Get Your Deck Ready for Summer

Get Your Deck Ready for Summer

Take an afternoon to refresh your deck so you can enjoy it all summer long.

By Debbie Koenig

A thorough annual cleaning can keep your wooden deck looking great—and in good working order—for years to come. It’ll also add to your home’s curb appeal, should you be planning to put it on the market. With all that debris and decaying plant life lying around the cleaning process may seem daunting, but each step is straightforward. You could be done in a single afternoon.

1. Remove everything that’s not attached.

2. Cover any delicate plants near the deck that might be harmed during cleaning, and hose down the rest—the water will encourage anything that falls onto them to slide right off.

3. Sweep thoroughly, and clear out any gunk that’s accumulated between planks.

4. Inspect the entire deck for damage, and repair any loose boards, protruding nails or screws, and wobbly rails. Use a sander to smooth over any rough spots. Bounce lightly on the deck—if it feels unsteady, check the support structure underneath.

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5. Test a wood deck in several spots, to see if it will need re-sealing: Sprinkle some water onto the wood. If the wood absorbs it, you’ll need to apply sealant after cleaning. If it beads, you’re good to go another year.

6. Attach a spray nozzle to your garden hose and rinse the surface of the deck, working steadily outward from the side nearest your house. Use the highest pressure to focus on any stuck-on debris. Unless you’ve used a pressure washer before, we don’t recommend doing so yourself—if used improperly it’s powerful enough to damage some decks. Hire a professional if necessary.

7. In a large bucket, combine 2 gallons of warm water and 2 cups of nontoxic powdered oxygen bleach (not chlorine bleach, whose runoff can harm plants)—you’ll find in the detergent section. When the powder has dissolved, add 1/4 cup of Dawn Ultra Dishwashing Liquid. Use a long-handled brush to apply this mixture to the deck, scrubbing briefly to create a bit of foam. Let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes, then hose it off.

8. Wait 48 hours to allow the deck to dry completely. If your sprinkle test showed that you do need to re-seal, now’s the time to apply sealant, stain, or paint according to the product’s instructions.

How do you get your deck ready for the season?

Debbie Koenig writes about family and food, and is the author of the cookbook Parents Need to Eat Too. Find her at

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The tips have been helpful and looking forward to some ideas for the deck

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