Editorials How To

How to Clean Decking

The spring season brings with it preparation for fun outdoor activities. Cleaning and organizing of the back yard is usually a big part of this preparation. Once the flower beds are weeded and the grass is mowed, the entertainment area needs to be freshened up. Wooden decks are a popular choice for reclining outdoors. They do, however, require proper maintenance. Regular cleaning is necessary, but must be done properly to keep from damaging the wood.

Preparation

Wooden decks often accumulate a large amount of debris consisting of leaves and dirt from surrounding plants. The removal of this debris ensures that your deck responds well to the cleaning process. Leftover dirt, otherwise, may become ground into the crevices while you scrub. This step simply requires a stiff bristled broom. Sweep thoroughly, applying ample pressure. It can also help to make sure there is no rain in the forecast. Many people like to stain and seal their decks annually after a good cleaning. The deck needs time to dry out prior to this step.

Rinsing

Rinsing can be done with a regular garden hose or a pressure washer. Pressure washers can often be rented from a hardware retailer. A pressure washer can damage your deck if not handled properly. Be sure to hold the nozzle several feet away from the deck.  A regular hose needs to be set on the strongest setting. Pay close attention to stained areas, they may need extra rinsing. You may be surprised at how much discoloration the rinse portion of the process clears away.

Cleaning Solution

There are various cleaning solutions that can be used when scrubbing the deck. You do not have to use a specialized solution sold in stores. A mixture of laundry detergent and water can successfully clean the area. Your local hardware store also carries cleaners specifically for the treated wood used on decks. Just because a deck is an outdoor area, does not mean the wood should be treated roughly. Proper cleaners should protect the integrity of the wood and the sealant. A thorough scrubbing of the deck with a push broom should suffice. Rinse the solution well. Remaining soapy residue is not healthy for the wood.

Bleach

Outdoor decks are exposed to many kinds of inclement weather throughout the year. There is sure to be some mold or mildew growth as a result of wet weather. Some areas have a naturally humid climate, further complicating this problem. An extra step in the cleaning process may be necessary to deal with such growth. Mild bleach solutions have been the long-standing solution to this problem. There are, however, much safer alternatives that are being suggested more regularly. If you choose chlorine bleach, the solution for this purpose should be four parts water and one part bleach. This mixture should only be applied to the offending areas, not the entire deck. The bleach can sit anywhere from five to fifteen minutes to allow for complete removal of the visible mold or mildew. Rinse well and allow to dry for a full assessment of the results. A second application can be applied at this point.

Sodium Percarbonate

Large amounts of bleach can cause damage to the wood and weaken the structure of your deck. The chlorine is also bad for the environment and your surrounding plant life. If you need more than a light spray to solve the problem, it is best to use an alternative cleaner. Oxygen bleach (sodium percarbonate) has a hydrogen peroxide base and is also effective and removing mold and mildew. After this solution is rinsed off of your deck, it is recommended to apply a deck brightener. These come in the form of citric acid or oxalic acid. Neutralization of the sodium percarbonate solution is accomplished by applying these items. This step is important in maintaining the proper pH level of your deck.

Completion of these steps is sure to have your deck looking its best for the summer months. Prepare for a season of entertainment by properly maintaining your deck area. Proper cleaning solutions and techniques can ensure a sparkling deck while securing the integrity of the wood. Years of enjoyment can come from a well-kept deck.

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