Care and Maintenance of Your Deck

By: Dave Toht on

Published: November 30, 2009

Annual deck maintenance will forestall repairs, protect your investment, and boost your enjoyment of your outdoor space.

Late spring: Wash the deck

Aside from general dinginess, one of the sure signs a deck needs washing is a film of mold and grunge. Left unchecked, mold and dirt and can trap moisture and cause rot. Decking is very popular in gardens however it’s very important that you clean and maintain it correctly.

Begin cleaning your deck by removing debris from between deck boards using a putty knife. (For a makeshift extension that’s a real knee-saver, try pushing the handle of your putty knife into a length of 1¼-inch PVC pipe. Some putty knives squeeze right in.)

Or, buy a pole-type groove and crevice cleaner. Pay special attention to the areas where deck boards cross the joists – the structural members underneath the decking. You may consider reading articles to find which joist hangers are right for you if the joists need more support. Next, you need to thoroughly sweep the deck.

For a wood deck, use a standard deck cleaner — about $20 for 250 sq. ft. coverage. Or, make your own with a half bleach, half water solution. Choose a cloudy day when the decking is cool and the sun won’t evaporate the cleaner. Protect all shrubs and plantings with plastic sheeting. Apply the cleaner according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Once the decking is cleaned, tackle the railing. Working from the bottom up, apply the cleaner, scrub, and then rinse. Working from the top down splatters the cleaning solution onto dry wood where it can double-bleach the surface, leaving marks that don’t go away when the lower area is washed. Working from the bottom up means you’ll be splattering onto a wet surface where the cleaner is diluted, leaving no marks.

For composite decks, use a cleaner specifically formulated for use on composite material. Scrub with a soft brush. Do not use a pressure washer – it can permanently damage the decking and will void any warranty. Remove rust and leaf stains with a deck brightener containing oxalic acid. Attack grease and oil stains with a commercial degreaser and detergents. Mold and mildew can be kept under control with the use of a deck wash solution twice a year. However, this may not be the case with plastic decking boards so seek further instruction online.

For vinyl (cellular PVC) decking – the closest thing to a maintenance-free material – you’ll only need to use warm water and a mild soap to remove mold, mildew, and dirt. Scrub in a circular motion using a stiff broom, then rinse thoroughly.

Late spring: Seal the deck

The finish on your deck may be so woebegone that it’s obvious it needs resealing, but if you have doubts, try the water test. Splash some water onto the deck. If it beads up, all’s well. If it soaks in, it’s time to wash and reseal the deck.

Wash the deck as described above and allow it to dry for 48 hours before sealing. Use a pole sander equipped with 80-grit paper to remove any furriness caused by washing.

Sealers and stains are available at home improvement centers for about $30/gallon – enough to cover 250 sq. ft. of decking. Your finish options include:

  • Clear sealer that lets the wood’s natural grain and color show through
  • Toner that adds a bit of color but fully reveals the grain and provides some protection against sunlight (ultraviolet or UV light)
  • Semi-transparent stain that tints the wood, but lets some grain show
  • Solid stain and opaque color that seals weathering damage and completely covers the grain

Expect to recoat clear sealers and toners annually. Recoat stain finishes as needed (every other year is a good routine), using the same or a slightly darker color. Be sure to wear gloves, a safety mask, and eye protection when applying stain and sealers. Use a roller to apply the sealer to the decking, covering three or four boards at a time. Use brushes and small rollers for railings, planters, and benches.

Some composite decking can be stained to restore its color. Be sure the product is intended for composites. Don’t expect the same density of color that you would achieve with wood. Deck sealants aren’t required or recommended.

Midsummer: Inspect and repair your deck

When the weather is warm and dry, it’s a good time to give your deck’s structure a close inspection. Pay particular attention to any areas within 6 inches of the ground or close to sources of water, such as downspouts and planters.

Look for signs of rot by probing structural members with a flat-blade screwdriver. Begin by checking stairs, especially where the stringers (the saw-tooth notched pieces that support the steps) meet the ground. Also check each perimeter post. If you can push the screwdriver a quarter-inch or more into a suspect area, you probably have rot.

Areas of rot that are no bigger than a silver dollar can be removed with a chisel and the hole can be treated with wood preservative. Larger areas may require the structural member to be replaced. Consult a professional carpenter or builder for an estimate for repairs.

If the underside of your deck is accessible, use a flashlight to inspect joists, posts, and beams. Pay special attention to the ledger – that all-important piece of framing that attaches the deck to the house. An estimated 90% of collapsed decks resulted from the failure of the ledger. However, not all decks have ledgers. Some are free-standing – a beam and posts located within a few feet of the house indicate a free-standing deck system.

The ledger should be attached with lag screws, not just nails. The flashing – the metal cap that covers the top of the ledger and prevents moisture from getting behind the siding – should be free of rust and holes. Check all the hardware underneath, especially joist hangers, and replace any that are seriously rusted. Probe for signs of rot on the posts and joists. If anything looks doubtful, call in a pro to provide an estimate for any needed repairs.

If a framing member can’t be easily removed and replaced, reinforce it. For example, if a joist shows areas of rot, you can add a splint of comparable pressure-treated lumber along side it, attaching the splint with two or three 3-inch deck screws every 12 inches. Then chisel away the rotten area and paint the raw wood with preservative. To further to protect your wooden deckings, you may also want to look into heavy-duty paints to finish your deck with, looking into websites like ArmorGarage can allow you to choose the right paint finish for your particular wood.

Topside, look for cracked or rotten decking boards. Not all cracks are a structural threat, but they’ll get worse with time. If you find damage, replace the piece. Areas of cupping can be sanded down.

Give the railing a good shake to be sure posts are not loose or damaged – loose connections may be remedied by drilling pilot holes and adding galvanized lag screws. Look for cracks that, over time, may have developed around fasteners such as nails or screws. To remedy, remove the fastener and seal the crack with an exterior-grade adhesive. Then, drill a new pilot hole and add a new galvanized deck screw.

Early fall: Preventive measures

If the decking was nailed, you’ll likely find some nail heads popping out. A short-term solution is simply to pound them back in using a hammer and a thick nail set. For a longer lasting solution, pull out each protruding nail and drive in a deck screw slightly longer than the nail. (When pulling out the nail with a hammer or pry bar, use a scrap of wood as a fulcrum for greater leverage and to avoid damaging the deck.) If a nail only slightly protrudes, you may do more harm than good trying to pull it out. Pound it home.

To slow mold, moss, and rot, keep nearby bushes and trees cut back at least 12 inches from the deck. Don’t let leaves and other debris pile up in corners. Move planters, chairs, and tables occasionally to avoid discoloring the decking. Keep nearby gutters and downspouts in good repair.

Tips for Adding Curb Appeal and Value to Your Home

By: Pat Curry on

Published: February 18, 2011

Here are eight ways to help your home put its best face forward.

The way your house looks from the street — attractively landscaped and well-maintained — can add thousands to its value and cut the time it takes to sell. But which projects pump up curb appeal most? Some spit and polish goes a long way, and so does a dose of color. If you’re looking to fund your home improvement projects, you may wish to seek out home improvement loans to help you with this.

Tip #1: Wash your house’s face

Before you scrape any paint or plant more azaleas, wash the dirt, mildew, and general grunge off the outside of your house. REALTORS® say washing a house can add $10,000 to $15,000 to the sale prices of some houses.

A bucket of soapy water and a long-handled, soft-bristled brush can remove the dust and dirt that have splashed onto your wood, vinyl, metal, stucco, brick, and fiber cement siding. Power washers (rental: $75 per day) can reveal the true color of your flagstone walkways.

Wash your windows inside and out, swipe cobwebs from eaves, and hose down downspouts. Don’t forget your garage door, which was once bright white. If you can’t spray off the dirt, scrub it off with a solution of 1/2 cup trisodium phosphate-TSP, available at grocery stores, hardware stores, and home improvement centers-dissolved in 1 gallon of water. Or replace your windows using someone similar to Window World Ohana.

You and a friend can make your house sparkle in a few weekends. A professional cleaning crew will cost hundreds–depending on the size of the house and number of windows–but will finish in a couple of days.

Tip #2: Freshen the paint job

The most commonly offered curb appeal advice from real estate pros and appraisers is to give the exterior of your home a good paint job. Buyers will instantly notice it, and appraisers will value it.? ?Of course, painting is an expensive and time-consuming facelift. To paint a 3,000-square-foot home, figure on spending $375 to $600 on paint; $1,500 to $3,000 on labor.

Your best bet is to match the paint you already have: Scrape off a little and ask your local paint store to match it. Resist the urge to make a statement with color. An appraiser will mark down the value of a house that’s painted a wildly different color from its competition.

Tip #3: Regard the roof

The condition of your roof is one of the first things buyers notice and appraisers assess. Missing, curled, or faded shingles add nothing to the look or value of your house. If your neighbors have maintained or replaced their roofs, yours will look especially shabby. If you feel your roof could be a little lackluster compared to the rest of your property, looking into roof repair or replacement at or similar roofing companies can let you find the best options and prices available to you.

You can pay for roof repairs now, or pay for them later in a lower appraisal; appraisers will mark down the value by the cost of the repair. According to Remodeling magazine’s 2013 Cost vs. Value Report, the average cost of a new asphalt shingle roof is about $18,488.

Some tired roofs look a lot better after you remove 25 years of dirt, moss, lichens, and algae. Don’t try cleaning your roof yourself: call a professional with the right tools and technique to clean it without damaging it. A 2,000 sq. ft. roof will take a day and $400 to $600 to clean professionally.

Tip #4: Neaten the yard

A well-manicured lawn, fresh mulch, and pruned shrubs boost the curb appeal of any home.

Replace overgrown bushes with leafy plants and colorful annuals. Surround bushes and trees with dark or reddish-brown bark mulch, which gives a rich feel to the yard. Put a crisp edge on garden beds, pull weeds and invasive vines, and plant a few geraniums in pots.

Green up your grass with lawn food and water. Cover bare spots with seeds and sod, get rid of crab grass, and mow regularly.

If you’re willing to spend some money on renovation work, you might even want to consider getting a conservatory. Nowadays, the range of conservatory designs is limitless, however most are based on a few fundamental styles, but by increasing floorspace, they are all sure to increase the value of your home.

Tip #5: Add a color splash

Even a little color attracts and pleases the eye of would-be buyers.

Plant a tulip border in the fall that will bloom in the spring. Dig a flowerbed by the mailbox and plant some pansies. Place a brightly colored bench or Adirondack chair on the front porch. Get a little daring, and paint the front door red or blue.

These colorful touches won’t add to the value of our house: appraisers don’t give you extra points for a blue bench. But beautiful colors enhance curb appeal and help your house to sell faster.

Tip #6: Glam your mailbox

An upscale mailbox, architectural house numbers, or address plaques can make your house stand out.

High-style die cast aluminum mailboxes range from $100 to $350. You can pick up a handsome, hand-painted mailbox for about $50. If you don’t buy new, at least give your old mailbox a facelift with paint and new house numbers.

These days, your local home improvement center or hardware stores has an impressive selection of decorative numbers. Architectural address plaques, which you tack to the house or plant in the yard, typically range from $80 to $200. Brass house numbers range from $3 to $11 each, depending on size and style.

Tip #7: Fence yourself in

A picket fence with a garden gate to frame the yard is an asset. Not only does it add visual punch to your property, appraisers will give extra value to a fence in good condition, although it has more impact in a family-oriented neighborhood than an upscale retirement community.

Expect to pay $2,000 to $3,500 for a professionally installed gated picket fence 3 feet high and 100 feet long.

If you already have a fence, make sure it’s clean and in good condition. Replace broken gates and tighten loose latches.

Tip #8: Maintenance is a must

Nothing looks worse from the curb–and sets off subconscious alarms–like hanging gutters, missing bricks from the front steps, or peeling paint. Not only can these deferred maintenance items damage your home, but they can decrease the value of your house by 10%.

Here are some maintenance chores that will dramatically help the look of your house.

  • Refasten sagging gutters.
  • Repoint bricks that have lost their mortar.
  • Reseal cracked asphalt.
  • Straighten shutters.
  • Replace cracked windows.

1031 Exchange Facilitators

IPX 1031
Doug Blackwell
VP, Major Accounts
Office: 503-223-3911
900 SW Fifth Ave, S Mezzanine
Portland, OR 97204
Asset Preservation
Don Leadroot, Esq.
NW Representative
Direct: 503-819-2663
1000 SW Broadway, #1600
Portland, OR 97205
Beutler Exchange Group, LLC
Toija Beutler
Office: 503-748-1031
5665 Meadows Rd., Suite 140
Lake Oswego, OR 97035
First American Exchange
Karen Maskell
Exchange Officer
7710 NE Greenwood Dr., #160
Vancouver, WA 98662

*We have compiled this list of local 1031 Exchange Facilitators that we know, or those our clients have done business with and are satisfied with the value and the service they have received. Bella Casa does not guarantee that all services listed here are current on licensing and do not guarantee the quality of their work. All parties are advised to complete their full due diligence on checking status of licenses, references, business background, complaints and all pertinent information when a hiring business or individual from this service list.

Cleaners & Restoration


Carpet Cleaning
Morris Carpet Cleaning
Mike & Kim Morris
Phone: 503-472-3889
Fax: 503-435-0581
1405 NE Lafayette Ave, Ste E
McMinnville, OR 97128
ChemDry of Yamhill County
Phone: 503-434-6369
Washington, Yamhill, Columbia
(Excluding Portland Metro) Counties
Blue Ribbon Steam Cleaning
2500 E. 2nd Street
Newberg, OR 97132
503-538-6963 – Newberg
503-434-9197 – McMinnville
B & D Carpet Cleaning
Brian & Chris Parkinson
Office: (503) 864-8906
Lafayette, OR 97127
Checkmate Carpet Cleaning
Vancouver, Portland, and surrounding areas
Portland: 503-317-6413
Sara Hess Cleaning Company
Sarah Hess
Phone: 503-522-8881
Glory’s Cleaning, LLC
Gloria Solis
Phone: 541-760-8989
Scents of Clean
Maria Lucas – Housecleaning
Phone: 503-868-9975
Andy Eberly
Bed Bug Eradication, Odor Removal
& Disaster Restoration
Office: 877-617-2847
Direct: 503-893-9731
Water Bear Restoration Services
Office: 503-554-0417
610 S. Center Street
Newberg, OR 97132
Certified Mold Cleaning & Restoration LLC
8142 SW Durham Rd
Tigard, OR 97224
Phone: 503-610-3661
Advanced Recovery Corporation
Fire, Water, Sewage & Mold Remediation Emergency Services
Joe Rivera
Additional Cleaning Services
Ace Window Washing
Tim Gardner
Phone: 971-237-2313
Chimney Cleaners NW
Alex Bergstrom
Phone: 503-472-0690
McMinnville, OR 97128
Jeff Wright Trash Hauling
Phone: 503-803-8986
Operates in a 25 mi radius of Newberg
Seamless Gutter Services
Xavier Medina
Installation & Repair
Phone: 971-281-1920
Phone: 971-281-1756

*We have compiled this list of local Restoration and Cleaning Companies that we know, or those our clients have done business with and are satisfied with the value and the service they have received. Bella Casa does not guarantee that all services listed here are current on licensing or bonding, and do not guarantee the quality of their work. All parties are advised to complete their full due diligence on checking status of licensing and bonding, references, business background, complaints and all pertinent information when a hiring business or individual from this service list.

General Contractors, Excavation, Roofers



Construction/General Contractors
Winsome Construction
Shan & Wendy Stassens
Eagle Building
117 NE 5th St., Suite D
McMinnville, OR 97128
CDI Home Improvement
Grant Erickson
Phone: 503-704-7105
Fax: 503-538-8767
901 Brutscher St., Suite D
Newberg, Or 97132
Stan Symank Construction
Phone: 503-476-4946
MD Haney & Co.
Matt & Darci Haney
Phone: 503.857.8176
P.O. Box 542
Carlton, OR 97111
Champion Property Improvement
Jeff Gleaves
Phone: 503-969-6613
4285 Faber Ave.
St. Paul, OR 97137
All Things are Possible Construction, LLC
Steve Bowdoin – Owner/General Contractor
Phone: 503-554-1932
Cell: 503-704-8080
atapc@frontier.com10800 NE Paren Springs Rd
Dundee, OR 97115CCB License #210261
Integrity Builders, Inc
Bruce Cook, General Contractor CCB#147396
Phone: 503-560-08811525 SW Cypress Ln
McMinnville, OR 97128
Crosscut Construction
Phone: 971-241-6268
280 SW Ivy St
Willamina, OR 97395
American Legacy Homes
Jeremy Gissel
Phone: 503-341-8615
Gary Rychlick
General Contractor
Phone: 503-329-3359
25190 SW Grahams Ferry Rd
Sherwood, OR 97140
Vison Construction
Reid Phillips
Phone: 971-241-1332
Gary Biazzo, General Contractor
Phone: 503-709-1851
PO Box 146
Oregon City, OR 97045
Roofing & Gutters
Jim Fisher Roofing & Construction
Phone: 503-227-7663
Fax: 503-625-0528
13580 SW Galbreath Drive
Sherwood, OR 97140
Steve Williams Roofing
Phone: (503) 435-2844
750 NE 15th St
McMinnville, OR 97128
Abel Chavez – Roofing Repair & Installation
Phone: 971-237-0398
Seamless Gutter Services
Xavier Medina
Installation & Repair
Phone: 971-281-1920
Phone: 971-281-1756
All City Guttering
Gutter repair, installation, service, cleaning, moss control
Phone: 503-931-9835
2555 Liberty Rd
Keller Excavating
Terry Keller
Phone: 503-550-0511
7411 SE Eola Hills Rd.
Amity, OR 97101
Advantage Excavation
Tim Millsap
Phone: 503-435-8180
852 NE Ashby Ct.
McMinnville, OR 97128
Patch Pro
Drywall installation and repair
Jerry Tindall
Phone: 503-470-1006
Carlton, OR
H&H Drywall
Drywall installation and repair
Keith Hansen
Phone: 503-519-8271
Newberg, OR
Masonry & Woodworking
Anatomy Woodworks & Design
Tim Wright
Handyman services, remodeling, custom woodworking & furniture
Phone: 503-616-0253
CCB# 215117
Mumm Masonry
Ashley Mumm
Phone: 503-453-4350
CCB #214251

*We have compiled this list of local Oregon construction contractors that we know, or those our clients have done business with and are satisfied with the value and the service they have received. Bella Casa does not guarantee that all services listed here are current on licensing or bonding, and do not guarantee the quality of their work. All parties are advised to complete their full due diligence on checking status of licensing and bonding, references, business background, complaints and all pertinent information when a hiring business or individual from this service list.

County/Gov Offices

We have heard from clients that it can be difficult to locate local government offices. For your convenience, these links provide current contact information for common County offices, including Assessors, Chambers of Commerce, DMVs, IRS Offices, Libraries, Parks Departments, Police Departments, Post Offices, Schools, Social Security Offices, and more.


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