Wooden decks are subject to constant abuse from tough weather conditions and foot traffic. But with periodic maintenance, any Florida deck can be kept looking its best for decades. What does “periodic maintenance” mean when it comes to wooden decks? To find out, we invite you to check below our answers along with some tips to three questions we’ve recently received from our readers.
Q #1: “I’m planning on restoring my Florida deck this summer. How can I tell if it needs any repairs?”
A: The first thing you need to do is inspect your deck, paying attention to deck boards, support structure, railings and any elements in direct contact with the ground. To check for structural damage, press the tip of a flathead screwdriver against the wood. If the tip sinks into a deck board, post or joist easily, it could be rotting. In this case, remove the rotting wood together with any other deck elements that are damaged and install new ones. Then, look for nails that have come loose. Replace them with longer screws to better fasten the components in place and make the deck sturdier.
Good to Know: If you hire a reputable professional with plenty of experience and the right equipment, he will take care of any issues relating to deck restoration. At Performance Painting Contractors, for instance, our experienced professionals are able to correctly identify and address the underlying causes of wood damage, perform repairs, restain and reseal any type of wooden deck.
Q #2: “What’s the proper way to clean my wooden deck? Can I use a pressure washer and a regular cleaner?”
A: The easiest way to keep your Florida deck clean is to sweep it once a week. Routinely removing dust and debris will prevent dirt build-up together with mildew, mold and dry rot problems. But at least once a year, you need to give your deck a thorough cleaning. For this, scrub the surface using a stiff-bristle brush and:
– an eco-friendly cleaner or a solution that contains sodium percarbonate for areas with heavily soiled sections;
– a non-chlorine oxygen bleach to get rid of algae, moss, lichen and mildew stains;
– an oxalic acid-based cleaner for areas with iron and tannin stains.
If you opt for a chlorine-based cleaning solution to eliminate mold, use it with caution. Chlorine can damage the wood’s fibers, and it’s toxic to people, pets and plants.
Good to Know: Always let the cleaning product sit for the amount of time recommended. Then, rinse the surface using a garden hose with a spray nozzle or a pressure washer. If you’re pressure washing your Florida deck, use a green (25-degree) or a white (40-degree) nozzle. Also, adjust the settings between 600 and 800 psi and hold the nozzle at about 6 inches from the deck’s surface. When spraying, move the wand slowly and steadily from one side to the other, in line with the wood grain. If the water jet is too strong, or you keep it in one place too long, it can damage the surface of your deck.
Q #3: “I’ve spent the last three days searching for the best deck finishing option. How do I choose the right product for my deck?”
A: To help you choose a product best suited to your Florida deck, we’ve compiled a short list of deck finishes.
- Stains. Exterior wood stains are divided into two major categories:
1) film-forming products that protect the wood by forming a film on the surface;
2) penetrating stains which absorb completely into the wood, lasting much longer than film-forming finishes;
Stains are further divided into water- and oil-based products and range from semi-transparent to semi-solid in opacity.
- Sealers. Today, you can find a variety of sealers, such as:
– waterproofing sealers which can better protect your Florida deck from moisture and rainwater;
– sealers with UV blockers (also called wood toners) that provide extra protection from the sun’s rays;
– water-repellent wood preservatives which protect against dry rot, mildew, mold growth and wood-destroying insects.
- Paints. Developed for outdoor use, deck paints are durable, flexible, breathable and highly resistant to peeling, flaking and fading. They also have great water resistance and antifungal properties to minimize dry rot.
- Primers. A stain-blocking acrylic latex- or alkyd-based primer should always be applied before painting a Florida deck.
Good to Know: Proper deck preparation and application procedures of the finishing products will greatly minimize the need for subsequent rework. Irrespective of the stains, sealers, paints or primers you intend to use, be sure to buy high-quality products. Before using them, read the directions on the label to determine the ideal application thickness and procedure for each product.
That’s about it! For additional advice, please feel free to drop us a line using our contact form or call our friendly support team at (904)-641-4800 or (813)-308-0388 in Jacksonville or Tampa, FL. We’ll be happy to help.