Annual Maintenance – Protect your investment

Protect your investment so it will be an asset for the life of your home. Brazilian Hardwoods properly cared for will outlast your home. However, just putting a finisher is not all there is to it. You should look at your deck annually. Spring is a great time as you anticipate the footfalls of loved ones and friends.

The following is not an exhaustive list. It is a starting point.

Check the Structure

Look for water stains inside your home where the deck ties to the house. Ongoing water leakage can lead to wood decay, weakening the deck structure and the house. For decks that are supported by the home’s structure on one side, be sure that the ledger board is properly attached with bolts (not nails) sufficient to support the load. Where the deck attaches to the house is a common source of deck failure. Also look at support posts and joists under the deck (if you can reach them), deck boards, railings and stairs.

Moisture: Pay special attention to any areas that tend to remain damp, are regularly exposed to water, or are in contact with fasteners. Use a tool like an ice pick or a screwdriver to penetrate the wood surface. – If you can easily penetrate ¼ –½ inch, break off a sliver of wood without splinters, or the wood is soft and spongy, decay may be present.

Insects: This is also a good time to look for small holes in the wood, which may indicate insects.

Flashing: -Flashing is a metal or plastic guard that directs water out and away from sensitive areas. It’s often installed where the deck and house come together, keeping moisture and debris from collecting between the house and the deck’s ledger board. Be certain the flashing is sound and firmly in place. Consider adding or replacing flashing if you notice areas that are obviously allowing water to collect.

Loose or corroded fasteners: -Fasteners include nails, screws or anchors in the ledger board (the board that attaches the deck to the house). Tighten any loose fasteners, and pound in any nails that have popped up. (Note: The ledger board should not be fastened with only nails.) -If a fastener appears rusted or corroded, consider replacing it. A corroded fastener can cause deterioration in surrounding wood. -The deck or stairs should appear even without sagging and should not sway or move when tested.

Railings: Secure the Railings Give banisters a good strong bump to make sure they’re securely fastened to the structure. Then check that all the dimensions are up to code. Railings must be 36 inches high and rails must be no more than 4 inches apart to keep small children and pets from squeezing through. This is especially important the higher your deck is off the ground.

Stairs: -Check any railings or handrails to be sure they are firmly held in place; check also the risers and stringers to be certain they are securely attached and not decayed. -If the area behind the stair treads is open, this opening should be no more than 4″ high. – Keep stairs clear of planters, toys and other items that can present a tripping hazard.

Cleaning -Clean away any leaves and debris, since these can be slippery and promote mildew. Now is the time to clean and apply a new coat of Finisher to your deck.

Review Cooking Equipment You’re probably going to fire up the grill many times over the coming months. Make sure your outdoor cooker is positioned a safe distance from the house or any flammable surfaces. -Be sure to keep all deck related chemical products stored safely away from children, including BBQ lighter fluids, matches, cleaners, and so forth.

Grills, fire pits, chimneys: -These focal point features can create a warm and cozy deck atmosphere. Make sure any source of fire or heat is safely placed away from flammable surfaces. Also, look for any cracks, rust, or other sources of failure. Many people use items all the time and the deterioration is so gradual they do not realise the problem until it fails.

Lighting and electrical: -Be sure lighting is working; clean any light covers to allow maximum light to shine through, and trim any plants or tree limbs that may be blocking light. -Be sure electrical outlets, appliances and features are up to code, in good condition, and childproof if children are present.

Inspect the Furnishings Test all outdoor furniture for stability, ensuring that no parts have come loose. Avoid placing seats near the edge of a deck, even if the surface is just a few feet off the ground. If you have swings or hammocks, make sure that their chains are securely fastened to a structural member of the house. Consider installing childproof latches on any storage boxes and benches.

Surrounding trees: Trees Grow. They were not there when you built your deck but they are probably there now. If you have trees overhanging your deck, make certain there is no danger of decaying limbs breaking free and falling from trees surrounding the deck.

Super comprehensive deck check form. This is for the sophiticated DIYer and the pros however everyone can benefit. From teh NADRA site.