Learning the basics of waterproof deck maintenance is crucial if you want your deck to remain waterproof as long as possible.
It's even more important if you are maintaining large commercial or residential buildings.
Here's some great advice from Bill Leys of Central Coast Waterproofing on what he has to say about properly maintaining a high quality waterproofing surface coating system.
The first step in maintaining a waterproof deck is to know what type of deck coating you have. There are a few general types of deck coatings among the many brands.
Urethane (also sometimes referred to as elastomeric, slip-sheet, acrylic metal lath and fiberglass are the most common types. Vinyl is another, less common deck coating.
Urethane, slip-sheet systems, vinyl and fiberglass are soft coatings, compared to acrylic coatings, which contain cement.
In all cases, decks should be cleaned on a regular basis. Dirt and debris act like sandpaper and wear away at the sealant.
Soft coatings usually require a higher degree of diligence in caring for the decks and in regular maintenance. Acrylic coatings, while resistant to damage, still need to be inspected regularly. For soft deck coatings, caster cups or chair tips need to be used to protect against the coating from being cut.
In all cases, plants need to be lifted up off the deck to allow water to evaporate. Never put rubber backed mats or carpet down on any deck as they trap moisture against the surface. This is often the first step in damaging the deck.
Grills can pose problems. Homeowners and residents in multi-unit building should use pans under them to catch hot grease and falling embers if using charcoal. Be sure to adopt rules to protect the association from damage by residents.
Regular inspections are the key to keeping small problems small. By catching and repairing a small problem, many hundreds if not thousands of dollars can be saved in repair costs later.
Inspect decks for signs of cracking, nails popping through the surface, rusted or bent flashings, blocked up scuppers and drains, burn holes from grills. Make sure plants are up off the deck and no rubber backed mats or indoor outdoor carpet lie on the deck.
Finally, to make your decks last longer and keep your warranty intact, regular resealing of the top coat is necessary. You can't avoid this.
Typically, urethane and slip sheet systems need resealing about every 2-3 years, acrylic every 3-5 years. Vinyl decks need to be protected with their manufacturer's specialized sealants.
Think of your deck coatings like your skin. We put suntan lotion on to protect our skin from burning from the sun, drying up and flaking off. Deck coatings are the same. They need "suntan lotion" applied every 2-3 years to prevent them from burning up in the sun, flaking off and dry rotting.
As you can see, proper waterproofing maintenance requires following both a schedule and certain inspection rituals. Cleaning, inspecting and replacing deck coatings are required to keep that deck dry and protecting your home or building.