Keep your deck looking like new through this spring and summer

May 10, 2011

By Tim Pfarr

As the weather gets warmer, most people search for more outdoor activities in which to take part. Some go to the pool and some head to the mountains, but some just head to the back porch to relax.

No matter what kind of deck you have, there are a few steps you can take to keep your deck looking good for the spring and summer. The first step is to wash away the dirt and grime that built up during the winter.

“It might be as a simple as wetting the deck down and putting a solution on it,” said Chad Amble, general manager at Issaquah Cedar and Lumber.

Amble said the most common wooden decks are cedar, although residents occasionally use redwood, which is popular in California. Alternatively, some will use exotic hardwoods or composite.

For cedar decks, coat the deck with a cleaner — such as Simple Green — and then rinse it off, Amble said. However, one may have to scrub off any algae or mold left from the winter.

For exotic hardwoods — such as ipe, ulin and tigerwood — and composite decks, soap and water will do the trick, he said.

Also, be careful with power washers. Only use a power washer on a cedar or redwood deck once every 10 years, and be sure not to spray too much in one place. Power washers are safe for exotic hardwoods and composite, but they often aren’t necessary.

Next, it’s time to protect the deck so it looks new all year. This means re-staining the deck.

Deck stain typically comes in one-gallon and five-gallon buckets, and costs between $20 and $60 per gallon, depending on the brand, Amble said.

“Don’t skimp on the stain,” he said. “If you buy cheap stain, you can count on re-staining that deck once or twice a year.”

Each gallon will stain 200-300 square feet of deck space, he said. The stain works to keep the color rich and protect it from ultraviolet rays that fade the wood.

The task requires about a week of dry weather, so it might be necessary to wait until late spring or summer for the job —  a couple of days before staining and a couple of days after, Amble said. Also, don’t purchase clear stain, as it does not protect decks as well. Red stain is a nice choice for cedar.

“We always recommend you use a stain that has a red for a base coat,” Amble said. “It shows that cedar a lot better.”

When it’s time to stain, apply a one- to two-foot-wide coating, and work your way down the deck. Wipe up any excess stain that forms pools.

With these steps, you’re ready for the season. However, if you barbecue, be sure you keep grease from dripping on the wood, as it can stain — and not in the good way.

Tim Pfarr: 392-6434, ext. 239, or Comment at

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