deck refinishing

The Benefits of Professional Soft Washing or Low Pressure Cleaning


No damage to the surface be cleaned.

Uniform cleaning with the use of cleaners specific to the surface and dirt type.


None for the home owner.

For Carlton Cleans we spend 3-4 times longer cleaning than most competitors. Over all we do not mind. It allows us to keep every customer happy and provide properly executed scope of work.

Carlton Cleans provides exterior house wash, deck repairs/refinishing, patio and composite cleaning, commercial building and concrete cleaning, construction equipment cleaning and we provide hot water cleaning. Also, we have rigs with water tanks than can bring water to remote sites.

We do not use a pressure washer in deck refinishing or roof cleaning. We use garden hose pressure to apply cleaners and rinsing.


Deck Refinishing Techniques

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.

Cabot Australian Timber Oil

Cabot ATO is a fast drying oil that will flash easily including on soft woods. Flashing is when the stain dries creating a shining finish prior to all the stain penetrating into the deck. Always take clean rags and wipe the entire deck to remove non-penetrated stain after the deck is stained prior to finishing for the day. If the deck is large you may need to do this in stages.  Carlton Cleans prefers to use conditioning oil stains like Armstrong Clark which will not flash and will penetrate completely into the deck even if it takes a few hrs.  On hard wood decks Cabot is a fine choice  but stills need to be ragged the same day as application. If Armstrong Clark is used on hard wood decks come back the next morning and rag the excess stain. Call Carlton Cleans for quality deck refinishing at 301-904-4446.

So You Want to do DIY Deck Cleaning?

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.

Proper Deck Cleaning and Sealing

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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.

A professional deck restoration company can take moisture readings in the wood and let you know for sure when your deck is ready to be sealed. Usually within 1-3 days, depending on the climate and location of the deck, it will be ready for a proper cleaning and some deck sealer.

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 .

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