Prepping Your Hardwood Deck for Fall: A Comprehensive Guide

October 12, 2023 By

If you’re fortunate enough to have a tropical hardwood deck, you know it to be a valuable and beautiful home addition. And like any other part of your property, it requires proper maintenance to withstand the changing seasons — similar to the care required to prepare your deck for summer. After all, a well-maintained deck will last longer, cost less during its lifetime, and be more enjoyable to use. That’s why we’ve created a guide to help you prep your deck for the months ahead so it stays safe and stunning for years to come.

hardwood deck in fall

Clean and clear

Outdoor decks are typically enjoyed most during the summer months, so the first step of fall preparations is a thorough cleaning to remove the dirt, grime (and even mold or mildew) that may have accumulated on its surface.

A cleaning checklist to get your deck ready for fall and winter:

  1. Clear the deck of summer toys, furniture, plants, and any other items that will get in the way of a deep clean and store away anything that won’t be used during the colder months.
  2. Fall is synonymous with fallen leaves and tree debris, so sweeping your deck before you begin any other preparations is important.
  3. Once your deck is cleared, use a garden hose or pressure washer (on a low setting) to rinse away any remaining dirt. (Tip: Whether or not your desk is made of tropical hardwood like ipe, batu or another material that ranks well on the Janka Hardness Scale, it’s wise to use a fan-tipped nozzle to avoid damage.)
  4. If you discover any stubborn stains or mildew during your cleanup, it’s best to tackle those before you call the job done. A variety of cleaning solutions are available on the market, though we’ve found that a solution of equal parts water and white vinegar, applied with a scrub brush, works great for tropical hardwood decks. (Tip: Make sure to rinse the deck again when you’re done with the deep clean!)


Once your deck is cleared and cleaned, it’s time to inspect it for signs of damage or wear. Keep an eye out for:

  • Boards with rot, splinters, cracks, or scrapes: Your deck will look better, last longer, and be more comfortable to enjoy in the spring and summer if you replace damaged boards before inclement weather hits.
  • Loose screws or corroded nails: A deck’s integrity is determined by more than the wood it’s constructed of! Make sure you tighten loose screws and replace corroded nails with stainless or galvanized hardware.
  • Warping or cupping: Although severe issues may require board replacement, small issues can sometimes be solved by sanding and refinishing if detected early.

Stain and seal

Though tropical hardwoods are known for their natural beauty, they still benefit from the extra protection of a sealant or stain — especially as fall and winter approach. Our best advice in this department is to make sure to:

  • Choose the right product for your deck: UV protection and moisture resistance are important qualities for a wood finishing product, and make sure you select one specifically designed for tropical hardwoods.
  • Apply your stain with sealant or a clear sealant to the deck using a roller and sponge. Make sure you cover all aspects of the deck, including railings, corners, and sides. (Tip: Work following the direction of the wood grain whenever possible.)
  • Follow instructions carefully to ensure the finish has enough time to dry completely! Many a homeowner has found themselves disappointed after discovering — too late — that their deck’s new finish was not ready for the weight of deck furniture.

Plan ahead

The above preparations are important at the end of summer, whether or not you plan to use your deck when the weather turns cooler and wet. That said, your deck can be enjoyed year-round with the right preparations:

  • Consider adding lighting features to illuminate you deck or create a special ambiance as days get shorter.
  • If you, like us, live in the Pacific Northwest (or another rainy winter climate), think about adding a temporary cover, so you can still be outside without getting wet.
  • Adding a gas or electric patio heater can also help you enjoy your deck through all four seasons, especially if it’s regularly cold.
  • If you haven’t already, investing in waterproof furniture can help you enjoy your deck year round.

Get Started Today

The longer you wait to prepare your deck, the more likely lasting damage will occur. While it may take a little elbow grease, the result will make the effort worth it.

If your desk is in need of board replacement (or you’re planning to take advantage of easier, off-season contractor availability), contact us. We offer affordable shipping on an incredible selection of tropical hardwoods to anywhere in the U.S. — including Hawaii!

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