In the heat of summer, your deck is the place to be. But after years of exposure to the elements, it might be looking a little worse for wear. In fact, any wood used on the exterior of your home will need some attention now and again to keep it looking fresh and new.
Unfortunately, water is the mortal enemy of wood. Wood is naturally quite porous, and the presence of water can cause it to soften, warp, weaken, crack, and even collapse. Not to mention, it can cause unsightly stains when left untreated. This is especially frustrating for homeowners trying to maintain the appearance of their outdoor structures.
Today, we’re going to talk about how to keep your exterior wood in tip-top condition. When your wood is looking good, you’ll enjoy being outdoors that much more, knowing that your deck, siding, and other wood elements look as good as possible.
Proceed with Caution
If you have an older unpainted wooden deck, there’s a possibility that it has been treated with toxic wood sealants and preservatives. While newer wood treatments are not quite as potent, they all have the potential to be harmful to your health. If you suspect that you are working with preservative-treated wood, proceed with caution. Always wear safety gear, including gloves, masks, and protective eyewear.
When to Clean Your Wood
When doing maintenance on your home’s exterior, you’re best to do it during the driest part of the summer. This will allow your stain-removal treatments plenty of time to dry, ensuring the best possible outcome. Of course, if the wood items are portable, you can move them to a sheltered location, like the garage. That way, you can do the job at any time of year.
What to Do About Water Rings
We’re all familiar with the dreaded water ring. Someone inadvertently sets down a wet glass on a wooden surface, and you’re left with a pale, cloudy circle on your beautiful wood table.
Fortunately, there’s a simple, inexpensive way to manage water rings, and it can be applied to both indoor and outdoor furniture. Milky-colored rings are a sign that it’s not the table that’s stained, just the protective topcoat.
Do a DIY fix by ironing the wood. Yes, ironing it. Here’s how:
- Drain the water from your iron completely.
- Turn it on to the dry setting and allow it to heat up to the lowest temperature.
- Place a dry piece of white cotton fabric over the stain and run the iron over it several times.
- Check under the cloth every so often – when you lay the fabric back down, use a different section of it and continue ironing until the stain is gone.
Cleaning the Deck
If you allow dirty water to pool on your deck’s surface, it’s bound to start looking a little grubby. This can leave dark-bordered stains, but you can reverse the damage with more water and a little elbow grease.
- Use a pressure washer on a gentle setting with a wide spray.
- Make sure the dirty water doesn’t remain on the deck, or the stain will reform.
- Apply a cleaning solution and hand scrub the stain with a synthetic brush.
You can also use a wood sander if the wood allows for it, and the stain hasn’t penetrated too deeply.
- After applying a sanding disk, use broad, sweeping motions to sand the deck.
- Test a patch to see if the stain can be removed with a light sanding. Too much pressure can ruin the wood.
There is one caveat we should mention: it can be somewhat expensive to buy or rent a pressure-washer or sander, and these machines, when used improperly, can leave nasty gouges in the wood. So be gentle, especially on stained or painted wood. Unless you want to repaint.
Cleaning Your Wood Siding
Your home’s siding, especially around the areas closest to the ground and near wet soil, can become stained very quickly from moisture absorption.
- Dig approximately 10 to 12 inches down into the soil at the base of the siding.
- Use a garden hose on the wide spray setting to spray the siding. Start at the top and work downwards.
- For extra power, use the pressure washer, but be careful.
When it’s time to call in the professionals, J.T. McDermott is always ready to help. Our team can restore your wood decks and siding to their former glory – all you’ll have to do is sit back and enjoy the results. Reach out today, and let’s get started!
Brittany received her interior design degree in 2010 and recently earned her kitchen and bathroom certifications. She sees her job as much more than just picking out pretty colors and materials – it also involves exact measurements, plenty of planning, and determining how to have a space accurately reflect the lifestyle of its occupants.