Magazine article Sunset

Winning Western Decks

Magazine article Sunset

Winning Western Decks

Article excerpt

Our contest winners prove that the best decks take inspiration from their sites

Although all decks create flat

outdoor-living Space, not all decks serve the same functions, as our winners vividly demonstrate. One weaves through a grove of trees. Another helps tame a sloping site by dividing it into usable stairstepping levels, complete with built-in planters and a barbecue area. Still others function as "satellite" decks--important visual elements in the garden, as well as inviting, serene destinations separated from the noise and light of the house. Our collection shows that decks can he as varied as the topography they cover.

Keep your deck in winning condition

Proper maintenance is the key to a deck's long life and lasting beauty. Here's a care guide for decks made of conventional wood or pressure-treated lumber. Decks constructed of such wood alternatives as Trex or TimberTech require less maintenance, but be sure to inspect their underpinnings--which are often built with pressure-treated lumber--for signs of dry rot or mildew.

1. Clean the deck. Remove debris from between the boards. Leaves, twigs, and rocks can trap moisture and lead to dry-rot problems Use a commercial deck cleaning solution or make a mixture of 1 gallon of water and 1 cup of household bleach and a little powdered laundry detergent. (Note: Do not combine bleach with any detergent containing ammonia.) Wet the deck with a hose and scrub on the solution with a stiff-bristled broom (to avoid rust stains, do not use steel wool or a wire brush). Spray clean and let dry. Thoroughly rinse any adjacent plant material.

2. Reset loose nails or screws. As wood swells and shrinks with moisture and heat, nails and screws can work loose. Use a hammer and a broad nailset to drive any popped nail heads below the surface of the deck. (It's a good idea to punch all the nail heads below the surface--especially if you are planning to sand an older deck.) In addition, check other fasteners on the decks frame, rim joists, and stairs.

3. Check for mildew and dry rot (often found underneath the deck where there is wood-to-wood contact). If you find an affected area, scrub it with a brush and detergent, apply household bleach to kill any spores, and rinse with water.

4. Remove nail rust stains. After setting nail heads below the deck surface, clean the surface with a dilute mixture of oxalic acid (1 ounce per quart of water). Wear gloves and avoid skin or eye contact. …

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