A well-kept deck lets you enjoy your backyard with greater peace of mind. Most decks need a little bit of cleaning and maintenance at least once a year to keep up their appearance. Whether yours just needs a quick cleaning or a complete refresh, let this guide get you started toward a brighter, longer lasting deck.
Skill level: Intermediate
Time to complete: Variable
- paint scraper
- a stiff, fiber bristle brush
- extension handle (optional)
- deck brightener
- pressure washer
- hand-pumped sprayer
- paint roller
1. Scrape off loose finish.
Remove loose paint or opaque stain with a paint scraper. Scrape down damaged areas to bare wood. Then sand each area to feather the edges of remaining finish material down to bare wood.
2. Scrub the surface.
Use a stiff bristle brush to remove flaking stain or dirt. Don’t use a metal-bristle brush on cedar or redwood because the metal bristles may scar the soft wood.
3. Apply Cleaner.
Apply a deck brightener product to wood surfaces. Mix the product according to manufacturer’s directions. Work the brightener into the wood with a stiff bristle brush, using an extension handle on the brush, if necessary.
4. Power wash deck.
A pressure washer can be a great tool to speed up the deck cleaning process. Wash the deck surfaces to remove brightener solution and other residue, using a power washer with a fan spray nozzle. The extra pressure of this tool is necessary to adequately clean the deck. Let the deck dry thoroughly before applying new finish. Be careful power washing a cedar deck. Use the low power setting to avoid damaging the wood.
5. Apply finish material.
If it’s been a while since the deck was sealed, and water no longer beads up on the surface, it may also be time to reseal. Use a hand-pumped sprayer for small deck areas. Use a roller on decking after spraying to force finish into the wood and to spread out any pooled material. This method is called back-rolling. Use a brush to work the finish into end grain, seams, and gaps between boards. This method is called back-brushing. Back-brush vertical surfaces to remove drips. End grain soaks up finish, and you may need to apply more.
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