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How to Maintain a Deck

How to Maintain a Deck

How to Maintain A Deck


Failing to wash your deck at least once per year causes a buildup of pollen and other debris. This eventually leads to mold or mildew, and will eventually rot through the deck.

Begin by removing any debris caught between the deck boards. This can be done easily using a putty knife. To create an easy and inexpensive extension that will greatly assist in saving your knees, try pushing the handle of the putty knife into a 1-1/4in PVC pipe. Many putty knife handles fit perfectly. Another option is to buy a specially designed crevice cleaner.

After removing debris from the crevices between the deck boards, sweep the area and choose an appropriate cleanser. Be sure to follow the directions carefully. When cleaning your deck, avoid using bleach. Paper manufacturers use bleach to break down the component that holds wood fibers together. Excessive use of bleach will create the same results to a deck. When choosing a commercial deck cleanser, be sure to check the ingredients for sodium hypochlorite or calcium hypochlorite (the chemical names for bleach). Avoid “buffered bleach” as well.

If you decide to pressure wash your deck, a PSI of 500-600 is safest (especially for softer woods such as cedar or pine) though many professionals use a PSI of 1200-1500 for harder woods. Be aware that certain woods can take more pressure than other woods, and your power washer can quickly become a power etcher. A fan-tip is preferable but a rotating tip can be used carefully. Begin by pressing the trigger of the pressure washer 24” away from the deck, then gradually bringing it 6” to 12” closer.

Pressure washing removes the outer layer of dead wood as well as dirt and pollen that has adhered to its surface. Sometimes this causes the appearance of short, fuzzy hairs on the wood. This isn’t harmful, and the deck will return to normal within a few weeks. Sealer can also be applied over this. Instead of waiting, some people remove this fuzzy appearance with light sanding. Other people use bronze wool. Never scrub your deck with steel wool, as it will leave behind invisible steel particles. These particles will eventually leave rust spots as they oxidize.

A deck should be sealed approximately once every 1-2 years. A good test to see if a deck must be sealed is to throw a bit of water onto the deck. If it beads up, your deck still has a good seal. If it immediately soaks into the wood, an application of sealer is necessary. If you are using multiple containers of sealer to cover a large area, it’s best to mix them into a single container in order to ensure a uniform color (especially if some of the containers are older than the others). Pay attention to the weather reports, because you’ll want at least 2 days of clear skies and moderate temperatures. If your deck has gotten wet prior to staining/sealing, you’ll want an additional 1-2 days for your deck to dry prior to sealing/staining. From here, closely follow the directions on the sealer. Don’t allow the sealer to puddle, and remember that a couple thin coats are better than a single thick coat.

While the weather is warm and dry, it’s a good time to inspect your deck for signs of rot. Pay close attention to areas within 4” to 8” from the ground or around any kind of water source. It’s also a good idea to inspect your deck for any missing nails and screws that need to be replaced or maintained.

Begin by using a standard screwdriver to probe the posts and steps. If you can easily press the screwdriver at least ¼” into any area, there’s a good chance that the area contains rot. If the area of rot is no larger in a 2” diameter, it can be chiseled out and treated with a preservative for wood. A larger area will likely have to be replaced.

Next, you should inspect the framing that attaches the deck to the house. This is called the ledger. Nearly 9 out of 10 deck failures are caused by a damaged or rotted ledger. Deck boards should also be examined for rot and splitting/cracking.

If any of the hardware under the deck is rusted, replace them. Continue probing posts and joists underneath the deck for rot.

Check your railing by giving it a gentle shake to ensure that your posts are not loose. If screws/nails are loose, it may be necessary to remove them, sealing the area with an outdoor adhesive, drilling a new pilot hole, and replacing whatever was used as a fastener.

Timbertech Composite Decking

Floorizon, TwinFinish, ReliaBoard, DockSider, BuilderBoard, and Earthwood Evolutions:

Timbertech recommends cleaning periodically in order to maintain a like-new appearance. An eco-friendly cleaner such as Corte Clean is recommended (follow the manufacturer’s instructions). A power washer, with a fan-tip nozzle and maximum PSI of 1500, can also be used to clean Timbertech decks. To avoid damaging the product, spray in the direction of the grain pattern.


NEVER use rubber or vinyl products such as welcome mats, kiddie pools, planters, etc. on XLM planks as a reaction can cause discoloration of the decking.

Timbertech recommends power washing the deck boards using a maximum PSI of 3000 with a 25 degree fan-tip nozzle. Hold the power washer’s wand at approximately a 30 degree angle, spraying in the direction of the length of the plank. Only one deck board per pass should be sprayed for optimum results.

For areas with extra caked-on grime, a cleaner may be necessary. Timbertech recommends:
Original Krud Kutter Concentrated Cleaner Degreaser/Stain Remover
DeckMax Professional Grade Cleaner Concentrate

For more information on Timbertech deck maintenance, visit this link.

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