Help Your Deck Spring Back Into Action

JimGrant J

Make a Clean Slate

With springtime right around the corner, thoughts turn to those seasonal tasks every homeowner should tackle to make the rest of the season all the more enjoyable. For many, it’s the perfect time to get the deck cleaned and refinished. Taking a moment now to make sure your deck continues to serve your family well can save on more costly repairs later.

Proper surface preparation is extremely important when restoring a deck. Even the best finish coat will look bad if applied to a dirty, poorly prepared surface.

Check the integrity of the deck coating. If the coating is not beading water or severely deteriorated, it’s best to remove the coating and start with a fresh surface.

Heavy-duty wood cleaners work best to remove coatings. Look for a cleaner that contains sodium metsilicate or sodium percarbonate. Apply with a sprayer for optimum results.

After applying the cleaner, scrub the surface with a medium-bristle brush before doing a final rinse with a low-pressure stream (no more then 1,200 psi) from a power washer. It is important to let the cleaner do the work and use the pressure washer sparingly and carefully, as it can do damage to wood if not properly used.

After the old coating is removed, apply a wood brightener to the surface. I like an oxalic-based brightener to restore wood color. This brightener will remove most common wood stains including tannin and rust stains. Rinse the surface thoroughly after any chemicals are applied. 

If your deck is simply discolored, a wood brightener, deck-brush scrubbing and carefully controlled pressure washing will prepare the surface for a new coating.

As with any commercial products, read directions carefully and follow all safety precautions. Be sure to check with local ordinances concerning runoff water, as it may be necessary to capture it in some localities.

If the existing coating is intact but faded and you know which coating was previously used, you can simply apply the wood brightener and clean the deck. You may apply a compatible finish right over the old finish after cleaning. Always test a small, inconspicuous area prior to coating the whole deck.

A light cleaning and reapplication can take a few hours on a 300-square-foot deck. After the surface is clean and dry, it is the perfect time to do any repairs, including replacing bad lumber or sanding boards that may be splintered. We always do a brief deck inspection after cleaning, looking for decayed joists, ledgers or posts. This is also the time to reset any nails that may have worked themselves loose over the years or add oversize deck screws to some boards.

Using the right wood cleaners, brighteners and exterior finishes can restore even severely discolored wood to a like-new condition.

Jim Grant, owner
San Diego Power Wash
6442 University Ave.
San Diego, CA 92115

Look for tips on protecting and finishing your deck next week.

Categories: Gardening