HomeOutdoor Living IdeasDeck Maintenance: Do’s & Don’ts by Deck Material

Deck Maintenance: Do’s & Don’ts by Deck Material

May 13, 2021

Decks need regular maintenance to retain their appearance and structural integrity. When done properly and routinely, deck maintenance can increase your deck’s lifespan and reduce the likelihood of future repairs or replacements. In brief, deck maintenance protects your outdoor living space investment.

So, what does deck maintenance require? The maintenance needs of your deck depend on its material composition.

Ensure your deck stays safe and beautiful for years to come with these dos and don’ts of deck maintenance for the two most common deck materials:

Do’s & Don’ts of Traditional Wood Deck Maintenance

Traditional wood is an organic material and is vulnerable to moisture damage and weathering. To keep it in the best shape possible, you’ll need to follow a rigorous maintenance schedule.

Following these wood deck maintenance tips of dos and don’ts may stave off common problems like fading, cracking, and splitting, but will not prevent them entirely.

Do’s for Traditional Wood Decks

Deck maintenance do inspect your deck

Do Inspect Your Deck

Performing an annual deck inspection of the surface and substructure helps you catch problems — such as loose or rusted fasteners, moisture damage at ground contact, or joist issues — before they develop into larger (and more costly) problems like full deck replacement.

Deck maintenance do clean your deck

Do Clean Your Deck

Cleaning with an appropriate deck cleaning solution kills mold and bacteria, while scrubbing exfoliates the wood so it better absorbs stain and/or sealer. Be careful not to use harsh stripping agents or scrub too hard. Let the deck dry for 48 hours after cleaning before doing any more work.

Deck maintenance do sand, stain, and seal

Do Sand, Stain, & Seal

Sand the wood to smooth out any splintered areas. Then apply wood deck stain and/or sealer* to protect the wood. Note that wood deck stain can contain Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) which are not eco-friendly and can leach into the ground. Cover nearby plants to protect them from chemicals.

*Pressure-treated wood decks need a stain and/or sealer, but exotic hardwoods, such as Ipe, may require a brightener and/or oil to restore color and seal it.

Do Budget for Wood Deck Maintenance

Costs for deck cleaners, stains, and sealers aren’t the only maintenance costs that add up year after year. If you hire a contractor to perform your annual deck maintenance, labor is likely your highest cost. Make sure you budget appropriately for your deck’s maintenance needs so you won’t be surprised by the expenses.

Don’ts for Traditional Wood Decks

Wood deck stain that has cracked and faded.

Prevent Damaging Your Wood Deck by Avoiding These Methods

  • Don’t use a high-powered pressure washer because it can gouge the wood if not held at the correct angle. Using a garden hose with a high-pressure nozzle will do the job without the risk of causing damage.
  • Don’t use chlorine bleach to clean your deck. Chlorine is a harsh chemical that will strip your wood deck of its natural color and may even damage the structural integrity of the boards.
  • Don’t use paint as a sealant. Painting the deck often doesn’t penetrate the wood but forms a film over the board which will quickly peel and crack. Instead, choose a penetrating semi-transparent stain to give your deck a bit of color while still protecting the wood.

Do’s & Don’ts of Composite Deck Maintenance

Do's & Don'ts of Composite Deck Maintenance

TimberTech® composite decking is designed with nature-inspired beauty and premium durability that requires minimal maintenance.

Our capped polymer decking line, TimberTech TimberTech® AZEK®, and capped composite decking lines, TimberTech PRO® and TimberTech EDGE®, have slightly different maintenance needs. READ THE CARE & CLEANING GUIDES

Follow these dos and don’ts to maximize your TimberTech deck’s performance and keep it looking its best.

Do’s for Composite Decks

Do Inspect Your Deck Substructure Annually

TimberTech capped polymer and capped composite decking is moisture- and weather-resistant, so your deck surface is unlikely to develop the problems associated with a traditional wood deck.

However, your deck’s substructure is likely made of traditional lumber.

routine inspection of the substructure can identify common problems such as:

  • Mold and mildew growth
  • Rot
  • The ledger board pulling away from the house
  • Any other structural concerns

Protect your joists & ledger board with TimberTech PRO-Tac™ Flashing & Joist Tape. LEARN MORE

Do Keep Your Deck Surface Free of Debris

Be sure to frequently sweep off dirt, leaves, and other yard debris from your deck to keep the surface clear and pristine — and especially before cleaning the deck surface.

Do Clean & Rinse Routinely

Clean your deck periodically with TimberTech® DeckCleaner™ and rinse with a garden hose.

Be sure to use the appropriate cleaning brush for the type of decking you have:

Closely read through the CARE & CLEANING GUIDES for complete instructions.

Don’ts for Composite Decks

Refrain from these maintenance methods as they could be less effective and potentially damaging.

  • Don’t clean the deck in direct sunlight, as it could cause the cleaner to dry too quickly. This will cause a white residue which will need to be washed again.
  • Don’t use other brands of composite deck cleaner. Many of these cleaners are designed for traditional uncapped composite deck boards. Today’s innovative TimberTech decking products are capped, and so require the right cleaner to keep your deck looking great.
  • Don’t use harsh chemical cleaners. The wrong chemical cleaner could discolor or permanently damage your deck surface. Be sure to spot-check a small area before applying a chemical cleaner to your entire deck.

Partner With a Professional for Your Decking Needs

Partner with a professional for your decking needs

Have Questions? We’ve Got Answers

Refer to our technical resource center for greater insight into maintenance needs for TimberTech composite decking, across product lines and material types.

Looking for a Contractor?

If you’re interested in finding an expert to perform your deck inspection — or if you’re ready to ditch wood for high-performance, low-maintenance composite decking — talk to a contractor.

Partnering with a TimberTech-registered contractor gives you access to product and industry expertise, so you can make the best decision for your outdoor living space.

Bring the Beauty of TimberTech to Your Backyard

Work with one of our registered contractors for a build that transforms your outdoor living space.

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