Deck Washing & Staining

Decks are subjected to a variety of weather conditions — from bright sunshine to rain, ice and hail. Foot traffic, spills and outside furniture pulled across deck boards compound the abuse. Over time, wooden deck boards turn gray, stains seem and even mildew shows up. Despite the wear, a comprehensive cleaning and a small stain or clear finish can bring decks back nearly to their original luster.


Before tackling cleanup tasks, take a while to make a few repairs to deck boards. Screws or nails poking up are hazards, and they also make the job of washing and staining that considerably more difficult. Hammer or push them back into position, and have a look for any boards which are damaged. Catch the tip of a screwdriver as suspect boards. If the screwdriver sinks easily into the wood, the board has rotted and must be replaced.


Clean decking with a power washer set to about 1,000 pounds per square inch and also fitted with a fan nozzle. Blast away the dirt on top of the boards and between them. Those gaps between deck boards help shed water, but they also tend to accumulate dirt, leaves and other debris. If the decking developed mildew spots, clean it with a nonchlorine bleach and water mixture or with a bleach-based deck cleaner available from home centers. Scrub the solution into spots, then rinse thoroughly. Whether electricity washing or cleaning mildew, allow the deck to dry for a few days before taking another cleaning step.

Remove the Gray

Ultraviolet light turns wood gray within a quick period of time. Typically, the gray is only a surface issue which you are able to eliminate an oxalic acid product. This compound also removes stains caused by seat legs, spilled liquids and other problems. Utilize this option into the deck a section at one time, and rinse thoroughly before continuing on to another section.

Stains and Finishes

When the deck is clean, it is possible to protect the surface with either a transparent stain that allows the natural wood grain to show through or with a stain which tints the wood to the color you desire. Whichever product you choose, make sure it contains UV inhibitors to slow down the graying process. Choose a stain or wax which repels water or even one which provides a watertight finish coat. The combination of UV water and aspirin resistance helps guard the deck boards from just two of its worst foes.

Safety Precautions

Take some opportunity to read the instructions with each substance you use to wash deck boards as well as with finishes and stains. Mix them as advised in the instructions, and pay particular attention to the safety precautions. Some chemicals can cause irritation or burns to exposed skin and also to the eyes. If you have plants nearby, cover them with plastic to prevent exposure to harsh solutions when rinsing cleaners from deck boards.

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