Maintain Your Wood Deck

Keep your wood deck looking its best by following Better Homes and Gardens contributing editor Danny Lipford's tips for cleaning your deck.

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    Your Outdoor Paradise

    Wooden decks receive constant abuse from the elements, but with periodic cleaning and refinishing, you can protect them and keep them looking their best.

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    Get Rid of the Grime

    The first step is cleaning your deck thoroughly. Many deck cleaners contain harsh chemicals, so it's important to protect your skin and eyes. A pump garden sprayer is ideal for this application.

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    Apply Cleaner

    Apply deck cleaner to both vertical and horizontal surfaces of the deck and railings. Allow cleaner to sit for the recommended period of time.

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    Wash It Down

    After cleaner has set for the recommended time, wash down the deck. A pressure washer is the best tool for the job. Pressure washers deliver a concentrated blast of water at anywhere from 1,000 to 3,500 pounds per square inch -- so don't overdo it. Warning: Focusing for too long in one spot or holding the nozzle too close to the deck can damage the wood.

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    Pressure Washer Attachments

    Pressure washers can be purchased or rented at home improvement stores and are available with various attachments. A deck scrubber attachment makes cleaning large open areas easier.

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    Deal with Damaged Wood

    After the deck has been cleaned, it's time to perform any necessary repairs. Drive any protruding nails flush with the surface of the board or replace them with deck screws. Repair or replace boards that are badly deteriorated.

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    Stop the Splinters

    Use a sander to smooth rough spots, especially on railings, to prevent splinters.

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    Protect the Deck

    Once the deck has dried thoroughly, refinish it with a tinted deck stain or clear sealer. Deck stains come in solid colors that hide the grain of the wood as well as transparent stains that allow the wood grain to show through.

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    Apply Sealer or Stain

    A pump sprayer works well to apply stains and sealers because they are much thinner than paint. After spraying an area, go over it with a paintbrush while the sealer is still wet to work it into the cracks and spread the finish out evenly.

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    Sit Back and Relax

    While a wooden deck does require periodic cleaning and maintenance, the investment in both time and materials is worthwhile.

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    20 Ways to Upgrade Your Deck

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    Begin Slideshow »

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