The return of spring means we start thinking about our outdoor spaces again and whether homeowners are considering listing homes for sale in Ottawa or simply want to doll up their yards for their own use, Randall’s has some advice when it comes to your deck.

Lee Martin, owner of Randall’s, says that of all the surfaces his staff inspects and tries to provide solutions for, nothing is more challenging than decks.

“For every 10 calls I have gone on for the last 25 years, 9½ are for decks,” he says.

Although his staff will get stumped once in a while on the best option for a deck, they can usually determine what to do based on a few factors and seeing a couple of pictures.

How is it built?

The design of the deck makes the biggest difference in its longevity and on the coating applied, says Martin, who runs three locations of Randall’s, including 555 Bank St. The deck should be at least 18 inches off the ground, never skirted with anything but lattice (it must allow airflow underneath) and there should be a quarter-inch spacing between the boards.

Other factors that will affect longevity are:

  • exposure to the sun
  • moisture in the area
  • the amount of traffic on the deck.

Martin says there’s no magic product that will last five years and get you out of deck maintenance. Typically, the best he can promise is two to three years, and even then, some maintenance is necessary in high traffic areas.

Deck prep

The procedure to properly coat a deck differs depending on what is on the deck. And if it’s a new deck, you’ll need to wait a certain amount of time before coating it. A new cedar deck, for instance, needs to sit for six weeks and a pressure-treated one must wait a year.

A tip for preparing your deck: If you sand it, make it as rough as possible, because smooth wood does not allow for good penetration of your coating, Martin says.

Your deck prep may include just a simple cleaning or it may involve stripping or sanding. Once it has been washed, for most products you’ll need to wait for three dry days before proceeding.

What to coat with?

If your deck is old and you’re just trying to make it look better for a year or two, you can use a solid stain, which will hide everything and look fantastic when it is done. The downside is that it usually peels within two years and is a lot more work to redo.

If you are using a traditional linseed oil product, you definitely need three dry days before you apply. Only one coat is recommended and it takes a full day to dry. This product will usually not peel.

A new product Randall’s is promoting is a deck coating called C2 Guard. Martin says it will protect from water intrusion for up to five years, although it does require regular maintenance in between to maintain the esthetic look. You also don’t need a completely dry surface to apply, as long as it is dry to the touch. It’s non-toxic, has almost no odour and dries in less than an hour. With C2 Guard you can clean your deck in the morning, stain in the afternoon and have your barbecue at dinner.

When it comes to your deck, while Martin can’t give you a five-year worry-free solution, he says he does try to give you a system that will require as little of your time as possible to maintain.

Then, enjoy your deck!