Deck Care and Maintenance Part One: Cleaning and Sealing

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deck cleaningYour deck is a major part of your home. You spent time and money on creating the perfect deck so we want to make sure that you understand how to properly take care of it. Proper care and maintenance will help you avoid major costly repairs later. Let’s discuss some tips on how to maintain your deck.

Wash Your Deck

An unwashed deck can lead to mold and mildew which eventually leads to rot. Here is the proper way to clean your deck:

  1. Sweep away all debris.
  2. Remove all debris and muck between the boards with a putty knife.
  3. Protect your shrubs and plants with a plastic sheet.
  4. Thoroughly sweep the entire surface again to make sure all debris is gone.
  5. Choose the right cleanser for your deck material.
  • Wood Deck: Use a standard deck cleaner. Make sure to follow the directions because some require the deck to be wet and some do not.
  • Composite Deck: You need a cleanser specifically for composite materials. Use a commercial degreaser for grease and oil stains.
  • Vinyl Deck: All you need to use is warm water and mild soap to remove mold and mildew on vinyl decks.
  1.  Do all of the cleaning on a cloudy day when the surface is cool. That way the sun and heat will not evaporate too much of the cleaner.
  • Wood Deck: Use a paint roller or a garden sprayer to apply the cleanser. Do not let it pool. Let it soak for as long as directed and then rinse thoroughly with water.
  • Composite Deck: Scrub with a soft brush and do not use a pressure washer. A pressure washer can cause damage and void warranties. Remove leaf and rust stains with a deck brightener.
  • Vinyl Deck: Scrub with a stiff brush in circular motions, and then rinse thoroughly.

6. Let the entire surface dry. Make sure to wait two days before using a sealer. Any water that gets sealed into the wood may lead to rot.

Choose Your Sealer

You can find plenty of sealers at your local home improvement store. Here are your finishing options.

  • A clear sealer will show the wood’s natural appearance.
  • A toner will add a touch of color but will still show the grain of the wood and protect against UV light.
  • A semi-transparent stain will add a touch of color, but will still show some wood grain.
  • A solid stain will have an opaque color and will not show the grain of the wood.

You will need to plan on a two to three day period with clear skies and a mild temperature. Lightly sand all surfaces using a pole sander with an 80-grit sand paper. Replace any missing nails or screws. Apply the sealer or stain using a roller brush, covering three or four boards at a time. Use smaller brushes for railings and tight areas. It is better to use two thin coats of sealant rather than one thick one, so don’t overdo it with the initial coat.

We will finish discussing tips on how to care for and maintain your deck in an upcoming part two to this post. Stay tuned!