Summer might be coming to an end, but there’s still plenty of opportunity to use your deck this fall. Cozying up by the fire on crisp nights is a favorite activity for many. Whether you plan on using your deck through the season or not, fall is a good time to assess your deck and prepare it for the colder weather ahead. Here are some pro tips for keeping your deck looking good as new.

Clear Your Deck of Debris

You should want your deck to get used often. Otherwise, why have it? The only downside to regular deck use is that plenty of miscellaneous materials can get left behind. Food scraps and containers, articles of clothing, toys, leaves, dirt, and anything else you can imagine might take residence on your deck.

The first step you should take when maintaining your deck is clearing this debris off the surface. Once the deck is clear, you’ll have a better view of what needs to be done, and more space to move furniture around. Moving furniture can help prevent stains from direct sunlight.

Check for Decay, Rot, or Other Damage

With a clear view of the deck, you should take a careful look at its surface, beams, foundation, and especially its ledger. You can test any suspect areas for rot with a screwdriver. You shouldn’t be able to push the screwdriver through a board more than one quarter of an inch. If you can, this is a sign of rot and there may be more areas that need your attention.

Rot doesn’t just look bad, it can be extremely dangerous. The last thing you want is for something or someone to fall through the deck, or for it to collapse entirely. Colder weather will exacerbate existing damage, so it’s crucial to repair or replace any rotted wood before the winter. If part of your deck has rotted, contact a professional contractor to further assess the damage and to give you a repair estimate.

Stain and Seal the Deck

To help prevent rot or sun damage in the first place, stain and seal your deck every so often. For transparent stains, reapplying once a year should keep your deck looking naturally fresh. Solid stains usually don’t need to be reapplied as frequently – every three to five years should be fine.

Before staining, make sure the deck is completely dry so no moisture gets trapped. Proper staining will repel water from the deck’s surface and also block it from UV rays given off by the sun. For added protection against mildew, use a finish with mildewcide after staining.

Wash it Regularly

Once your deck is in great shape, clear of debris, free of rot, and properly stained and sealed, be sure to give it a good wash here and there. Remember, as long as the deck is properly sealed you won’t have to worry about damaging it with water when washing it. You can use a power washer, but keep the pressure low and keep the flow of water moving to avoid damaging any single area of the deck with too much force. Use deck cleaning solution and warm water with a strong scrub brush for further cleaning, and use something thin and durable like a knife to clean crevices of dirt and smaller material.

Your deck plays an important role in your home, so treat it with the care it deserves. These tips should keep your decking looking great year-round. Doing all of this yourself can be a lot of work, though, and it can be difficult to repair and replace rotted wood without proper knowledge. All American Painting Plus, Inc. can help you maintain your deck with our rotted wood replacement and power washing services. Call us at 703-620-5563, or email us at for more information!