As the summer draws to a close, homeowners everywhere start getting their homes ready for cooler weather. From rolling up the hose to cleaning the gutters, there’s a lot to do to make sure your home is ready for the fall and winter. Your deck is just one more of those items to prepare and check off the list. Here are 5 deck maintenance tips to follow at the end of summer, so your deck is prepped and ready for cooler temps and harsher weather:

Clean and Store Outdoor Furniture, Cushions, Rugs, and Lighting

The first step to getting your deck ready for the fall is stowing away any furniture, cushions, rugs, or outdoor lighting that might not stand up to fall winds or winter snow. Take the time to give cushions and rugs a good wash, and then store everything safely in the garage or basement, so it doesn’t blow away or become damaged in the harsher weather. Once you’ve got your deck cleared off, it’ll be easier to perform some of those key end-of-summer deck maintenance items. 

Wash Your Deck

Whether you have a composite deck or a wood deck, the fall is the best time to wash it. First, it’s not so hot that the work is unbearable. Second, getting your deck clean before the cooler weather hits is a good idea — it can help extend the life of your deck. It also makes staining and sealing a breeze (we’ll get to that deck maintenance tip in a little bit). 

For most composite decks, a simple soap and water solution applied with a standard brush or sponge should get the job done. You may have to work a little harder with a wood deck, but you can also use a simple household solution, like warm soapy water, to do the cleaning. There are some wood-specific deck washes available at your local hardware store, which can be great if your deck needs a deep-clean, but usually, a simple at-home cleaning solution will work just fine. 

Once you’ve washed your deck, be sure to rinse well and let it dry before you complete any other end-of-summer deck maintenance. 

Check for Popped Nails or Broken Screws

After your deck is clean and dry, it’s time to give it a once-over for any popped nails or screws that may have come loose. If you’ve washed your deck already, you’ve likely found a few problem spots, and this is your chance to fix them. 

Gently pull out any nails that are sticking out, and replace them with deck screws longer than the hole the nail made. If screws or boards are loose, now is the time to tighten them up. Extreme temperature fluctuations happen often in the fall and winter, which can make loose boards worse. If you fix them up now, you’ll have less to worry about when it’s time to get the deck ready for spring.  

Repair Split Decking Boards

Most composite decks won’t have this problem, but split boards in wood decking are important to address before winter comes around. Over time, wood decking can warp and split, and while it doesn’t initially present much of a problem, as more boards begin to split, and as those splits get larger, the structural integrity of your deck can come into question. 

It’s important to repair any split decking boards now. In the winter, water can get into those cracks and freeze, causing the cracks to expand. That means a lot more work for you in the spring. By replacing or repairing those split boards now, you’ll save yourself some work down the road. 

Stain and Seal Wood Decking

This last end-of-summer deck maintenance tip is specifically for those with a wood deck. Composite decking doesn’t need to be stained or sealed since it’s manufactured with a water-repellant layer that holds up exceptionally well against the elements. 

If you have a wood deck, it’s good to stain and seal it now that you’ve washed the deck and made any necessary repairs. The stain and sealant will adhere much better to a clean deck, and it’s important to seal it now, so your deck is protected from heavy rain and snow.

Start by staining, if your deck has started to look a little faded. If you’ve stained the deck in the last year or so, you can skip this step and move right onto sealing. The sealing process is the most important, as the sealant repels water, protecting your deck from rotting or molding as it sits under a layer of snow through the winter. 

Once your deck is clean, fixed up, stained and sealed, you’re as prepared as you can be for winter! If you’re ready to get started on your end-of-summer deck maintenance, or if your looking to switch to a lower maintenance deck material, Zeeland Lumber & Supply has you covered. Stop into one of our nearby locations, give us a call at 888-772-2119, or contact us online today for more information on all the materials you need to complete that deck maintenance before fall rolls around.

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