Barbara and Phil Johnson, of Mobile, Alabama, faced a similar problems other deck owners do. Over time, the elements along with their kids and pets took a toll on the backyard deck. The damage along with the appearance were bad enough to the Johnsons to consider ripping the whole thing up and starting over.
But before taking that drastic step, they spoke with Danny Lipford, owner and president of Lipford Construction in Mobile, for advice. As outlined by Lipford, the Johnsons’ deck is in better shape than many more. “This area of the country is difficult on decks,” he says. “I’m sometimes motivated to replace pressure-treated decks that happen to be under eight years old.” He adds, “A large number of decks are victims of neglect. With regular maintenance, a deck will easily last for doubly long.” The good thing is that many decks, this way one, could be rejuvenated for a lot under the cost of replacement.
Following are a couple of techniques you can use to give a well used deck a new lease on life, or perhaps to help support the look of a fresh one. With this project, we enlisted George Graf, a lead carpenter with Mobile’s Lipford Construction, and John Starling, owner of John the Painter. Hiring pros is easy on the schedule but hard on the budget-the fee for repairing a 700-sq.-ft. deck is $700, or about $1 per sq . ft .. Doing the job yourself costs another just as much.
Start by inspecting the complete deck. Pay special attention to any area of the deck that is certainly in direct exposure to the earth, including the posts, stair stringers or joists that happen to be at ground level. Graf uses a screwdriver to confirm for structural damage. “If you can sink the tip of your screwdriver into a post or joist, it means the you’ve got rot and it’s time for a major renovation,” Graf says.
Also, inspect the deck-to-house connection. “Screws and bolts can loosen and rust,” he says. “Without having the proper utilization of spacers and flashing, moisture can cause your band joist to rot.”
Tighten the fasteners that attach the complete deck repair on the house, seek out any missing, bent or rusted flashing and carefully inspect in and out for just about any telltale black stains that suggest moisture is working its distance to your own home.
Next, look for any cosmetic damage. By way of example, tap down any popped nails or consider replacing them screws. For that Johnsons’ deck, Graf used galvanized ring-shanked nails when he replaced a few damaged boards. “Screws don’t pop like nails, ” he says “but we want the new boards to fit the other deck.”
Here’s the negative news: Every deck should have an annual cleaning. Assuming they are maintained regularly, most decks can be revived with just a deck cleaner. Some products, like Thompson’s Deck Wash ($10, 1 gal. covers 250 sq. ft.), you blend a bucket and apply to the deck; others, like GE’s Weathermate ($30, 1 gal. covers 500 sq. ft.), come in containers with integral applicators that you just hook up to a garden hose. Once on the deck, most still need a stiff-bristle brush and lots of hard work to operate the mix in the wood.
Always wear eye protection and gloves whenever using concentrated chemicals. You’ll also want to protect nearby plants. The amount of plant protection is determined by what type and power of the chemicals you end up picking. For weak solutions and “plant-friendly” cleaners, you might need to only mist the plants both before and after using cleaning. Powerful deck restorers can burn leaves on contact; in that case you need to cover nearby plants with plastic sheeting.
For tackling tough stains, utilize a pressure washer (about $70 per day), the best idea method to remove sun-damaged wood fibers and tackle scrub-resistant stains. Graf recommends employing a fan-type nozzle rather than pinpoint nozzle that can dig in the wood. For taking off the mildew, Graf mixes his cleaning solution (see “Choosing the Right Cleaner,” about the facing page), which he feeds in to the intake hose about the washer.
Review the deck by using a stiff-bristle brush to function the cleaner into the wood fibers, and then rinse. The boards ought to be kept damp for the cleaning solution to work effectively. Let the deck to dry thoroughly before staining.
You will find dozens of deck-cleaning products in the marketplace. Most contain one of several following four chemicals as their main ingredient. Each is beneficial for various kinds of stains.
Sodium hypochlorite: This chemical-chlorine bleach-is useful for removing mildew but isn’t effective on dirt or any other stains. So combine it with an ammonia-free detergent. Thoroughly rinse the deck after using this chemical because it can eat away on the wood, resulting in fuzzing and premature graying.
Sodium percarbonate: When together with water, this chemical forms peroxide (an oxygen-based bleach) and sodium carbonate, which provides a detergent. It will work for removing dirt, mildew and weathered wood.
Oxalic acid: This can be effective in removing iron stains and the brown-black tannins that frequently occur with cedar and redwood decks. This acid is often seen in deck brighteners. Oxalic acid isn’t effective against mildew, so you may want to use it after washing the deck having a bleach-based cleaner.
Sodium hydroxide: Also called lye, this is actually the key ingredient in many finish lifters or removers. Don’t let it rest on a long time, or it may eat away in the wood.
Be extremely careful whenever using any of these chemicals, particularly if they’re in their most concentrated (premixed) form. Wear the appropriate safety equipment and keep to the manufacturer’s directions to the letter. Rinse the top thoroughly and give it time to dry before refinishing.
Once all the repairs have already been made as well as the deck is clean, it’s time for you to apply a protective finish. Clear finishes and transparent stains are acceptable for new wood, however for older decks, Starling recommends utilizing a semitransparent stain.
“The grain still shows through, however the pigment allows the old wood a clean, uniform color helping the newest wood merge,” he says. The pigment offers extra protection from the damaging negative effects of sunlight and definately will stay longer than clear finishes. Unlike paint, stain is absorbed through the wood and is not going to form a film on its surface, so it will not peel or chip.
Starling uses a sprayer and 2-in. brush to use the stain. “Spraying is fast, and puts more stain around the wood than rolling or brushing,” Starling says. Most painters and homeowners are more well off spraying on the generous coat of stain then following with a roller or brush to open up puddles and work the conclusion in the wood. Starling, however, utilizes a modified technique. “Rollers push the stain off the wood and down the cracks,” he says. “I don’t get paid to paint dirt under the deck.” Starling sprays over a light coat, the majority of which is quickly absorbed into the wood. He uses the brush to eliminate puddles. “If the stain’s too thick, it dries blotchy,” he explains. Starling recycles the excess stain to use on exposed end grain.
Starling recommends starting in an inside corner and hitting the gym, applying the stain parallel to the deck boards. To protect yourself from staining the nearby brick, he works with a small bit of cardboard as a spray shield; the brush provides even more control around deck railings and posts.
This 700-sq.-ft. deck required about 5 gal. of stain – almost double the amount as being the estimates indicated around the can. Explains Starling, “Old wood can get thirsty. On some decks, I’ll need to apply 2 or 3 coats of stain in order to get a uniform finish.”
Subsequent coats must be applied whilst the first coat is still wet or they is definitely not distributed around the wood. Stain won’t peel, nevertheless it can wear away, particularly in high-traffic areas. Starling recommends applying a brand new coat every other year. A precise water repellent can be applied between stainings for more protection.
For the reason that original railing on the deck is at such bad shape, the Johnsons made a decision to change it using a maintenance-free railing system. They chose Fiberon, a vinyl-coated wood-plastic composite. It’s offered in premade panels or as kits. The Johnsons liked the contrast the white railing offered.
To have an existing deck or concrete slab, Fiberon will make a surface-mount bracket, as shown below. For first time decks, the maker recommends installing the posts prior to the decking and making use of metal brackets that attach to the joists. To conceal any minor gaps the location where the balusters match the bottom rail, Graf recommends utilizing a mildew-resistant acrylic caulk.