Spending time out on your deck visiting with friends, or just relaxing and soaking up the sun, is one of the best parts of summer. But if your deck is cracked, warped, or infested with moss or dry rot, it can become an eyesore and may even be dangerous to use.
Read on for valuable tips on how to fix and prevent deck problems to keep your wood deck functional and beautiful for years to come.
Step #1: Check Deck for Problems
The most important part of taking care of your deck is to stay vigilant. Finding an issue early can keep a small problem from turning into major deck damage. Check your deck regularly for:
- Loose nails. Drive any protruding nails flush with or below the surface, or replace them with deck screws. Check floorboards to make sure that they are evenly aligned, so they won’t pose a tripping hazard. Also, check any handrails to make sure they are sturdy; and examine the bolts, screws, or nails that attach the deck to your house to make sure they’re not loose or corroded.
- Cracked or warped boards. Examine your deck and replace any badly cracked or warped decking. Check the handrails, posts, sills, and joists as well. Look for any splintered wood on exposed boards.
- Dry rot. Dry rot is fungal growth that gets inside the decking and digests the wood, causing permanent damage. Check for shrunken boards, a musty odor, or boards that are soft, spongy, or discolored.
- Mold, mildew and other growths. Mold and mildew is fungal growth on the surface of the decking that can cause discoloration and a musty odor. It’s usually gray, black, or whitish in color and can be slimy and slippery when wet. Also check for moss, which can damage decking; lichen, which can cause pitting on decking; and green or black algae, which cause discoloration and can also make your deck dangerously slippery.
- Debris. Debris, such as leaves and pine straw, can lead to staining and hold moisture which can encourage mold and mildew to form. Keep your deck free of debris, and trim trees that overhang your deck. Once you’ve removed the debris, clean the deck with a simple spray-and-rinse formula like Olympic Deck Cleaner.
This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product from these links, we will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.
Step #2: Repair the Deck
Now that you’ve identified any problem areas, it’s time to fix them before they make a mess of your deck. Here are some deck repair tips:
- Dealing with cracked decking. If your decking is starting to develop small cracks, it’s probably a sign that it’s due for a new coat of stain. For bigger cracks a roll-on deck re-surfacer can fill in the cracks and extend the life of your decking. In severe cases where the boards have begun to split, you will need to replace the damaged boards.
- Replacing boards. In cases of badly split or deteriorated wood, replacing deck boards may be necessary. Where dry rot is concerned, any board that is infested needs to be removed and replaced in order to prevent the problem from spreading.
- Removing damaging growths. To eliminate mold and mildew on your deck, Wet & Forget Outdoor is an easy, no-scrub solution. Just spray it on, and Wet & Forget Outdoor works with the wind and rain to get your deck clean and keep it that way for a year or more in most cases. Wet & Forget Outdoor wipes out mold and mildew, moss, lichen, and algae without scrubbing, bleach, or pressure washing. Its gentle, non-caustic formula won’t harm your deck’s surface, like harsh chemicals or pressure washing can. Just spray and leave! Problem solved. Check out Wet & Forget’s store locator to find out where you can buy Wet & Forget Outdoor near you.
Step #3: Protect the Wood and Prevent Problems
Once you’ve dealt with any problem areas, regular deck maintenance will help keep them from occurring again. Here are some key steps for protecting your deck:
- Staining your deck. Protecting a wood deck from the elements is essential for extending its lifespan. Most wood decks should be stained every couple of years, depending on the conditions where you live. Make sure that you pick a stain that contains a commercial sealant to keep moisture out. It’s best to use a stain like Olympic Elite Solid Advanced Exterior Stain and Sealant in One, which is specially formulated for decks. Best of all, it stains and seals.
- Preventing dry rot. Dry rot develops when moisture is able to get into your decking, so make sure that your entire deck is well-sealed, including any new boards. Putting a layer of plastic on the ground below your deck can help keep moisture away from the wood. Painting the underside of your deck with wood preservative will also add a layer of protection against dry rot. Keep a close eye on the boards next to where the rotten ones were to make sure the dry rot hadn’t started to spread before they were replaced.
- Keeping mold, mildew and other growths away. Once you’ve eliminated mold and mildew, moss, algae, or lichen from your deck with Wet & Forget Outdoor, keeping it away is even easier. Because Wet & Forget Outdoor works with the wind and rain to keep growths away for a year or more in most cases, simply make Wet & Forget Outdoor part of your annual deck maintenance routine, or re-treat your deck at the first sign of any new growth. This will keep these ugly stains from ever gaining a foothold on your decking.
Enjoy your deck!
- How to Clean and Finish a Wood Deck (video)
- How to Maintain a Wood Deck (video)
- Fresh Faced Deck (article)
- Which Deck is Right for You? (article)
I’m almost done with installing my new deck, but I need to know more about staining it and what else I should do to protect my wood. Your tips for staining my deck will really help me out a lot. I’m glad that you pointed out to stain it every couple of years to keep it in good shape. I’ll also be sure to have it sealed to protect it from dry rot. Thanks for the tips!
I have recently become a big fan of this website, and it always is very helpful. I have a deck that is getting all of these cracks in it, and it hurts the kids when they try to run across it bare foot. I hadn’t even thought of putting a stain on the deck, but hopefully this will make the surface smoother. Thanks for sharing these tips!
These are some great tips, and I appreciate your advice to check your deck for mold and mildew growth. I’m going to be installing a deck soon, and I want to make sure I know how to take care of it after the project is done. I live in a pretty wet climate, so I’ll be sure to check for mold and mildew and take care of it before it becomes a serious problem. Thanks for the great post!
I just love your show but since my husband passed I try to do things myself but I still watch your show hoping I might be able to do them myself. Sincerely carol mcgough
Another option you have is using a deck restore paint. Something like Pittsburgh Revitalize or one of the several other brands. You’ll loose the natural wood but it would still look good.
I want to paint or stain my wood deck gray what should I do first is there such a thing a gray stain