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How to Maintain a Deck or Pergola

How-to-Maintain-a-Deck-or-Pergola
A deck or a pergola can add a wonderful rustic charm to any home and enhance the appearance of patios and walkways. But the problem starts when your deck begins to be exposed to the elements. A weathered deck or pergola tends to look faded, the grain appears washed out and the timber starts to look old.

Maintaining your cedar deck or pergola will help keep these elemental issues at bay and boost the natural appeal of your garden. Here are some ways you can maintain your deck or pergola:

Cleaning your deck and pergola

If you are planning to restain your deck or pergola or are simply interested in keeping it free from dirt, mildew or grime, it is important that you clean it regularly. To clean your deck, use household substances that contain Napisan. Add 2 cups to half a bucket of hot water to create a super solution to clean your pergola with. Scrub your deck down with a stiff bristled decking brush when you apply the cleaning solution.

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Leave the solution on for about 15 minutes, add some more, and scrub it well. Then rinse the solution off and allow it to dry. You may need to resort to using a commercial stain stripper if there is buildup of stains on your deck, which will help to get rid of any surface staining. Exert caution while using stain stripper since it is caustic and may harm pets or plants.

For a cedar pergola, try to avoid harsh abrasives and cleaning detergents, which may end up damaging and discoloring it and weakening the composition of the wood. Instead, use water, a mild detergent and a soft bristle brush to clean it well. If you don’t have time, you could even get away with hosing your pergola down once every 2 to 3 weeks. Remember to use a medium pressure setting on your garden hose since high pressures may damage the surface.

Getting rid of stains and mildew

Mildew can ruin a pergola or deck quite fast. As soon as you spot mildew building up on your outdoor surface, you must work fast to get rid of it quickly. Sometimes, the corrosive fasteners used on your deck may cause brown or black stains over time on the wood.

After you have washed your pergola or deck, mix a cup of oxygen bleach with a gallon of water in a spray bottle and spray the solution onto your deck after you have thoroughly washed it. Once you see the mildew and stain start to fade, use soapy water to wash the solution off and rinse it well.

Staining your deck or pergola

Sometimes, the color of your pergola or deck may fade over time. If you look at a cedar pergola for example, it may turn silvery-gray from its light reddish color. This is mainly due to the natural weathering process of the wood. You could consider applying a stain and sealant to preserve the original color.

Before you apply the stain to your deck or pergola, spray some wood brightener on it to make the wood more receptive to the next coating of stain and to neutralize any residual stain stripper. Spray this on, allow it to rest for a few minutes and then rinse it off.

To stain your deck or pergola, you can use a paintbrush, the bristles of which are useful in opening the pores of the timber, allowing it to absorb the stain much more efficiently. Avoid applying too much stain to your pergola or deck, which could make the surface peel and crack, and look unappealing. Use long, continuous strokes on a single board at a time without touching any of the other boards.

Be sure to coat each board evenly. Move on to the next row when you have finished one. Refer to the directions on the can for the drying time and when it is safe for you to apply the next coat of stain. In the second coat, you will need to use less oil than the first, as the wood will not be able to absorb much at this time.

For cedar pergolas, there are also many special semi-transparent oil-based wood stains available, which you may simply spray on your deck. If you are applying a sealant, do so only after the stain has been allowed to dry well. This may be reapplied every 3 to 4 years

Repairing your deck or pergola

Keep an eye out for any corrosive fasteners that may be causing stains. It is wise to simply replace them. In the case of a cedar pergola or deck, flip the switch for materials such as stainless steel or aluminum, which does not react with the wood, and reduces the maintenance work that goes along with it.

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About the Author

Greg Bailey is a partner at Outdoor Living Manufacturing Ltd, a value added forest company specializing in do-it-yourself western red cedar kits. He has been in the forest industry for over 30 years and an owner at OLM for over 10 years.

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