Extreme shade, sun hard on decks, Indy expert says

Extreme shade, sun hard on decks, Indy expert says

Debbie Haynes, owner
Deck Pro

Debbie Haynes and her husband, Tom, started Deck Pro 13 years ago after Tom decided he wanted to leave the pesticide business. With Tom retired, Debbie now runs the business — which has earned the Super Service Award every year since 2002 — with the help of her two sons. She attributes their high marks on Angie’s List to what she told her sons when they first started working: “You treat that customer’s deck like it’s your own.”

What can happen to a poorly maintained deck?

"The wood will become really dark, like the wood on an old barn. Then the boards also start accepting water, which will soak in and start to cup and curl the deck boards.

"Eventually, it will start attracting insects and the wood will crack, which can affect the integrity of the structure. The deck floor and the handrails are the most prone to damage, because water, snow and wet leaves collect on them, and they also get the most direct sunlight.

"Under normal conditions, it usually takes three to four years before a deck requires professional maintenance. If it gets a lot of dense shade or a lot of direct sunlight, it probably requires more frequent attention.

"Even with normal wear and tear, waiting more than five years to have your deck stripped and resealed means it's too far gone. If you take your hose and put a little water on your deck and it sinks in, the deck needs to be resealed. If the water still beads up, then it has a good seal.

"We pressure wash every deck before we reseal and typically give it a few days to dry out. If you a have a new deck, you definitely want to wait at least 90 days before you seal it to give the wood a chance to dry out.

"We come back when the deck is completely dry and have the customer pick out what type of stain or seal they want. We recommend oil-based products because they sink into the wood grain, or you can go with a water-based or acrylic stain.

"For deck staining or sealing, it costs about $1 to $1.50 a square foot to strip, sand and reseal, which depends on what kind of product you've had on the deck previously. The average deck size we see is about 750 square feet.

"Stripping something like solid stained deck, which looks more like paint and doesn't show the wood grain, would typically be more expensive. We also offer deck maintenance where we clean off the surface using a pressure washer, which removes dirt, mildew or any other materials trapped in the wood grain. It costs about 75 to 90 cents per square foot.

"Most homeowners can keep their decks clean just using their hose. If you have a mildew spot, I recommend using a solution of one part bleach to eight parts water in a spray bottle. Let it soak in for about five minutes and then spray it off. Another thing that helps keep a deck from degrading is brushing off the snow and leaves."

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