Building a deck is one of the most popular home improvement projects in the country. Decks are great places to entertain, cook out, or just relax by yourself; in some areas, building a deck is a project that will not only enhance your home, but will actually increase your property value enough to cover the construction expenses!
Maintenance is a necessity if you want to keep it looking good and performing well. Most wood decks will require a fair amount of maintenance over their lifetimes; failure to keep up with it is a sure way to both ruin your investment and be left with an eyesore instead of a pleasant place to unwind.
DIY Deck Maintenance
Fortunately, maintaining a deck is something that homeowners can usually do without professional assistance. Though some deck maintenance might get a bit involved (especially if the area has been neglected for several years), for the most part what you’ll need to worry about is keeping the wood in good shape.
Though some newer materials might not require much more than a periodic rinse, most homeowners choose to install wood decks for their appearance, versatility, and cost-effectiveness. Sealing a wood deck to prevent splintering and discoloration is a must, and it should be done annually. You should also give your deck a yearly examination to check for loose boards and nails.
Wood decks also need to be cleaned regularly. If you decide to clean it yourself, follow the exact directions on the cleaning solution. In some cases, it may be necessary to hose down the deck and surrounding area before applying cleaning solutions. If your deck is near a flower bed or vegetable garden, clean carefully to limit the amount of solution that gets on nearby plants. Allow the solution to sit for the length of time recommended in the instructions. Once you are finished, make sure to rinse thoroughly.
Hiring a Pro to Maintain a Deck
If your deck is old or hasn’t been attended to in many years, there’s a good chance that the work it will take to get it into shape will be more involved. Removing and replacing rotted wood can be a big job; this is especially true for load-bearing columns or joists. Though handy homeowners might still opt to do this work themselves, many find that hiring a pro for more complex deck maintenance is well worth the price of labor.
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Building a New Deck
No wood deck will last forever, no matter how diligent you are with your maintenance. If you are replacing a deck or are building your first one, it is a good idea to check out what is available in materials. Using plastic or composite lumber can greatly reduce your yearly deck maintenance, but are more expensive than traditional wood. Tropical hardwoods like Ipe are making quite a name for themselves; not only do these products give you the look and feel of natural wood, but they require far less maintenance and hold up better than conventional lumber. Ipe and other tropical hardwoods are difficult to work with because they are incredibly dense; if you are considering exotic hardwood for your new deck, you will almost certainly need the help of a professional deck builder who’s well versed in the material.