While most people think of rain as the biggest threat to decks, those in sunny Southern California know that perhaps nothing is harder on their deck every year than the long and brutal hours of exposure to the scorching sun. While the sun may provide our planet with life-sustaining warmth, it can be extremely harsh on anything that receives excessive amounts of exposure day after day. Combine that with our often triple-digit summer temperatures, and you have a recipe for deck damage that’s almost impossible to avoid.
If you’re sick of having to constantly resurface and re-treat your deck every year or two, then it’s important to learn why the sun is so harsh on your structure in order to understand what you can do to fight back against it. We’ll discuss these things on this blog.
How Sun Damage Occurs
There are many reasons why the sun is such a brutal force against your deck. For starters, the sun puts off more than just the visible light that illuminates our world: it also puts off extremely harsh radiation, including ultraviolet light, x-rays, and even gamma rays. These types of light are invisible to the human eye, but deal tremendous damage to whatever they pass through. Fortunately, our atmosphere filters most of this dangerous radiation out and reflects it back into space, but some of these rays still slip through and cause damage to nearly anything left in the sun, including your deck.
Second, the heat the sun provides is also a massive factor in terms of destroying your deck. When the temperature cranks up in the late spring, summer, and fall seasons here in Southern California, it dries out everything, causing all forms of moisture and oils to evaporate or crystalize. When things dry out, they become brittle, which causes them to become prone to cracking and breaking. This is important because the sun also causes materials to expand and contract each day. As objects and materials heat up, they expand and physically become bigger. When they cool off, they contract and shrink. When you combine a brittle, dry material with a constant grow-and-shrink pattern that occurs each day, it’s easy to see how cracks and other more severe damage can form over the warmest and driest part of the year.
Preventing Sun Damage to Your Deck
So, now that we know why the sun damages your deck so badly, what can we do about it in order to slow the process and prevent you from having to constantly re-treat and reseal your deck every year or two? While you’ll never be able to fully prevent sun damage to your deck, there are some things you can do to effectively combat the damage and slow the process to give you extra years of durability.
Choose Quality Materials
There are certain deck materials that are naturally more resistant to sun damage than others. Concrete decks, for example, tend to last much longer than a wooden deck, and that alone can make them a much better investment. Generally, you’ll only need to treat a concrete deck every five to ten years, versus every one to two for a wooden surface.
Paint Your Deck
Much like sunscreen protects your skin from sun damage, paint is a sort-of “sunscreen” for your deck. Specifically outdoor formulated paint is designed with ingredients and additives that are designed to reflect harmful radiation away from your deck, thus strengthening it and keeping it in good condition. However, never rely on paint alone to seal your deck: use it in tandem with a quality seal treatment in order to obtain the maximum protection.
Inspect Your Deck Regularly
One of the keys to preventing major sun damage is to regularly check your deck and look for weak spots that are starting to show signs of wear and tear and have these spots repaired quickly. Most major deck damage starts with just a small flaw that later grows and compromises your entire deck, so fixing these danger spots quickly can prevent you from having to completely re-seal or even rebuild your whole deck after just a few short years.