7 Common Deck Maintenance Mistakes to Avoid for New Homeowners

Deck Maintenance
  • Author: Fazal Umer
  • Posted On: May 4, 2023
  • Updated On: July 5, 2023

Did you know that 17.5% of the 1.1 million single-family homes in the United States in 2021 had decks? In the New England region alone it’s over 60%, then 47% in the West North Central, and 41% in the Middle Atlantic. So while the overall build rate has dropped, these figures show that decks are still preferred in many U.S. homes.

Decks provide homeowners with an outdoor living space. They add to a home’s square footage, boost curb appeal, and increase property value.

Unfortunately, common deck maintenance mistakes can negate many of those benefits.

So as a new homeowner yourself, it’s imperative to learn what those errors are. Otherwise, your deck can become an eyesore and even pose safety risks.

Most Common Deck Maintenance Mistakes to Avoid

Below, we’ve discussed the don’ts of deck upkeep and what to do instead, so read on.

Not Following a Deck Maintenance Routine

Whether you have a wood, composite, or vinyl deck, you must wash it at least once a year in the spring. Then, come midsummer, inspect the system thoroughly for signs of disrepair. Finally, trim bushes and trees during early fall so they’re at least 12 inches from the deck.

Performing Deck Maintenance Under the Sun

It’s best to avoid doing this because it can put you at risk of heat-related illnesses (HRIs). Heat is dangerous, landing over 67,500 people in U.S. emergency departments yearly. 

deck maintenance under sun

Another good reason to avoid deck maintenance is that heat can cause a cleaning agent to dry fast. The chemical may then form a hard-to-remove residue on your deck’s surface. As a result, you’d have to spend even more time cleaning your outdoor space.

Schedule your maintenance early in the day. Alternatively, you can do it in the evening once the sun has set. If you can’t do either, create shade with awnings or tarps to slow down evaporation.

Washing Without Clearing the Deck First

If you wash your deck without removing items on top of it, water can build up around and under. Water can then seep into your decking material, promoting rot. Excess moisture also attracts mold, mildew, and pests.

So before cleaning your deck, remove tables, chairs, potted plants, toys, and mats first. This will allow the water you use for washing to drain effectively. It also lets you give your deck a thorough inspection.

Once you’ve cleared the space, you can sweep away dirt, debris, leaves, branches, and twigs.

Using Unrecommended Deck Cleaning Supplies

For annual washing, liquid dish soap diluted in warm water is safe for composite, vinyl, or wood decks. However, there are also specific cleaning solutions for different decking materials.

For example, the TimberTech DeckCleaner is specifically for cleaning composite TimberTech decks. So if you have one of these systems, use the manufacturer-recommended cleaning agent. You can use it for seasonal cleaning, spills, or stubborn stains.

Conversely, TimberTech warns against using other cleaners specified as composite deck cleaners. Therefore one can give a call to TimberTech Platinum decking contractor, which is your best chance at getting the right information about the cleaning supplies. 

Applying Cleaning Solutions on Large Areas

You can clean and maintain your deck in small sections during the day.

One reason is that, as mentioned above, cleaning solutions evaporate in the heat. However, they still dissipate in the open air, even if it’s not too hot. So if you apply them in one go all over your deck, you’ll unlikely be able to scrub them in before they dry up.

Not only will that extend your cleaning time, but it’ll also be a complete waste of your cleaning agent. You’d also have to use more water to remove them and clean your deck thoroughly.

Putting off Repairing Deck Damage

Continued exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, rain, snow, and ice stresses your deck. These elements can cause its components to contract and expand repeatedly. All these can cause the boards to loosen, crack, or even collapse, especially if they’ve started to rot.

repairing decks

That’s why you should inspect your deck at least once a year to catch problems early. Then, if you see any, fix them immediately to prevent them from worsening.

For instance, even the tiniest patch of mold can grow overnight if allowed to remain on a damp surface. It can become a much larger colony within a few days. It can then eat away at your deck’s organic materials, causing them to lose their mass and structure.

Fortunately, most decking manufacturer-recommended cleaning agents can remove molds. So, use yours immediately after seeing microbial growth on your deck. However, you may need to replace affected boards if some of their sections have started to rot.

Incorrect Coat Application

There are three primary types of deck coats: sealants, stains, and paints.

Sealants boast properties that make them waterproof or water-repellant. Their primary function is to protect against moisture damage. They usually don’t provide UV protection, as most do not have pigmentation. That way, you can make your composite deck last up to 25 years or enjoy your wood decking for up to 30 years.

coating for deck maintenance

On the other hand, stains have pigments that color and protect decks against UV damage. However, they’re not as protective as sealants against moisture.

Paint can offer moisture and UV protection, but they don’t last as long as sealants or stains.

Wood decks are those that benefit the most from the coats mentioned above. On the other hand, you must not apply sealant on solid plastic decking.

Do Deck Maintenance Smartly! 

Now that you know the most common deck maintenance mistakes, do your best to avoid them. Take help from professionals to avoid any nitty gritty misfortune that can otherwise cost you a double amount.

Check out our latest news and blog posts for more home improvement ideas, tips, and tricks!

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Author: Fazal Umer

Fazal is a dedicated industry expert in the field of civil engineering. As an Editor at ConstructionHow, he leverages his experience as a civil engineer to enrich the readers looking to learn a thing or two in detail in the respective field. Over the years he has provided written verdicts to publications and exhibited a deep-seated value in providing informative pieces on infrastructure, construction, and design.