Tip of the Day: Removing standing water from your deck can help decking and stain last longer

Consumer Reports News: December 23, 2009 12:09 AM

Standing water can damage decking.
As I found out last summer, refinishing a wood deck isn't a fun project and is certainly one you don't want to do more than absolutely necessary.

One way to protect your wood deck and its finish is to keep standing water and, at this time of year, snow off the deck as best you can. Moisture can settle into the pores of even treated wood and damage it, especially boards with a cupped top surface, where water can puddle.

After a rainstorm, I use my gas-powered leaf blower to rid the deck of water, taking about five or 10 minutes to thin out accumulations of water, leaving the rest to evaporate. I also make sure to get to spots most prone to mildew growth, so I use the blower on the vertical and horizontal surfaces of rails, steps, and the deck skirt. There's no need to dry the deck completely; that would take a lot more time and create more emissions from the gas-powered blower.

"The better you can keep water from puddling up on your deck, the longer you can extend the life of the finish and probably even the decking itself," says Rico De Paz, the Consumer Reports project leader who's testing paints and exterior stains for our 2010 reports on those finishes.

After a snowstorm, like the one that hit the New York City area last weekend, my wife and I usually clear snow from the deck before using the leaf blower. De Paz warns that rough treatment with even a plastic shovel can be detrimental to the finish. "You're better off, if possible, avoiding shoveling altogether by sweeping the snow off the deck with a broom," he adds. If you do shovel off the snow, don't use a metal or metal-bladed shovel.

Essential information: Before you refinish your deck next spring, read our latest report on exterior stains and refer to the ratings of exterior stains and deck treatments (available to subscribers). And if you're in the market for a new power blower, check out our buyer's guide to leaf blowers.

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