Summer brings about the season of outdoor entertaining with family, friends and neighbors. Many families gather nightly on their decking to eat dinner or sip their coffee over the morning paper. Some homeowners use their deck to invite neighbors over for a good conversation or sit and oversee their playing children. Many homeowners host parties on hot summer days long into warm summer nights – you guessed it – on their deckings. Decks always seem to be in use when the weather is right. Over the long fall and winter, families, friends and neighbors tend to opt for entertaining, socializing and relaxing indoors. Due to the lack of use and inclement weather, decks tend to become dirty. Just like many other things – out of sight, out of mind.
Spring brings on that itch to get outside and enjoy the great outdoor weather and all your decking has to offer. Unfortunately setting foot onto your deck for the first time in spring, dirt, debris and leftover stains from last summer stare stubbornly right back at you. This means only one thing – it’s time for spring cleaning. Cleaning wood decks of dirt and debris along with some old stains and maybe a burn mark or two is necessary to restore your decking to a visually pleasing extension of your home.
Home owners build their wood decks out of many types of wood with some of the most popular being treated lumber, cedar and redwood. Regardless of the type of wood used to build the decking, cleaning and stain removal methods remain the same.
Preparing to Clean the Deck
Remove all furniture, toys, barbecue grills and fire pits to gain access to the entire decking surface.
Pick up any large pieces of debris and dispose of them.
Sweep the surface of the deck with a stiff bristled push broom.
Washing the Deck
Fill a bucket with water and add a capful of laundry detergent.
Spray the decking boards with a garden hose, wetting the entire surface. Begin in the center of the deck and allow the water to push dirt and debris off the sides of the wood-decking.
Dip the stiff bristle broom into the soapy water and scrub the wood-deck. Begin at the edge of the wood-deck that meets the house and work toward the front of the wood-deck.
Rinse the wood-deck thoroughly with the water from the garden hose.
Let the wood-deck dry.
After the wood-deck is dry, walk the length of each board looking for stains.
Removing Burn Marks and Stains from a Deck
Surface Only Burn Marks
Wet the burn mark with a garden hose.
Squirt a little grease fighting liquid dish soap onto the burn mark.
Wet a stiff bristle nylon scrub brush and scrub the burn mark vigorously.
Rinse the wood-deck thoroughly to remove all soapy residue.
Let the decking dry.
Wrap a piece of 120 grit sandpaper around a sanding block. Rub the burn mark while following the wood grain direction until you reach raw wood.
Sweep up the saw dust.
Deep Burns on a wood-deck
Place a butt chisel at a low angle to the burn mark. Gently tap the handle of the butt chisel with a wood mallet to remove a thin layer of the burn mark. Continue to hold the butt chisel at a low angle to the burn mark and tapping it with the wood mallet until you’ve shaved away all of the charred wood and you reach raw wood.
Dip a thin paintbrush into a can of penetrating wood sealant. Brush a coat of the sealer over the chiseled out area. Let the penetrating wood sealer dry for at least four to five hours.
Mix equal amounts of each of the two components of two part epoxy repair putty on a disposable plate. Scoop up the repair putty and press it forcefully into the divot in the decking in a thin layer. Continue to add epoxy putty until you build it up just slight higher than the surface of the wood-deck.
Let the putty dry and set.
Wrap 120 grit sandpaper around a sanding block and sand the epoxy repair putty surface until it is even with the decking surface.
Clean Grease, Stains, Kids Chalk Stains and Unknown Stains for Decks
Spray plants, flowers, trees, hedges and shrubs with a garden hose to thoroughly saturate the plants and the ground.
Place plastic sheeting over all of the flowers, shrubs and tree trunks to protect them from the cleaner.
Apply Thompson’s or Zinsser’s deck cleaner and brighter to the stains with a nylon scrub brush. Let the cleaner remain on the stains for three to five minutes.
Mix the Thompson’s or Zinsser’s deck cleaner and brightener with water. Pour the mixture into a pump sprayer.
Spray the rest of the deck surface with the mixture from the pump sprayer.
Allow the cleaner and brightener to remain on the surface of the decking following the manufacturer’s instructions.
Rinse the deck cleaner and brightener off the deck, directing the cleaning residue off the deck and away from any plants if possible.
Deck Cleaning Tips
If you use a cleaner and brightener – make sure you apply it over the whole deck after you’ve treated the stains. If you don’t you will have spots on the deck that look brighter than the rest of the deck.
After the deck is completely dry, apply a penetrating wood sealer to all wood parts of the deck. Wood sealers help to protect the deck from stains and help to protect the deck from changing weather conditions.
Use protective heat mats under barbecue grills and fire pits to help protect the deck from burn marks.
Clean up all food spills and splatters as soon as they happen to keep the stains from sinking into the wood. If the stain sits on the wood it will penetrate into the fibers making it more difficult to remove stains later.
Always read the safety precautions on the deck cleaner and brightener to determine what type of protective gear you need to wear.