Some of the most
frequently asked questions to our company are:
How do I clean my deck before I seal?
That is a heavy
question. There are so
What kind of wood is
Is there a coating on
Is there two or more
coating under the first one?
What do I use to
What kind of pressure
washer should I use?
How much pressure?
What kind of tip?
Do I work with or
against the grain?
What cleaner if any?
How old is the wood?
All these variables
must be taken into account before beginning work.
If you have owned
your home for a while, (4 years or more) you will know what coating,
if any, the deck was treated with.
What degree do you have to go
step will be to do a bit of a water test. Scrub a small area on your
deck with deck cleaner, rinse it off, and let it dry.
Next spill some water on this area and watch and see if the
water soaks in. The water should soak in within a few moments. If it
does, consider it as raw wood. If it doesnít soak in there may still
be sealer on your deck. That will require a different approach than
Lets start with raw
wood. Whether its cedar or treated pine it has to be cleaned.
There are several good retail brand deck cleaners out there.
Stay away from those containing sodium hypocloride.
The cleaner is essentially bleach.
Sodium hypocloride can discolor wood decks.
Try to choose one that contains some oxalic acid.
Oxalic acid has a brightening effect on cedar and certainly
canít hurt treated pine.
Application of these
products will vary. We believe that just applying the cleaner is not
enough, it should be scrubbed in.
A stiff bristle brush is best tool, commonly called an acid
brush, which screws on to a threaded broom pole.
Scrub a dub dub
Use a brush like this
to scrub in your cleaner. You
can spray on the cleaner as long as you scrub and even out the
application. Try not to
let any areas dry throughout application. Use a light mist of water to
keep it wet till your ready to wash it off.
Now itís time to
wash off what you have just been scrubbing.
You can use a hose with a concentrated stream from a nozzle
with limited results of course.
You can use a power
washer for improved results. This
is the most popular method. Using
a power washer is the tricky part.
Too much pressure (to close to the wood) will splinter it.
To little pressure you might as well use your hose.
Using the wrong tip and you could have disastrous results.
This contractor (must
have been his first job and last) used a turbo tip to try and strip
away a clear coating the entire deck had to be re-planked.
A turbo tip is great for concrete but it will shred cedar.
How much pressure is
too much pressure? Well
letís start with the pressure washer.
If you rent one, look for something with around 8 plus
horsepower. These usually
produce about 2500 PSI and 2.5 Ė 3.0 gallons per minute.
A pressure washer this size you should be using a 25 to 40
degree tip and about 18 inches away from the deck.
Work with the boards lengthwise.
Use a fanning motion taking care not to stop or dwell while the
high-pressure fan is in contact with the wood.
Start in an inconspicuous area. Practice on your neighbors deck
first (just kidding). Clean your side walks first to get the feel of
the power washer. This should remove the dirt and brighten your deck.
Remember to let your
deck dry thoroughly before coating.