Many homeowners add decks to their homes to increase their usable space. A deck provides a place to entertain friends, family and neighbors outdoors during the warm spring and summer months. Decks also provide an area to sit back and relax while watching the children play, the birds sing or while reading a good book. Decks add both monetary and aesthetic value to a home. When selling a home, many prospective buyers view a deck as an asset.
Choosing a Deck Material
Choosing the material from which to build your deck can be a confusing time. The choices include wood decks, which can rot, splinter and degrade over time. Metal decks have their drawbacks also. Metal corrodes and rusts from exposure to changing weather conditions and is also very hot on your feet. Trex decking offers the homeowners a surface that is easy to clean and maintain, looks like wood and lasts – basically forever.
What is Trex?
Trex decking is a composite material that the manufacturer makes from bits and pieces of recycled wood and plastic. Trex does not crack, rot, split or warp and is not prone to insect damage as is wood. Trex stands up to pool chemicals and salt water making it a good choice to install around a pool or at a beach front home. Trex is an environmentally friendly building material because it Is made from recycled materials. Trex is used as a finishing building material because it is not load bearing, which means it is not strong enough to hold the weight of the deck along with outdoor furniture and people. The deck is typically framed with wood supports and finishedwith Trex boards as decking and stair surfaces. Trex also is used to create safety railings surrounding the deck and hand rails leading up and down stairs.
How Much Effort is Required to Care for a Trex Deck?
Twice yearly maintenance is all that Trex decking requires in order continue to look nice. Many wood deck owners spend a considerable amount of time each spring repairing wood rot, insect damage along with painting or staining their decks to protect them from changing weather conditions and make them look presentable. That is not the case with Trex decking. After building a Trex deck your time will be spent enjoying the deck rather than working on it.
Maintaining and cleaning your outdoor deck will help the deck last for much longer in comparison to a deck left in disrepair. In most cases the bulk of the work is done under the deck where the wood supports lie rather than the actual Trex material.
Spring and Fall Deck Maintenance
Always begin your spring and fall general maintenance under the deck. The wood support and hidden structure require maintenance in order to keep the deck sturdy and strong.
If any parts of the deck were nailed together – looked for popped nails and drive them back into the wood with a hammer. Most times the deck supports are bolted together, but some areas may have nails.
Get under the deck and look at each support to see if there are any signs of flaking or peeling paint or other protective coating failure, wood rot or if insects have damaged the wood in any way.
Scrape away the peeling paint or coating with a paint scraper and prepare the surface for a new coat of paint or wood sealer. If the paint or sealer is two or more years old, you should consider scraping the paint or coating off the woood supports, sand the wood, wipe away the sanding dust with a tack rag and repaint or recoat the supports to protect them from weather damage, wood rot and insect damage.
Fix any areas of wood rot. Chip out the soft, spongy rotted areas of wood with a chisel and hammer. Fill in the depression with an epoxy based repair putty. Let the wood repair putty dry completely, which takes anywhere from one to three hours depending on how deep the repair is. Load an orbital palm sander or belt sander with 120 grit sandpaper and sand the repairs smooth. If you aren’t comfortable using a power sander or the repair is small you can wrap 120 grit sandpaper around a sanding block and smooth the epoxy repaired area by hand. Wipe away the sanding dust with a tack rag.
If there is any insect damage, spray the wood with an insecticide and fill in damaged areas with an epoxy based repair putty as you would repair wood rot.
Apply exterior grade paint or wood sealer to all of the supports with a paint roller or paint brush. Let the paint or sealer dry for three to five hours and then paint the supports with a second coat. If you are comfortable using a paint sprayer – you can spray the supports with exterior grade paint or wood sealer rather than brushing it or rolling it on.
Cleaning the Trex Decking and Railings
Use a stiff bristled push broom to sweep the entire deck surface to remove loose surface dirt, dead leaves and small twigs.
Add water to a bucket and pour in approximately 1 tablespoon of a liquid, grease fighting dish washing soap. If you prefer, you can use a specially formulated composite deck cleaner.
Twist a nozzle onto a garden hose and turn the water on. Spray the Trex railings with water. Work in small sections to prevent the railings from drying.
Submerge a nylon scrubbing pad or a soft nylon scrub brush into the soapy water.
Rinse the dirty soapy residue off the railing with the water from the hose.
If the railings appear to still be dirty, wash them a second time and rinse them again.
Work your way around the entire deck, including the stair rails.
Examine the decking looking for any type of greasy stains, bird droppings, moss, leaf stains, mildew or food stains. Wet the stained areas with water and scrub them first with the scrub brush or nylon scrubbing pad. If the stains don’t come away immediately, you will need a composite deck cleaner.
Spray the composite deck cleaner on the stains and scrub the stains away.
Rinse the soapy residue with the hose.
Submerge a clean push broom into the soapy water and scrub the Trex deck boards – work in smaller sections to prevent the Trex from drying before you’ve had a chance to rinse off the soap suds.
Continue to scrub and rinse the deck boards and steps until the entire deck is clean.