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
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
The most common source of deterioration of
decks is water. Moisture causes the wood to expand and when it dries out
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
So finish the cut with a sharp chisel.
Check Your 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 maintenance 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.