Remember these Key Points on how to pressure wash a deck
- Never power wash a deck with high pressure
- Low pressure should be used minimally
- Oxygenated cleaners are the best cleaners for older decks
- Decks will not be “bright” or “blonde” without a brightening solution
- For best results, always use a professional deck cleaning company
Many homeowners want to know how to pressure wash a deck. The simple answer is not to. Scrubbing the deck is a better option. Pressure washing can and will take everything off of whatever you are washing. When it comes to washing a deck, this sounds like a great idea, but pressure washing really works against you in this case.
High Pressure Power Washing
So why is it a bad idea to pressure wash a deck? The same reason you would pressure wash it. Pressure washing takes everything off. All decks contain loose fibers of wood. Due to these fibers, the high pressure will pull up and leave splinters in the deck. Older decks notice the effects of pressure washing more severely than a newer deck, but the effects still exist. So what does high pressure power washing do exactly?
- Gets under the wood and raises splinters.
- Causes noticeable gaps in the grain that will expand and contract with the weather conditions.
- Damages the wood, lowering its expected lifetime.
- Makes the wood more vulnerable to the Sun.
One answer to the question how to pressure wash a deck is lowering the PSI of the washer so it protects from the damages. However this method still requires scrubbing to get that true deep clean you’re looking for.
Scrubbing a Deck
Carlton Cleans scrubs all of our clients’ decks to get in deep and get the deck back to looking like new. Scrubbing with a deck cleaner is the best way to prepare the deck for staining and get any dirt, algae, and any other nasty substances that may have soaked into the wood.
Cleaners come in a variety of options, such as:
- Oxalic Acid-based
Carlton Cleans prefers oxygenated cleaners because of the existence of sodium percarbonate. If your deck is covered in mold or mildew then you’ll see a significant difference in the appearance of your deck using an oxygenated cleaner.
Using a low pressure washer, Carlton Cleans removes a good bit of dirt, mold, and mildew. For example, here is a customer’s deck in the middle of a cleaning. Just after a low pressure wash:
You can also see that the deck doesn’t really have that fresh, clean color to it yet. This is because a pressure washer, when used at a lower pressure, does not go as deep as you need.
Second, Carlton Cleans then scrubs the deck with oxygenated cleaners for the best treatment possible. The oxygenated cleaner also has a natural tendency to strengthen the wood, protecting it from some of the Sun’s UV rays. However oxygenated cleaners and a thorough deck scrubbing is not enough to give your deck that beautiful blonde-colored look, like this one.
In order to get your deck bright and clean like the one here, you’ll need a brightener. The oxygenated cleaners raise the pH and the brightener will neutralize the pH levels and give you that blonde-colored look you’re looking for, all the while being as clean as the day it was installed. Lastly, once it’s dry and ready, Carlton Cleans stains the deck to protect it from the Sun.
Professional Deck Cleaning
Finally, a deck cleaning can transform your deck from a rotting, gray plank of wood to a bright, clean, and ready-to-use deck. Unfortunately, if not done by a professional deck cleaner, such as Carlton Cleans, the deck will not turn out like the pictures above. Carlton Cleans knows exactly what pressure is right for your deck, when it’s okay to use a pressure washer, what angle to use when power washing, and what cleaning solutions will work best for your deck. Carlton Cleans hopes that it has answered your question of how to pressure wash a deck. Make sure you contact Carlton Cleans today to get your deck it’s like new look back!
Carlton Cleans provides deck refinishing service with out damaging the wood from high water pressure with our scrub brush cleaning process. We tighten loose boards observed during the cleaning phase, hammer in popped nails, or replace with screws if a 1/2 inch or more is sticking out of the wood and hand apply Armstrong Clark stain or Sherwin Williams Deckscape, depending on the situation. We provide board replacement services and prior finish stripping and sanding. See the picture below of a Gaithersburg deck recently refinished. The deck is approximately 15 yrs old and had several coats of poor quality finishes. We cleaned the deck, replaced some boards, and hand applied the stain using Armstrong Clark Cedar Semitransparent.
Restore a Deck
When to Restore a Deck
Over time we gradually adapt to changes. In the case of wood decks, its color, strength, and overall appeal starts to fade. Most people become oblivious to it, until friends and family are coming over. If not cared for properly wood can fade and weaken over time. Actually, if a deck is installed without staining and sealing it, you will notice a significant difference within the first month or two! If you have a deck stained and sealed from the start, you will notice a drop in quality in about a year. People begin wondering at this point on how to restore a deck to like-new condition.
Hire a Professional
Making a deck look like new again can greatly improve the image of a house. If someone is planning on increasing their home’s value a little bit, this is a great ice-breaker. Most people love when a new home has a deck. Don’t turn them off with a run-down version of it! To get the most out of a restoration, it’s a great idea to hire a professional. A decking contractor has experience and knowledge of how to keep a deck in its prime-time the longest. This way you don’t have to perform this process more times than necessary.
Steps to Restore a Deck
Step 1 – Scrubbing the Deck
The first step of restoring a deck is to prepare it for staining. Before any staining, the deck should be scrubbed clean. If the deck still has stain on it, it must be removed. We will often use a stain stripper for removing the stain. After the deck has been cleared of any staining and has been cleaned, it’s time to stain and seal the deck.
Step 2 – Staining the Deck
After scrubbing, decks commonly look pretty naked. We need to cover it up with some nice deck staining and a sealant. Choosing a stain color is up to the homeowner, but Redwood has always been a very popular color. Deck staining is a great way to protect a deck from Mother Nature and general wear and tear of use. After you stain your deck, it’s time to seal it. A deck sealant is the best way to protect a deck from water damage. Choose the driest time of year in your area to do this part. We do not want a deck to be ruined because it rained before the deck finishes drying.
Step 3 – Enjoying Your Restored Deck
When all is said and done, we’re left with a beautiful new deck that draws attention. The deck becomes the centerpiece of conversations. Now all that’s left is to grab some furniture and use it at will. Now that’s how you restore a deck!
Algae and mold will grow on a hard wood deck like any other surface around the exterior of your home when the environment is moist, warm and shady. When your hard wood deck is covered in algae or mold it gets slippery and unsafe. Carlton Cleans, LLC provides a scrub brush cleaning service followed by wood brightener on hard wood decks such as IPE. We do no use a pressure washer in cleaning hard wood decks. We will remove the unwanted organics restoring the wood to a clean natural state.
The service will not restore the wood to the deep wonderful color you saw when the wood was new. The surface color will still be changed from the sun and general out door environment but the algae and mold (green/black) will be removed. The deep colors you saw when the hard wood was new will come out when the wood is wet (after a rain but disappears when its dry) or when a translucent oil is applied. The oil will bring the color back full time for a few months, maybe up to 6 months if the wood is well seasoned. Due to the density of hard wood oil will not penetrate deep thus the short oiled life.
We recommend having regular cleanings to keep the deck safe and beautiful. Continual oiling exterior hard wood is not cost effective, however, if you are have many special occasions during the spring or summer than getting an oil treatment that year may be worth the expense. The pictures will look great on an oiled hard wood deck.
Pressure washing and power washing have been the main method of cleaning decks.
The cleaning typically was done prior to staining or
painting to remove dirt, molds, algae and fungus. As professionals
began to specialize in deck cleaning chemicals were added to the
process for a more uniform level of cleaning and to allow the use of
low water pressure rinsing (less wood fiber damage). This process
is done by typically wetting down the deck to prevent the cleaner from
drying to fast than apply the cleaning mix, dwell and rinse. Dwell
time is important. The process is than finalized by spraying the deck
with a wood brightener to balance the ph for preparation of a finish.
This is the main method of professional deck cleaning.
At Carlton Cleans we changed the process by removing the
pressure washer from the process. The main reason we removed the use
of a pressure washer is even at low pressure with the use of chemical
cleaners minor damage to wood fibers can still occur and the chemical
strength generally has to be on the strong side to be effective.
Carlton Cleans uses scrub brushing in the place of a pressure washer.
We use a low pressure chemical sprayer to apply our deck cleaning mix
and hand scrub the entire deck. The process is finalized by applying
a wood brightener. The lower chemical ratio is better for the
environment and the technicians doing the work and still effective
because of the scrub brushing process. The scrub brushing is gentle
on the wood and is a very effective cleaning method. Of course the
process of scrub brushing is more time consuming than pressure
washing and high chemical ratio use. Carlton Cleans also applies all finishes by hand.
Part 2—Cleaning the Deck
In the last article, we discussed how to select the proper equipment for a DIY deck cleaning project. In this article, we will address how to use the equipment properly to achieve your desired results without damaging your deck. Before beginning, be sure to remove all grills, furniture, planters and other items from your deck. Any grease spills from your grill should be pre-treated with a solution of dish soap.
Before applying cleanser to the deck, rinse the deck with water. This will aid the cleanser in spreading easily once it is applied. Then, use the scrub brush to apply cleanser to the deck. Most of the work of cleaning the deck will be done by the cleanser, not the pressure washer itself. Many cleaning solutions should not be allowed to dry on the wood, so be sure to closely follow the manufacturer’s instructions and periodically mist if necessary. Typically the manufacturer will recommend a soaking time of 20 minutes to enable the cleanser to adhere to the embedded dirt.
After waiting the recommended time for the cleanser to soak, it is time to rinse the deck. It is important to not let the cleanser soak too long, as this can cause damage to the wood. When first engaging the trigger of the pressure washer, point it away from the deck, people and other objects. If the sprayer is pointed directly at the deck when first engaged, scarring on the deck surface can result.
Cleaning is typically started where the deck is adjacent to the house. Begin sweeping by starting from the edge, then sweep the sprayer out from the house and then back toward it, being careful to maintain a consistent distance between the nozzle tip and the deck to ensure an even result. A typical sweeping section might be about 3 feet wide. Once the first 3 foot section along the length of the house is completed, the next 3 foot strip can be begun.
A technique called “feathering” can be used to prevent lines from appearing between two sweeping sections. To do this, make sure the second sweep overlaps the first sweep, working with the grain or length of the board. An alternative to the sweeping technique is the long sweep, whereby you walk the entire length of a board, making sure to hold the nozzle at a consistent length from the surface. It will typically take a few sweeps to complete one board in this manner. After the whole deck has been washed, allow it to dry for 24 hours, and then re-inspect. Imperfections that were invisible when the deck is wet may appear, and it may be necessary to re-clean some areas.
The wood deck, especially made from fabricated or composite wood, is an affordable option for homeowners. Wood planks or beams are used to construct walkways, stairways, and wraparound porches for houses built above the ground. For example, wood decking can provide a wraparound porch to cover the crawl space under the house.
According to a survey by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), a wood deck should have a life expectancy of about 20 years. For wood decks located in dry areas, the lifetime of the wood deck may extend up to 25 years. In southern climates, the lifetime of the wood deck is considerably shorter (10 to 15 years). In the North, the lifetime of the wood deck is 20 to 30 years. If your home is located in Maryland or Virginia, therefore you should expect a life expectancy somewhere between 10 years and 20 years, but it will depend on the amount of humidity in your local climate.
Your wood deck’s long-term sustainability also has to do with the quality of the manufacturing process that was used to prepare the wood materials for the deck.
When you consider deck restoration, you may not feel qualified to estimate the condition of the wood deck. How many years of use have you gotten out of it? How much time have you spent cleaning, sealing, and restoring the deck to its original condition? Especially if you have taken over a home without this information, you can benefit from consulting a deck restoration expert. Your well-qualified Virginia deck restoration or Maryland deck restoration expert will provide an estimate so you know exactly what you will have to pay before agreeing to the job.
Please complete our online form to request an estimate or schedule an appointment.
Alternatively you may call Carlton directly at 301-906-4446
Having your deck properly cleaned and sealed is essential to its longevity. Cleaning and sealing a deck should not be a one time thing; it needs to be done every couple of years. Most professional deck cleaning companies will offer a deck maintenance program so that your wood deck looks good all the time and lasts for years to come. In this article we will answer some common questions home owners have pertaining to deck maintenance.
How soon can I have my new deck cleaned and sealed? Many people have heard that you should let your deck “dry out” for a year prior to cleaning and sealing it. This is a myth and the truth be told, most of the damage is done to your deck in the first 6 months or so.
After 12 months the wood can be split and cracked from water damage and will have turned gray from the suns damaging UV rays. At this point it isn’t too late to have it cleaned and protected but the sooner the better.
Is it possible to restore a deck that has aged? Depending on the situation an older deck can be brought back to life. As long as the boards aren’t too warped or rotted, getting rid of all the gray dead wood fibers is not a problem. Some sanding may be necessary before it is sealed and your deck contractor may offer those services also.
Even if there is some structural damage a deck contractor could probably do some repairs for you before having it cleaned and sealed. A quality deck cleaning contractor should be able to make an assessment of your deck before attempting to restore it, that way you know what to expect.
Can I clean and seal my own deck? It is possible for a do-it-yourselfer to restore their own deck but I recommend they have some knowledge of the chemicals used and experience in using a pressure washing unit. Wood is actually very soft and when hit with too much water pressure it can easily be marked and scarred. Some people don’t realize all the skill and know how that is essential in restoring a deck properly and will sometimes get a friend are family member to do it for them.
Again I don’t recommend letting anyone lacking the experience to touch your deck. When a wooden deck is cleaned and sealed improperly it will only cost you more money to have it fixed and done right the next time.
Can I just seal my deck without washing it? The answer to this question is NO, not if you want the sealer to penetrate properly and last. The number one reason a sealer fails is because the wood was not prepared properly. Even a very expensive sealer is not going to do its job unless the wood has been prepped correctly.
Special chemicals need to be used to remove dead fibers, dirt, mildew and other pollutants and it all has to be cleaned using low water pressure so the wood isn’t damaged. In some cases a deck sealer stripper is used to remove an old failing sealer, it is important to remove all traces of old sealers so the new sealer can adhere to the wood.
More times than not, most sealers will not adhere to each other and some sealers won’t even adhere to itself after a certain amount of time. Contractors using the proper stripping technique will depend heavily on their chemicals to do the work so the right amount of low pressure can be used.
After the cleaning or stripping process a neutralizing step is then needed. The reason for this is because the cleaner or stripper used is considered a caustic and will leave the wood with a high PH level. Deck sealer does not adhere well or properly in this situation. A neutralizer is sprayed on the wood to lower the PH and leave the wood more acidic so the sealer will protect and last a couple years like expected.
Deck restoration and maintenance is a wonderful service when done right, it saves you money by protecting your added living space. Please understand that not all deck cleaning companies have the proper knowledge, just like any industry there are the unethical companies out there just trying to make a buck, so be sure to ask the contractor what his methods and techniques are so you can get the service you expect.
Learn more about deck cleaning and proper deck maintenance at Midwest Pro Wash or contact Shane Hester at WebFirstCreations to get your own construction website .
Deck restoration will help you to maintain the investment you’ve made in your home. Your deck is an outdoor extension of your house, providing you the space to both relax and entertain friends. A knowledgeable Deck Cleaning Professional can restore your decks beauty, while applying a protective finish, which will more than double the lifetime of an untreated deck.
Replacing your deck may cost as much as twenty-times the amount of restoring an existing serviceable deck, and the longer you put off having your deck restoration, the more damage weather can do. Mother nature works day and night, 365 days per year, to destroy your decks integrity. The sun’s UV rays break down the fiber in the wood, leaving your deck vulnerable to further degeneration, even as the damp underside of your deck provides a near-perfect environment for mold, mildew, and fungi to quickly spread. So why wait until your deck loses it’s natural color, or begins to decay and fall apart – when treating it promptly can eliminate these problems?
Hiring a licensed/insured Deck Cleaning Specialist, guarantees the best results in maintaining your deck’s appeal and safety for many years to come. Their careful use of pressure washing equipment, along with scrub brushes and hard work; should give your deck a clean, new look. Then by using a preservation product such as high-end penetrating stain, formulated with non-drying oils; your deck should hold up to the harshest weather. Reapplication every 2-3 years is necessary to maintain maximum protection and beauty.