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How to Clean and Maintain a Wood Deck

To prolong the life of your wooden deck and preserve its beauty, cleaning and maintenance tasks should be performed on an annual basis. In the spring, you should clean and seal your deck to help prevent breakdown and damage to your deck, while keeping it looking great. Neglecting to care for your deck every year can greatly reduce the functionality, possibly causing you to need to replace the deck many years before you would otherwise have to.

Materials to Have on Hand for Cleaning and Maintenance

To ensure you are not in the middle of cleaning and missing something you need, it is ideal to have the following items on hand before you begin the cleaning and maintenance process for your deck:

  • Broom and dust pan or other receptacle for debris
  • Power washer (optional, recommended if deck needs serious cleaning)
  • Hammer and nails
  • Sealant of your choice
  • Drop cloths to protect surrounding surfaces
  • Paint buckets, brushes, and pans
  • Rough sand paper (optional, required if sanding is necessary)

Cleaning Your Deck

Before you can start to seal your deck, you need to make sure it is thoroughly cleaned, free of dirt and debris. Start by removing all furniture and other large items from the deck. Sweep the deck to remove things such as pine needles, leaves, and other dirt. If the deck still appears dirty, or looks grey in color, it may be best to power wash it.

If you do not have one readily available, these can usually be rented from a local construction equipment rental company, or from a local home improvement store. If your deck is made of cedar, power wash with care, because the cedar is a softer wood. Cedar will typically turn silver with age, which is what most people who choose the wood want.

Inspect the Surface of the Deck and Make Repairs

Look carefully for damaged boards, broken nails, and areas where splintering or splitting is occurring. If the boards are damaged, consider replacing them before moving forward with the sealant. If there are any broken nails, replace them. If there is significant splintering, sand the surface of the deck until it is smooth.


Select and Apply Your Sealant

Choose a sealant for your deck that is recommended for the weather conditions in your area. Certain types of wood require or work better with certain types of sealants, and certain sealants are required if you live in area with extreme weather conditions such as a lot of moisture or a lot of sun. As sealants are also available in a wide variety of colors, it is a good idea to speak with a retail store employee to learn more about which one will work best for your deck based on what you need and what you want while still maintaining a budget.

Sweep the deck one more time before applying the sealant according to the directions paying close attention to any dirt or debris that may be hiding in between the boards. If you power-washed the deck, it should be completely dry before sealant is applied. If necessary, allow a coat to fully dry and cure before applying a second.

Most decks are easily cleaned and sealed on a weekend, so it can be a fun home improvement project. To get the best result and extend your deck’s lifespan the most, do not rush through any of the steps, making sure to read and follow all directions provided with the power washer and sealant.

(2) Comments

  1. BuildDirect Product Expert Team

    Hi Tracy. Thanks for getting in touch with us! The best thing to use to clean composite decking for mold and mildew would be a light degreaser. You can use something as simple as dish soap, but you have to make sure that whatever you’re using does not contain any corrosive chemicals in it. Please let me know if you have any other questions!

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