Archive for the ‘Decks’ Category
We get lots of questions about this when the weather cools down and people want to go back out to their lower humidity, mosquito free backyards! Taking a look in the backyard, algae and mold can form on a deck, especially in heavy shade which we have often here in Hampton Roads, Norfolk, Virginia beach, Chesapeake and Portsmouth VA. The algae and mold not only look bad, it can be very slippery when wet.
Here’s what to do with that deck to make it great! If the algae and mold are fairly light you can wash it off with a deck cleaning solution. First wet the deck down with water and spray the solution on. The directions on the bottle will probably say to let it sit for 15 minutes but I have found that if you scrub the solution in with a broom, then spray it again and then let it sit, it works much better. Do not let the solution dry out during the 15 minutes, keep spraying the deck if you have to. When you wash it off, use a hose with a good strong nozzle.
If your deck has a heavy coat of algae and mold it may take 20 or 30 times to get it clean with a deck cleaning solution. This is when it is time to get on your knees with a scrub brush or use a pressure washer. If you use a pressure washer you should know that the wood on your deck will be a little rougher when you are finished. The wood between the grain that is in the first stages of decomposing will be stripped away giving you a texture somewhat like a rough sawn cedar. If you have tender feet and walk around on your deck barefoot often,may not want to pressure wash. The great thing about pressure washing is that it will take your deck down to bare wood and you can start fresh with a stain or sealer and achieve the look you are going for. With a deck cleaning solution you probably won’t get down to bare wood but i have found that if you get it to an even gray tone you can use a natural colored stain (not clear) and achieve a nice look.
Okay, so you are done scrubbing or spraying onto staining !- The 2 main bases for stains are oil and water. Oil based stains penetrate the wood better but if they do not have an algaecide they will grow algae easier than a water based stain. The algaecides used are not environmentally or people friendly. Water based stain does not last as long but does not promote the growth of algae and is safer for people and the environment.
Types of stain include clear, semi-transparent and solid. The clear stains are water most people call water sealer. It basically leaves the deck with its natural color and must be applied every year or when you notice the water no longer beads up on the deck. Semi-transparent stains allow the grain of the wood to show through but gives the deck any color you want. Semi-transparent stains lasts about 2 years. Solid color stains give a more solid look and allow almost no wood grain to show through. They last about 4 years and will begin to peel when they wear out. The peeling affect is very unattractive, much more so than just a fading stain. Once you go with a solid color stain you can’t go back without doing a lot of work.
For me, the semi-transparent stain is the best overall choice. I like the natural wood tone colors that give the deck a high-end wood look. Just remember, the stain should last a while so go with what suits you best and enjoy your like-new deck!
Things to consider before installation of a deck:
- If you are planning to do a lot of cooking out your deck should be easily accessible from your kitchen.
- If the deck will have a hot tub it should be close to a bedroom, bathroom, mudroom or some type of dressing area.
- If there will be a table and chairs on the deck it should be easy to walk around with all of the chairs occupied with people
- Steps should be placed where you can easily access the most used areas of your yard (trash cans, shed, play area etc.)
- Sun and wind can effect your enjoyment of the deck. If your deck is sun drenched and you live in a hot climate it may not get used all summer. If possible you may want to build your deck where you can feel the breezes in the summertime, normally those breezes come from the west, southwest and south. If you plan to use your deck in the winter it should be shielded from the north wind.
- If privacy is an issue you may want to build your deck close to the ground to take the most advantage of your privacy fence. (on a side note most localities allow you to install 2’ of lattice across the top of a 6’ fence giving you a surprising amount of privacy, your local deck contractor should know your local codes). Lattice walls can also be built on the side of a deck to provide privacy.
- You must decide if you want rails or not. If your deck is over 30” off of the ground you must have rails. Not having rails can make your deck seem bigger and will not impede your view of the surrounding area. Rails will give you a more sophisticated look and make your deck safer if it is more than 8” off of the ground. You can also incorporate seating into your rails which is a great addition to a large deck. On a small deck built in seating often takes up too much space.
On an average pressure treated pine deck 3’ off of the ground with rails and one set of steps you should be expecting to pay about $16 per square foot. On a ground level deck with no rails you can figure about $12 per square foot. If you want benches built into your rails it will cost you about $20 per linear foot. Of course all of these prices can go up or down depending on the complexity of the deck style you choose.
If you decide to use composite, vinyl or higher end wood decking you will pay about 2 to 3 times as much as pressure treated pine depending on what type of material or manufacturer you choose.
The advantages and disadvantages are fairly obvious. Wood is cheaper and the others are maintenance free. One thing I’ve noticed about composite decking is that it seems to soak up stains with no way to remove them. If grease or other types of stains soak into the decking you either have to replace those deck boards or just live with it.
Wood deck Maintenance:
About a year after you have a pressure treated pine deck installed it should be sealed or stained. If you would like to keep the wood color then seal it with a clear sealant. I would seal it twice a year for the first couple of years then once a year after that. You will be able to see when the sealant wears out because water will no longer bead up on the surface. Stains are a bit more durable than clear sealant and come in many different colors. My favorite color is Bear Natural. This color can make an old pine deck look like a higher end wood deck. If you have an old weather beaten deck you would be surprised how good it can look if you clean it with some deck cleaning solution then stain it with a natural color.