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How to Prep Your Deck for Summer According to an Expert

Chairs and a table sit on a wooden deck.
Ruth Peterkin/Shutterstock.com

Summer is just around the corner, and that means spending a lot more time outside. One of the best ways to enjoy the warmer weather is to spend time on your deck. Whether you’re grilling, having a family meal, or just sipping a glass of sweet tea while watching the sunset, there’s nothing more relaxing than lounging on a backyard deck throughout the summer months.

But, if you haven’t spent much time outside since last summer and your deck has gone through a harsh fall and winter, you might have some work to do to get it ready for the season.

Thankfully, we connected with John Fowler, CEO of Outlive, to get his expert advice on how everyone should prepare their deck for use this summer.

Do an Initial Inspection

The easiest way to see what kind of shape your deck is in is simply to walk around and check for some common safety issues. According to Fowler, that starts with checking for rotting or warped wood.

A wood deck is prone to those problems, especially if you live in an area with a lot of moisture. Have a particularly rainy fall season or a snowy winter? Chances are, your wood took the brunt of it.

Fowler suggests checking the wood by poking it with a screwdriver in areas that are prone to moisture. If it feels soft and spongey or starts to crumble, it could be rotten beneath the surface. Rotted boards should immediately be replaced since the rot can spread quickly to other boards and lead to structural damage and safety issues.

Once you’ve replaced any rotten or warped boards, Fowler suggests adding a layer of protection by sealing and painting the wood.

Storm System Protector

Protect your deck from sun and moisture by sealing it properly.

Make Sure It’s Secure

A person uses a drill to add nails into a deck's boards.

After taking a look at the wood flooring of your deck, Fowler recommends inspecting the ledger boards, joists, and beams.

These components help to securely attach your deck to the house, and regular wear and tear can cause splitting or rotting. Those kinds of issues can quickly lead to structural compromise.

If you’re not sure how to repair or replace your ledger boards, joists, or beams, it’s best to contact a professional to ensure your deck is up to code.

Additionally, check for loose screws and nails in the deck boards and joists. If you see any nails coming out or screws that should be a bit tighter, fix the issue right away. It might seem like a small problem, but it can turn into a disaster if things become too loose and your deck gives way due to too much weight.

Finally, check your railings. A secure deck floor is pointless if someone leans against the railing and falls because it’s unstable. Check for splitting, rust, or cracks, and replace damaged or corroded pieces with new ones.

Keep Pests at Bay

If there’s a drawback to summer, it’s that the warm weather tends to attract plenty of pests, including insects that could damage your deck—especially termites.

Signs of termite damage include wood that sounds hollow when you tap it, buckling boards, and even small holes or the presence of sawdust on your deck. If you see any of these indicators, you might need to replace some of your deck boards.

To keep your deck safe from pests, Fowler recommends using a sealant to protect it from moisture, as that tends to attract insects. He also suggests keeping firewood and other wooden materials away from the deck so pests aren’t attracted to it, in the first place.

Stormann 4ft Firewood Log Rack

Keep those logs locked away to avoid pests.

Keep It Lit

A deck is lit up with lights along the stairs and base.
Irina Mos/Shutterstock.com

Having globe or twinkle lights around your deck is a great way to add some warm ambiance to it. But, deck lights aren’t just for aesthetics. Having adequate lighting will also keep you and your family and friends safe, especially if you plan on having some late-night festivities this summer.

To create an inviting atmosphere and make your deck safer, Fowler suggests using light fixtures with dimmers to completely control the environment. You don’t want obnoxiously bright lighting when you’re hosting a casual evening get-together.

You should also consider adding motion sensor lights for both security and convenience. They’ll be a big help when you’re letting the dog out at night and don’t want to find yourself in the dark, and they’ll alert you to any unexpected movement outside, so you can protect yourself and your family if needed.

Hang up Some String Lights

LAMPAT String Lights, 25Ft G40 Globe String Lights with Bulbs-UL Listd for Indoor/Outdoor Commercial Decor

These lights make it easy to find your seat, and add a little ambiance to your backyard.

Preparing your deck for summer doesn’t have to be difficult. If you get started now with a thorough inspection, you’ll be able to address any issues quickly and get them fixed before the summer season officially kicks off.

Make deck maintenance a regular part of your spring routine. Doing so will help to boost the longevity of your deck, and will keep it safe and in top shape for years to come.

Stacey Koziel Stacey Koziel
Stacey Koziel is a news writer at LifeSavvy. She's worked as a freelance writer for over ten years, focusing on family and lifestyle content. She also has a background in marketing and social media, and is always eager to talk (and write!) about the latest TikTok trends. Read Full Bio »
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