Your outdoor wooden structures were beautiful when they were first built. They added value to your home and enhanced your outdoor space. Over time, however, weathering, discoloration and rot can set in. Beginning with a solid maintenance plan is a good start, but even with the best maintenance, repairs will eventually be necessary. Whether you are looking to protect a new structure or repair an existing one, here are a few tips that should help you maintain outdoor wood structures.
Start By Sealing New Structures
A good sealant will protect your wood from moisture and the problems it can cause. By preventing moisture from getting into the wood, it staves off things like wood rot and mold. It also holds off the discoloration that can occur due to weathering. For best results, be sure your wood structure is completely dry before applying sealant. Apply several coats and allow to dry thoroughly between coats.
Begin Maintenance and Repairs with a Good Cleaning
It’s just a fact of life: dirt will eventually collect on your outdoor wood structure. So when you need to do maintenance, begin with a washing. You can find cleaners specifically designed for helping you to maintain outdoor wood structures at home stores and DIY centers. Depending on the structure and nature of the grime, you may also need to use a power washer. Getting the dirt off will give you a better idea of what repairs may need to be done to your wood structure.
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Fix Any Damage
Most outdoor structures are made of redwood, cedar and pressure-treated pine; materials that are resistant to termites and decay. This means that most of the work to be done is likely to be cosmetic rather than structural. Fix any rotten or broken pieces. If you are working on a deck, be sure to inspect beneath the deck to check boards, as not all damage may be obvious from the upper surface. Look for splintering, wood rot, and nails that may have popped up due to natural expansion and contraction of the wood during seasonal temperature changes.
Remove an Old Finish
If your structure had a finish on it previously, it may be necessary to remove it before applying a fresh finish coat. Use the least caustic stripper possible, such as a formula that is biodegradable. Follow manufacturer’s instructions. Alternatively, you can remove the old finish by hand using sandpaper.
Restore the Wood
Products containing oxalic acid can help to restore the color of wood after it has weathered. Remember to wear protective gear and go over surfaces carefully, one board at a time. Apply solution, scrub wood with a soft brush and then allow it to dry. Rinse with water and then allow wood to dry completely before adding a finish.
Finishing the Wood
Seal your wood structure as soon as possible after it has dried. A paint supply store should have the product you need. Look for something that has either oil or parafin to prevent moisture from getting in, as well as some sort of pigment or coloring to protect your wood from UV rays. You may also want something with an insecticide to discourage pests.
Considering the value that outdoor wood structures can hold, the time and effort spent on repair and maintenance is worth it. Make sure to follow proper procedures and use the right products. Any job worth doing, is worth doing correctly. When you take the time and effort to maintain outdoor wood structures properly, they can last for decades.