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.
Perhaps one of the most practical ways to add a bit of character to the home is through the addition of a canopy. These decorative accents are available in a number of styles and can be fitted over doors, windows, patios and many more. Not only do they look good, but they also have a number of practical purposes as they can offer protection to you and your home in a number of circumstances. Here are a few reasons your home could benefit from a canopy
No matter what the style of your home is, you should be able to find a canopy to suit.… Read the rest
It’s time for the Fall season, which means the annual chores need to be done. Many of us put these chores off as long as possible. From raking, to cleaning the house, to splitting firewood, to getting ready for the holidays, these tasks need to get done. Many of these fall chores are physically exhausting. But, depending on your health, they can also be a great form of exercise and calorie burners.
Here are some healthy reasons why fall chores can help you get some exercise.
Raking Leaves – on average burns 280 calories per hour.
Whether you have to rake leaves or grass clippings from your lawn, this chore is exactly that – a chore.… Read the rest
One of the hottest trends in 21sthome decorating and design is the combination of antique furniture with modern and contemporary interiors. Antique furniture has always been around in flea markets, museums, and in privately owned shops, but recently, more and more ordinary people have preferred to incorporate the ageless appeal of every piece of it into their very own home. Antiques are a wonderful way to add depth and dimension to any part of the house. The superior craftsmanship behind each piece is just an icing on the cake.
Worth Every Dime You Pay For
Antique furniture pieces have earned a reputation of being ridiculously overpriced.… Read the rest
The main purpose of a roof is to protect the home from the elements. Rainfall is the #1 culprit of water getting underneath the roof structure. Water needs to be shed away from valleys, chimneys, ridges, eaves, rakes, skylights, roof penetrations and roof to wall intersections. Water built up in these particular locations can cause serious damage to the structure in wood rot and not to mention mold which is known to cause respiratory problems. The water usually doesn’t just stop there, it can penetrate down the attic structure, to the ceiling sheet-rock or down a wall and cause even more serious issues.… Read the rest
The number one question I get during home inspections is “How is the Foundation”. I decided to write this post to help people understand the North Texas area conditions regarding foundations. Movement in the foundation can be caused by many factors, the most common reason is differential soil movement. In the North Texas area many homes are sitting on top of expansive clay soils. Another term for this type of soil is “Sponge Soil”, increasing in volume in moisture gain and decreasing in moisture loss. When this volume increases or decreases in a uniformed matter all around the home, problems may not develop.… 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
I’ve listened to some outrageous claims from window replacement companies. The usual sales tactic is how much return on your investment by replacing your windows you’ll get. The fact of the matter is the new windows could take anywhere from 13 to 20 years to receive your investment back. Unfortunately, a lot of consumers believe the window company’s claims. I hear this myth repeated many times while doing home inspections throughout the Dallas and Fort Worth areas.
Don’t get me wrong, new windows can be a very good thing, but it miffs me just a bit that a vast amount of dealers in the market try to hype the return to make it sound as if your investment will be recouped in no time at all.… Read the rest
Many Americans are obsessed with their collections. Collectors search the world for the items that they need to complete their collection, often paying thousands or even millions of dollars for that perfect piece. Some collectors search for nostalgic items like action figures, baseball cards or metal lunch boxes while others search for items of great beauty like sculptures and paintings. Others collect coins and other possibly valuable items, searching for the piece that will allow them to retire to a private island in the Caribbean.
Hoarders, on the other hand, collect everything. Their houses fill to the brim with items that most of us would consider trash because they are unwilling, or unable, to throw anything away.… 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
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