·Several types of deck cleaners can help get out the most stubborn
deckstains.As with any chemical
cleaner, test spot an inconspicuous area of the deck and check final
results before attempting to clean the deckstain.
oCandle wax - use a rag with mineral spirits and place it on the
wax.Let stand until the wax begins
to dissolve then wipe up with a dry cloth or paper towel.
oRust spots - oxalic or phosphoric acid, available at hardware stores
will remove rust deckstains.Several applications may be necessary to remove all of the
oMildew - removing and cleaning deck from mildew and mold, use 3/4
cups of water, 1/4 cup bleach. Be careful when using it on decks that have
been finished, especially with a colored deckstain.Bleach can remove the color as well as
lighten the wood that's being cleaned.You may have to re-apply the color/deckstain to the cleaned boards.
oBarbecue drippings. Cleaning a deck by using a water-solvable
automotive grease remover or parts cleaner to removed deckstains left
behind by grills.
oLeaves - accumulated leaves can eventually stain a deck. Try using a
mixture of 1/2 bleach and 1/2 water.
oBerry deckstains - use a conventional deck wash containing detergent
and sodium hypo-chlorite.
detailed step by step
explanation of how to stain, refinish, clean and repair a wooden deck.
·Certain wood species such as cedar and redwood may develop tannin
and bleed stains.Oils in the wood
seep to the top of the wood surface and will appear as blotches or darken
entire boards. After cleaning the deck, you may have to use a deck
brightener to remove stains and lighten darken woods.
·If the deck brightener is not pre-mixed, mix according to
directions, making sure to mix thoroughly.Any non-dissolved solution may cause areas to brighten more than
others.Use a pump sprayer and
apply an even coat.Two applications
may be necessary, allowing the deck to dry between applications.
·Applying a waterproofing deck sealer or deck stain will greatly
extend the life of any wood deck. The finish prevents the wood from going
through wetting and drying cycles.If left untreated, precipitation will enter the wood and expand.
Once the lumber begins to dry, it contracts.This expansion and contraction leads to the degrading of
wood. Sealing will prevent water from entering and thereby greatly reduce
the wetting and drying cycles.
Benefits of using a deck
·Periodically applying an ultraviolet rated deck finish will help
prevent the so-called "graying" of the wood.
·Treating a wood deck with periodic applications of a deck finish
will also help prevent the lumber from splitting, warping, splintering and
When to apply a finish
·Recent studies by the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) of the USDA
have shown that lumber can be coated soon after construction.As always, check the directions on the
can because some products may recommend a wait period before applying.
·Periodic application of a deck finish is necessary to protect the
wood from degrading.The duration
between applications will vary depending on the type of finish and how your
deck is exposed to the weather such as full sun or shade.Most decks should be cleaned and sealed
every 1-5 years.
·Newly constructed wood decks and existing decks have to be cleaned
prior to the application of a finishing product. The freshly cut or milling
of wood planks produce a coating of sap and resins that can prevent the proper
absorption of deck sealers.Using a
deck cleaning solution will prepare the wood by removing the "mill
finish" and help clean off any dirt and grime that's on the wood.
·There are a number of deck cleaners on the market.These products can be grouped into 3
oDeck Cleaners - Will basically clean the wood and will not strip off
any old finishes.
oDeck Brighteners - Used to remove bleed marks and lighten darkened
oDeck Strippers - Can be used to remove some prior finishes.
·Most paint and hardware stores carry deck cleaners and sealers.
Always read the directions to make sure that the product is adequate for
the species of wood and how to properly apply it. Deck Cleaners may turn
lumber darker and will require an additional product such as a brightener
to bring back the natural wood color. This is particularly true with cedar
and other soft woods.
·Basic recommendations when using a cleaner, brightener or stripper
is to avoid having the product dry on the surface of the wood. This can
leave residue and prevent proper adhesion or absorption of sealers. Also
leaving chemicals on for longer than necessary may strip more wood cells
than necessary.This is usually
seen as raised wood grain. Most products will have to be rinsed off within 15
·Misting with water may be necessary to prevent the rapid drying of
some cleaners especially on hot summer days.
·If hand mixing a product, mix thoroughly to prevent uneven blotches
(light and dark spots) that may occur from not adequately mixing a
·Before applying a deck cleaner, use a garden hose to wet surrounding
landscaping and house. This will prevent the direct contact of any
over-spay and help prevent plant die back and discoloring of surfaces that
come into contact with the solution. Use a plastic disposable tarp when
extra protection is needed.
·Take the proper precautions and use adequate protection when
applying deck cleaners. Most products are harmful to plants and animals.
Use rubber gloves, protective clothing and avoid breathing vapors and
·Always read the product directions before use. Some products do not
recommend the use of pump sprayers or power washers.
·Pressure washing also referred to as "power washing" can
help with rinsing the cleaners and brighteners from the wood.
·Power washers come with several tips or adjustable spray nozzles. Be
careful, using the wrong spray tip or nozzle adjustment can direct a stream
of water so powerful that it may splinter and damage the wood.
·Make sure the deck had several days to dry before applying a sealer.
If in doubt, check with a wood moisture content meter.Apply the finish when the wood moisture
content is below 20%.
·Wait for upcoming good dry weather before proceeding with the application
of finishes. Once applied, most sealers will require 24-48 hours of drying
time.A humid day will prolong the
drying time and rain can cause mishaps on a freshly sealed deck.Check your local forecast to plan when
it will be best to seal your deck.
·Check the particular deck sealer or deckstain for application
·Colored deckstains will usually require a drying period for the wood
prior to application.
·Some clear sealers and clear stains may darken wood.
·Semi-transparent stains will add color to the wood.
·When using several cans of the same stain it's a good practice to
intermix the cans. This will prevent any noticeable differences between
different batches of stains.Use
1/2 gallon at a time while mixing half of the next gallon with the one
·Always test spot the product in an inconspicuous area of the deck
and let dry to determine the actual color.
·Applying a finish is similar to painting. It's always a good idea to
use a drop cloth. Also, it's helpful to have some rags handy and disposable
surgeon gloves for your hands. And don't forget old clothes. Trying to
remove an oil based stain from clothing is practically impossible.
·When applying a sealer to deck boards, use a good quality lint free
1/2 inch nap roller with a disposable tray liner for easy clean up. After
applying the sealer with a roller, use a lambs wool applicator to spread
out the sealer evenly. Let stand for 15 minutes and then wipe up any excess
with a lint free rag or mop.
·We do not recommend using a pump sprayer for the applications of
sealers. The pump sprayers tend to get clogged and most of the products on
the market have to be diluted to work properly.Also, the over-spray of a finish can make more of a mess than
Do not over apply the
·Most manufactures of deck finishes do not recommend more than one
coat. The problem with additional applications is that once the wood is
saturated any extra sealer that didn't penetrate may dry into a film and
peel.Usually only one coat is
called for or perhaps a "wet on wet" application in which a
second coat is applied while the first is still wet and then immediately
wipe up. The directions on the can of deck finish will usually indicate the
best methods for applying the product.
·Never apply a second coat after the first coat is dry.The wood pores will be filled with the
dried finish and a second coat will not penetrate.This will make the finish susceptible to
Painting wood decks
·This can be the greatest mistake of all.All too often homeowners believe that painting their deck is
a good idea.Owners who paint a
deck are just asking for trouble. The sun bakes it and foot traffic abrades
it. But even more important, paint is a film that clings to the top of the
wood.When water gets under the
paint it can begin to blister and peel off. A few manufacturers also make a
solid color stain for decks, but experts see these as thinned paints.
Though they may not peel as easily as regular paint, they can peel and they
readily show scuff marks from traffic.
·A deck never has to be painted unless it's already covered with a
coating that can't be penetrated.
·Semi-transparent stains and clear deck finishes do not peel, they are
by far the best choice when finishing a deck.