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If you live in a drier region, your wood deck may need little more than the occasional sweep and a good soak. Deck Cleaning Summerville SC should work fine.
For organic messes like algae and moss, use a cleaner with a mildewcide such as oxygen bleach (usually in a premixed form or as powdered borax). These products are especially useful before staining, as they lighten dark areas, making the color of the finished deck more uniform.
Your deck is a focal point of your backyard and the hub for many large and small gatherings. It is also subjected to harsh UV rays and wet/dry cycles that can cause it to lose its luster over time, if not properly treated with a penetrating sealer. As the weather warms up and people begin spending more time outdoors, your deck will require more frequent attention to maintain its appearance. The best way to keep it clean is to sweep regularly and apply a cleaning solution as needed.
Use a conventional garden hose or pressure washer to wet the deck surface, then scrub it thoroughly with a stiff bristled brush and an appropriate cleaning solution for your wood type. Always check that the cleaner you’re using is safe for your particular deck material and is compatible with any plants located on or near it. You can also make your own cleaning solution with household ingredients, such as water and white vinegar, but be sure to test it on an inconspicuous area of your deck before applying it to the rest of the surface.
Sweep the deck surface, working in a direction parallel to the grain of the wood, to remove any loose dirt. Be sure to move any furniture, plants, or other items off the deck before sweeping to avoid damaging them. If you’re using a pressure washer, be sure to hold the nozzle at least 6-12 inches away from the surface of the deck to avoid marring it with excessive force.
Once the deck has been swept and cleaned with a pressure washer, rinse it thoroughly. This is especially important to do for railings and stairs, as these are often difficult to reach with a broom and can collect grime underneath.
Be sure to rinse any tarps that were used to cover nearby items during the cleaning process. Also, be sure to rinse any brooms that were used to sweep the deck. Rinsing the deck helps to prevent the buildup of residue and can speed up the drying process. Once the deck is dry, you can re-install any furniture or other items.
A good deep cleaning of a wood deck is often needed before staining. It’s a job best done in the spring or summer so that you can enjoy your deck all season. To do a thorough job, remove all furniture and cover any plants or bushes near the deck so that the cleaner doesn’t run off into them.
Use a garden hose to apply a liquid deck cleaner to the surface of the wood deck and let it soak for a few minutes. Then, scrub the deck with a synthetic-bristle brush and work the cleaner into the wood grain to lift embedded dirt. For severe stains and dirt, use a power washer (be sure to follow the manufacturer’s safety precautions) to spray the cleaner at a low pressure, pointing it away from people and glass windows.
For stubborn mildew stains, try using a cleaning product containing mildewcide, which kills the mildew spores and seeps into the wood grain to reduce future mildew growth. These products can be purchased as premixed solutions or liquid concentrates. They work differently from basic deck cleaners because they don’t simply clean; they leave a residue that discourages new mildew growth for weeks or months.
After applying a chemical cleaner, always use a deck brightener to restore the natural pH of the wood. The brightener will also prepare the wood for your chosen stain. Whether you choose an oil or water-based stain, it’s a good idea to test the color and coverage of the stain on a small area before applying it to the entire deck.
A high quality oil-based stain will last two to four years, requiring less work before it’s time to reapply. Water-based stains (latex) are available in an opaque or semitransparent variety and can last up to six years. Before choosing a stain, consider the look you want: opaque stains tend to hide the wood grain and are best for darker colored decks, while transparent stains allow the wood grain to show through for a lighter appearance. For both, be sure to thoroughly clean the deck before staining and to use a high-quality staining brush to avoid streaks.
Over time, your deck can take a beating from the sun, rain and snow. A regular cleaning schedule will help minimize deterioration and keep your outdoor living area looking its best.
Depending on the condition of your deck, it may require some scrubbing to remove mildew and other dirt buildup. For light scrubbing, you can use a garden hose and scrub brush, or a pressure washer at a low setting. If you use a pressure washer, be sure to set the nozzle at least a foot away from the wood and avoid using a high-pressure setting that could damage the boards.
For severe stains and dirt, you’ll need to use a commercial deck cleaner product. Typically, these contain detergents and chemicals that can kill algae, mold, and mildew growth. Look for one that is safe for use on your type of wood, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. Always use rubber gloves and eye protection when working with any cleaning product.
Before applying the deck cleaner, hose down the entire surface to soften and loosen any dirt. This will make it easier to scrub and rinse the deck later. It’s also a good idea to clear away any debris or planters before beginning to make clean up easier.
Scrub the deck in the direction of the wood grain with a hard-bristled brush. Alternatively, you can use a power-washer on a low setting to get the job done quickly and effectively. However, it’s important to note that the metal bristles on a power-washer can scratch or damage wood.
If your deck has visible mildew stains, you can apply a deck brightener product to restore its color and texture. These products are available in premixed sprays or as concentrates. Mix the product according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and apply it to your deck surfaces. Unlike deck cleaners, most deck brighteners don’t rinse off the wood, so they should be left on for the recommended period of time. Afterward, you can rinse the wood with a hose and a scrub brush. The wood should then dry completely before replacing any furniture or plants.
Immediately after you’ve scrubbed or sprayed your deck cleaner, rinse it thoroughly. A regular garden hose will do the trick. Be sure to use a low-pressure setting, as high pressure can damage the surface of wood and composite decking.
Alternatively, some manufacturers offer ready-to-use cleaning products that don’t require any prep work or pre-rinse. These products can be applied with a power washer or simply brushed on and left to soak. Most contain detergents that dissolve dust, dirt and spills. Many also include a mildewcide to kill mildew and mold and leave behind a film that discourages future growth.
Natural wood decks, stained or un-stained, require special care and attention to keep them looking their best. For example, the build-up of grime can cause splinters and rot. For these types of decks, a wood cleaner is specially formulated to clean and protect the surfaces. The cleaner contains a combination of ingredients that removes dirt and grime, but it also bonds with the wood grain to add an extra level of protection. These products are available in premixed form for easy application and in concentrated crystal or liquid form to be diluted with water.
A natural option for unstained wood decks is white vinegar, which can freshen a deck and remove some light stains. Be sure to use distilled white vinegar, as it won’t damage the wood or stain. Some brands of vinegar even have a scented variety that can eliminate stubborn smells from pets or smoking.
Some all-purpose cleaners are designed to remove a wide range of unsightly elements, including grease, oil, dirt and stains, from different types of decking materials. Most of these are meant to be used with a pressure washer, but some can also be applied with a brush or mop. These products often contain a combination of chemicals that are specific to each type of decking material, and they can be quite strong.
Before using any homemade or commercial deck cleaner, always follow the manufacturer’s directions for mixing and applying. If a product requires you to wear rubber gloves, do so, and make sure you’re wearing eye protection. In addition, if the cleaner or boosting agents contain ammonia, be sure to take extra precautions by wearing a respirator and working in a well-ventilated area. Ammonia and bleach create toxic chloramine gas, which can irritate your skin, eyes, nose and throat if inhaled.