Usually, this blog is all about the great things you can do to improve your deck space, like tricking it out with fantastic lighting or vibey furniture. As one of Denver’s premier custom deck builders, we want to help you find the best ways to build, add to, clean, and maintain your deck.
But not today.
This blog is all about warnings and what happens when we don’t heed them. You can learn a lot from others’ mistakes, and it’s not nearly as embarrassing or as expensive. It would be great if you took a moment to burn these into your mind (and maybe pass them on to your neighbors, too).
Here’s our list of 7 taboos for your deck:
1. Use Chlorine Bleach as a Deck Cleaner
While this chemical is great for sanitizing and killing mold and mildew, it’s a disastrous solution for your deck. Not only will bleach strip your wood of its natural color, but it will also destroy your wood’s lignin, the glue that holds the wood fibers together. Bleach can also do a corrosive number on the decking’s metal fasteners and other hardware. Instead, try going natural by adding a cup of vinegar to a gallon of water and giving your deck a soft scrub down.
2. Allow Leaves, Twigs, and Other Debris to Pile Up
A fall storm just blew through and dumped a ton of wet leaves and pine needles on your deck. It’s certainly more convenient to stay indoors for the weekend and enjoy college football, but that won’t do your deck any favors.
Dead and rotting leaves create lovely, moist homes for wood-boring insects and will leave ugly stains, making your deck look dirty and shabby. Quick, grab an outdoor broom and sweep that stuff away. Rinse off whatever’s left with a garden hose. You can do it during halftime.
3. Let Rust Collect on Metal Furniture and Appliances
Rain and snow have pounded your outdoor patio set all season long, and it’s starting to show. Your metal table and chair frames are beginning to leach rust onto the deck. All in all, the area is looking kind of gross, and you know rust stains are difficult to remove. Consider cleaning the rust off the furniture and giving it a fresh coat of paint or sealant. And in the future, invest in a few weather coverings to keep the moisture from getting to your stuff.
4. Misuse Your Pressure Washer
The best way to clean your deck is to break out the pressure washer, attach the narrow nozzle, and hit that sucker full blast, right? Wrong. If you have a softwood deck, anything above 600 PSI could easily damage your wood. Going above 1,500 PSI on a composite or hardwood deck may likewise cut it up badly. Use a fan nozzle and stay well under the PSI limits, and your deck won’t look like abstract art when you’re done.
5. Use a Wire Brush to Clean Rust and Other Stains
There’s nothing like a hard-wire bristle brush to scrape off stubborn deck stains … and your wood or composite, too. While decks are hardy and durable, they have their limits and probably won’t last very long if their surfaces are constantly scratched and scraped with hard metals.
You wouldn’t use steel wool on your ceramic dinner plates, so why use metal bristles on your deck? You’re right. There really is no good reason to do that. Stick to an outdoor brush made with natural Palmyra or synthetic nylon bristles, both of which will work for heavy-duty scrubbing without doing any damage.
6. Skimp on Saucers Under Your Potted Plants
I don’t know who came up with this brilliant idea, but it’s safe to say they probably don’t have a beautiful deck. Potted plants are a great way to bring out the natural vibe of your outdoor space, but not placing saucers under the pots just makes a big mess. Saucers catch water and soil from the pot that would otherwise leak out onto the deck, causing unsightly stains and inviting mold and mildew. Your local nursery will have a saucer for just about every size pot, and many planters even have saucers already attached. Do yourself (and your deck) a favor and go pick up a few today.
7. Put a Portable Fire Pit on Your Deck
The kids wanted to roast marshmallows, so we thought, why not bring the fire pit up from the patio to the deck? It seemed like a good idea at the time. That’s until it melted a hole into the decking and started a fire.
Here are some rules for happy roasting without the damage and destruction. First, never place the pit directly onto the deck. Just don’t do it. Ensure it sits on legs that lift the actual pit off the surface and always put a fire pit pad beneath it. These pads are usually made of stone or metal and are designed to protect the surface area under and around the fire pit.
Next, use a mesh screen to keep sparks from flying out of the pit and onto your wood deck.
Finally, pour an additional layer of sand into the pit before placing the wood and starting the fire. The key is to get as many layers of protection between the hot pit and your tender deck. Of course, if your fire pit is permanent and installed by a deck installation expert, you can rest assured that it has been set up with the proper safety precautions.
Here at SRI Decks, we don’t want you to become a deck disaster statistic. Follow these tips, and if you have any questions on deck care, contact our expert deck contractors anytime.