Wood decks can be a center of relaxation and comfort for their owners. A place where you can
spend the afternoon or weekend in peace. A place where you can set up deck chairs or a table
and sip drinks as the day lazily passes, or munch on barbecue fresh from the grill. In order to
provide years of necessary comfort, wood decks require you do a little care and maintenance each
Check for damaged boards
The boards that make up the surface of your deck and steps are subject to all kinds of stress and
usage. Over time, they will wear out or rot. If you don't check for and replace damaged boards
each year, you could be setting yourself or your family up for an injury.
1. Examine the surface boards of your deck. Look for signs of stress, like excessive curling,
cracking, rotting, or severed boards. Any you find will need to be replaced.
2. Measure the damaged board.
3. Purchase a replacement board. Your local lumberyard or hardware store (if they carry wood)
should be able to help you. Pressure treated wood is preferable, otherwise you'll need to seal the
wood yourself (which can be done before or after installation).
4. Remove the damaged board. If nails were used to secure the board, you will need a small nail
puller or a hammer to pry the nails out. Use a small block of wood for leverage. The block of
wood will protect the boards that don't need to be replaced. If screws were used to secure the
damaged board, a screwdriver or drill (with screwdriver bit) should do the trick. Also, wear work
gloves when lifting the board out to prevent splinters.
5. Cut the new board to fit. Make any adjustments necessary to the new board so it will fit in the
space left by the damaged board. A handsaw or electric saw can help you cut the new board down
6. Test fit the new board. Lay the board in its spot. Make sure it fits properly and that you like the
way it looks.
7. Attach the board. First, drill guide holes for the nails or screws to make sure they will properly
adhere to the support beams. Next, add the nails or screws. For decks, screws are recommended
since they won't pop out when the wood expands and contracts with the changing weather
8. Apply water sealant to your deck to help protect it (if the wood wasn't pre-treated). Follow the
directions that come with the sealant.
Check structural supports for signs of insect or animal damage
The structural supports keep your deck up and in place. Underneath the surface of the deck,
where the structural supports are located, is a perfect place for insects to flourish and animals to
take up residence. Problem is, they can damage or destroy the supports, which can make your
1. Inspect your deck's structural supports. Visually inspect the area underneath your deck with the
aid of a high-power flashlight. Look for any signs of animal or insect damage, like chewed
supports, cobwebs, brittle wood, etc.
2. If you find any signs of insects or insect damage, schedule a visit from a pest-control expert. In
fact, you may want to set up a regular schedule with him or her to prevent insects from ever
becoming a problem.
3. If the damage appears to be animal related, consider adding lattice or some other barrier around
the edges of your deck to keep critters out from under it.
Check for popped nails, loose screws, and bolts on decks
Nails, screws, and bolts hold your deck together. If they come loose or pop out (a consistent
problem with nails), then the deck boards could come loose or the deck itself could partially
1. Inspect all the nails, screws, and bolts that hold your deck together. You will need to tighten
any that are loose or that have popped out. Wearing work gloves is recommended.
2. Nails that have popped out need to be driven back in. Use a hammer and pound them back into
3. Screws that have worked their way out need to be twisted back in place. Use a screwdriver or
drill (with screwdriver attachment) and tighten them. Be careful not to strip the screws. If you do,
you will need to make a trip to your local hardware store and purchase a slightly larger screw as a
4. Bolts are the only one of the three that don't rely on the wood to hold them in place. Use a
wrench or two (depending on how loose the bolt has become) to tighten the bolt.
Clean your deck
Dirt, grime, mildew, or mold can build up your deck over the course of the year. Not only can
they diminish the look of your deck, they can also make it slippery and, in the case of mold and
mildew, damage your deck.
1. Visually inspect your deck. Look for dirt, grime, mildew, and mold. Even if none are readily
visible, you should still wash your deck.
2. Wash the deck. A power-sprayer is an easy way to remove the dirt and grime. However, for
mold and mildew, or if you don't have a power-sprayer, use warm, soapy water and a scrub brush.
Thoroughly scrub the surface of the deck. Make sure you remove all mold and mildew you find.
3. Rinse the deck. Use a water hose to wash away the soap and water along with any loosened
dirt, grime, mold, or mildew.
Re-seal or re-stain your deck
Once of the biggest ravages your deck can face is moisture. In order to keep your deck in good
shape for years to come, you need to re-seal or re-stain it each year.
1. If you haven't already, clean the surface of the deck. A power-washer is an easy way to do this.
If not, you can also use a large scrub brush and soapy water.
2. Let the deck dry.
3. If the deck already has a finished or sealed surface, remove the finish or seal with a
remover/stripper that you can purchase at your local hardware store. Follow the directions on the
4. Purchase new sealant or stain. Make sure any stain you choose is meant for the outdoors and
can protect the wood from the elements.
For the following steps, you should wear a dust mask or respirator to prevent the inhalation of
particles and/or fumes:
5. Sand the deck. It must be smooth before you can refinish it. A medium grit sandpaper will
probably work for most decks. Remove any sanding dust that may be left behind.
6. Apply the finish or sealant. If you're using a colored finish, make a test spot first to see if the
color you chose is indeed the color you want. Using a foam brush, staining pad, or
nylon/polyester brush, apply the stain or sealant with the grain of the wood. For colored finishes,
work quickly and don't stop in the middle of the job for break. Doing so can cause the finish to
dry uneven, leaving you with streak.
7. Let the stain or sealant dry. This should take approximately two hours (depending on humidity
8. Add a second and possibly third coat to enhance the protection of your deck.