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.
When I decided to become a home inspector, I got into a habit of inspecting things everywhere I went. I honestly cannot help myself anymore, it’s just what I do. Being a father and just loving kids in general, I started noticing things when I would go to playgrounds in the Arlington, Mansfield and Burleson areas with my own kids or with my nieces and nephews that worried me about their safety. I recently pulled some information from the CDC website I thought I would share to remind parents of how important it is to keep you children safe from serious injury.… Read the rest
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
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
When people think about blood sucking insects, they first picture a mosquito or tick. Did you know bed bugs are also blood suckers. The tiny, sneaky insects are spreading so rapidly across the United States that almost no region or area is unbitten, a new survey suggests. The United States has seen a 50-fold increase in bed bug infestations over the last five years, according to the National Pest Management Association. An entomologist told MSNBC, “It’s like the return of the wooly mammoth,” as many of his peers had previously never seen a single bed bug in their careers. The outbreak has affected most parts of North America and Europe, especially in urban areas.… Read the rest
Stainless steel has become very popular in many households these days. If you have this metal alloy that has become popular for sinks and appliances, you have a great surface that doesn’t corrode or rust easily. Stainless steel is easy to sanitize and clean. It actually isn’t stain-proof, it simply stains less than other steel. Chemical residues, dirty water, and even hard water can leave stains and spots on stainless steel. It can also be dented and scratched fairly easily. Manufacturers are now offering new types of finishes that diminish scratching and fingerprints.
Anyone with an appliance with a stainless steel finish, such as a dishwasher, refrigerator or oven, likes to see a streak-free surface.… Read the rest
A moisture meter is a device designed to measure the moisture content of various building materials, such as roofing, siding, insulation, drywall, plaster, wood, tile and fiberglass. Structural and safety hazards, such as mold, rot and decay are all potential consequences of elevated moisture levels in these materials. An inspector can use a moisture meter to locate moisture that would not otherwise be apparent.
Here are a few ways that inspectors may find moisture meters useful:
•A moisture meter can be used to determine whether a material is moist enough to allow mold to grow. Mold will begin to accumulate on surfaces that contain approximately 20% moisture, although this value varies based on vapor pressure and other factors.… 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
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
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
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