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Barbara and Phil Johnson, of Mobile, Alabama, faced the same problems other deck owners do. Throughout the years, the weather in addition to their kids and pets took a toll on their own backyard deck. Damages along with the appearance were bad enough for the Johnsons to take into account ripping everything up and starting over.

Before taking that drastic step, they spoke with Danny Lipford, owner and president of Lipford Construction in Mobile, for advice. According to Lipford, the Johnsons’ deck is at better shape than lots of others. “This section of the country is tough on decks,” he says. “I’m sometimes motivated to replace pressure-treated decks which are under eight years old.” He adds, “The majority of these decks are victims of neglect. With regular maintenance, a deck will easily go on for two times as long.” The good news is that many decks, such as this one, can be rejuvenated for much below the price of replacement.

Following are a few techniques you can use to give an old deck a new lease on life, or even to help support the design of a completely new one. For this particular project, we enlisted George Graf, a lead carpenter with Mobile’s Lipford Construction, and John Starling, owner of John the Painter. Hiring pros is not difficult about the schedule but hard on your capacity to purchase-the price of repairing a 700-sq.-ft. deck is $700, or about $1 per sq . ft .. Doing the job yourself will definitely cost one third the maximum amount of.

Begin by inspecting the complete deck. Pay special focus on any area of the deck that is in direct connection with the soil, including the posts, stair stringers or joists which are at ground level. Graf works with a screwdriver to examine for structural damage. “Provided you can sink the tip of your screwdriver in to a post or joist, it implies the you’ve got rot and it’s time for the major renovation,” Graf says.

Also, inspect the deck-to-house connection. “Screws and bolts can loosen and rust,” he says. “Without the proper usage of spacers and flashing, moisture might cause your band joist to rot.”

Tighten the fasteners that attach the best local deck repair towards the house, seek out any missing, bent or rusted flashing and thoroughly inspect inside and outside for any telltale black stains that suggest moisture is working its distance to your property.

Next, look for any cosmetic damage. By way of example, tap down any popped nails or consider replacing all of them with screws. For that Johnsons’ deck, Graf used galvanized ring-shanked nails as he replaced a couple of damaged boards. “Screws don’t pop like nails, ” he says “but you want the latest boards to suit all of those other deck.”

Here’s the not so good news: Every deck ought to have an annual cleaning. Assuming they are maintained regularly, most decks could be revived with only a deck cleaner. Some products, like Thompson’s Deck Wash ($10, 1 gal. covers 250 sq. ft.), you blend a bucket and apply to the deck; others, like GE’s Weathermate ($30, 1 gal. covers 500 sq. ft.), are available in containers with integral applicators that you simply hook up to a garden hose. Once around the deck, most still require a stiff-bristle brush and a lot of hard work to work the mix into the wood.

Always wear eye protection and gloves when working with concentrated chemicals. You’ll also want to protect nearby plants. The quantity of plant protection depends upon the type and concentration of the harmful chemicals you end up picking. For weak solutions and “plant-friendly” cleaners, you may want to only mist the plants both before and after using cleaning. Powerful deck restorers burns up leaves on contact; if so you must cover nearby plants with plastic sheeting.

For tackling tough stains, make use of a pressure washer (about $70 per day), which is the best way to remove sun-damaged wood fibers and tackle scrub-resistant stains. Graf recommends by using a fan-type nozzle rather than pinpoint nozzle that could dig into the wood. For taking out the mildew, Graf mixes his very own cleaning solution (see “Choosing the Right Cleaner,” about the facing page), that he feeds into the intake hose in the washer.

Look at the deck by using a stiff-bristle brush to be effective the cleaner in the wood fibers, and then rinse. The boards needs to be kept damp in order for the cleaning answer to work effectively. Allow the deck to dry thoroughly before staining.

There are dozens of deck-cleaning products out there. Most contain one of many following four chemicals as their main ingredient. Each is useful for various kinds of stains.

Sodium hypochlorite: This chemical-chlorine bleach-is perfect for removing mildew but isn’t effective on dirt or other stains. So combine it with an ammonia-free detergent. Thoroughly rinse the deck after applying this chemical mainly because it can eat away on the wood, causing fuzzing and premature graying.

Sodium percarbonate: When together with water, this chemical forms peroxide (an oxygen-based bleach) and sodium carbonate, which acts as a detergent. It will work for removing dirt, mildew and weathered wood.

Oxalic acid: This can be great at removing iron stains and the brown-black tannins that frequently occur with cedar and redwood decks. This acid is often seen in deck brighteners. Oxalic acid isn’t effective against mildew, so you may want to use it after washing the deck with a bleach-based cleaner.

Sodium hydroxide: Often known as lye, here is the key ingredient generally in most finish lifters or removers. Don’t let it sit on a long time, or it might eat away on the wood.

Be cautious when you use any of these chemicals, particularly if they’re in their most concentrated (premixed) form. Wear the correct safety equipment and stick to the manufacturer’s directions on the letter. Rinse the surface thoroughly and give it time to dry before refinishing.

Once all the repairs are already made along with the deck is clean, it’s time for you to use a protective finish. Clear finishes and transparent stains are acceptable for new wood, however for older decks, Starling recommends by using a semitransparent stain.

“The grain still shows through, although the pigment allows the old wood a clean, uniform color and helps the new wood blend in,” he says. The pigment also provides extra defense against the damaging negative effects of direct sunlight and may stay longer than clear finishes. Unlike paint, stain is absorbed through the wood and fails to form a film on its surface, so it does not peel or chip.

Starling utilizes a sprayer and two-in. brush to utilize the stain. “Spraying is fast, and puts more stain in the wood than rolling or brushing,” Starling says. Most painters and homeowners are better off spraying on a generous coat of stain and after that following up with a roller or brush to spread out puddles and work the conclusion in the wood. Starling, however, relies on a modified technique. “Rollers push the stain off of the wood and across the cracks,” he says. “I don’t get compensated to color dirt under the deck.” Starling sprays over a light coat, the majority of which can be quickly distributed around the wood. He uses the brush to eliminate puddles. “In case the stain’s too thick, it dries blotchy,” he explains. Starling recycles the surplus stain to be used on exposed end grain.

Starling recommends starting with an inside corner and exercising, applying the stain parallel towards the deck boards. To protect yourself from staining the nearby brick, he relies on a small part of cardboard like a spray shield; the brush provides a lot more control around deck railings and posts.

This 700-sq.-ft. deck required about 5 gal. of stain – almost twice as much as being the estimates indicated in the can. Explains Starling, “Old wood could possibly get thirsty. On some decks, I’ll should apply a couple of coats of stain to acquire a uniform finish.”

Subsequent coats must be applied even though the first coat is still wet or they is definitely not absorbed into the wood. Stain won’t peel, nevertheless it can wear away, particularly in high-traffic areas. Starling recommends applying a whole new coat every other year. A clear water repellent can be applied between stainings for added protection.

Because the original railing on their deck was in such bad shape, the Johnsons chosen to change it with a maintenance-free railing system. They chose Fiberon, a vinyl-coated wood-plastic composite. It’s available in premade panels or as kits. The Johnsons liked the contrast the white railing offered.

To have an existing deck or concrete slab, Fiberon makes a surface-mount bracket, as shown below. For first time decks, the manufacturer recommends installing the posts ahead of the decking and using metal brackets that attach to the joists. To conceal any minor gaps in which the balusters meet the bottom rail, Graf recommends using a mildew-resistant acrylic caulk.