As we move into May, consistent sunshine and spending time on your deck is almost guaranteed. But stepping outside might have you looking at your deck with confused and disappointed eyes. If you’re motivated to clean up it might be time for some DIY deck cleaning tips to put you back in charge of your outdoor space.
After initial installation or resurfacing, leaving your deck to fend for itself can be the path of least resistance. The deck just sits outside after all. However, like most exterior surfaces of your home, regular maintenance of your deck is an important part of making sure enjoyment and safety last for years to come. The following tips will help keep your wooden deck clean and pristine after a recent refinish or to possibly delay larger updates. For other deck building materials and tips check out the link list below for more resources on cleaning and maintenance.
Let’s get to work!
Before beginning any kind of work on your deck, it is always smart to do an inspection. Some deck issues are easy to spot – rusted or exposed nails, weathered and split wood, faded stain. Others are harder to find – pest and water damage, mold, decaying foundation. In the end you’ll be more familiar with your outdoor space. If you check on your deck once a year, you are more likely to keep problems from mounting, saving you time and money.
To do this, take a walk around your deck with a camera and make a list of the concerns you notice. Be aware of problems that need immediate attention: Replace old nails with longer screws to ensure contact; evaluate boards for wood rot or other noticeable issues and change them out. Pictures will help you remember where the issues are located and will be useful if you find that a professional needs a call.
Wash and Scrub
After addressing any structural concerns it’s time to give your deck a good cleaning. Choose an extra sunny day, remove furniture, and start with a rinse. This can be as intensive as a power wash or as simple as going over your deck with with your garden hose. Before moving on to deck cleaners always have the appropriate protection such as gloves, goggles, or masks.
If you plan on restaining and resealing your deck clean up with an exterior wood cleaner. Exterior wood cleaners contain a special soap that neutralizes your deck for applying stain. You’ll have a basic foundation to start your project from, giving you the finish you expect.
For a something simpler you can make your own cleaning solution by mixing bleach, laundry or dish detergent, and warm water. Be careful not to use detergent with ammonia as adding it to the bleach creates a toxic compound. For a safer solution, use a mixture of vinegar and water. Both solutions will take care of mold and mildew just fine.
Allow the afternoon sun to dry the deck completely after washing. The direct heat and light is also useful in eliminating pests and mold.
Sweep and Sand
Even a good rinsing will likely need to be followed up with sweeping. This not only gets rid of loose dirt but also reveals splintering wood for sanding. Use a push broom to sweep away leftover debris. Next spot check for areas that need sanding. Remember that the smoother the surface the less summertime injury (splinters – ouch!) as well as easier application of stain and sealant.
Now your deck is ready for anything. You’ve already prepped for staining. Take your time to keep an even coat. Be sure to seal your deck after so your stain will last longer. If you’re going straight to entertaining, complete the look with new furniture and décor. And invite others to enjoy your new space!
For best results follow the same cleaning and maintenance steps at the end of the season to better prepare for next year.
So, are you ready for deck season? For more DIY deck cleaning and maintenance tips check out the links below:
- Similar tips on DIY deck maintenance – http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/article/0,,213692,00.html
- Details on different types of decking materials, cost, and maintenance – http://www.bhg.com/home-improvement/deck/ideas/choose-the-right-material-decking/#page=1
- More on different types of decking materials – http://sinonews.net/deck-building-materials-to-use-and-kinds-to-consider.html
- Specifics on the science behind different deck cleaner ingredients – http://www.deckstainhelp.com/best-deck-cleaners
- DIY deck cleaner recipes – http://tipnut.com/deck-cleaners
- Keep these tips in mind when doing your next home DIY project – http://bestnovapainters.com/diy-home-project-safety-tips/
Written by Kristyn Roberts Marrott