One of the many repair jobs a homeowner association must engage in is deck maintenance. The task is directly proportional to the wetness or dryness and temperature extremes of the climate. But all wood decks need ongoing preventive maintenance of some kind to ensure that they survive their normal useful life.
Wood decks deteriorate due to weather, sun, mildew, foot traffic wear and plant containers. For these reasons, materials used to construct the deck should be decay resistant like cedar or pressure treated lumber and connectors/fasteners should be galvanized, zinc coated or stainless steel. There are recycled materials also available that imply in their advertising "lifetime" service but curiously have warranties of only 10 years or so. Cedar will last 20-30 years depending on the climate and care and come with no warranty.
To prolong deck life, paint or stain at least every 3-5 years with high quality exterior grade product (waterproofing requires more frequent application). Inspect your deck every summer to determine its condition and any needed repairs. Keep in mind that outdoor carpet on decks traps moisture creating an ideal environment for dryrot. Also, plant containers should have proper catch trays so water does not overflow onto the deck. It is best to remove both carpet and planters from the deck during the wet winter months.
Preparing a wood deck for painting:
- Set nail and screw heads as those not set or caulked properly may rust out or bleed through the paint leaving rust spots.
- Remove deteriorated paint by scraping, wire brush or paint remover properly protecting landscaping.
- Pressure wash entire deck removing scaling paint and dirt. If the surface is still discolored, test for mildew by applying a drop of household bleach. Mildew will usually bleach in 1-2 minutes. Mildew will bleed through new paint. If mildew exists, use one of many commercial mildew washes or use the following solution:
- 2/3 cup trisodium phosphate
- 1/3 cup ammonia free laundry detergent
- 1 quart household bleach
- Enough warm water to make a gallon.
Wear rubber gloves and goggles when applying the solution. Scrub with a soft brush, then rinse with fresh water.
- Once deck is dry, apply a mildew resistant exterior deck paint or mix paint with a mildewcide, all available at most paint stores.
Wood decks are one of the HOA's major cost components so should receive regular preventive care to ensure the longest life. Make sure to include this kind of care in your reserve study so that it happens at least every three years.
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