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Deck and Patio

Decks and patios are subjected to cycles of wet and dry, swelling and shrinking. The damaging effects of the weather cause wood to warp, crack, split, and cup. Take the time to restore your outdoor living areas. And after restoration, decorate.

Repair

If any decking boards are damaged or unsightly, you'll want to repair – or even replace – sections of your deck.

  • Replace any decayed or dry-rotted decking boards.
  • Screw down or replace any twisted decking boards.
  • Remove and replace any exposed nail heads.
  • Countersink nails that are flush with the deck's surface.
  • Replace or secure any handrails or pickets that are damaged or wobbly.

Strip

Deck restoration begins with stripping your deck. Stripping your deck creates a nice, even surface. This helps the new sealant adhere more effectively.

Look for a stripping agent that is appropriately formulated for your job. Removing clear and toned finishes and sealers requires less stripping power. Semi-transparent or opaque stains will need a more powerful agent.

Clean

Cleaning your deck frees the decking boards from grit and grime, stains, mildew and mold. Check the weather forecast: You want three consecutive days of warm, sunny weather.

Make sure your deck cleaner is right for the job. Use a cleaner with chlorine bleach if you have a mildew problem, but be careful not to mix it any stronger than the manufacturer recommends. A product with oxalic acid is particularly effective at removing tannin stains and iron stains, a particular consideration with cedar and redwood decks.

A power washer is the easiest way to wash your deck. (Always wear eye protection when using a power washer.) If you don't have a power washer, use a scrub brush. As you clean your deck, be sure to remove grade marks and other markings from the wood.

Rinse well with water, and let your deck dry thoroughly.

Note: If you have ChoiceDek® or some other type of composite decking, not all cleaners will work for you. Consult the manufacturer for the correct types of cleaning products.

Seal

If it's time to re-seal your deck, you'll want to choose the right sealant. There are four main types of deck sealers:

  • Clear treatments allow wood to fade to a natural, silver grey while still providing protection from UV and water damage.
  • Wood-toned treatments can enhance the natural grain of the wood, add depth or tone, or give the wood a deeper, richer color.
  • Semi-transparent treatments offer more coverage than a clear or wood-toned stain, so they're an excellent choice for woods that are slightly damaged or weather-faded.
  • Solid (opaque) treatments do not show the grain of the wood, so it's the best option for wood that is older, more weathered, and has more imperfections. Such treatments are better suited for vertical surfaces (railings, pillars, caps) than for horizontal surfaces (decking, stairs). The wearing from foot traffic is particularly noticeable with an opaque stain, and sealant reapplication may be needed annually.

When choosing a sealing treatment, keep in mind that it can be tricky to work backwards from opaque to clear. Select a color that complements or contrasts with your house's siding. Use the color wheel to determine pairings or talk with a Lowe's associate in the paint and stain department. Also, look for an oil-based product that is mixed with latex for easy clean-up.

Note: If you have a new deck made of treated lumber, wait at least a few weeks before sealing it. This allows the wood to dry so the stain can be absorbed. Use a moisture meter to test the wood. If you don't have a moisture meter, press the head of a flat screwdriver into an inconspicuous spot. If any moisture appears, the wood is too wet to stain.

Decorate

Set Up Seating. Your outdoor seating can be as comfortable as your indoor living room. Select a durable table and chairs, and look for weather-resistant, washable fabrics. Also consider different seating like hammocks, rockers or swings.

Design an Outdoor Kitchen. The fresh air may very well bring out the chef in you. Pick a grill that accommodates your cooking needs. Consider features like side burners, griddles and utensil storage. Add an outdoor bar for mixing and serving drinks.

Add Lighting. Outdoor lighting provides optimal safety, ambiance and comfort. Layering lights can have an even more dramatic effect. For safety purposes, illuminate all doorways, stairs and walking paths.

Create an Appealing Atmosphere. Small touches can make your deck or patio feel more inviting. Consider wiring outdoor speakers to pipe music into your outdoor room. Fill planters with bright flowers for a splash of color. Add a trickling fountain or wind chimes. And keep bugs at bay with citronella candles and torches.

Continue settling in your outdoor living area with more outdoor home improvement ideas and tips from Lowe's.

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