How To Maintain Your Deck This Summer

Hey there, neighbor—do you have wobbly deck railings, loose nails popping up, or little Johnny just came in crying with a splinter? If any of these sound familiar, it’s time to do a little repair or replacement work to your deck.

Maintaining your deck is more than just making it look nice and safe for your family and guests—it’s completing Ace Hardware’s Three C’s of Deck Maintenance. Now, if these Three C’s sound a little overwhelming, give your local Ace Handyman Services a call; we can come to your backyard and complete them all for you and have your deck looking new again! Now let’s “hammer” down just what Ace’s Three C’s are.

1. CHECK Your Deck’s Condition

The first step to maintaining your deck is identifying the damage. There are a few key ways to check its condition and to determine whether you need to re-stain, or if you might have mold or mildew that will require treating.

To test your deck to see if it’s ready to stain or needs to be re-stained, you can conduct the Water Test. Pour a little bit of water on the wood; if it beads up, then it isn’t quite ready. Wait and retest in a few weeks. If by then it doesn’t bead, you are ready to apply stain.

The Bleach Test tells if your deck has any mold or mildew. If you see fuzzy grey or black areas, take a bleach-soaked rag and hold it on that spot for a few seconds. If the grey or black area is gone when you remove it, you’ve got mold or mildew.  We recommend using Mold Armor E-Z Deck, Fence and Patio Wash 64 oz. Liquid, available at your local Ace Hardware store.

If you think your deck has some damage from the sun and weather, do the Fingernail Test. Press your fingernail into the wood; if it leaves an indentation, you have weathering or UV damage that will require treating before staining.

AHS Craftsman Tip: The enduring quality of a deck is maintained by looking at its underside, as well as the top.  It’s equally important to check for other signs of structural damage, such as loose, rotten or twisted support posts and beams, as well as inspecting the points at which your deck is attached to the house.  Consult an Ace Handyman Services if you are unsure about any of these issues.

2. COMPLETE Simple Repairs 

During the Check phase above, you’ll want to note the condition of all the boards, railings, spindles and steps to determine they are all solid, sound and safe.

Give Nails and Screws Some Love 

• If you see nails popping out of the deck’s surface or they do not look level, hammer them back down, or replace the nails with screws. 

• While nails are more convenient, screws do a much better job at keeping the wood in place long-term.

• Apply the same process and thinking to a deck installed with screws. Get out your variable speed drill and tighten them down.

• Since many natural woods shrink over time, take the time to complete this step – your guests and family will thank you for preventing trips and challenges that arise from an uneven, dangerous, surface.

If you have any loose posts, securely tighten and/or replace the bolts or hinges securing them. If the wood is in poor shape, or will not resecure with these tightening steps, replace those sections with new material to finish the job.

3. CLEAN Your Deck

Once you have a good idea of its overall condition and you’ve fixed the problems you uncovered, take the time to clean your deck. Ignoring this important step will negate everything else that comes after this. Click on the link below to find the appropriate cleaning product, based on the condition of your deck: 


Once you find the product best suited for your deck:

• Wet the surface with the cleaner 

• Let it sit for about 15-20 minutes 

• Scrub with a stiff bristle deck brush (if needed), then rinse the cleaner off with a garden hose

• Repeat if needed

AHS Craftsman Tip: To really save time and do a thorough job, rent a power washer. It’s an effective way to clean, rinse and replace the scrubbing that you would otherwise do on your hands and knees with a deck brush.

Experts recommend that you lightly sand the deck surface. This will remove any splinters or rough areas, and it will “open” the grains of the wood so when the stain is applied it, will not only penetrate better, but will also bring out the natural beauty of the wood.

Let your deck dry for 24-48 hours.

Stain Your Deck

Now that you have completed the Three C’s of Deck Maintinance, it’s time to stain the surface to prolong its life and keep it looking great. There are plenty of choices when it comes to the types of finishes you can apply. To ensure you are getting the right stain, either call your local Ace Handyman Services or head to your neighborhood Ace Hardware and ask your Red-Vested Hero to choose the right product for your deck. (

Once you have the correct stain for your deck’s condition:

• Stain the deck boards using a roller or a paint pad applicator

• Apply one coat of stain, using long, even strokes

• Use a paintbrush to stain between cracks and in problem areas

• Allow stain to dry for at least 24 hours

You can reapply stain every few years so your deck stays beautiful and durable

Again, if any of these tasks seem daunting and you’d rather have someone else tackle the job, give your local Ace Handyman Services a call. Our Multi-Skilled Craftsmen can complete your deck maintenance for you, and then all you will have to do is enjoy your deck all summer long!

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