Maintain and Beautify the Deck

Common questions about keeping the deck in top shape

Which kinds of vines will provide shade for decks?

There are many different types of vines that can provide shade for a deck or patio. There are two major considerations: exposure and whether the vine will be cultivated in a pot or in the ground. Beyond these two critical pieces, you'll have to decide whether you want a perennial or annual, as well as favoring flowers, foliage, or both.

If you're planning on putting your vine in the ground, select based on sun exposure. For a southern or western exposure where shade would definitely help an otherwise hot outdoor space, consider planting grapes (Vitus) or kiwi (Actindidia arguta). Both are attractive plants that provide fruit, but need a very sturdy structure to climb. Clematis does well in full sun as long as its roots stay cool. Honeysuckle (Lonicera), porcelainberry (Ampelopsis brevipedunculata), and Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata) are also nice perennial choices.

For containers, annual vines like Black-eyed Susan vine (Thunbergia alata), morning glory (Ipomoea), and scarlet runner bean (Phaseolus coccineus) are all good selections. Make sure that containers are large enough to accommodate your vine for the entire growing season.

Most of the time a good, non-aggressive, perennial vine is the Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata), which has trumpet shaped flowers. Similar is the Trumpetcreeper (Campsis radicans). Both provide color, and can grow in shade or full sun with moderate water requirements. A few more hardy vines to consider would be the Dutchman's Pipe (Aristolochia durior) and American Bittersweet (Celastrus scandens).

How to choose a deck sealant.

Choose a sealer that will repel water, prevent fading in high trafficked areas, and resist mildew. While oil-based sealers hold color longer, water-based sealers are more durable and last longer.

Should I use screws or nails for a deck?

Deck screws are better than deck nails. They hold better and are less likely to pop out. Just make sure they are stainless steel so they don't discolor the deck.

How do I remove splinters from my deck?

You can lightly sand it by hand or with de-felting pads on low speed orbital sanders to remove splinters and raised grain of wood. Block sanders are also great for this.

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