A Deck Tip You Won’t Get Anywhere Else
There are some decking contractors who might cringe out there knowing that I shared decking secrets. And early on, I generally kept to myself on the tricks of the trade. But I learned somewhere along the way to share my knowledge with others in the belief that “what comes around goes around”. Plus, to be honest, there are so many tips and ways of building decks that I doubt many would be interested in soaking them all up. Anyway, since the last post talked about maintenance, I thought I’d share something I learned along the way.
In Athens and the surrounding Northeast Georgia area during the mid-spring to early-fall, temperatures are typically in the mid-nineties. When building decks in this hot temperature, pressure treated decking seems to “check” a lot more than if you had built the deck in cooler weather. (“Checking” is where small surface cracks develop due to expansion and contraction.) Contractors commonly purchase pressure treated wood with moisture content of 30% or more. When this wood is used during the hot season, the warm temperatures dry the wood out which causes the decking to contract all at once…and where checking occurs.
The trick that I’ve learned is to soak the deck down with water every evening before we leave. This replenishes the evaporated moisture. The follow up is to apply an oil base preservative about two weeks after completion. So we soak the deck down every evening during the project and for two weeks afterwards…then apply the oil base preservative. At around the two week mark, we skip a night of soaking to allow the deck to dry before applying the preservative. On that night, we’ll clean the deck with a deck brightener in anticipation of the preservative. The common mistake is to wait for 9-12 months before applying the preservative. That’s a fallacy in the deck building world as the wood is vulnerable (and damaged) for 9 months!
Want more decking tips? Call us and let’s talk about how we’re going to build yours!
Ugly Decks are No Fun
A new and properly maintained deck is truly a jewel, isn’t it? On the other hand, the same deck that’s not properly maintained can be an eyesore and even a value-drain to the property. This is why we’ve always been so adamant about keeping that deck up. After it’s built, we clean the deck with a mild deck brightener, then followed with a good preservative.
I’ve noticed that many deck companies out there are not maintaining their decks and screened porches. When looking at their finished product, there are usually 2 things that I spot. First, if the deck gets a lot of sun and has not had a color stain/preservative applied, the deck will have severe surface checking, cracking, and peeling. This is due to the wood drying out and not having any UV protection from the extreme sun. Second, if the deck is in a shaded area, the deck will have some checking along with a good deal of mildew. This is due to the deck staying damp.
Applying a preservative that prevents fungus growth, mildew, mold, rot and decay will prevent these issues. A color stain/preservative with UV absorbers and UV blocking pigments should be applied for decks that stand in extreme sunlight. I have used many of these preservatives over the years and I’ve learned that there is no perfect product for all. Some products hold up longer than others, while others will not come clean when it’s time to reapply. And some products will build up layers resulting in the deck getting darker each time applied.
As a general rule, I recommend using an oil-based product that will apply easily, cleans up easily, and does not build up layers. But it really depends on your situation as to which I’d recommend. One thing I’d recommend in any situation is for you to properly maintain it using something.