Outdoor Wood Deck Cleaning And Sealing: A How To Guide

When you notice that water begins to soak in to your deckboards instead of beading up, it's time to clean and re-seal.

Deck surfaces are constantly exposed to severe elements like wind, rain, and extreme temperatures. If deck boards are not well sealed, the wood can fade, split, crack or warp. It is a myth that pressure-treated wood can withstand the elements. Although pressure-treated wood is known to be resistant to insects and wood rot, it's still vulnerable to moisture and heat. All woods should be cleaned and sealed every few 2 to 3 years, but can sometimes go a little longer than that, depending upon your area's weather conditions. You'll know it's time when you notice that water doesn't bead up, but instead, seems to soak into the wood.

Some people use pressure washers to clean their decks, but if the pressure is not set correctly, you can splinter the deck boards and rails. Check your pressure washer's guide to obtain the proper setting before pressure washing. To clean the deck by hand, you can purchase deck cleaning chemicals at most house and garden departments or home improvement stores. Follow the directions on the product for cleaning your deck. To clean deck by hand, scrub well with hot water mixed with a degreaser or cleaner. You can add a little bleach to the water, but be aware that bleach might lighten the look of the wood. Use a push broom to scrub foot planks and a good plastic or fiber scrubber for the handrails. It is not recommended that you use a steel wool pad of any kind. Scrub around nail holes with a scrub brush to remove rust stains. Don't forget to scrub under the hand and guard rails. Allow deck to dry completely before applying the sealant.

Never apply sealant to new deck boards. It's very important for all wood to weather properly before applying a finish. During the first year, excess water has to evaporate from the wood. After about a year, the wood is ready to apply a finishing coat. It's also pertinent to apply a new wood treatment, found at home supplies stores. Applying a new wood treatment provides a slow weathering period. This treatment also keeps the wood's natural color looking new longer.

Every wood care product on the market has a particular purpose. New wood treatment protects new planks from sun and rain. Deck cleaner and brightener removes dirt and brightens the look of the natural wood. Stain or finish remover lifts off old finishes and dirt that has accumulated over time. Clear wood preservative with UV protection beautifies your deck and protects it from the sun's rays, and exterior stain provides fading and mildew growth. Review these products before choosing what assortment you will use for refinishing your deck. If you are unsure about which products to choose, ask the manager for assistance, or get more info about these products online.

Before sealing the deck, read the manufacturer's instructions. Check to see that it will not be cold or rainy within 24 hours of sealing the deck. Do not apply sealant in direct sunlight, and always wear gloves and eye protection. Cover bushes, potted plants and anything else around the deck with dropcloths or tarp. Tape plastic to the house in areas where the deck meets the siding. Apply the sealer using a sprayer, brush or roller. Let the finish penetrate for 20 minutes. Go back over the surface with a brush or roller for best coverage. Allow to dry for at least 24 hours. Apply a second coat. Wash all tools, equipment and tarp with soapy water. Dispose of empty containers and old rags according to your town's regulations. Don't worry about the initial appearance of the sealer, most sealants have a milky appearance when first applied, but will dry to a clear finish. Preventative measures are a must if you want your deck to maintain its condition for the years to come.

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