by Jennifer Jones
Decks can be fun to have around during the summer, but only if they have been properly taken care of. We’ll show you how to make your deck space look brand new with a quick and easy scrub and refinish process.
The first step in cleaning your deck is to remove any furniture, grill or other outdoor accessories you have on the deck. Then, grab a broom that you don’t mind using outdoors and sweep all of the debris and leaves that have accumulated throughout the fall, winter and spring months. Make sure if there are any split boards or anything that needs to be repaired on the deck that you repair them.
Once you have swept off the deck and all of the furniture is out of the way, you can begin the cleaning process. There are three ways to clean a wood deck, and sometimes you need to use more than one technique to get the deck the cleanest it can be.
- Use a pressure washer.
- Scrub by hand.
- Use a chemical stripper.
Typically homeowners use a pressure washer because it is the most efficient in removing dirt, stains and debris that have collected on the deck throughout the year. However, pressure washers are expensive to purchase and are not something homeowners usually have laying around their home. Renting a pressure washer for a day or two is always an option if you are set on using a pressure washer.
You want to use a pressure washer that has the capability to spray a deck stripper as well as water because the deck stripper will clean off any previous finishes you had on your deck and the water will remove stains and debris. Make sure the pressure washer you select has a pressure setting of about 1,000 to 1,200 psi, which will be enough power to get the job done but not too much power that the wood will become damaged.
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The most common solution people use to clean their decks is called a commercial deck cleaner that can be found at a local hardware store. Check to see that the solution is made for the type of wood your particular deck is made out of. Then, fill a bucket with the deck solution of your choice and the amount of water the solution requires. An intake hose is featured on most pressure washers, which allows you to draw in cleaners from a separate bucket, and you will want to add your solution you mixed in the bucket through this intake hose.
Before you begin spraying the deck solution, cover any plants or grass with plastic that are under or around your deck that you don’t want getting harmed during the cleaning process.
Begin applying the stripper to the deck, starting with the top rails and working down the spindles. Keep the wand of the power washer moving in a continuous motion, not spraying on one particular area for too long so you don’t gouge the wood. After the railings have been washed, wash along the length of the deck boards.
If you are not going to use a power washer, grab a tough scrub brush and put some muscle into it! Apply the same deck stripper as mentioned earlier to the deck with a heavy-duty scrub brush. Use the same continuous motion and don’t scrub too hard on any particular spot because you may scratch or splinter the wood.
To counteract the stripper, rinse the whole deck with normal water after you’ve power-washed or scrubbed the deck by hand. Remove the plastic you placed over the plants and grass immediately after you are done cleaning the deck. Use clean water to spray down the siding of the house to make sure no stripper splashed up on the home. Allow the deck to dry after the cleaning for about 48 hours. If it rains, wait another 48 hours before proceeding with the next steps.
When the deck is clean and has dried, you may want to reseal it. With this step you have quite a few choices. The first choice being the type of finish you are going to use.
- Clear Stain. This stain shows off the wood’s natural color, but it doesn’t offer protection from the sun’s rays.
- Tinted Stain. They usually last a couple of years.
- Semitransparent. This finish can last three or more years before needing to be refinished.
- Solid colors. This choice can last five or more years, and the darker the stain the longer it will hold its color because the sun doesn’t go through them as quickly.
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Once you have chosen the finish you will be using, choose between oil-base or water-base stains. Oil-based products are best for harsh conditions but water-based products resist mildew, offer better color retention and dry quicker.
Apply the stain you have chosen with a roller, brush, sprayer or pad. Again, the choice is yours. Rollers are the easiest for large areas, whereas a sprayer can cover a large area quickly and can also get those hard to reach crevices. If the stain drips, smooth it with a pad or brush to avoid spotting.
Allow the stain to dry at least 48 hours before walking and putting the furniture back on it. Make sure to check the bottom of your shoes or feet before walking back into your home in case the deck wasn’t fully dry.
If you keep up with the minimal deck maintenance like regular sweeping, hosing it off to remove dirt and debris, and refinishing the wood every year or two; your deck will be attractive, friendly and ready to entertain when you need it.
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