A well-maintained deck can provide years of outdoor enjoyment for family and friends–not to mention, a major selling point for buyers. To keep your deck looking its best, the experts at HomeAdvisor.com recommend following these seven tips.

1. Inspect for Rot – The devastating effects of wood rot and decay can be mitigated with regular inspection. Examine the deck's ledger board, support posts, joists, boards, railings and stairs for signs of trouble, including soft spots and splitting, peeling pieces.

2. Fasten Weight-Bearing Board – To ensure your deck remains structurally sound, remove any nails attaching the deck to the home and replace with half-inch stainless or galvanized steel lag screws and bolts. If you notice a gap between the house and the deck, tighten the bolts.

3. Clean Flashing – Clear out any mud or debris caking the flashing, which helps to prevent board rot. Assess the flashing for compromised caulk or other signs of breakage. If the flashing is dated, consider hiring a professional deck contractor to replace it.

4. Secure Railings – Most municipal codes require deck railings to be at least three inches high and four inches apart, but check with your local authority to see what mandates exist in your area. Periodically, pull on the railings and banisters to ensure stability.

5. Evaluate Stairs – Take a look at stair risers and stringers (which hold the steps up from the side) to ensure they are securely attached. Generally, stair treads must be no more than four inches high–contact your local government office to be sure.

6. Tighten Fasteners – Fasteners are what hold deck boards together, such as nails, screws and anchors. Be sure to tighten loose fasteners and replace any that have rusted or corroded–leaving them in can speed up deterioration of the wood, and make your deck sag or sway.

7. Reapply Finish – If your deck's finish has seen better days, consider reapplying with a waterproof finish that protects from mold, mildew and pests. To extend the finish, keep your deck free of leaves and dirt.

Source: RISMedia's Housecall

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2015. All rights reserved.