Who doesn’t love a great deck? Decks enhance our outdoor spaces, providing us with a comfortable area to relax, entertain, or simply soak up the sun. However, with regular use and exposure to different factors, decks can become dirty, grimy, and even dangerous, detracting from their appearance and reducing their lifespan. That's why cleaning and maintaining your deck is essential to keep it looking its best, whatever type of material it's made from. Let us take you through the steps to clean different types of decks, from traditional wood to modern composite materials. We'll cover everything from basic cleaning and maintenance to choosing professional power washing services. Whether you're a seasoned deck owner or a first-time buyer, this guide will provide you with the knowledge and tools you need to keep your deck looking beautiful and functional for years to come. So, let's get started!
Why Clean Your Deck?
Your deck was probably a big investment. Regular cleaning and maintenance can protect that investment, keeping it looking its best and preventing damage. Dirt, grime, algae, and mildew can accumulate on your deck over time, making it slippery and dangerous to walk on. Additionally, UV rays can cause discoloration and fading, while moisture can lead to mold and rot. By cleaning your deck regularly, you can remove dirt and grime, prevent mold and rot, and extend the life of your deck. Moreover, a clean deck is more appealing and inviting, enhancing the overall look and feel of your outdoor space.
Types of Decks - Wood vs Composite
Different Types of Wood Decks and How to Clean Them
Wood decks come in many different types, each with its own unique characteristics and cleaning requirements. Here are some of the most common types of wood decks and how to perform maintenance cleaning on them:
Cedar decks are known for their natural beauty and resistance to rot and insects. To perform maintenance cleaning on a cedar deck, start by sweeping away any loose debris, then use a mild soap and water solution to scrub the surface, and then rinse with a garden hose. Avoid using a high-pressure washer, as it can damage the wood fibers and leave the surface rough. It’s ok to use a pressure washer to rinse, though- just make sure to use a low-pressure setting and keep the tip of the wand at least two feet away from the surface of the deck.
Redwood decks are prized for their rich color and durability. To clean a redwood deck, start by sweeping away any loose debris, use a stiff-bristled brush and a bucket of warm water mixed with a mild detergent. You may also use a deck cleaner specifically designed for redwood. Follow the manufacturer's instructions. Rinse thoroughly with a garden hose.
Pressure-Treated Wood Deck
Pressure-treated wood decks are a popular choice due to their affordability and resistance to rot and insects. To clean a pressure-treated wood deck, start by sweeping away any loose debris, and use a mild detergent diluted in a bucket of water. Free the surface from dirt with a stiff-bristled brush. You may also use a deck cleaner specifically designed for pressure-treated wood. Follow the manufacturer's instructions and rinse thoroughly with a garden hose.
Cleaning Composite Decks - What You Need to Know
Composite decks require less maintenance than wood decks, but they still need to be cleaned regularly to remove dirt, grime, and mildew. Here's what you need to know to clean a composite deck:
Sweep and Rinse
Start by sweeping away any loose debris, then rinse the deck with a garden hose. Use a mild soap and water solution and a soft-bristle brush to scrub the surface, then rinse thoroughly with a garden hose.
Use a Composite Deck Cleaner
If your composite deck is heavily soiled or stained, you may need to use a composite deck cleaner. Follow the manufacturer's instructions and rinse thoroughly with a garden hose.
Avoid Pressure Washing
This is to avoid damaging the deck and voiding the warranty. However, professional exterior cleaning services offer low-pressure soft washing that provides a safe and deepest cleaning.
DIY Deck Cleaning Solutions
You don't need to spend a lot of money on commercial deck cleaning products. Here are some DIY solutions you can use to clean your deck:
Oxygen Bleach and Water
Oxygen bleach products are very common (products like OxyClean are made from it) and are a great solution for basic cleaning. They are safe to use and can be quite effective. Mix 1 cup of oxygen bleach with 1 gallon of water (warm water works best, as the bleach will dissolve more thoroughly), and use the solution to scrub your deck. Rinse thoroughly with a garden hose.
Power Washing vs Hand Scrubbing - Which is Better?
Power washing can be an effective way to clean your deck, but it can also damage the surface if not done properly. Hand scrubbing is a safer alternative that can be just as effective. Here are some things to consider when deciding between power washing and hand scrubbing:
Power washing can remove dirt and grime quickly and efficiently, but it can also strip away the surface layer of your deck, leaving it rough and susceptible to damage. If you decide to power wash your deck, make sure to use a low-pressure setting and follow the manufacturer's instructions.
Hand scrubbing is a safer alternative to power washing that can be just as effective. Use a stiff-bristled brush and a mild soap and water solution to scrub the surface of your deck, then rinse thoroughly with a garden hose.
Maintenance Tips for Keeping Your Deck Clean
Regular maintenance is essential to keep your deck looking its best and prevent damage caused by exposure to the elements. Here are some maintenance tips to help you keep your deck clean:
Sweep your deck regularly to remove dirt and debris that can accumulate over time.
Trim Nearby Trees and Shrubs
Trim trees and shrubs that hang over your deck to prevent leaves and debris from accumulating on the surface.
Apply a Sealant
Apply a sealant to your deck every few years to protect it from moisture and UV rays.
What If Your Deck Has Mold, Algae, Or Other Organic Growth?
We’ve all seen the green, slimy, slippery deck. It looks bad, it’s dangerous to walk on, and it’s uncomfortable to walk on. If this is the case with your deck, the above-mentioned cleaning methods and products probably won’t work. You’ll need a much more powerful cleaning agent, such as bleach or sodium hydroxide. These chemicals have the power to terminate the organic growth that’s taken root on your deck, but they come with their own risks. They can be dangerous to work with, and can even damage the decking surface if not used properly. If your deck has reached a state where the maintenance cleaning options discussed earlier are not effective, it’s highly advisable to consult with a professional deck cleaner.
Professional Deck Cleaning Services
If you don't have the time or experience to clean your deck yourself, consider hiring a professional deck cleaning service. A professional can clean your deck quickly and efficiently, using the right tools and techniques to remove dirt, grime, and organic stains without damaging the surface.
Cleaning and maintaining your deck is essential to keep it looking its best and prevent damage caused by exposure to the elements. Whether you have a traditional wood deck or a modern composite deck, regular cleaning is the key to extending its life and enhancing its appearance. By following the tips and techniques outlined in this guide, you can keep your deck looking beautiful and functional for years to come.