about once a year he gets a call from someone who badly damaged his or her deck by applying pure bleach to it.

Spillers said using power washers to blast mold and algae off decks could also be damaging to wood or composite.

If you have a composite deck, the process of cleaning your deck is complete. But, if you have a wood deck, Koelling said you should apply an oil-based protective stain every two years.

“They soak into the wood, rejuvenate it,” he said about the oil-based protective stains. He said they make the deck look new again each time they are applied.

Spillers agreed, and he advises people use oil-based stains rather than stains with paraffin wax because the wax does not protect a deck for long.

“I just advise folks who are doing that to buy the best products they can,” Spillers said.

After you have cleaned your deck, the next step is keeping it clean during the fun times you will inevitably have.

First and foremost, Spillers said to beware of barbecues, as they drip grease that can wreak havoc on both wood and composite decks. The easiest way to protect your deck is to place a mat beneath the barbeque. Then, if you are enjoying dinner on your deck with friends and family, be sure to clean up any spills as soon as possible, particularly on wood decks.

“With most soft wood, it’s going to absorb into the wood quickly,” Spillers said.

Chemicals from hot tub water will not affect a wood or composite deck, however.

With a nice, clean deck and the know-how to maintain it, you’re ready to relax without a worry.

“You can pour a cocktail and enjoy the rest of the summer,” Spillers said.

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