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Ryan Coyle
Ryan Coyle

With 20+ years of experience in the landscape, decking, and construction industries, Ryan is one of the top deck designers in the central Indiana area. He and his companies have garnered several awards for their designs.

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What You Need to Know to Protect a Deck From Nature

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When you make an investment in a deck, whether it is a traditional wood deck or one constructed of composite materials, you want it to last. When you learn how to protect a deck from nature, you will ensure your deck will be fully functioning and safe to use for years to come.

Deck maintenance is an essential part of keeping your deck looking beautiful and making sure it lasts. In this article, you will understand how to properly protect both a wood deck and a composite deck. There are two main culprits that can cause problems with your deck: Sun and moisture. Another issue is wind, but it affects the use of your deck in a different way.

Let’s explore how to protect your particular deck so you can cherish your outdoor living space for decades.

How to Protect a Composite Deck from the Elements

Composite decks are becoming increasingly popular because they offer a number of benefits over a wooden deck. They are relatively maintenance-free and require less upkeep than wooden decks.

Companies manufacture composite decking of mostly recycled wood fibers and plastics. Because of this process, the deck boards tend to last longer and are more durable.

While these boards require less maintenance, there are a few things you should keep in mind if you want to ensure that your new composite deck lasts for years to come.

Protect Your Composite Deck from the Sun

Trex and other composite decking companies provide limited warranties against things like scratches, fading, and stains. But, the sun causes damage to any type of material exposed to its rays. This includes composite decking, but today’s manufacturing processes and materials help them stand up to those UV rays a lot better.

There are a few ways manufacturers protect their boards, and this includes:

  • Adding a coating to the boards;
  • Mixing additives into the board materials; and
  • Using a cap around a wooden core.

While all of these will help protect against the sun, some people like to use a clear finish designed specifically for composite decks. It offers extra protection against those UV rays.

Something homeowners have to deal with with a composite deck is that the surface can get heated on hot days. So, you will not want to be walking on the deck’s surface with your bare feet, and you’ll want to monitor your pets, too. Those paw pads can get hot.

To protect against the sun’s heat, you can add a pergola, which provides shade, or have a cover built on the deck.

Protect Your Composite Deck from Moisture

Composite decks do not run the same risk of damage due to moisture as wooden decks because the core of the composite deck usually has a plastic/polymer cap around it. Still, you do need to use some common sense when it comes to deck cleaning.

For example, when dirt and debris collect on the deck surface, you will want to sweep it away with a firm, bristled broom. This keeps the deck free of debris and prevents leaves and twigs from getting stuck in any openings between the deck boards. This helps to keep any water moving off the deck and aids in the prevention of pooling water.

Even if your deck has a waterproofing system, like a Trex Rain Escape System, you will want to keep the surface free of dirt, debris, and grime. If you ignore it, mold and mildew could form. So, keep your deck clean and use a soft-bristle brush to clean it with soap and water.

How to Protect a Wood Deck from the Elements

Wooden decks are made out of natural products such as cedar, redwood, and treated pine. These woods naturally resist decay and rot, but sun and moisture can cut short the useful life of your wood deck — and your outdoor space — if you do not take care of it.

Protect Your Wood Deck from the Sun

When a wood deck is first built, it is a beautiful sight to see. However, as the sun beats down on it, as the rain pelts, as snow gathers on it, the once pristine deck can start to look faded, weathered, and gray.

To protect your deck, you will want to use a good deck stain. Stains include coloring, and it helps protect against UV rays.

If you choose a protective stain for your deck, consider a lighter color. Darker colors absorb heat. A solid stain will offer the best UV protection when compared to transparent stains or semi-transparent stains. It is recommended that you stain or seal your wood deck every couple of years to protect the wood and keep it looking good.

Just like with the composite decks, you can choose a number of coverings, like a pergola or a roof, to provide shade to protect your deck from the sun.

Protect Your Wood Deck from Moisture

Wood is hygroscopic, which is a technical term that means wood absorbs water. Without a proper sealant, the wood surfaces of your deck will soak up a lot of moisture and swell. This can cause them to buckle and bow. While this will diminish the look of your deck and weaken the integrity of the wood, it will also create a safety problem. So, stay on top of any issues to avoid moisture and water damage.

To help protect your deck from moisture, you will want to use a deck sealant. There are water-based and oil-based sealants. If you are doing it yourself, then consider a water-based solution. There are fewer toxic fumes, and you don’t have to worry about using paint thinner to clean your brushes.

Sealants, stains, and deck paints might also contain chemicals to combat mold and mildew growth. This will help protect your deck and contribute to a longer useful life.

How to Protect a Wood Deck from the Wind

Sun and moisture will cause the most problems, but wind can wreak havoc on your deck, too, but in a different way.

This tip is not so much to provide protection to your deck from physical damage from wind, rather it is to protect you and your guests when you are taking a break from the hustle-and-bustle of a busy life and enjoying some downtime on your deck.

Strong winds can cause physical damage to your deck, depending upon the wind speed and condition of your deck. But, winds can also disrupt your time on your deck.

Here are some ways to protect your deck from the wind:

  • Screen in your deck to help keep the wind at bay
  • Use a wind-block fence, which can be a slatted fence or a lattice pattern to interrupt winds
  • If your deck is covered, then you might be able to have wind-blocking shades
  • If your deck has a railing, then a deck windscreen can be used on the railing frames

Be Careful if You Use a Pressure Washer

You might be tempted to use a power washer to clean the dirt, grime, and debris away from your composite or wood deck. However, it is better to avoid pressure washing because it could damage your deck. It could scratch the surface of a composite deck and splinter a wood deck.

Artisan Outdoor Craftsman Will Design and Build Your Next Deck

This article was designed to educate deck owners about how to protect a deck so they can get as many useful years out of it.

Don’t have a deck yet? If you want one built in Central Indiana and the Greater Indianapolis area, we would appreciate you considering Artisan Outdoor Craftsman.

Our creativity and attention to detail help us stand out among our competitors. Artisan Outdoor Craftsman started as landscape architects, so we can think beyond the deck. We understand how to create a beautiful, functional deck, and how to make the landscaping around it complement it.

When you are ready for a beautifully designed, professionally constructed custom deck, along with accessories and other structures, get in touch with Artisan Outdoor Craftsman to get your free estimate.