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How to Keep Your Deck Looking New

A good deck maintenance routine includes regular sweeping to remove debris that can cause slip-and-fall hazards. Thorough cleaning with a pressure washer should also be done at intervals.


Examine your deck for soft spots, splinters, cracks and loose or protruding nails. Look for rot or split boards, and check the flashing—the water barrier where your porch or deck attaches to the house. Contact Virginia Deck Builders for professional help.

A wood deck gets a lot of abuse from the sun, wind, rain and other natural elements. An occasional cleaning with a pressure washer will remove the dirt that gives it an ugly grey appearance and help prevent mildew and mold.

Before beginning the cleaning process, clear the deck area of any furniture, toys or potted plants that might be in the way or get spattered by the cleaner. Cover surrounding shrubs or plants with plastic sheeting to protect them from getting spattered as well.

To clean a deck, begin by sweeping it to remove any larger debris such as leaves and sticks. This will reduce the amount of dirt that is swept up and carried along with the cleaning solution, ensuring it is only working on organic stains. Next, rinse the deck with a garden hose to remove any remaining debris and loosen the dirt that has settled. If there are stubborn stains, you may need to use a broom with stiff bristles or scrub brush.

A biodegradable outdoor cleaner that is safe for the type of wood your deck is made of should be used to remove any stains from the surface. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application to ensure you are using the correct amount and applying it evenly over the entire surface of the deck. Depending on the cleaner you choose, it should be allowed to soak for the specified time before rinsing thoroughly with a garden hose.

Alternatively, you can make your own deck cleaning solution using white vinegar and water. Mix equal parts of the vinegar and water, apply to the deck and scrub with a brush or extension handle if necessary. Be sure to scrub in the direction of the grain and to rinse well afterwards with a hose.

If you do plan to stain your deck after it has been cleaned, consider using a wood brightener at the same time. This will help restore the natural color of the wood and minimize the chance that your stain will flake or peel. If you don’t plan to stain the deck, skip this step.


After cleaning, it’s time to apply a stain or sealer. Stain and sealants add color to your deck while providing a protective barrier from water and sun. Sealants keep moisture from seeping into the wood and help prevent cracking, splinting, and other damage over time. They also prevent cooking oils, fats, and other liquids from staining the deck. Some products combine both a stain and a sealer, while others offer a separate option for either function.

Before applying the sealant, thoroughly clean your deck again to ensure that all dirt and mildew is removed. It’s also important to choose a day with clear, dry weather for best results. Windy days are not ideal, as they can cause the stain or sealer to blow around and leave uneven splotches on your deck. If you’re unsure of the proper procedure, contact a professional to get advice on the best way to seal your deck.

It’s recommended to use a natural bristle brush for applying your stain or sealer rather than a roller. The brush helps to force the stain or sealer into the open pores and grains of the wood, making sure that even the smallest areas are covered. It’s also a good idea to work in small sections, as it will be easier to control the amount of stain or sealer that is applied. Over-applying in one area can lead to an uneven appearance and may result in a sticky residue that is difficult to remove.

When you’re finished, stay off of your deck for two days while it dries. Disrupting the process can affect how well the deck is sealed and can make it necessary to redo the entire application. To remind family members to stay off of the deck, put up yellow caution tape along the patio doors and stairs that lead to the deck.

It’s important to reseal your deck regularly, especially in sunnier regions. The sun’s powerful UV rays can fade and crack the surface of your deck, so keeping it sealed will help to extend its lifespan. It’s a good idea to read the instructions on your deck sealant or stain and jot down when it needs to be reapplied.


Loose boards, railings and stairs are dangerous to use and should be repaired as soon as possible. A loose board can splinter and also leaves the wood vulnerable to rot and mildew. Examine all areas of the deck for signs of rot or decay. If you see green specks or mushroom-like growths, these indicate that the deck has been exposed to moisture for extended periods of time. Address the underlying problem by cleaning, using a deck brightener and sealing.

Check all fasteners on the deck for loose or corroded nails, screws and anchors. Loose fasteners can pull free and cause further damage, so tighten or replace them as needed. Check the flashing for any areas where the deck meets a wall or other structure. Make sure the flashing is securely attached and that there are no holes or leaks in it. Look for rusty or missing nails on the ledger board that attaches the deck to your house. If the board feels soft or has a spongy feel to it, it is likely rotting and should be replaced.

A loose handrail is a safety hazard that should be fixed right away, and it’s easy to do. Simply remove the old nail, clean off any splinters and screw or nail it back in place. If you have to replace a handrail, choose a durable metal railing material for long-lasting strength and beauty.

Examine the deck surface and stairs for sagging or areas that seem to be swaying and bounce excessively when you walk on them. This is a sign that the deck may need additional support beams or it could be losing its structural integrity. You can try to add support by adding a post and securing it, but you will probably need to call in a professional for a full deck replacement.

A sagging or unstable deck is not only unsightly, it’s unsafe for guests and family members to stand on. It’s often more cost-effective and efficient to hire a professional to complete a deck replacement than it is to attempt a repair.


A fresh coat of paint can transform your deck and keep it looking new. But before you rush out and grab a paint roller, take the time to prepare the surface for the new paint. This will help it adhere well and last longer. Thoroughly scrub/pressure wash the deck to remove any mold or mildew, and scrape and sand any rough areas.

If you’re unsure about the condition of your deck, consult with a professional to determine the best course of action. A skilled professional will not only help you revive your deck’s look but also check for any structural damage that needs to be addressed.

As you work, be sure to protect nearby plants by covering them with a tarp or plastic sheeting. Also, make sure you’re painting on a dry day so that the paint doesn’t dry too quickly and leave behind streaks or blotches.

If your deck has a wood-grained texture, you’ll need to sand it before applying the new paint. A sanding block or hand sander can be used to smooth rough edges, but a power sander may be better for more extensive sanding. If your deck has a smooth surface, you can skip this step.

Once the deck is thoroughly sanded, wash it again with a cleaner designed for outdoor use on wood. This will wash away any remaining dirt, mold or mildew, and loose paint chips. Then, let the deck dry completely before proceeding.

When the deck is ready for painting, choose a color that matches your building’s decor and weather conditions. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding primer and surface preparation.

Before you begin, test the paint by applying a small amount on an inconspicuous area of the deck. Then, apply the first coat of paint in even strokes with a roller. Be sure to get into any corners that are hard to reach like along the wall where it meets the deck, or in the spaces between joists and in tongue-and-groove ceiling areas.

A well-prepared deck is a beautiful and functional outdoor space that will be enjoyed by your tenants and their families. Proper maintenance helps to extend the life of your deck and prevent costly repairs in the future.