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Over time and without protection, your wood deck will start to look gray and old. The graying is caused by the weather and ultraviolet light damaging the wood’s fibers. Since your wood deck is constantly exposed to the elements, the wood’s natural and man made protections will begin to wear away. And having pressure treated lumber does not exempt you from not having to clean and treat your wood deck. Although having a pressure treated deck does protect you from most insects and water rot, it will not protect your deck against mold and mildew and will certainly not protect you from harmful UV rays.

How to Clean Your DeckThe down side to deck care is that there is no one-size-fits-all answer. The best way to clean and protect your deck depends on several variables. What kind of wood is the deck made of? What kind of deck coating have you used before? Do you want a very natural wood look or would you like to add more color? Carefully assessing your deck’s condition, knowing what needs to be fixed, and knowing how you want your deck to look, goes a long way toward a smooth and satisfactory job.

A good time to clean, restore, beautify and protect your deck is before you put everything out on the deck in the spring. But you can do it anytime the weather is good and it will extend the life of your deck for years. This is a three step process; clean, remove stains, refinish. While every deck needs individual attention, there’s some basic information that’s simple and straightforward.

Here are some tips:

SAFETY FIRST… Protect your body from any splashes which may occur while working with cleaners and waterproofers. A long sleeved shirt, long pants and closed toe shoes work for clothing – I just use my old “painting” duds that I don’t mind getting dirty. Then add rubber gloves, safety goggles, maybe an old hat, and you’ll be in business. Anything nearby you want to protect, like plants or other surfaces, should also be protected. Spray them with water and cover with a plastic sheet. As soon as you’re done with the job you’ll want to pull the plastic off and spray the plants down again to dilute and neutralize any of the cleaner they might have come in contact with.

How to Clean Your Deck1. Clean the deck thoroughly to remove embedded dirt, mildew stains and weathered gray surface wood with a formulated deck cleaner like Wolman DeckBrite or DEFY Wood Cleaner. It restores outdoor wood to its natural beauty without bleaching or yellowing and removes invisible surface barriers, like the mill glaze on new wood, which can prevent the adhesion of protective coatings and stains.

How to Clean Your Deck2. Strip any deteriorating or unwanted finish. If the finish on your deck has seen better days, or if you want a different look, use a product like Wolman DeckStrip Stain & Finish Remover. It removes both oil and latex stains and clear finishes and prepares the wood for your new finish or stain. Deckstrip works fast, and can strip years of multiple coatings buildup in 15 minutes.

3. Once the wood is cleaned and restored, beautify and protect it with a water-repellent finish. You may want to apply a semitransparent stain, like Wolman DuraStain, or a rich transparent oil finish, like Wolman F&P or DEFY Wood Brightener, to enhance the beauty of your deck. How to Clean Your DeckBut even if you decide not to stain, it’s important to protect it with a clear water repellent. Water repellents stop spring showers from penetrating the wood surface, which can cause swelling, shrinking, warping and cracking. If the wood is already aged and dry you should go for straight linseed oil, which is also the cheapest solution. Depending on your solar exposure and elevation you may consider a product that is mostly linseed with a UV inhibitor. You may also want to consider water repellents, including Wolman RainCoat, which also contain a mildewcide that will impede the growth of mildew on your deck during the warm months of summer. ColorGuard is another oil based semi-transparent sealer and stain in one. It is a unique blend of resin, pigment, oil, and algicide that penetrates deeply into wood to protect and preserve it from the elements.

The good news is that keeping your deck in good condition can amount to no more than an afternoon or two every couple of years, depending on climate factors and the type of products you use. (Of course, this excludes regular sweeping and hosing to remove dirt and leaves.)

Decks play an important role in outdoor living, so protecting your deck and your investment in it is very important. It will enhance the enjoyment of your outdoor living space all summer.

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