Tips for the care and finishing of wood decks


Are you building a deck?

The environment and physical location of your wood structure will have considerable impact on its maintenance. A structure that is constantly exposed to the sun’s UV rays and to weather will require more regular attention and higher end products.

A wood structure that is located in a humid environment (near ground level, near regularly used automatic lawn sprinklers, with low air circulation and surrounded by shrubs planted right up to the edges of the deck) will require much more maintenance to avoid rotting.

It is therefore very important to consider all these elements in the planning phase of your project.

 

Tips to use during construction:

  • Remember to leave 1/4" between boards.
  • Build your deck at least 3 ft. from the ground to reduce humidity.
  • Allow for proper air flow when skirting a raised deck.
  • Don’t use a geotextile tarp underneath the deck.
  • Don’t fix the planks from the top down, but use invisible fasteners instead. These will help prevent the wood from splitting, avoid possible injuries from raised nail heads, and prevent water infiltration that will eventually rot the deck. Invisible fasteners will also give you a perfectly smooth and esthetic surface.

 

How to tell if the deck needs treating?

  • The colour is fading
  • Water does not run off anymore
  • The colour darkens when it rains
  • The finish is blistered and seems dry
  • The wood is gray and flaky
  • There is mould or moss on the wood
  • It hasn’t been treated in more than 3 years!

The areas that are most exposed to the sun (flooring, hand rails, horizontal surfaces, window panes, garage door base, etc.) require more frequent treatment. It is very important to maintain these surfaces every year to keep them in good shape.

Other areas will need treating on average every 3 to 10 years depending on their exposure to the sun and the quality of the previous treatment. Rules of thumb: rails should be done every 4 years on average, northern facing structures every 6 years, fences painted every 10 years, etc.

Tip: When in doubt, it is best to do the maintenance. A dull but still passable finish is more economical to treat than one that has already started to peel, flake or wear off.

 

When is the best time to treat my deck?

Surprisingly, and against popular belief, spring is not the ideal time to treat your deck. It is best to do this in the fall, to give the wood deck maximum protection during the winter months.It should not be less than 10 degrees for 12 hours after application

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