Annual Deck Maintenance Checklist

Follow this annual deck maintenance schedule for a healthy deck.

But this yearly checklist will give you a clean deck with as little regular maintenance as possible.

For many areas warm weather only lasts for about 6 months of the year. So that means during the other 6 months your deck is facing the harsh elements that come with the climatic changes from summer to winter.

That also means you have to maintain your wooden deck each year in some way.

We're going to give you a guide to annual deck maintenance so you don't miss some of the crucial areas and can keep your annual maintenance to a minimum rather than a costly major overhaul.

Depending on your climatic conditions, the causes of deterioration may vary but generally fall within the following sources.

Causes of Deterioration on Decks

Water is tough on wood

The most common source of deterioration of decks is water. Moisture causes the wood to expand and when it dries out it contracts.

This can cause fasteners to pop, and boards to warp, crack and split. If the deck remains constantly wet, a perfect environment exists for fungus and bacterial to establish itself and rot to begin. In a worst case, wet rot will result in wood members turning to mush over time.

Preventing this can be as simple as sweeping your deck regularly, clearing away puddles and any dirt and leaves that retain moisture and don't dry out easily.

Sun causes deterioration on decks

Sun is also a cause of deterioration to decks. Ultra violet rays can break down the bonds between wood cells.

But fortunately sun damage isn't as serious as water damage because the rays only penetrate about 1/100th of an inch into the wood, really only affecting the surface.

And the interesting thing is that this damaged surface actually protects the healthy wood below. So if you sand it away, fresh wood is exposed and will be damaged. So the best deck maintenance for a wood deck in a sunny area is a good coat of sealant or stain.

Insects can also cause serious damage to decks depending on your area.

Cedar and redwood are insect resistant but not insect proof. There is a difference.

The best material for decking materials that are in close proximity to the soil are pressure treated lumbers.

So depending on your climate zone, focus your annual deck maintenance strategy accordingly.

Inspect your deck

Look all over your deck to find rotting wood or decay

At the beginning of each season be sure to conduct a thorough inspection of your deck.

Annual deck maintenance checks include walking around the deck and listen for squeaks. Try to feel soft spots or sagging areas.

Take a screw driver and use it to physically pick or apply pressure to key components of the deck. Wood gets soft as it begins to rot and poking boards with a screw driver will reveal these tell tale signs.

Check all areas where there is direct wood to wood contact. We have mentioned this in other articles but its even more relevant when it comes to doing the annual check up.


Examine Where Deck Boards Contact Joists

Check where joists contact beams and where the beams contact posts.

Annual deck maintenance isn't complete without examining the posts and concrete footing contact points as these areas are particulary moisture prone.

Check the ledger board where the deck connects to the house. Check the bottom of the stair stringers where contact is made with the ground or landing area.

Take note of areas that are showing water stains as these areas are telling you they received constant moisture and have potential for future problems. Less so if the area is not open grain.

If the area is open grain facing up to the elements, this area will suck water in via capillary action very effectively. After all that's how trees live.

But even for a piece of lumber, the "infrastructure" is still there so watchout. These are critical areas to maintain your wooden deck.

Replace Rotting Boards

A nail in a deck board rotting

This requires a bit of a surgical approach sometimes as you may have to only remove one rotting board tucked in tightly amongst other deck boards.

A circular saw and a sharp chisel are required for this kind of work. The saw won't entirely cut across the decking without damaging the next board.

So finish the cut with a sharp chisel.

Check Your Stairs

Old worn our wood stairs

Deck stairs tend to be susceptible to rot in a couple of key areas - the stringer tread connection points, and the stringer landing points.

The end grain of the stair treads can soak up water in a hurry depending on how you have configured the tread stringer connection.

And the stringer itself is susceptible to rot at the foot where it contacts the landing. The end grain here is very vulnerable to soaking up water like a straw.

Proper deck maintenance involves checking the health of the stringers and elevating them somewhat off the landing.

Do a Bit at a Time Or a Lot All at Once

Annual deck maintanence should be an annual routine to keep on top of things. In this way, you never have to do a major overhaul.

You'll find you will spend just a little bit of time each spring or fall maintaining your deck and spend more time enjoying it.

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