Boston deck expert gives maintenance tips
Michael Kaloutas has been successful in the deck restoration and maintenance industry since founding his company eight years ago.
“I pulled together all the special techniques and industry secrets of furniture restorers, hardwood floor refinishers and fine painters,” says Kaloutas, who won a Super Service Award in 2009.
What types of things can damage a deck?
Nature can destroy the natural beauty of wood. Moisture, UV light and extreme temperature changes cause an endless cycle of heating and shrinking to cooling and swelling of wood. This cycle, if left unprotected, will cause graying, cracking, splintering and even warping of the wood.
Without question, hardwoods such as mahogany, ipe, Pau Lope and teak will survive the elements in the Northeast better than any other species.
What are the proper ways to maintain a deck?
In the summer months, I recommend homeowners use cleats for their planters, so standing water doesn't create wood rot. Also, use a grill mat so grease doesn't spill and stain your deck.
New decks are susceptible to the elements just as older decks are. When building new, homeowners should request to have all sides of the lumber treated with a translucent stain (toner) before the deck is constructed. This ensures the wood is protected on all sides and greatly reduces the intrusion of moisture from the underside, which is very common in ground level decks. Apply a protective coating within a month of constructing.
All horizontal parts (floor, steps, top of rail) of the deck wear at a much quicker rate than the vertical surfaces (railings). If a deck is showing signs of rot (soft spots) or signs of structural compromise, contact a licensed deck builder. However, a professional deck restoration company can restore even the dirtiest, splintered decks to like-new condition. Properly constructed decks should last more than 20 years with proper maintenance.
What are the costs associated with maintaining a deck?
The average cost to resurface a standard 10 x 12 foot deck is $1,500 versus $3,000 to replace it. Once a deck has been restored, perform annual maintenance on it. Maintenance usually costs about $400, but a handy homeowner can complete it over the weekend.
What can I do to extend the life of my deck?
A homeowner can perform light maintenance every one or two years and pay a professional to do thorough maintenance on all surfaces every four or five years.
On day one, wash your deck with a biodegradable cleaner and a wood brightener. If using a pressure washer, be very careful not to get too close. Even low-powered pressure washers can cause damage to wood fibers. Remove all residue and let it dry for at least a day.
On day two, set nails and secure loose boards caused by seasonal expansion and contraction. Then, lightly sand the surface with a power hand sander of 60 grit on the horizontals and by hand on the verticals to open the wood grain, allowing new sealer/stain to penetrate deeper. Vacuum the dust and apply the finish.
Use the same product and color as in the past to eliminate any compatibility problems. It's important once you stain floorboards to finish them before starting another batch. Allow the stain to dry for 24 hours.