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How to Clean Your Deck

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Since decks have to deal with whatever nature throws at them, it makes sense to keep a maintenance routine that will keep them in good condition for years to come. With the right care, you can avoid expensive repairs.

One of the hardest parts about deck cleaning is deciding when to do it, but spring and fall are the best times. In the spring, you can eliminate winter debris and get your outdoor space ready for entertaining. In the fall, you can give it a final cleaning before harsh weather hits. However, you’re not limited to these seasons. Just pick a day when it’s cloudy (but not rainy) because you don’t want any of the deck cleaner to evaporate.

Start by digging out debris that’s sandwiched between the boards via putty knife, or use a crevice cleaning tool with a handle. Your knees will thank you when you choose the latter. You can also insert the grip of your putty knife into a PVC pipe and make your own long-handled tool. Specifically, pay attention to the crevices where boards run across the support beams. Next, thoroughly sweep the deck clean with a broom.

Before moving on to the actual cleaning phase, cover all surrounding plants with plastic sheeting to protect them from the cleaner’s chemicals. Keep in mind that wood, vinyl and composite decks require different cleansers. Additionally, the cleaning process varies slightly for these three types.

For wooden decks, you can apply regular deck cleaner. Make sure to read the instructions first because some products require a wet surface. Apply the detergent evenly with a garden sprayer, brush broom or paint roller. Once you’ve scrubbed the entire deck, allow the cleanser to soak according to the directions, and finish by sluicing it generously with clean water.

Composite decksrequire specially formulated cleansers that you apply with a small brush. When you need extra cleaning power for oil and grease stains, you can follow up with commercial detergents or degreasers. If you need to remove leaf and rust stains, use a deck brightener. Vinyl decks require the least effort because you only need to apply mild soap and warm water with a stiff broom. Use a circular motion to scrub off mildew, mold and dirt. As usual, finish up with a thorough rinse.

If you want to seal or stain your deck after cleaning it, wait two days. It might look dry on the surface, but applying top coats too soon after washing seals in the moisture below the surface. This can lead to rot, mold and mildew.

To save you the hassle, and to make sure that your deck is properly cleaned, it is highly advised to get professional help from a reputable deck cleaning company. Ask your friends or neighbors for any suggestions, or check online for reviews of pressure washing companies that is perfect for you.