Get ready for warmer weather with these tips for inspecting and protecting your deck.
Has winter weathered your deck? Use this checklist to make sure it’s safe and ready to take on summer barbecues:
- Pound in popped nails, tighten loose screws and replace any corroded fasteners.
- Secure railings and check that stairs don’t sway or sag.
- Look for holes in the wood that could mean insect infestations.
- Search for rot, especially around areas close to the ground or that are often damp. To test: probe the wood with a screwdriver. If you can push 1/4 inch into the wood, it may be rotted.
- Inspect the condition of joists and posts supporting the deck.
- Check the integrity of the ledger board, where the deck attaches to the house. It should be in sound condition and fastened securely with lag screws, not nails.
- Make sure flashing around the ledger is free of rust and holes. Flashing prevents water from damaging the board, which could weaken the connection between the deck and your home.
- Trim tree limbs that extend over the deck.
- Sand splintered wood until smooth.
- Replace rotten, cupped and warped deck boards.
- Clean debris from the deck and the area underneath. Don’t forget to check under furniture, the grill, storage boxes and other moveble fixtures.
- Trim plants so they don’t touch or brush against the deck structure.
- Wash the deck with deck cleaner and a stiff broom. Consider using a bleach-based cleaner to combat mildew, or cleaners with oxalic acid on redwood and cedar. For composite materials, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.
- Seal the deck with a product that provides UV protection and is water-resistant. To test if the deck needs sealing, splash several areas with water. If the water beads, there’s no need to seal. Keep in mind that opaque sealers show more wear, and darker shades absorb heat.
- Make sure grills and fire pits are away from flammable materials, and pull patio furniture away from the deck’s edge.