Your Place: Decks, and the care thereof

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

I no longer have a deck, but the memories of how needy those structures could be over the long haul linger.

I remember being so busy during the spring and summer one year that I waited until late October to wash and waterproof the deck.

It was a warm spell, and I coated it by the light of the full moon at 5 a.m.

Be that as it may, here are some tips to better deck care, courtesy of Trex, which manufacturers decking:

Nail pops and splintering are common occurrences with any type of wood deck, especially after a winter of fluctuating temperatures and precipitation.

To find protruding nails, drag the back of a rake across the deck boards. Then hammer them down or replace them with galvanized screws that are approximately one-half-inch longer than the original nails.

Lightly splintered boards can be salvaged through sanding, but severely splintered boards will likely continue to deteriorate and should be replaced.

To keep a wood deck looking as good as new, it’s important to regularly wash, stain, and seal the boards. Difficult scuffs and scratches may require use of a power washer — and a bit of elbow grease. With wood-alternative decks, most abrasions can be washed off easily with soap and water.

Be sure to check the deck manufacturer’s cleaning and care guide for product-specific tips and guidance.

Barbecue sauce is delicious, but not when the leftovers from last summer’s final cookout are still coating your deck. Whether you have a wood or a wood-alternative deck, try scrubbing stains with a household degreasing agent.

For set-in stains, try an automotive degreaser or a carburetor cleaner and rinse immediately with hot water.

Mold and mildew are the enemies of any exterior surface — especially shady decks exposed to pollen or other organic debris and standing puddles of water. Sweeping the surface creates a first line of defense against mold and mildew and prevents the creation of an environment that nurtures the growth of fungus.

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