How to Clean a Deck

A light sweeping daily, if possible, will keep dirt from grinding into the wood and forming mildew, mold, or algae. If your deck is covered with furniture or other items, clear it thoroughly. A pressure washer might be your best choice for cleaning, but read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. Also, cover nearby shrubbery to avoid damage from chemical overspray.Deck

A deck needs a thorough cleaning before staining, especially if it has become dull or discolored. Remove any chairs, tables, or planters from the deck and sweep away any leaves, twigs, or other debris. You can also use a hose or pressure washer set to the lowest setting to loosen and rinse off dirt and grime from heavily soiled areas. Be sure to protect surrounding shrubs or plants by covering them with a plastic drop cloth, and use a nozzle with water spray to dilute any overspray that could damage the wood or nearby vegetation. For professional help, you can call Deck Builders Charleston SC.

For mild stains and dirt, mix dish detergent diluted with water in a bucket and mop the deck using a non-scratch scrub brush. Rinse the deck with a hose and repeat as needed to remove stubborn dirt buildup. For severe stains, you can purchase a commercial deck cleaner. These products typically contain ingredients to penetrate the surface of the deck and break down grease and oil, along with a surfactant to lift dirt particles. Many are biodegradable and free of bleach, acid, and other toxic chemicals.

Oxygen bleach is another common and effective option for removing mildew, mold, or other discolorations from your deck. Mix powdered oxygen bleach with just enough warm water to form a paste. Apply the solution to the deck using a stiff-bristled brush and leave it on for 30 minutes before rinsing. For stubborn stains, you can try a stronger solution containing chlorine bleach or oxalic acid.

After you have thoroughly cleaned the deck, it is important to rinse it well to remove all of the cleaning solution and any dirt, mildew, or mold that may be left behind. This step is particularly crucial if you have used a chemical-based cleaner because it can lighten the color of the deck if it is not properly rinsed.

Once the deck is thoroughly rinsed, it should be allowed to dry completely before proceeding with any staining or sealing. This may take 24-48 hours depending on weather conditions, so be sure to plan accordingly. If you are in a hurry, you can speed up the drying process by using a push broom to remove standing water and by rinsing any tarps or sheets that were used to cover the deck during the cleaning process.

Remove Stains

If you have a dark stain on your deck, you will want to remove it before you continue with the cleaning process. You can usually get rid of leaf stains that are not too deeply set by scrubbing with a scrub brush and a cleaner that contains nontoxic ingredients such as liquid dish soap or laundry detergent, or a deck cleaner that contains oxalic acid (a chemical found in many wood preservatives). You can make your own oxalic acid solution by mixing 12 ounces of the crystals into one gallon of water. If this does not lift the stain, you may need to use lye or sodium hydroxide, which can be very harsh and dangerous to your skin and eyes, so be sure to wear protective gloves and goggles when using these solutions.

You can also use a bleach-based cleaning solution for oil or grease stains that are resistant to commercial deck cleaners. Oxygen bleach, available in powder form, can be mixed with water according to the instructions on the container. This will safely remove stubborn stains without damaging the wood or causing harm to plants or pets.

Vinegar, which contains acetic acid, is another effective deck cleaner. It will remove dirt and grime and deodorize your deck. Just be sure to test it on a small part of the deck before using it, as vinegar will dissolve some types of concrete sealers.

Baking soda is another natural cleaner and deodorizer that will remove mildew and dirt from your deck without damaging the stain. Mix a paste of baking soda and water and scrub it into the stained area. If the stains are not completely removed, you can use an oxygen bleach paste to help break down the mold and algae.

Green algae or moss stains can be very difficult to remove, and they will reappear if not treated promptly. You can scrub the stains with a stiff-bristled brush and an oxygen bleach solution that has been mixed according to the manufacturer’s instructions. You can also use a deck cleaner that contains chlorine bleach to remove these stains, but be careful not to get any of the cleaner on the surrounding plants.

Apply a wood brightener.

A wood brightener is a crucial step in the cleaning process. It neutralizes the caustic cleaners and opens up the wood’s pores so that a new stain will penetrate easily. It also lightens the color of the wood, allowing you to see the grain’s natural beauty and making it look new again. Apply it immediately after cleaning or stripping the deck. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and make sure that it is completely dry before a stain is applied. Always use protective clothing, eyewear, and gloves.

There are many different types of wood cleaners and brighteners on the market, but they are not all created equal. Most contain chlorine bleach, which can be damaging to the wood if used repeatedly. Our products use a gentler substitute, sodium percarbonate, and will not damage your wood stain. They are formulated to remove dirt, mildew, algae, and fungus from the surface of your wood while not damaging the wood fibers.

Special attention should be given to the areas of your deck where stains are present. These can be hard to get out and need extra effort. You can use a pressure washer with a fan nozzle or a hand-held scrub brush to help loosen and remove the debris. Be careful when using a power washer, as softwoods such as cedar and redwood are very susceptible to damage to the wood fibers.

If a pressure washer is not available, then you can use a wood stripper to remove the old finish. This should be done with extreme caution, as it will destroy the integrity of your deck. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and do a test on a small area before applying it to your entire deck.

After using a wood stripper and cleaning the deck, it is important to apply a wood brightener to prepare the wood for staining. This product is designed to neutralize the stripper and open up the wood’s pores so that if you decide to re-stain your deck, it will not be damaged by the previous coat. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and allow it to sit for 15 minutes. Rinse thoroughly with a garden hose.

Wait for the stain to dry.

While you’re waiting for the stain to dry, it’s a good time to check for and replace any popped nails or screws. This will keep your deck looking its best and prevent any accidents that may happen while you’re working on the project.

You’ll also want to take this opportunity to replace any rotting boards and treat any moss, mildew, or mold. You can do this with a wood-rotting herbicide that you mix with water. Or you can use a commercial wood preservative that contains copper naphthrate or zinc oxide to protect the wood from decay and fungal growth.

Once your deck is clean and ready for staining, choose a two-day period when you’ll have clear skies and moderate temperatures. Before you begin cleaning, remove any furniture or plants from the area. Then, get out your all-in-one deck cleaner or homemade cleaner and follow the instructions or recipe for your particular product. If you have a power washer, use it to spray off the cleaner, being careful not to damage the wood with too much pressure or water that’s too hot.

If you have a composite deck, use a deck brightener containing oxalic acid to restore its original color and get rid of any stains. If you have a vinyl (cellular PVC) deck, wash it with a mild detergent and warm water to remove mold, mildew, grease, or oil.

It typically takes four to eight hours for a wood deck stain to dry and around 48 hours for it to fully cure. This drying time will vary depending on the weather conditions and the type of stain you’re using.

For example, water-based stains are more forgiving than oil-based stains and require less time to dry. They can be used indoors or outdoors, and they’re a great choice for decks that will see heavy use. However, they’re not as durable as oil-based stains and can be easily damaged by high humidity or direct sunlight. If you’re working with a water-based stain, choose an indoor or shady outdoor location for the work and cover any nearby plants to protect them from the product’s overspray.