DIY Deck Maintenance & Refinishing Guide

DIY Deck Maintenance & Refinishing Guide

In the summer, lounging outside on a beautiful deck with a glass of lemonade or cocktail in hand is one of life’s greatest pleasures. However, if you notice that your deck stain colours have faded, or that a deck refinishing is sorely needed, it can ruin a relaxing evening.

Staying on top of deck maintenance is the only way to ensure the longevity of your deck. DIY deck maintenance might seem daunting, but isn’t as hard as you might think!

From sanding a deck to restoring the wood, there are lots of ways that you can take care of this maintenance on your own. The process also isn’t expensive - you can use inexpensive cleaning materials that you have around the house and basic equipment to effectively clean and maintain your deck. 

The feeling of relaxing on a freshly repaired, newly stained deck is amazing. Make the most of your summer by keeping your Toronto backyard looking clean and pristine.

Toronto-deck

 

Common Causes of Damage and Wear to Decks in Toronto

There are four types of frequently used building materials used for decks in Toronto: pressure-treated wood, cedar or redwood, tropical hardwoods, or composite decking. All respond differently to wear and tear.

Seasonal weather like rain, snow, and ice have a big impact on any deck. Toronto isn’t known for its mild climate, so it’s likely your deck will need maintenance on a regular basis.

Other common causes of wear and tear can include anything from rot to damage from insects like termites, carpenter ants, and wood wasps. If guests frequently get splinters or catch their clothing on posts or rails, it may be a sign your deck needs to be sanded or refinished. 

Splinters will happen despite your best efforts, but if you find yourself pulling them out frequently, it’s a sign that your deck needs some serious TLC.

 

Revitalizing Your Deck Helps It Last Longer

Scheduling annual or semi-annual maintenance on your deck is the best way to help it last longer. Not only will your deck look unkempt and run-down if it’s not maintained, but it can also develop into a real safety hazard.

Damage from termites or wood-boring insects and rot can eat away at the wood of your deck, making weak patches that may not be visible from the outside. However, if you put weight on them, they can collapse under you.

Regular maintenance ensures that you catch these issues early on. If you notice something is off, you can fix it before it develops into a potential safety hazard.

A deck is a significant investment, and ideally, it’s something that you can use for many years. With regular maintenance and revitalization, your deck can last for decades.

 

Revitalizing Your Deck: A Quick Guide

The type of deck you have will dictate how and how often you should perform maintenance. Composite decking, which is essentially a mix of wood fibres and recycled plastic, is the most resistant to wear doesn’t really look or feel like real wood.  

If you have a single-level deck, maintenance will likely be simple and easy. It gets a bit more complex if you have a multi-level deck, or if you’ve incorporated other elements like lighting, fire pits or a water feature.

Here are some of the steps that you should take to revitalize your deck, so you can ensure its safety and security for another year.   

1. Make Repairs

The first step you should take when revitalizing and maintaining your deck is to check it all over for damage or wear and tear. Remove all the furniture and ensure that every part of it is visible.

Once your deck is clear, check that the posts and any railings are sound and can withstand body weight. Are there areas that are light or spongy? Probe them to make sure they’re not hollowed-out by rot or insect damage. Check the end of boards, and make sure they’re not warped. Once you’ve determined that your deck is fully sound, you can move on to the next phase.

A deck that is rotting at the edges. Photo Credit:  Ottawa Citizen .

A deck that is rotting at the edges. Photo Credit: Ottawa Citizen.

If there’s damage or if any kind of repairs that need to be made, this is the time to do it. Remove unsound boards and replace old nails and screws. Don’t move on if you’re unsure of the structural integrity of your deck. If you doubt your knowledge or skills, hire an expert to check it out for you.

 

2. Clean the Surface

After any necessary repairs have been made and you’re sure that your deck is structurally sound, clean it off completely. It’s essential that your deck is as clean as possible before you sand, paint, or seal it. Most wood decks can be cleaned with purpose-bought soap, or you can mix up a cleaning solution using common household ingredients like baking soda, white vinegar, or liquid dish soap. 

Start by sweeping off your deck, and removing any visible debris like fallen leaves, pollen, and food residue. Pre-rinse your deck with water, then scrub on your chosen cleaning solution with the grain of the wood. 

Composite decking requires a different cleaning solution and won’t react well to a hard-bristled brush. If you have a composite deck, use a gentle, natural cleaning solution and rags or a soft-bristled brush. 

After being cleaned, your deck should be free from mould, debris, and stuck-on grime. 


3. Power Wash

After you’ve cleaned off your deck with a cleaning solution or soap, power wash it to remove residue. Most types of wooden decks respond well to power washing. It’s a great way to remove caked-on debris, water stains, and discoloration that would be too hard to scrub off by hand.  

If your deck is made from softer woods like sapwood cedar, redwood, or composite, you’ll need to use the lowest possible setting on your power washer to avoid damaging your deck. Make sure to power wash composite thoroughly, or a soapy film could develop off the surface of the wood, making it look dull and discoloured.  

4. Sanding

Once your deck is washed, leave it for 24 hours so it can dry completely. Power washing a deck can raise wood fibre, so you should plan on sanding the deck afterward. This preps it for a coat of paint or stain and also removes the pesky wood splinters that can make their way into your hands and feet.

Hand sander. Photo Credit:  Bunnings Warehouse .

Hand sander. Photo Credit: Bunnings Warehouse.

Most homeowners use hand power sanders, but you can rent or borrow an upright sander from a home improvement store or tool rental facility if you want to minimize your time commitment. Sanding a deck is a lot of work, so block off several hours and ask for help if you can.

Not every deck benefits from sanding, so make sure to check the care instructions on the materials.

 

5. Apply Stain and Sealing

Once your deck has been sanded, and all the splinters and rough patches removed, you can move on with staining and sealing your deck. If you don’t know how to stain a deck, it’s easy to find tutorials online. Learning how to stain wood is easy once you’ve got the right equipment. Make sure that you’re using the correct stain for your unique deck. 

Staining and sealing help by restoring the wood of your deck and protects it for another season. Once you’ve finished applying the stain and any deck sealer (if you choose to use it), you’ll want to avoid stepping on your deck until it’s dry. That usually takes 24-48 hours.

 

Consult With Toronto’s Deck Building and Maintenance Experts

Once you’ve learned the right techniques for maintaining your deck it’s easy to do quick and easy DIY deck maintenance every year. This keeps your deck looking great. It also ensures the long-term security and stability of your deck, as it allows you to catch any minor issues before they turn into something major. 

If you have a custom-built deck you will want it to last as long as possible.

While deck maintenance is important, some people let it lapse because they’re too overwhelmed by the prospect of doing it themselves. Don’t neglect your deck just because you don’t have the right DIY skills. Let us handle your annual deck maintenance, or help you build the new deck or patio you’ve been dreaming of.

Bryant Renovations has over 25 years of deck-building experience, and we love to help people in Toronto turn their backyard into their own personal oasis. Contact us today to talk to one of our deck and home renovation experts.