As soon as the first signs of spring appear, many of us begin to get out on our decks or balconies and often discover that the winter has not been kind to the appearance of our favourite outdoor spaces. But there is a big difference between having to clean your deck for appearance or re-treat it to maintain it’s structural integrity. The trick is to enjoy your deck more, but labour on it less. If you are considering building a new deck or renovating an existing deck, here are some things to keep in mind…
Easy Maintenance with Vinyl Decks
Decks finished with Duradek vinyl membranes make it easy to enjoy your outdoor living space all year round with virtually no maintenance. Simply call a Duradek dealer, request an estimate and arrange for installation on a substrate of untreated plywood. Then Duradek is installed in one single application and (in most cases) is completed in one day.
Your deck is ready for use immediately and is waterproofed for decades*. No reapplication required….ever! Additionally, if your deck is elevated, the use of Duradek membranes provides roof-grade waterproof protection for dry, usable space below.
Continual Maintenance with Coatings
Once wood rot has invaded, deterioration is inevitable.
Wood decks finished with a coating are a completely different story.
While slotted wood decks are a traditional go-to style of deck, many home owners or property managers are surprised and unprepared for the amount of work required to maintain them. Besides becoming unsightly when not regularly maintained, it is the safety concerns of a neglected wood deck that is far more serious than the aesthetic implications.
Wood decks finishes are required in order to penetrate the wood to slow down its ability to absorb moisture, prolonging the life of the deck and maintaining appearance.
Moisture wreaks havoc on unprotected wood, even pressure-treated wood. Moisture from rain, snow or humidity causes problems like raised grain, cupping and splitting. If moisture has penetrated the wood to the point where it has developed wood rot, the affected portion should be replaced immediately before the rot spreads to the entire structure.
UV radiation breaks down the lignin that holds wood’s cellulose fibers together in a process called photochemical degradation. This is what causes wood’s natural color to gray, and while this does not affect the strength of the wood, it is sometimes an undesirable appearance. The longer unprotected wood sits in the sun, the more UV radiation damage is done to the lignin, and it no longer bonds the wood fibers. As the fibers loosen and detach, any color pigments like stains will also fall away.
The key factor in longevity of a wood deck’s surface finish is to seal the wood before sun hits its surface. There are several different options for wood finishes like sealers, coatings, protectors and stains; and all of them have different advantages and appearance features. Solid stains act almost like a paint and block the UV rays, clear sealers only protect from water and still allow the UV radiation to reach the surface, and there are different levels of semi-transparent stains in between.
One of the drawbacks is that once the wood is sealed, it requires resealing every 1 – 3 years to stay protected. And even worse, if a coating fails, the process to replace it is a very unpleasant, labor intensive process.
Labour Intensive Wood Deck Maintenance
For example, a Redwood Deck Restoration project that was featured on the Journal of Light Construction shows that a four-step process requires significant time and cost to complete, and once you have started the process; you are in it to the end. The four steps that are recommended include:
1 – Sample: to see how the deck will strip and re-finish, a preliminary sample is recommended with a minimum of sanding a deck board and applying finish samples to have a sense of the end result.
2 – Pressure Wash – Chemically Strip and Neutralize: this is a best-left-to-professionals stage. Scott Burt from Topcoat finishes says, “The chems are hot, or caustic, and can do immense damage to people and property if not understood and used with discretion.” It is a two-step process: stripping and neutralizing and if not done properly, the job will not go well. The process is a fairly radical chemical reaction and is not a quick process, often requiring many passes and reapplication of chemicals and a great deal of clean water rinsing.
3 – Let Deck Dry, Then Sand: At least a day or two of good drying weather is required before proceeding. If not fully allowed to dry before the necessary sanding, the grain of the wood can be torn up easily. Then the process of sanding requires time consuming, knee-torturing hand sanders if you do not have access to and upright floor style sander. Then of course, proper dust containment must be used to provide protection from breathing in the dust of organic matter.
4- Apply New Finish: Finish must be applied using the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Whew! Just thinking about all that is enough to make you tired! Wouldn’t you rather just pull out your deck lounger, pour a drink and kick back for some R&R?
Leisure instead of Labour on a Duradek Vinyl Deck
Duradek requires only a seasonal cleaning to stay looking great. Easy.
However, if you are determined to have a deck that looks like wood, Duradek has even solved that – check our the new Legacy Wood Grain patterns.
With over 20 colours to choose from, Duradek’s UV stabilizers and mold inhibitors delay the natural aging process due to continual environmental exposure and offer an attractive deck surface for most outdoor design schemes.
So if you are considering a deck renovation, be sure to contact a trained and authorized Duradek installer in your area for a free estimate on your project.
*Duradek Ultra comes with a 15-year waterproofing warranty however many homeowners in Duradek’s 40 year history have reported that after 20+ years, their Duradek is still performing. Aging of membrane and waterproofing performance will be affected by environmental conditions and installer technique.