While a deck can add style and a comforting place to entertain, it is far from a maintenance free addition. The proper maintenance is necessary to protect the life and appearance of your deck.
It is a common misconception that pressure treated wood, which is the wood most often used for decks, requires little maintenance. The pressure treating process involves the injection of chromated copper arsenate into the wood cells. Copper acts as a fungicide, while arsenic is an insecticide. While these chemicals protect against insects and fungus, they leave the surface vulnerable to the effects of rain and sun. Even redwood and cedar, two other common woods used for decks, can be damaged by the elements.
One of the most common consequences of exposure to rain and sun is cracked wood. As water penetrates the wood cells, they expand. When the water evaporates, the wood cells begin to shrink. Repetitive expansion and contraction of the wood ultimately results in cracked boards.
Newly installed wood should be protected as soon as possible. It is not necessary to allow the wood to “weather” or “season”. Unprotected exposure to the elements, for even a few weeks, can result in damage to the wood.
Preventing water from penetrating the wood surface can greatly extend the life of the wood, as well as add to its attractiveness. There are many products on the market for protecting exterior wood surfaces. These range from paints and stains, to clear wood preservatives and water repellents.
As with any type of coating , proper preparation is essential. A clean, dry surface is necessary for proper adhesion. Proper preparation involves removing dirt, mildew, stains and wood fibers damaged by UV light. If these deposits are not removed prior to applying a finish, both adhesion and appearance of the finish may be diminished.
Many products are available for cleaning decks. Using a pressure washer to clean a wood deck is a huge mistake in my opinion. High pressure streams of water easily erode the soft light colored spring wood that is found in between the darker bands of summer wood on each piece of lumber. So much soft wood can be eroded by a pressure washer that sharp slivers of wood were left behind. If you use a pressure washer, make sure you use a very delicate end spray.
Most can be applied with a pump type sprayer or a mop. Most products on the market contain either sodium hypochlorite (chlorine bleach) or oxalic acid,
If you want to make a big mistake, then use chlorine bleach to clean your deck! In my opinion, it is the absolute worst ingredient to apply to a wood deck. Chlorine bleach, better identified on deck cleaning product labels as sodium hypochlorite, removes the natural color from your wood, it destroys the lignin or glue that holds together the wood deck fibers, is toxic to surrounding vegetation, and is corrosive to all metal fasteners and components that hold your deck together.
A far better wood deck cleaner is oxygen bleach .
This powdered product when mixed with water releases non-toxic oxygen ions that kill mildew and algae. In addition, the foaming oxygen bleach loosens grey weathered wood fibers and dirt from the deck surface. In the process, it does not remove natural wood color, nor does it hurt nails and joist hangers. Possibly one of oxygen bleach’s best attributes is that it will not harm plants, vegetation or you.
I have found that the best way to clean a wood deck is to mix the powdered oxygen bleach with warm water. Once the powder is dissolved, you liberally apply the solution to the wood surface. It immediately foams up as the oxygen ions attack the mildew, algae and dirt. I prefer to let the solution sit for 15 to 20 minutes. Using a scrub brush on a pole or a large push broom to gently scrub the surface to lift wood fibers and dirt.
To complete the cleaning process you simply use a regular garden hose to rinse away all the traces of dirt and grime.
The most effective protection for decks occurs when the product penetrates the surface. Film forming products, such as paints, lay on the surface of the wood and have a tendency to blister, peel, and mar when used on horizontal surfaces.
The three most common products for protecting decks are water repellents (also called water sealers), clear wood finishes, and semi-transparent stains. The first two products are generally clear, penetrating coatings. Semi-transparent stains work much like water repellents, but also contain pigments to import color to the wood surface.
When selecting a coating for wood surfaces, three things should be considered: water repellency, mildew resistance, and weathering resistance. Water repellency prevents moisture from penetrating the wood fibers and causing the expansion and contraction of those fibers. Mildew resistance will retard the growth of damaging mold spores. The higher quality products contain UV blockers, which not only extend the life of the coating, but also prevent UV damage to the wood fibers. UV damage usually causes a graying of wood fibers.
With proper care, your deck can be an attractive and valuable addition to your home for years. Choosing a contractor with the knowledge and skills to properly prepare the surface and apply the proper products is the first step in protecting the life and appearance of your deck. If you hire a contractor you might have just learned more then the contractor know themselves.
1. Check gutters for leafs and debris and clean out if needed
2. Low areas in the yard or next to foundation need to be filled in. Low areas (negative grade toward home) will cause water to pond and if not corrected could leave you with some unwanted foundation problems. All grading around house should drop 6 inches every 10 ft away from the home.
3. If you used your fireplace over the winter, good time to have the chimney swept and cleaned and be ready for next winter.
4. Look for exterior paint issues, cracking, buckling and etc. Look for areas that need caulking.… Read the rest
I recently performed my routine maintenance on the jacuzzi tub we have in the master bath. I thought I would share some of the tips I’ve picked up during my home inspection career. I’m always seeking to better my knowledge on questions that may come up during one of my home inspections.
All whirlpool bathtubs have a small amount of residual water left in the pipeline. Minerals in water begin a process of calcifying around the insides of your pipes. This hard scale build up not only restricts water flow, but becomes a perfect breading ground for infectious bacteria. As the algae breaks off, you will see it in your bath water as ugly black flecks.… Read the rest
Although it seems quite expensive initially, when it comes to providing electricity for your household, solar power is the best way to go long-term wise. If you want to save money on your electricity bill or live a greener lifestyle, then you should consider solar power for the home.
The initial cost of solar panels is very hefty, often costing a homeowner tens of thousands of dollars. However, once you get solar panels, the cost of your electricity bill will go down or you may not have to pay anything for electricity at all.
Basically, solar panels are a one-time cost while you’ll need to pay electricity bills every single month for the rest of your life.… Read the rest
The thought of moving into a new house or apartment is known to cause a lot of stress onto the average person. Added onto that stress is the thought of your plants and flowers, of which you’ve spent precious hours and effort to grow, either dying during the move or needing to be thrown out. We’ve listed 7 easy steps for you to keep your green thumb alive as you move and transport your plants from one location to another!
Get some shipping boxes from your local grocery store, Wal-Mart, or post office. Aim to ship your plant(s) out early in the week so that your package doesn’t get stuck in transit at the Post Office over the weekend.… Read the rest
Wouldn’t it be nice if the physically disabled could have accommodations to meet their needs right at home? Each room might reflect the design that provides adequate space, easy access, and storage for what is needed to maintain independence and a quality of life some people simply may take for granted.
Disabled Facilities Grants (DFG) benefit recipients regardless of age. For those who face the challenges of maintaining independence, Disabled Facilities Grants (DFG) are available. These grants address quality of life issues and focus on creating supportive home environments regardless of age. Through a DFG, a more active role at work, at school, and around town may be enjoyed.… Read the rest
During the hot Texas summer heat waves, all our hard work from the spring can go right out the window on our lawn and landscapes. Extra care needs to be done in order to keep the plants in our landscapes alive during the summer and especially during a heat wave. Here are some tips to keep your plants healthy and help them survive a heat wave.
Water, of course, is essential to keep your plants alive. If you are used to watering once a week, you will need to increase that to twice, and possible three times a week.
Note that young plants and trees that were planted during the spring will need extra care.… Read the rest
MOST HOMEOWNERS DON’T REALLY UNDERSTAND HOW IMPORTANT THE INSULATION IS NEEDED TO GIVE YOU COMFORT AND REDUCE THOSE ENERGY BILLS IN YOUR HOME. BELOW IS SOME SIMPLE INFO ON INSULATION.
HOW INSULATION WORKS
You need insulation in your home to provide resistance to heat flow. The more heat flow resistance your insulation provides, the lower your heating and cooling costs.
Heat flows naturally from a warmer to a cooler space. In the winter, this heat flow moves directly from all heated living spaces to adjacent unheated garages, basements, and even to the outdoors. Heat flow can also move indirectly through interior floors, walls and ceilings wherever there is a difference in temperature.… Read the rest
Very few homeowners realize the need to drain a few gallons of water from your water heater twice a year. Regardless of the type of water heater you have, gas or electric, water heaters can develop a build up of sediment at the bottom of the tank. This build up can cause the water heater to operate inefficiently, shortening the life span of the appliance. Prior to draining water from your tank, you need to understand the proper way and safety concerns of performing this task. It is very important that when you are doing this maintenance to your water heater, you make sure the appliance is turned off and that you protect yourself from a potential burn.… Read the rest
You may be surprised at just how much your window treatments can affect the appearance of a home. Many people tend to see them simply as additions to the home that are only there to serve a practical purpose. This couldn’t be further from the truth as certain window treatments can help you achieve certain looks and effects in the home. One such example of this is the understated, subtle option of wooden venetian blinds, which can really play a big part in helping you give your home a modern appearance.
One of the very first things that people consider when it comes to any factor of interior design is colour, and venetian blinds are no exception to this rule.… Read the rest
One of the most important things you should do before purchasing a home is to have it checked out by a professional. They will be able to investigate your potential home for termites, mold, water damage and a host of other problems. These building inspections could save you from making one of the biggest financial blunders in your life. The following are the top five reasons it’s a good investment to have a building inspected before you decide to purchase it.
1. It Allows You Peace of Mind
A home inspection will help you better understand the condition that your potential home is in and if there are any defects.… Read the rest