What are the costs of owning a deck?
A: There are two costs associated with your
deck. First is the initial cost of building your
deck. Second is the cost of maintaining your deck.
Carefully consider both. The following examples
A wood deck may be the least expensive initially
(depending on the type of wood you choose), but it
is the most expensive over its 20+year expected
life, because you must clean and stain your deck
every year to maintain its beauty and prevent rot.
This will cost an additional $1.00 to $2.50 per
square foot per year.
If you choose a composite decking material, the
initial cost is a little more than some woods and
about the same as others. However, composite
material requires very little maintenance —just
clean it twice every year; this means it costs
significantly less than wood over its 30-year
Concrete pavers and stone are the most expensive
initially, but they are the least expensive in the
long run, because they last virtually forever with
no maintenance required other than cleaning.
- Q: Does my deck need
A: All deck surfaces higher than 30 inches must
be enclosed with railing. However, in some
jurisdictions anything above 18 inches must be
enclosed. Check with your city or county building
department. Building codes (laws) vary depending on
your local government.
- Q: Do I need a permit
to have a deck built?
A: In Thurston County, Olympia, Lacey, and
Tumwater, if the deck is under 30 inches no permit
is needed. All
decks over 30 inches high need a permit.
- Q: How should I choose
A: Hire a contractor who specializes in building
decks. Today, decks require expertise that the
average contractor normally lacks. A contractor who
focuses exclusively on decks will have the necessary
skills to provide quality workmanship, attention to
detail, and creativity in design. This contractor
will know what materials, tools, and techniques work
best for deck construction. Perhaps most
importantly, this contractor will understand the
problems unique to deck building and how to solve
them. The contractor you hire should be licensed,
bonded and insured.
- Q: When is the best
time of year to build a deck?
A: Here in the Pacific Northwest any time is a
good time to build a deck. However, the best time to
build a deck may actually be during the fall and
winter months. In the spring and summer your deck
builder may be booked out for a few weeks, or even
months, and unable to build your deck as soon as you
would like. Also, the great thing about building in
the off-season is that come spring, construction
will be over and your new deck will be ready for
your enjoyment throughout the summer.
- Q: What is the best way
to clean my deck?
A: Periodically rinse your deck with a garden
hose, to help reduce the dirt, dust, grime and other
residues that build-up.
In addition, a thorough semi-annual cleaning of your
deck is recommended. First, rinse your deck with a
garden hose. Next, use a mild solution of hot water
and a bicarbonate laundry detergent. (Check the
label. You are looking for bicarbonate.) It is very
important to not let the soapy water dry out on your
deck. Use a scrub brush to provide agitation, then
rinse well. For cedar and redwood use cleaners
containing Oxalic Acid.
Regular cleaning may not eliminate all dirt and
grime all the time. If necessary, a pressure washer
may be used. Avoid damaging your deck by using a
fan-tip nozzle “at a pressure not exceeding 1,000
psi” making sure that the tip stays 6” away from
- Q: How do I remove rust
stains from my deck?
A: Metal outdoor furniture can leave rust marks
on your deck. We recommend that you apply
appropriate plastic or vinyl tips to the feet of
your metal furniture to prevent staining. If rust
stains do appear on your deck, they can often be
removed using deck cleaners containing Oxalic Acid
or Phosphoric Acid. Test a small area first in out
of the way site to see how it will react to your
- Q: How do I remove oil
and grease stains from my deck?
A: To keep your deck in the best possible shape,
we recommend the use of grill mats to reduce the
risk of grease stains associated with grills. Should
grease or oil stain the deck's surface, it is
important to clean the stain immediately using a
commercial degreasing agent such as Gojo® Natural
Orange Pumice Hand Cleaner or Castrol Super Clean.
Dawn Soap can be used for removing suntan lotions or
oils. Be sure to remove as much of the lotion spill
as possible with water before using cleaning agents.
- Q: Can mold and mildew
stains be removed from my deck?
A: Mold and mildew stains are a natural result
of moisture. These stains can often be removed using
cleaners containing Sodium Hypochlorite.
- Q: What tips can you
give for maintaining my deck’s beauty?
A: Remove food, spills and other debris and
clean immediately to minimize the possibility of
- Always test any cleaner on a small portion of your
deck before cleaning the entire deck.
- Always follow manufacturers' application
instructions when using any cleaner.
- Please note that any cleaner can lighten the color
of your deck.
- Place mats under metal objects to protect against
- Place grill mats under your grill to protect your
deck from grease spills.
- Never mix two or more cleaning agents when
cleaning your deck.
- Do not use a metal shovel to remove snow or ice
from your deck, as you may cause damage to the deck
- Clean the leaf litter from the gaps between the
deck boards to prevent rot.
- Keep the area under your deck clean and well
- Never apply harsh solvents such as acetone,
gasoline, benzene, carbon tetrachloride or paint
thinner to your deck.
- Sanding the surface to remove stains is not