Friday, August 3, 2012

How Wet Should Your Deck Be?

This summer has been a frustrating time, with daily afternoon storms that make it impossible to schedule deck refinishing projects. The wet weather got me thinking about all the things that can happen to decks, and what it takes to care for them properly.

Do you know the most common reasons that many deck finishes fail prematurely? Improper workmanship and exposure to the elements are the chief culprits. Since you can't control the weather, if you hire someone to refinish your deck, make sure they know how to do the work the way it should be done. This means, among other things: 
  • correct and thorough preparation.
  • use of the appropriate material, based on the existing finish.
  • application of the new finish when the wood is sufficiently dry to accept it, and when weather conditions are right, including the temperature and the prospects for rain. If the sun shines directly on the deck all day, the weather needs to be relatively cool while the material is being applied, or the finish might not look uniform. There should be no rain in the forecast for at least 24 hours, preferably longer.
When you’re getting estimates, there’s a simple way to test the contractor's deck expertise: ask what the moisture content in the wood should be when the finish is applied, and how he plans to determine when your deck meets that criterion. Discuss how the weather will affect his plans for doing the work, and what type of finish he recommends, and why. Do your homework first by asking one of the experts at your local paint store for his product suggestions so that you can discuss the options with the contractor.

 Ideally, the contractor will test the moisture content in the wood with a moisture meter. That's what Roger always does. The water content should be less than 15%. Every manufacturer’s label will specify how the material is to be applied, and under what weather conditions. The contractor should be familiar with the requirements of the product he recommends.

Even when you apply premium grade materials and the work is done correctly under perfect conditions, you must accept the hard fact that decks are a routine maintenance item. The conditions at your house, including the age of the deck and how well it was built, the exposure, the wear and tear it receives, the type of finish you choose and how diligently you maintain it, also will affect how often the deck will need to be refinished.

If your deck needs a fresh start, call me to schedule an estimate. Roger has been a “deck doctor” for many years, and can give your deck a new lease on life. All he needs is good weather."

You can reach me at 828-692-4355.

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