A wooden deck can be the perfect place to relax over a cup of coffee in the early morning, entertain friends for a weekend barbecue, and a surefire way to increase the value of your home. When constructed properly, a wooden deck can last many years, providing a lovely outdoor space for relaxation. However, wood also requires more care and attention than other materials and, left untreated or poorly cared for, can end up being an eyesore as well as a safety concern.
Achieving a longer-lasting wood deck, especially one that's unroofed, can be a challenge for some homeowners. We've collected the best tips to help you boost your deck's longevity, including the right preparation methods, sealing materials, and care and maintenance tasks.
Pre-Construction For Long Term Results
Before you begin to build your deck, take a little time to plan its design carefully. Start by addressing the size of your lot and the desired dimensions of your deck, as well as whether or not you intend to roof your deck. Even a slotted pergola-style roof can provide more protection than a completely unroofed structure. You'll also want to take into account your usage, as this will help you determine which materials to choose and your deck's layout.
The size of your deck may determine what kinds of materials you use. If you have a certain budget in mind, then you may wish to scale back the size of the deck and use a better quality of wood, versus having a larger structure that may deteriorate faster. Do you or members of your household intend to entertain in your backyard? The way you will use your deck will necessarily affect your design.
Type of wood
The kind of wood you choose for your deck matters considerably. Some types naturally withstand weathering better than others. Redwood and cedar are both naturally rot-resistant, which is important, and cedar, especially, repels many wood-boring insects. Plus, these two types of wood are fairly common to purchase at most major home improvement centers and each has a lovely finish that matches a variety of different exterior aesthetics.
Pressure-treated wood is another option and is created to mimic the rot and insect-repelling properties of cedar and redwood. While it's cheaper than these two woods, it's also less stable, and, therefore, may not be as sturdy as the others.
The way your deck is constructed will impact its longevity, too. Taking the time to reinforce the entire structure, with cross beams and stronger footing will help ensure that it's sturdy and safe for many years.
The footing of your deck is essential, as it provides the foundation and supports the structure needs. The kind of soil in your yard will often determine what kind of footing you need, and these can vary by region. Generally, having deeper footing with a wider concrete base will give you the most stable support. Bear in mind that when you have concrete footing for your deck, you may wish to invest in foundation sealant products, to prevent water from weakening the integrity of the concrete.
The shape of your deck can also affect its structural integrity, plus your ability to seal and waterproof it effectively. Decks with multiple edges and corners may have more weak spots than decks that are in a more traditional square or rectangular shape. In addition, decks with multiple levels may also be subject to greater wear and tear.
If you plan to use your deck as an outdoor living space and intend to have guests over frequently, then you'll want to invest in the most sturdy materials and a sealant that's water and stain-resistant. If you're going to be eating and drinking outside often, having the deck sealed and maintained can keep liquid spills from getting into the wood and warping it.
Roof vs. Unroofed
If you're planning to put a roof over the deck, then the floor and seating areas will have much more protection than a structure that's open to the sun and other elements. However, many people like having a sunny space to enjoy and choose to leave it open. A latticed roof that covers part of the deck can help protect against the harsh sun and give a little shade. Coupled with outdoor vine plants, this may be a great compromise of sun and shade. Just be careful which plants you choose, as their upkeep will be part of your deck maintenance.
Best Practices For Cleaning and Maintenance Of Your Deck
The best planning and construction in the world won't matter much in the long run if you aren't taking care to properly clean and maintain your wood deck. Everything from sweeping the surface to making sure your flowerpots are placed correctly can have a significant effect on the longevity and appearance of your wood deck.
Remove dirt and debris
Be sure to sweep your deck regularly, especially after entertaining or after a storm. Removing dirt and debris reduces the chances of wood rot. Depending on the product you used to seal your wood deck, you'll also want to hose it down every so often, too.
Keep the deck dry
After hosing your deck down, make sure that no water has pooled, and be sure to dry your deck after a heavy rain. Standing water is the number one culprit of wood rot.
Elevate flower pots so the bottom doesn't cause water to pool and settle. You can choose lovely metal flower pot stands to keep the pots off the surface of the deck. Be sure that when you water your plants, the drips don't form a puddle underneath.
Ensure proper drainage
Ensure that water is draining properly from all areas around the deck to reduce rot. If you find that one area of your deck is vulnerable to pooling, you'll want to address it right away.
Move furniture around from time to time to let covered parts of the deck breathe and prevent discoloration. This is also a good opportunity for you to clean off your furniture and keep your deck looking beautiful.
Prune your plants
Trim branches or trees hanging near the deck. While you may appreciate the overhanging shade that vines and tree branches provide, their shedding of excess leaves will accumulate on your deck and cause the wood to wear out faster. Wet leaves can also become a slip and fall risk.
Waterproofing Your Deck Like an Expert
All the preventative maintenance in the world won't matter much if you aren't waterproofing your deck properly. Adding waterproof coating such as Liquid Rubber's polyurethane deck coating not only makes wooden decks look smooth but also more durable against the elements. We offer a great line of products to help you.
First, make sure that the area is clean and dry. Then, use long, smooth strokes, using a paintbrush or a paint roller, to apply the seal coating. Be sure to let it dry thoroughly and cure, about 24-48 hours, before using your wood deck. Follow the instructions on the container to maintain the coating and for care.
A sound design and proper maintenance can give you the long-lasting, beautiful wooden deck of your dreams. Start with a careful evaluation of your structure, and make sure that you've taken into account how the sun and weather will affect the condition of your materials. Then, make sure that you're using the right Liquid Rubber Foundation Sealant products to water and weatherproof your deck. Finally, make sure that you're consistently cleaning and caring for the deck itself.
And, with Liquid Rubber, we don't just offer deck coating materials. Our product line includes the best sealing foundation coatings for waterproofing the basement and preventing flooding of your home. Visit us online to browse our catalog and check out our blog for more great home improvements!