Maintenance
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Deck Maintenance Tips

Protect your cabin investment and prevent rot with these pointers
By Kurt Anderson
Published: June 3, 2014
deck maintenance stain Benjamin Moore
MAINTENANCE – Every spring, inspect your deck for peeling, cracks, mold and mildew while cleaning it with a light cleaning solution and water. Another tip: Don’t leave planters in place; move them around.
Photo by Benjamin Moore (Arborcoat wood stain)
Wood decks are vulnerable to stresses from the elements that, combined with heavy loads, can quickly transform a beautiful elevated structure into an eyesore … or, worse, an unsafe platform that could collapse during a party. Follow these maintenance checks to keep your deck beautiful and sound.

Prevent rot
Regularly trim vegetation growing around your deck to promote good air circulation and prevent mold and mildew.

Leaves and other detritus lodged between deck boards can promote rot more quickly than almost any other factor.   Even worse, the moisture retained in the between-board gunk can quickly leach into the vulnerable sides of the deckboards, where stain doesn’t always penetrate. Regularly clean out gunk and sweep leaves and pine needles off the deck to keep it as dry as possible.

Stain more often
Many people wait until their last stain is almost gone before applying a new coat. But, as soon as the stain begins to fade, the boards are losing their protection against UV rays. This can cause minute cracking and splintering, which increases moisture penetration and enhances rot.
deck maintenance stain Benjamin Moore
APPLYING STAIN – After brushing stain onto the deck along its edges, apply stain with a roller or sprayer, three boards at a time, while a partner follows, brushing the stain in, keeping a wet edge to avoid lap marks.
Photo by Benjamin Moore (Arborcoat wood stain)
For optimal protection, re-apply fresh stain as soon as you notice more than a 10% fade from the original staining.

The cabin/deck connection

Decks attached to the rim joist of your cabin can be particularly vulnerable to collapse.

Snow loads, hot tubs, or even a deck overloaded with people at a summer bash can cause the deck to pull away from the cabin and send everything crashing down.

This is especially true if there is rot around the hardware attaching the deck to the cabin, or if the hardware is corroded or of insufficient strength.    

For best results, make sure the deck is bolted all the way through the rim joist of your cabin at 16–24-inch intervals, use corrosion-resistant bolts compatible with treated wood, and make sure the wood around the bolt is rot-free. If in doubt, drill additional holes in solid wood and use new bolts with locknuts and quality washers to keep your deck securely fastened to the cabin.

TO SEAL OR NOT TO SEAL?
Many factors will influence the water-resistance of your decking, including type of wood, stain effectiveness, foot traffic, and the elements. Decking that doesn’t bead up water after it rains is absorbing water, and should be sealed. Make sure the boards are dry before sealing, as whatever water is inside the boards will be trapped and can cause inside-out rotting.
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