12 Things You Should Never Do to Your Deck

Updated: Dec. 05, 2023

A backyard deck is a wonderful place to relax or entertain. Make sure you take care of it the right way by avoiding these common mistakes in deck care.

1 / 13
deck lighting
Irina Mos/Shutterstock

Don’t Neglect Safety

Make sure your deck, steps and railing are all well lit to make it more inviting and as a safety precaution to prevent accidents.

2 / 13
Damian Moo Moo Barton/Shutterstock

Don’t Place a Fire Pit on the Deck

It’s a fire hazard and likely prohibited if it burns real wood.

3 / 13
Charles Brutlag/Shutterstock

Don’t Place Potted Plants on the Deck without Saucers

Saucers collect excess water and keep it—and soil—from spilling out onto the deck when watering. This will help prevent staining, moss growth and rotted deck boards. Here’s a deck planter you can build in less that one hour!

4 / 13

Don’t Stain or Seal Without Preparing the Deck

That means sweeping and cleaning the deck first. Otherwise, the stain and seal won’t adhere as well, causing discoloration and providing less protection. Learn how to prep your deck for stain and sealer.

5 / 13

Don’t Clean the Deck with Bleach

Bleach can cause discoloration and streaking. And it will injure nearby plants. Bleach can be hard on your laundry, too. Here are some alternatives for keeping your whites white.

6 / 13
Del Boy/Shutterstock

Don’t Injure Nearby Plants

Bleach and other harsh chemicals can injure or kill nearby plants, not just leaves but also roots. Cover plants with plastic while cleaning your deck and start with plain water. If that doesn’t do the job switch to the mildest solution you can find, such as dish soap, and finally deck cleaner, if needed.

Check out this beautiful living wall with movable planters.

7 / 13

Don’t Forget to Move Furniture and Rugs

Switch up the floor plan on your deck every once in a while so the same areas aren’t covered by furniture and rugs all the time. This will keep the deck from uneven fading and also cut down on moisture-related problems such as rot and mold. Here are 14 tips for moving furniture.

8 / 13

Don’t Use a Wire Brush to Clean Stains

A wire brush will damage the deck boards and leave rough edges and splinters. Use a plastic bristle brush instead. Here are five solid solutions for a shabby deck.

9 / 13

Don’t Misuse a Pressure Washer

That means don’t use it too often and don’t use a PSI over 1,100 because you may damage the wood. Use a fan attachment (shown), which is less likely to cause damage. If you’re new to pressure washers, experiment on an inconspicuous area of the deck until you get the hang of it. Learn all about how to use a pressure washer here.

10 / 13
Katherine Shepard/Shutterstock

Don’t Let Dirt and Debris Accumulate

It’s easy to let dirt, leaves and other debris accumulate on your deck, especially if there’s a tree nearby. But debris not only looks unsightly, it can also harbor insects and hold excess moisture—neither of which is good for your deck. You’ll love this deck cleaning hack!

11 / 13
Family Handyman

Don’t Neglect the Condition of the Deck

Tighten loose screws and tamp down exposed nails. Regularly check railings to see if they are loose (a safety hazard) and look for any boards that need to be replaced. Learn how to properly repair a deck railing and how to replace deck floorboards.

12 / 13

Don’t Paint the Deck

Paint requires primer and is likely to chip or bubble at some point down the road. Stain is a lower maintenance choice and there are color-tint stains available if you’re looking for options. Learn how to restore a deck the right way.

13 / 13

Bonus: Don’t Create Extra Work for Yourself

There’s no need to apply a stain to your deck and then follow up with a sealer. Use an all-in-one product and save yourself the extra time and expense. Here are some excellent tips on how to pick the right product.