Remember when your backyard deck was first installed several years ago? It looked so bright and inviting. Now, though, it looks dingy from our hot Florida sun combined with heavy rains of the past few years. There are a few bugs stuck to it, and you can even see some faint stains where palms fronds sat for a while after that last tropical storm, not to mention the barbecue grease near the grill. It’s time to renew it by putting a new coat of stain or maybe a nice coat of paint on and sealing the surface.
Preparing the Wood is the First Step
The best way to clean your deck is through pressure washing. However, performing the job is more than just a matter of turning on the machine and pointing the nozzle at the wood. You should either use a wood cleaner or a stain stripper to remove deck stain and thus prepare the surface for cleaning.
Deciding which to use is pretty straightforward. If you have a deck that hasn’t been cleaned in quite a few years with wood that is grubby and greying, you simply need a wood cleaner. Follow instruction from the deck manufacturer on which type of wood cleaner to use. The solution will be sufficient to remove most dirt, mildew stains and algae. For more heavy-duty cleaning, you’ll need the stain stripper, which will break up any remaining stain and make it easier to remove. It will also remove dirt and organisms, so you don’t need to use cleaner afterwards.
If using a cleaning solution, apply it with the pressure washer’s soaping nozzle and then scrub the surface with a soft bristle brush. Apply stain stripper with a paintbrush and wait 15 minutes before eliminating the residue with a scraper followed by pressure washing. Do not let the stripper dry on the surface.
Cleaning the Deck
Use the lowest possible setting for pressure washing the deck. Soft woods like cedar or pine need light pressure of only about 500 to 600 psi. Harder woods can withstand a pressure of 1,200 to 1,500 psi. Select a fan or a rotating tip to do the job. Start from about two feet away and gradually move closer if required, but never get closer than 12 inches (ca. 30 cm) unless you’re working at lower pressure. Generally, working the spray from about 18 inches (ca. 46 cm) away will do the trick.
Start in an area that would be easy to repair or replace if you made a mistake, such as a stair tread instead of a deck board. Once you know you have selected the proper pressure setting, work from the area closest to the house outward. Keep a consistent distance and work with the grain of the wood. Use a feathering technique, which means you overlap your passes to ensure that you remove as much of the cleaner as possible. Take particular care when you get to the corners as the debris, cleaner and water can only go outward toward you. Concentrate on moving the debris first, and then go back to clean.
Apply a Brightener
For best results, apply a wood brightener immediately after power washing the deck. This step is an integral part of revitalizing your deck as it lowers the pH of the wood and allows it to breathe, thereby making it more accepting of the stain. Brightener also enhances the beauty of the wood grain. Let the brightener sit for 20 minutes before rinsing it off. In some instances, you may also need to sand your deck, especially if cleaning has resulted in raised wood fibers.
Time for Deck Staining
Now that you’ve thoroughly cleaned the deck and it looks a lot better, it’s time to apply the stain. Hold on a minute, you can’t do it just yet.
It’s tempting to want to stain your deck immediately after pressure washing it. After all, it’s a beautiful day, and you just want to finish the job. However, if you stain your wooden deck while it is still wet or even damp, you’ll run into a lot of problems. Stain won’t adhere well to wet wood, if at all. Thus, how long after power washing should you wait before applying the stain?
Many experts recommend that you wait a minimum of 48 hours, but time length is applicable only under perfect circumstances. Clearwater weather rarely poses ideal drying conditions in the summer months because of the high humidity in our climate. Staining during the cooler months seems to be a better option. Now, the 48-hour recommendation also poses another consideration too. The deck needs to be entirely in the sun, and chances are you’ll have some areas that are in the shade or receive less direct sunlight than other areas. To help the process along, you can squeegee the water off the deck or place towels on rags on the surface for a short amount of time to absorb the excess water and let the remaining air-dry.
DPI Pressure Washing recommends you wait 72 hours following cleaning to stain your deck. If it rains on one of the days afterwards, you’ll have to wait again, but it will be worth it. Another option that you have is to cover your deck with plastic tarp if rain is imminent following cleaning. Expect some moisture to be trapped under the tarp from the humidity and thus leave the wood to dry after removing the tarp again. Always inspect the wood before staining it. If you see moisture or some swellings still apparent in the fibers, wait another day or two.
Remember that staining a wet deck will result in an uneven finish at best. It can also result in the stain flaking off, requiring you to do the entire job again in another year. Try to stain your deck on a dry, warm day with a favorable weather forecast for the following days to get the best results.
Yup, Renewing Your Deck is a Lot of Work
By now, you’re probably exhausted just reading about all that you’ll have to do to renew your deck. It sure is a lot of work. So possibly you might want some help and initiated a near me search to have someone do the pressure washing for you. DPI Pressure Washing has the equipment and experience you want when looking for a reliable contractor to thoroughly clean your deck as well as other areas of your home. Contact us today to get your free quote.
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Title photo by Francesca Tosolini on Unsplash
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Ella May + Luna Marie + Amelie Rose Munoz:
We like to help our Dad to promote his pressure washing and window cleaning business in Clearwater and Tampa Bay. Hope you enjoy this blog ;-).
Charlotta Munoz + kids