Q&A / 

Deck Cleaning Instructions

Watch How Tim
Cleans a Deck!

Cincinnati, OH (March - 2017)
Getting Started

Cleaning a deck is simple if you have the right tools and don't mind getting a tad bit dirty. I prefer to clean wood decks using hand tools to eliminate the possibility of hurting the wood. Gather a bucket, a standard pump sprayer, a scrub brush on a pole, a toilet brush, bottle brush, or hand scrub brush, a measuring cup and some oxygen bleach and water.

Applying the Solution

I have just poured some oxygen bleach onto the deck. Look how it is beginning to foam up. In the center of the photo you can start to see the natural color of the wood appear. I made this happen by scrubbing the area very lightly with the brush just to show you how quickly the oxygen bleach can work.

Even though it works quickly, I still prefer to let the oxygen bleach work on its own for 10 - 15 minutes. The millions of oxygen ions really do a fantastic job of cleaning on their own.

Before I clean the deck surface, I like to spray down the railing system. To do this in a most efficient way, I use a traditional hand pump sprayer. The trick is to make sure you have waited the 5 or 10 minutes for the oxygen bleach powder to dissolve. If you don't the powder can clog the tip of the sprayer and cause you fits.

Spray Away!

Use the sprayer to apply the oxygen bleach solution. It doesn't make a difference where you start. The trick is to apply a generous amount. You do not want the solution to evaporate. If the deck or railing surface is hot, then you will have to pay attention. Windy conditions will also accelerate evaporation.

Note how the railings are not as grey as the deck surface. They will not require as much work as the decking. Be sure to adjust the sprayer tip so it creates a heavy mist, not a direct stream. Light hand pressure on the sprayer handle prevents waste.

The solution will readily run off the vertical railing system so you will need to make repeated passes to keep the wood wet. If you can get a person to help you, it would be ideal. One person can spray while the other person begins to scrub. The oxygen bleach will not hurt surrounding vegetation. If you do have tender plants and some overspray gets on them, just rinse the plants with water to give you additional peace of mind.

Time for the Decking!

Now it is time to apply the oxygen bleach to the decking. You can pour it onto the wood surface, use the pump sprayer, or dip the scrub brush into the bucket. The choice is yours. Do whatever it easier for you. Just make sure that the deck surface is really wet. If the wood is in bad shape, the solution may soak into the wood requiring you to add more solution.

As you can see, I have already dipped the brush into the solution several times and the previously snow white oxygen bleach solution is a yucky green. This is caused by the algae that has been transferred from the deck into the bucket by the brush.

Look at how the oxygen bleach foams up when it contacts the dirty, weather-beaten wood. This foaming action begins within seconds of contact. This tells you that the solution is doing its job.

I don't like to use pressure washers on wood decks. The intense pressure erodes the light colored spring wood that is in between the dark colored bands of summer wood. This deck was pressure washed last fall by the homeowner and he ruined the hand rail and several of the deck boards.

Scrub Lightly!

Once the oxygen bleach has worked its magic it is time to lightly scrub the wood surfaces. This mechanical action helps to lift wood fibers that have been blasted loose by the UV rays. The scrubbing also lifts all traces of dirt, algae and mildew.

I like to use a toilet brush for the wood railings. It fits nicely in between the pickets. Remember, you don't have to scrub hard. You just want to loosen dirt and grime.

A scrub brush on a pole does a swell job for the flat decking and any other surface where you can make it work. The top surface of the handrail can often be cleaned this way. There is no need to get on your hands and knees. If you own a push broom with stiff bristles, try it. Be sure to get in between decking boards. A small brush may be necessary here.

Rinsing the deck is simple. Grab your garden hose. If it has a good nozzle feel free to use it. Standard nozzle pressure will not harm wood like a pressure washer. It is important to rinse the deck and rail system thoroughly.

Look how green the oxygen bleach scum is! This deck was very dirty. It actually required two cleanings. Once it was rinsed the first time, I saw dirt and algae that was still left in some deep cracks. I also feel the homeowner might have sealed in some dirt and algae when the deck was sealed last fall. The second cleaning was much easier to do than the first one.

The completed job. The deck looks beautiful. Look at how the natural color of the wood has been restored. oxygen bleach is the only way to clean a deck in my opinion. The job took a total of four man hours from start to finish. Once the deck dries it will be time to put on the Defy deck sealer.

NOTE FROM TIM CARTER - Founder of AsktheBuilder.com - posted October, 2016: I no longer would apply Defy deck sealer to any exterior wood that I own at my own home.

EB015 Cleaning & Sealing Deck Cover

Column B354


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