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:
- Traditional wood
- Composite decking
Dos & 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.
Dos for Traditional Wood Decks
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Dos & Don’ts of Composite Deck Maintenance
KEEP IN MIND
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.
Dos for Composite Decks
Do Inspect Your Deck Substructure Annually
However, your deck’s substructure is likely made of traditional lumber.
A routine inspection of the substructure can identify common problems such as:
- Mold and mildew growth
- The ledger board pulling away from the house
- Any other structural concerns
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
Be sure to use the appropriate cleaning brush for the type of decking you have:
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
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.