Most decks need a little bit of cleaning and maintenance at least once a year. A pressure washer can be a great tool to speed up the deck cleaning process.
If it’s been awhile since the deck was sealed, and water no longer beads up on the surface, it may also be time to reapply deck sealer.
Whether your deck just needs a quick cleaning or a complete refresh, you can use this guide to get started on the steps to having a brighter, longer lasting deck.
To remove old deck stain from the wood you have to use a deck stripper. A quality deck stripper will break up and soften any old stain allowing it to be washed away. Most deck strippers will not remove solid stain or paints if this is the case you may have to sand the old stain to get back down to bare wood again.
When a deck is first installed, there is nothing protecting the wood. If you opt to keep it this way, it will become worn over time, and the color will begin to fade to a silvery-gray color. While this worn color can be beautiful, if you want to ensure the longest life of your wood deck in either its original color or one of your choosing, you want to apply a protective stain or finish. But, before you can apply a stain, you need to prepare your deck to accept it. This involves thorough cleaning and sanding.
Sanding a wood deck provides a clean, smooth surface and removes any splinters or rough patches. By sanding before applying a fresh coat of stain, you are ensuring the stain will adhere to the wood well, and last for years before needing a new coat.
A pressure washer is a straightforward machine that can clean very well with only water. However, it can ruin your deck if it’s not used properly. This is a tool that is powerful enough to etch brick, but in the right hands, it can be gentle enough to wash siding. If you use it with too much jet pressure or place the tip too close to the surface of your deck, you can deeply etch the wood and cause the fibers to splinter. Take some time to become familiar with the machine before you unleash that cleaning power on your deck.
What You’ll Need
Equipment / Tools
- Pressure washer with a fan tip or rotating tip
- Sheets of plastic (optional)
- Random orbit sander (optional)
Equipment / Tools
- Deck stripper/brightener (optional)
- Sandpaper (optional)
Decks are a great addition to any house and enable a homeowner to enjoy and experience nature more often. Unfortunately, decks are often susceptible to dirt and algae because they’re outside. Contrary to popular belief, chlorine bleach is not a great cleaner for a wood deck. Luckily, you can use powdered oxygen bleach to scrub down and clean your deck without damaging the deck’s wood or any surrounding plantlife.
How often should my deck be restained?
This is about personal preference to a large degree. If you want your deck to look like a piece of furniture, apply a maintenance coat every 6 months—remembering to first clean the deck surface every time a maintenance coat is applied. A light cleaning will usually be adequate if you stained your deck within the past 12 months. If it has been more than 18 months since the last application, a heavier cleaning will most likely be required.
If you are switching to a different brand of deck stain, check with the manufacturer for any steps needed in addition to cleaning your deck. Changing stains during maintenance applications may require that you strip off the old coating and start from scratch.
Water, when combined with UV radiation and changes in weather and temperature, can cause your deck to look dull and weathered by washing away your deck’s finish, natural resins, and color. While you can’t completely prevent your deck’s exposure to the elements, sealing your deck will help sustain its finish, which may save you time and money.
Here are a couple of tests you can perform to see if your deck needs waterproofing. Drop several drops of water onto the deck. If the water beads up, the deck is still protected and doesn’t need to be waterproofed now. If a drop soaks into the wood, it means the old finish or waterproofing layer has worn away leaving the wood unprotected. You can also firmly press a piece of tape against the surface to be stained. The presence of old stain or wood fibers on the tape could indicate a potential moisture problem. Remove eroded wood fibers and loose stain by using a wood stripper then sanding and power washing the surface.