Rain-Exposed Wooden Decks: 5 Dos and Don'ts

Maintaining any uncovered outdoor space can be challenging, especially wood patios. Learn more about maintenance/upkeep, and be sure to check back next week for 5 Dos and Don’ts for brick and cement patios!

– DO: Pressure wash your deck. The North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA) recommends pressure washing your deck every year.
– DO: Follow up each pressure washing with an outdoor wood stain. Water seepage into your deck can cause considerable warping, but acidic elements in our rainwater can actually break down a wooden deck from within. NADRA recommends staining immediately after power washing.
Pump Sprayer for Wooden Decks– DO: Use a simple pump sprayer like this to apply your stain. I used to always use a light, colorless stain ~24-48 hours after pressure washing my clients’ decks. A simple handheld sprayer can stain most decks in less than an hour without hurting your back or wearing yourself out.
– DO: Protect the wood surface from furniture legs with simple outdoor mats and rugs. These recycled plastic mats don’t retain moisture and don’t contribute to mildew forming on the deck.
– DO: If you are having mildew problems, you can use a mixture of 1-2 cups of bleach in dissolved in a gallon of water to prevent mildew from reforming. You can apply the solution with the same pump sprayer you use to apply your wood stain. Some pressure washers also can mix bleach into their reservoirs, and that works pretty well also.
Outdoor Deck: Front View

– DON’T: Use a fire pit on wooden deck without a protective pad. Deck Protect’s fireproof pad for fire pits will protect wooden surfaces from heat. They also provide protective layer between your fire pit’s legs and your wooden deck.

– DON’T: Pressure wash a deck without proper experience/instruction. Experienced local professionals will usually perform the work for you at a good price. If you do decide to rent or buy a pressure washer, start off with a low pressure nozzle and get used to the power of the washer. Always keep the nozzle at least six inches away from the wood surface, or you risk doing physical damage to the wood! Spray in even, consistent lines horizontally across the wood. Check out this video to see the job done right:

– DON’T: Use traditionally woven outdoor rugs like this. Even at only 3/8″ thickness, machine-made outdoor rugs perform poorly on exposed wooden surfaces. They simply retain too much moisture to be reliably left outside and will exacerbate existing mildew growth. Stick with the recycled plastics mats linked above.

– DON’T: Forget about your wooden furniture. Wooden Adirondack Chairs can last as long as your deck. Pressure wash them with a low-pressure nozzle, stain with the same stain as you used on your deck, and add some major mileage to your outdoor furniture. They can perform every bit as well as poly-lumber chairs if you give them the same TLC as your deck.

– DON’T: Be a ‘fair-weather decker’! Uncovered decks don’t have to be ruled by the weather. With a high-quality patio umbrella or pergola, you can add some shade to your uncovered deck and enjoy it all summer long.

6 Responses to “Rain-Exposed Wooden Decks: 5 Dos and Don'ts”

  1. Kenneth Gladman

    We get a lot of rainfall where I live, but I don’t want that to keep us from having a wood deck installed. Our backyard has been a hangout spot for our family during the evenings and a deck would be great to add because of that. I will remember to pressure wash it like you mention when it is installed.

  2. Geline

    This is an awesome read. Thanks for sharing this with us

  3. Sam Cooch

    Enjoyed the read but just wanted to clarify that you said after pressure washing you used a colorless stain 30 minutes after. Most things I’ve read say you need to let your deck dry after pressure washing and then once dry staining. I couldn’t find the info on NADRA about being OK to stain immediately after pressure washing. I’ve never heard this before so just wanted to clarify. Thanks!

  4. Peter

    Will a waterproof film, such as a tarp, cause rot or mildew. Something that I can then cover with a typical outdoor rug. I am trying to keep my elderly dog’s urine from seeping through floor boards to public area below!

  5. I liked what you said about what you should do when your deck is exposed to rain. My cousin likes in an area with a lot of weather. Making sure that his deck gets waterproofed by a professional could be really nice.


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