Barbara and Phil Johnson, of Mobile, Alabama, faced a similar problems other deck owners do. Throughout the years, the weather as well as their kids and pets took a toll on their backyard deck. Damages and the appearance were bad enough for the Johnsons to think about ripping the whole thing up and starting over.
Before taking that drastic step, they spoke with Danny Lipford, owner and president of Lipford Construction in Mobile, for advice. According to Lipford, the Johnsons’ deck is in better shape than many more. “This part of the country is difficult on decks,” he says. “I’m sometimes motivated to replace pressure-treated decks which can be below eight years old.” He adds, “The majority of these decks are victims of neglect. With regular maintenance, a deck will easily go on for twice as long.” Fortunately that many decks, such as this one, can be rejuvenated for much lower than the cost of replacement.
Following are some techniques will give a well used deck a new lease on life, or maintain the look of a fresh one. For this project, we enlisted George Graf, a lead carpenter with Mobile’s Lipford Construction, and John Starling, owner of John the Painter. Hiring pros is simple about the schedule but difficult on your budget-the expense of repairing a 700-sq.-ft. deck is $700, or about $1 per sq . ft .. Doing the project yourself will surely cost another the maximum amount of.
Begin by inspecting the complete deck. Pay special attention to any portion of the deck that is certainly in direct contact with the soil, for example the posts, stair stringers or joists that are at ground level. Graf relies on a screwdriver to examine for structural damage. “If you can sink the tip of a screwdriver into a post or joist, it means the you’ve got rot and it’s time for a major renovation,” Graf says.
Also, inspect the deck-to-house connection. “Screws and bolts can loosen and rust,” he says. “Without having the proper consumption of spacers and flashing, moisture can cause your band joist to rot.”
Tighten the fasteners that attach the best local deck repair on the house, seek out any missing, bent or rusted flashing and carefully inspect in and out for virtually any telltale black stains that suggest moisture is working its distance to your property.
Next, try to find any cosmetic damage. By way of example, tap down any popped nails or consider replacing them screws. For the Johnsons’ deck, Graf used galvanized ring-shanked nails as he replaced a few damaged boards. “Screws don’t pop like nails, ” he says “but you want the newest boards to suit the remainder of the deck.”
Here’s the unhealthy news: Every deck needs to have an annual cleaning. Assuming they are maintained regularly, most decks could be revived with only a deck cleaner. Some products, like Thompson’s Deck Wash ($10, 1 gal. covers 250 sq. ft.), you mix in a bucket and pertain to the deck; others, like GE’s Weathermate ($30, 1 gal. covers 500 sq. ft.), come in containers with integral applicators that you hook up to and including garden hose. Once on the deck, most still require a stiff-bristle brush and many elbow grease to work the mixture in the wood.
Always wear eye protection and gloves when you use concentrated chemicals. You’ll want to protect nearby plants. The degree of plant protection depends upon the type and concentration of the chemicals you end up picking. For weak solutions and “plant-friendly” cleaners, you might need to only mist the plants before and after using cleaning. Powerful deck restorers burns up leaves on contact; in that case you need to cover nearby plants with plastic sheeting.
For tackling tough stains, make use of a pressure washer (about $70 a day), the best idea method to remove sun-damaged wood fibers and tackle scrub-resistant stains. Graf recommends utilizing a fan-type nozzle as opposed to a pinpoint nozzle that will dig into the wood. For taking off the mildew, Graf mixes his very own cleaning solution (see “Deciding on the best Cleaner,” about the facing page), that he feeds to the intake hose about the washer.
Talk about the deck with a stiff-bristle brush to be effective the cleaner in the wood fibers, and after that rinse. The boards should be kept damp in order for the cleaning means to fix work effectively. Permit the deck to dry thoroughly before staining.
You can find a large number of deck-cleaning products on the market. Most contain one of many following four chemicals as their main ingredient. Each works well for different types of stains.
Sodium hypochlorite: This chemical-chlorine bleach-is perfect for removing mildew but isn’t effective on dirt or any other stains. So combine it with an ammonia-free detergent. Thoroughly rinse the deck after applying this chemical mainly because it can eat away in the wood, resulting in fuzzing and premature graying.
Sodium percarbonate: When together with water, this chemical forms hydrogen peroxide (an oxygen-based bleach) and sodium carbonate, which provides a detergent. It is useful for removing dirt, mildew and weathered wood.
Oxalic acid: This is certainly good at removing iron stains as well as the brown-black tannins that frequently occur with cedar and redwood decks. This acid is typically seen in deck brighteners. Oxalic acid isn’t effective against mildew, so you might want to make use of it after washing the deck by using a bleach-based cleaner.
Sodium hydroxide: Often known as lye, here is the key ingredient generally in most finish lifters or removers. Don’t let it rest on too long, or it can eat away on the wood.
Use caution when working with any of these chemicals, particularly if they’re inside their most concentrated (premixed) form. Wear the appropriate safety equipment and adhere to the manufacturer’s directions to the letter. Rinse the top thoroughly and give it time to dry before refinishing.
Once all the repairs happen to be made along with the deck is clean, it’s time to apply a protective finish. Clear finishes and transparent stains are acceptable for new wood, however, for older decks, Starling recommends employing a semitransparent stain.
“The grain still shows through, although the pigment provides the old wood a clean, uniform color and will help the newest wood match,” he says. The pigment offers extra defense against the damaging results of the sun and will keep going longer than clear finishes. Unlike paint, stain is absorbed from the wood and is not going to form a film on its surface, so it will not peel or chip.
Starling utilizes a sprayer and 2-in. brush to use the stain. “Spraying is fast, and puts more stain about the wood than rolling or brushing,” Starling says. Most painters and homeowners are more satisfied spraying with a generous coat of stain and then following up with a roller or brush to open up puddles and work the finish to the wood. Starling, however, relies on a modified technique. “Rollers push the stain from the wood and across the cracks,” he says. “I don’t get money to paint dirt underneath the deck.” Starling sprays over a light coat, almost all of that is quickly absorbed into the wood. He uses the brush to get rid of puddles. “If the stain’s too thick, it dries blotchy,” he explains. Starling recycles the excess stain to use on exposed end grain.
Starling recommends starting in an inside corner and working out, applying the stain parallel for the deck boards. To avoid staining the nearby brick, he utilizes a small piece of cardboard as a spray shield; the brush provides a lot more control around deck railings and posts.
This 700-sq.-ft. deck required about 5 gal. of stain – almost twice as much as being the estimates indicated in the can. Explains Starling, “Old wood can get thirsty. On some decks, I’ll should apply 2 or 3 coats of stain to acquire a uniform finish.”
Subsequent coats needs to be applied as the first coat is still wet or they will never be absorbed into the wood. Stain won’t peel, however it can wear away, especially in high-traffic areas. Starling recommends applying a whole new coat every other year. A specific water repellent can be applied between stainings for additional protection.
As the original railing on their deck was in such bad shape, the Johnsons decided to change it with a maintenance-free railing system. They chose Fiberon, a vinyl-coated wood-plastic composite. It’s for sale in premade panels or as kits. The Johnsons liked the contrast the white railing offered.
To have an existing deck or concrete slab, Fiberon creates a surface-mount bracket, as shown below. For first time decks, the producer recommends installing the posts prior to the decking and taking advantage of metal brackets that affix to the joists. To conceal any minor gaps where the balusters meet the bottom rail, Graf recommends utilizing a mildew-resistant acrylic caulk.