Deck maintenance in 4 easy steps

Future-Proof: Navigate Threats, Seize Opportunities at ICNY 2018 | Jan 22-26 at the Marriott Marquis, Times Square, New York

Q: Our redwood deck is looking pretty sad. It's time for a good cleaning and refurbishing. I'm a longtime reader and know you've written before on the care and maintenance of decks. Could you refresh my memory?

I seem to recall your recommending a pressure washer, but honestly I'm a little afraid of doing some damage. Is there another way?

A: Every year around this time, we get questions from readers who want to know how best to care for their outdoor wood, whether it's decking, fencing or siding. With the warm weather here, a quick refresher course is in order.

For longevity as well as aesthetics, we prefer to apply a preservative to outdoor wood. It can either be semitransparent stain or clear preservative. While stain will change the color of the wood, a clear preservative will darken and enrich its natural color. An example is redwood, which is a light red, almost pinkish color in its freshly milled state but turns to...