Cleaning a Wood Deck

Learn all about cleaning a wood deck, from what materials and equipment you'll need to how to avoid splintering.

Clean Wood Deck

Clean Wood Deck

Photo by: George Lama

George Lama

By: Sean McEvoy

A deck can add beauty and value to any outdoor living space, but cleaning a wood deck isn't high on anyone's "how to spend a leisurely afternoon" list. These simple tips will help you clean your wood deck as quickly, efficiently and safely as possible.

How to Refinish Your Deck

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Refinishing a Deck

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Determine Your Needs

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Sweep and Assess

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Select a Cleaning Solution

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Apply Cleaner

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Pressure Washing

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Controlling the Spray

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Repeat Cleaning Process, If Necessary

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Tap Down Exposed Nails

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Replacing Planks

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Selecting a Stain

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Apply Stain

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Corner, Gaps and Railings

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Solid Stain

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Leave an Escape Route

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Continued Maintenance

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The first thing to consider in terms of cleaning wood decks is a schedule. If your deck has heavy exposure to falling leaf debris, pollen or dust, you should probably sweep your deck once a week, and perform a full cleaning twice a year. If your deck stays relatively free of leaves and other debris, you can probably get away with cleaning it once a year.

After thoroughly sweeping the surface and all railing and stairs on your deck, you're ready to wash off any remaining dust and grime. The most efficient way to wash your deck is with a power washer. You can purchase one to keep at your home permanently (they can also be used to wash siding, driveways and walkways, so they can be a good investment), or rent one from most hardware or home improvement stores. Be sure to read the settings and affix the correct nozzle on any power washer before using it on your deck—too much pressure or the wrong nozzle can damage the wood and cause splintering or fraying.

If your deck has algae or mold areas, you will want to pre-treat these with the appropriate chemical components before washing your deck. Otherwise, they may wash off initially, but are likely to spring right back after a short time.

Once you've thoroughly power-washed your deck, you can brush on some deck cleaning solution (widely available), which will clean and help preserve the wood. Then, after a period of 24 hours for drying, you can apply any other stains or treatments to help weatherize and protect the deck's surface.

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