Fall Maintenance Checklist for Your Outdoor Deck
As autumn leaves begin to fall, outdoor decks face a new set of challenges, from the onslaught of damp foliage that can lead to rot and mold to the increased risk of slippery surfaces and pest infestation. In this checklist, we'll cover fall home maintenance tasks to ensure your deck remains safe, beautiful, and ready for the colder months ahead.
Whether or not you plan to use your outdoor deck this fall, make sure to give it the care it needs. You can do this by checking all the maintenance activities on this list.
1. Examine the Deck's Structural Integrity
Decks age with time, no matter how well you seal or winterize the materials. However, you can maximize a deck’s lifespan by addressing issues while they are minor.
The first step is to check the deck for any damage. Some deck issues are noticeable, so look over the surface for visual signs of damage, such as peeling sealant, raised nails, cracked or warped wood, rotting boards, etc.
If everything looks good, the next step is to walk the entire length of your outdoor deck and feel if any boards are spongy, creaky, or bouncy. If you find one, fix the issue, no matter how small it is. Repairing minor issues is always less expensive and time-consuming than fixing extensive damage or replacing the deck.
2. Clean the Deck Surface Using a Power Washer
Your deck most likely accumulated grease stains, leaves, dirt, and other debris during spring and summer. Thorough cleaning should be a part of your fall maintenance checklist, especially if you have not cleaned your outdoor deck for the past few weeks.
The beginning of fall is an ideal time to powerwash your home’s exterior because you will soon shut it down for the winter. Power washing will prevent the growth of mold, mildew, moss, and algae on wood during the cold months.
Power washing can easily spray away debris in no time and clean your deck all the way down to the wood grain. It’s convenient and effective but can damage your deck if you don't get the pressure and angle right. That is why hiring a professional to power wash your deck is always a wise choice.
Whether you hire an expert or plan to power wash the deck yourself, make sure to protect all furniture and other objects and sweep the area before cleaning. If there are plants near the deck that you cannot remove, cover them with plastic sheeting or a tarp.
3. Seal the Deck With a Water-Repellent Sealer
If your old deck shows signs of wear or you haven’t yet sealed your wooden outdoor deck, now is the time to do so. As the leaves fall and the weather turns damp, outdoor wooden decks become particularly vulnerable to water intrusion. But this season also offers ideal weather conditions for applying sealants on wooden decks. It’s not too hot or too wet.
Deck sealer is a transparent coat that goes deep into the wood. It forms a clear film on the surface while maintaining its natural wood finish. By seeping through the wood, the sealer creates a protective barrier that locks out moisture and minimizes water infiltration. So, even if the deck is exposed to moisture, it will not rot easily or suffer from moisture damage.
4. Replace Any Loose, Cracked, or Broken Boards
Loose and damaged boards not only compromise the deck's structural integrity but also pose safety hazards. These boards will eventually fall off. If you fail to fix this immediately and someone steps on the damaged board, it could result in serious injury. Additionally, cracked or broken boards can become pathways for moisture infiltration, potentially causing rot or warping. The damage can also worsen during winter, making repairs more challenging and expensive.
So, don’t forget to include the damaged board replacement task in your fall home maintenance checklist. Fixing damaged boards means one less thing to do the following spring. It is a relatively straightforward task that can extend the life of your deck, ensuring it remains a safe and enjoyable space for your outdoor activities year-round.
5. Re-Secure Loose Nails
If you’ve seen loose or raised nails while examining your outdoor deck, fix the issue immediately. Otherwise, someone may catch their foot on it.
You may think about just hammering any loose nails back. This solution is simple and easy, but it will not solve the problem because the constant wood contraction and expansion will push the nails back out again.
To prevent nails from popping back up again, you have to either hit a second nail in and slightly overlap the head of the first nail with the second one or pull the loose nail out and replace it with a screw. Make sure that the board underneath isn't rotting for this method to be effective.
6. Test Outdoor Lights
The deck’s wooden boards are not the only thing you should be checking during fall outdoor deck maintenance. You also need to ensure everything attached to the deck is working, including the lights. You don’t want flickering lights during evening activities on your outdoor deck.
Check whether or not all the lights work. You need to be careful when fixing this problem because you will be dealing with electricity. While you can find many tutorials on how to fix a deck light online, it is best not to take risks and hire an expert for assistance.
7. Maintain Your Landscape
All the pests, debris, and moisture that threaten your deck come from foliage nearby. If you neglect your landscape and let your lawn, trees, and other plants run wild, they will eventually encroach on your outdoor deck. For example, overgrown grass underneath a deck can send moisture upwards. If you fail to dry these wet areas, they will develop into a breeding ground for mildew, mold, and rot.
Likewise, big trees will send layers of leaves towards your deck. Fallen leaves are brilliantly beautiful in fall, but they can soak up rainfall and transform into a breeding ground for organisms that will eventually wreak havoc on your deck.
Furthermore, an unkempt landscape will make outdoor deck cleaning more challenging. So save yourself the trouble and keep an eye on your landscaping. By maintaining your landscape, not only can you protect your outdoor deck, but you can also enhance your home’s curb appeal.
There are many other things you have to do and remember to keep your outdoor deck in pristine condition, including wearing proper shoes, making sure the number of people on the deck does not exceed its capacity, and disposing of oily rags. But the tasks in this checklist are things you should prioritize.
Seek Carpentry Services You Can Trust
Is your deck damage extensive, or do you want to ensure this part of your home is in its best condition before winter starts? If so, don’t hesitate to call the experts. Anderson Painting can fix your deck and even stain or paint it. From carpentry repairs to interior and exterior painting, our team can do it all for residents and businesses in Raleigh, NC, Wilmington, NC, and the Greater Triangle Area.
For more fall home maintenance tips, please feel free to get in touch.