A wooden deck adds value to your home and provides the perfect setting for summer cookouts. But if you fall behind on routine maintenance, your deck could fall prey to rot or fall apart completely. The cost of maintaining a deck is less than $100 a year, but the average cost of replacing it from the ground up is $7,000 to $10,000 [source: HomeAdvisor].
The first step to maintaining a healthy deck is to keep it clean. In the spring, clear out all leaves and twigs from between the floorboards and scrub down every wood surface with a purchased deck cleaning solution or a homemade mix of bleach and water. Once the deck dries, either apply a wood stain to refresh the color, or go straight to the sealant. Sealant is what keeps moisture out of your wood and prevents rot [source: Toht].
At least once a year, conduct a full inspection for any sign of rot. Use a screwdriver and poke the wood gently to find soft spots. (If you can push the screwdriver more than a 1/4 inch or 6 millimeters into the wood, you have rot). Pay particular attention to the support posts and joists beneath the deck. Inspect the bottom few inches of support posts where they meet the ground and come into contact with water. If you find anything that doesn't look right, call in a carpenter to take a look [source: Toht].