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How to Clean and Preserve a Deck

by Andrea Sparks

Outdoor furniture on a backyard deck

A wood deck is a beautiful addition to any yard. It looks great and is the perfect place to set up some patio furniture and enjoy the outdoors. Decks, however, require some upkeep to keep them from deteriorating over time. Read the following tips about cleaning and preserving decks to learn how to take care of your own.

Preserving Your Wood Deck:

  1. Sealing: One of the most important steps in preserving a deck is to seal the wood. Not all decks require sealing, but most will need to be sealed and resealed several times throughout their lifetimes. The softer the wood is, the more susceptible it is to weathering. An easy way to determine if your deck needs to be sealed or resealed is to pour some water on it. If the water beads on top, you do not need to seal the deck. If the water soaks in, however, you'll want to apply a sealer to the wood.

  2. Sweeping: The easiest way to keep your deck clean and preserved is to sweep it frequently. Dirt and sand can work their way into the wood grain, causing splitting and deterioration, while leaves can leave stains and even mold growth. Keep your deck clear of dirt and debris by sweeping at least once a week, or more if needed, with a coarse-bristled broom. Use a coarse scrubbing brush to remove mud or coarse sediment from the wood.

  3. Using cleaner: Using a gentle deck cleaner can help you get a deeper clean and is often helpful before you seal or stain the deck, especially if you are resealing it after a few years. Cleaning liquid will typically permeate an inch or two deep into the wood to give a deeper clean that basic sweeping and washing. Apply a cleaner and scrub with a scrubbing brush to remove dirt and mold growth. Hose off the deck when you're finished and allow the wood to dry completely before applying any stains or sealers.

  4. Repairing cracks and nails: After time, cracks and chips will appear in the wood and nails will often come loose. This exposes areas of the wood to the elements, causing the deck to deteriorate much quicker. Protect your deck by filling cracks, sanding chips and resealing the areas to prevent further damage. You'll also want to check for loose nails, screws and other hardware that need to be tightened. Prevent as much future damage as possible by learning about the best outdoor furniture for your deck.

  5. Removing mold stains: In humid climates, wood decks are often susceptible to mold and mildew growth that can damage the wood. To remove mold and mildew stains, soak the area for several hours to let water and a mild cleaner permeate the wood. Scrub the area with a course brush to remove all mold spores from the wood. If scrubbing doesn't remove everything or if mold reappears, sand the area and then re-stain and reseal it.

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