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Ultraviolet rays and heat from the sun can have devastating effects on your wooden deck, causing the wood to discolor, warp or crack. Knowing how to properly protect your deck can save you the headache of having to rebuild or replace it during a time when lumber is expensive. Keep reading to learn what you can do to prevent sun damage.
Edward Briggs

Edward Briggs

Edward Briggs, Resident Property Expert at HomeReviews.

Routine Deck Care

Your deck is constantly exposed to the sun and other elements. It is important to regularly take care of it to ensure it lasts as long as possible. Start with an inspection. The “screwdriver test” can help. Check the worst-looking pieces of wood. See if you can push the tip of a screwdriver into the wood. If so, your wood is starting to rod from within. It’s time to replace the pieces in question. The remaining parts of your deck still need some loving care.

Start by clearing the deck. Remove anything that is in the way and clean it properly. There are cleaning mixtures for decks. You can pick up some from your local hardware store. A high-pressure cleaner can also help to remove any minor pieces of wood. Once the deck is cleaned and dried, it’s time to start working on a protective coating. The main question here is if you like a clear coating or one with some color. In either case, make sure to check with a professional for the UV light protection – not all coatings are of the same quality level.

With these steps, you can protect your deck better from sun damage.

Add a Shade Structure

When wood becomes too hot, it can dry out and shrink. Just as we protect our skin with sunscreen, we also need to protect our deck from the sun’s punishing rays.

To prevent the lumber from cracking, splitting, and absorbing moisture, invest in stain or sealant that contains UV protection. To protect your deck materials (and feet) from the sun’s heat, also be mindful of the reflectivity and heat index when you’re selecting paint or stain for your deck. Plan on painting or sealing and power washing your deck every three to five years.

Add a pergola or overhead trellis. For bonus shade, add climbing vines like roses or wisteria to your pergola or overhead trellis.

Jen Stark

Jen Stark

Jen Stark, Founder of Happy DIY Home, a leading gardening and home improvement blog.

Gavin Kane

Gavin Kane

Gavin Kane is the Director of Hunter Coast Painting, a professional painting company based in the Hunter Region.

Keep on Top of Sealant or Paint

Sun exposure can take its toll on outdoor areas, particularly wooden decks if they aren’t maintained properly. Just as you prepare your deck for winter, you should prepare it for summer too. While there are various steps you can take, the first one is to make sure the wood is not damaged. Get any necessary repairs done and ensure that the wood is well-covered. You can use a sealant, varnish, stain, or paint. Whatever you use, make sure the wood is well-coated. Not only will this keep your deck looking fresh all year-round, but it will also create a barrier between the wood and UV [light], which can cause damage over time to your deck, such as cracks or splits.

Apply Deck Finish with UV Protection

Sun damage can be pretty devastating for your deck. You may think fading is the only problem, but as your deck heats up the wood expands, then shrinks again once it cools down. This [change] will dry it out and cause the planks in your deck to crack or splinter, creating an unsafe surface.

The best way to prevent this is to treat your deck with a deck finish that offers UV protection. Many sealants and stains offer this [protection], and I recommend you use both. It never hurts to have as much protection as possible. Just be aware that while it will greatly reduce damage caused by the sun, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep up with routine maintenance.

Dan Bailey

Dan Bailey

Dan Bailey, President of  WikiLawn.

Matt Scott

Matt Scott

Matt Scott, Owner of Termite Surve.

Apply and Reapply a Quality Deck Finish

When you apply a deck finish, make sure that it also has UV protection. Just like your skin and eyes, a wooden deck may dry out or shrink when it gets exposed to excessive heat from the sun, leading to rotting and swelling, which will be a bigger headache to deal with.

Make sure to apply this finish at least every two years.

Use Quality Wood and Finishes

Choosing the right type of wood is the first challenge. We use a lot of hickory in our designs because of the way it reacts to sunlight. Cheaper woods like teak or composite material tend to go a dull grey color when they are exposed to the sun. I find that as hickory ages in the sun, it lightens, which is a nice effect outside and extends the quality of life. It’s a good option for decking.

You’re never going to make any wooden deck that is completely impervious to sun damage, but a good maintenance regimen really helps. Finding a good decking oil, like Ronseal, and polishing once a month will keep it looking good as new for years. I like to mix my decking oil with a bit of liquid shellac to thin it out a bit and help it soak into the wood better.

Chris Campbell

Chris Campbell, Owner of  The Charming Bench Company.

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