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I recently bought a house. There is a deck in the garden. It is about two or three years old. It does not seem to be in a great condition, but I have no experience with decks and find it hard to tell how bad it is and what I need to do in terms of care and maintenance.

Here is a photo of the deck:

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You can see that there is a slightly darker shaded area right of the middle. When it rains, the water occasionally stands on it. Question 1: Is there anything I can do about that in terms of prevention or care?

Here is a close-up photo of the deck. Question 2: What care instructions will I need to follow? Is there some treatment or paint I need to apply to make it more waterproof or prevent further tearing and somehow make it more durable?

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Here is another close-up photo. You can see both some chipping and some tearing, especially where knots occur in the wood. Question 3: Is this normal, what can I do to prevent it, and what did the previous owners do wrong for it to happen?

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Question 4: How many summers will I be able to use it before I need to replace it? Thanks.

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From what I can see, it looks to be in pretty good shape. You want to start out by getting a deck wash from your home store and applying it according to instructions. You usually spray it on with a garden sprayer and then pressure clean it off. Stick to setting the pressure cleaner at around 1800 PSI, 2000 max. More than that and you can damage the wood. Then you have to decide whether to use a stain sealer (which I prefer) or a deck paint. Depending on your use of the deck and your climate, you'll have to do this every couple of years.

The cracks in the knots are pretty common and the previous owners couldn't to much to prevent that. If they really bug you or get worse, you can replace the boards if you can find the same type at your home store or lumber yard. The boards were screwed in place so replacing a few won't be too hard. Hopefully, they used stainless screws.

This deck should last for years and will depend on how well it's cared for. Only time will tell but mine have lasted 15 to 20 years in hot, rainy south Florida

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  • Thanks, that's reassuring. I am in England, so pretty damp all year round. How do I decide between stain sealer and deck paint? – space cowboy Apr 3 at 15:37
  • @spacecowboy That is a personal preference. Stain sealers will seal the wood and let you "see" the wood grains. They are colored or clear. The paint sealers are heavier and totally cover the wood. The paint can chip whereas the stains soak in and won't chip. – JACK Apr 3 at 16:34
  • I have been looking around for products and am confused. Do I need a stainer, a deck protector, or decking oil? From what I read, people usually recommend decking oil, such as Ronseal Ultimate Protection Decking Oil Natural or similar products. Or will I need both, decking oil and a protector? Or will I also need to stain it? And in which order? – space cowboy Apr 4 at 9:04
  • @spacecowboy You would normally only use one of those products. I started out using Thompson's deck clear protector but didn't like the way it allowed the deck to get that natural silvery look. I then used a sealer stain that had a rosewood color and that worked great. I haven't used the decking oil but it would look good on your deck if your happy with the natural color of the wood. This is a personal preference so you'll need to check what's available in your area. – JACK Apr 4 at 11:35
  • @spacecowboy Many home stores have their own brands so do a little research. You've got some time because what ever you use, you'll have to clean, pressure clean, and do any plank repairs before any treatment goes on. – JACK Apr 4 at 11:35

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