Preparing Your Deck for Spring and Summer

Even with the recent snow, ice, and bad weather the country has been having, spring and summer are definitely on their way. Frigid days will turn to hot, sunny days and you’ll want to be enjoying your deck when they do. Here are the top things you should do to prepare your deck for warmer weather:

Safety Check

This is another fall check you need to perform every spring and summer. According to the North American Deck and Railing Association, deck collapses are on the increase. Experts say something as simple as an annual checkup could have prevented many of these accidents, so take the time to check your deck. The main areas you want to examine are:

  • Lumber – There’s nothing like months of ice, snow, rain, and humidity changes to negatively impact a wooden deck. This can mean cracking, splits,
  • Ledger Board – This is a critical component to check. The ledger board connects your deck to your house. It’s also a weight-bearing structure. Check for a widened gap between the house and the ledger. This may signal that the bolts need tightening. In case you never looked before, make sure the board is attached with ½-inch stainless- or galvanized-steel lag screws and through bolts, rather than nails. Nails can (and do!) pop out, making your deck unsafe!
  • Railings and Balusters – Take the time to grab and wiggle each baluster to make sure it’s not come loose, rotted, or been broken over the winter. Toenail any loose pieces back into place. Take the time to glue the pieces for extra security, or replace them entirely.
  • Support Posts – Frost heave and other winter events can cause your support posts to move, and bolts to become loose. Look for loose connections between posts and the deck’s beams. Tighten and replace any through bolts as needed.
  • Flashing – The flashing around your deck’s ledger board prevents moisture from building up and causing the board to rot. Make sure the caulk that seals overlapping pieces is intact and the board hasn’t pulled away from the house. If there is mud, leaves, or other debris between the spacer and the exterior wall, that’s a sure sign the flashing has been breached and needs repair.
  • Surface – Other than cracked or rough looking areas on your surface, look for mildew or areas where water doesn’t bead up on contact. Pay particular attention to cleaning these areas with your bleach/soap/cleaning solution when you clean, then make sure to seal these areas as well.

For more information on what to check for, download our free ebook on Preparing Your Deck for Spring and Summer.

By doing your safety check before cleaning your deck you’re more likely to find any stains, or signs something needs repairing.

Declutter and Clean

You may have given your deck a good scrub last fall, but over the winter leaves, debris, ice, dirt, and all kinds of things have found their way onto the surface, and into the corners. You may have deck furniture you covered (or not), and planters with dead plants sitting on your deck. Set aside a day to go out there and declutter and clean.

  • Remove all furniture, planters, storage bins, grills, and items from the deck. Move them inside, or into the yard, but make sure your deck is totally clear of everything that’s not fastened down.
  • Sweep, hose, and powerwash your deck. You can use commercial products, or make your own cleaner by using powdered oxygen bleach, water and dishwashing detergent. (Click here to get a free ebook on making your own cleaning solutions). If you’re using a commercial cleaner, empty the solution into a bucket. If you’re making your own, make it in a 5-gallon bucket. Pour the cleaner on the section of the deck you’re cleaning. If you have a large deck clean in smaller sections so the solution doesn’t dry out. Use a push broom or mop to quickly spread the solution evenly among the deck boards. A stiff push broom can ensure you get the solution into the cracks and crevices of your deck and has a scrubbing action. After scrubbing the deck, push the excess liquid off of the deck using your push broom. Powerwash your deck for best results, then let your deck dry. Be careful. Power washing can damage your deck if you don’t use the proper settings, distance, nozzle, or technique.
  • Make any repairs, sand, or add an elastomeric coating, or anti-skid product  if you want or need to do so. If you want to make your deck less slippery, especially if you have a pool or spa/hot tub, now is the time to do so!
  • Stain or seal the deck. Some people stain their deck every year, others just seal it with a commercial deck sealant like SaverSystems Sealer, Thompson’s, or Sherwin-Williams SuperDeck. Best Reviews has a list of the top 10 sealers on the market here.
  • Give your deck at least 72-hours to dry (more if it rains or your deck is in a shady spot) before walking on it or using it. If you walk on it or use it, or replace deck furniture you run the risk of leaving marks in the stain if the stain isn’t dry. Many products will tell you that you only need wait 24-hours, but to be sure, the pros advise at least 48-hours, and 72-hours to be absolutely sure.

Decorate and Replace Deck Accessories

Now that your deck is clean, safe, sealed or stained, you can start decorating, moving your furniture back, and replacing any plants etc. you may want on your deck. Don’t forget to clean and inspect deck furniture (whether it was covered and left outside, or stored indoors) for loose parts and pieces. Unless you use your grill regularly, make sure your propane lines are in good condition and not leaking, and clean the grill thoroughly. Spiders love the smell of propane and will often build nests inside the lines, creating a hazard. Many homeowners have also found bee and mice nests, or even snakes when removing grill covers. The best time to clear out any potential visitors is before using the grill for the first time this year!

Now you’re ready to enjoy your deck for yet another season!