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Deck Maintenance
Written by Elizabeth Wood
Editor In Chief, United Home Improvement

People often forget how wonderful it is to have a deck attached to their house. It may be a pool deck, a patio deck, a roof deck, or even a deck surrounding a hot tub, but it's still ultimately an extension of your home. The functionality of a deck is endless. It can be a comfortable place to eat, a quiet get away from the everyday sounds from within your home, a place to entertain guests, or even a relaxing place to bask in the sun.

Unfortunately, because they are located outdoors, decks fall victim to the damaging affects of Mother Nature. Without the proper maintenance, factors such as rain, snow, dirt and algae will begin to discolor your deck. Eventually, the surface of your deck will start to warp and form splinters, chips and loose boards. If you don't check for and replace damaged boards on a regular basis, you could be setting yourself or your family up for harm.

Helpful Tips for Maintaining Your Deck:

• At least once a year, check the boards that make up the surface of your deck. If you notice that the boards are curling, rotting, or cracking it is time to replace them.

• Inspect the structural support of your deck. Often times, animals and insects will wear away at the wood that holds your deck in place. If you do notice damage to the structural support, consider calling in a pest control expert. Also, it may be a good idea to build an extra barrier for additional protection.

• Check for loose nails, bolts and screws. Use a hammer, wrench, or screwdriver to put the loose elements back in place.

• On a regular basis make sure to clean your deck. This requires you to remove all outdoor furniture, toys, grills, and plants. Clear the deck entirely. Thoroughly remove all dirt and grime with a power nozzle attached to the hose, or with a power washer. Warm, soapy water works well for mold and mildew removal.

• Seal your deck. If your deck is already finished or sealed, you will need to remove that surface cover first. Next, purchase a new sealant or stain. Sealants can be sprayed on (fastest method), rolled on, or brushed on. Sealants are used to protect the wood from outside elements.

• Before applying a sealant, you may need to sand your deck first to create a smooth surface.

Consider painting your deck or using a light finish for extra protection. This will also improve the overall visibility and appeal.

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