When it comes to building outdoor decks, redwood is the most commonly used type of wood because of its beauty, strength and durability. However, redwood doesn’t maintain these characteristics on its own—in order to preserve its integrity, you have to reseal it approximately every two years.
Before applying a sealant or other chemical treatment to your deck, it’s important to rigorously clean its surface so the sealant can penetrate the pores and bind to the wood. The simplest, chemical-free cleaning option is pressure washing, which removes dirt and debris from the wood’s pores and prevents the deck from turning grey over time. If you prefer to handle the pressure washing yourself, make sure you keep the machine at low pressure to avoid potentially damaging the deck.
In addition to pressure washing, you can opt to use a chemical cleaner like TSP or oxalic acid. Remember to always use a product that’s appropriate for the situation—don’t confuse wood bleach with regular bleach, for example. Using similarly inappropriate products to clean your deck can damage it instead of preserve it. Consult your contractor or local hardware store to select the right chemical cleaning product for your deck maintenance needs.
Though the classic redwood deck has become commonplace, some homeowners prefer an option that requires less upkeep. Here are a few examples of deck materials that are just as durable as redwood but require little to no maintenance:
This South American wood’s extreme density and natural oils give it a supreme durability and make it naturally resistant to scratching, decay and termites. An untreated Ipe deck should last about 40 years, but a simple surface deck oil application can extend its lifespan to 100 years.
This style of deck is built from planks that are manufactured with a combination of wood and plastic. Available in a variety of colors and styles, composite planks give the appearance of natural wood but don’t need to be routinely sealed or treated with chemicals.
While it bears a less-convincing resemblance to natural wood, the structural benefits of aluminum are considerable: it’s lighter, stronger, requires less maintenance, and is completely resistant to insects, decay and fire.