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Leave No Stone Unturned: Cleaning Timber Decking

Posted January 21, 2023 by Mike Lewis under Tips

Leave No Stone Unturned: Cleaning Timber Decking


As a homeowner with a timber deck, keeping it looking its best can feel like a monumental task. Proper cleaning and maintenance is essential for your deck’s longevity and appearance. In this article, I aim to leave no stone unturned when it comes to comprehensively covering how to clean timber decking.

Assessing the Current Condition of the Deck

Before beginning the cleaning process, it’s important to assess the current condition of the deck. This allows you to identify any problem areas that may need extra attention.

Check for Mold, Mildew, and Algae Growth

Damp, shaded areas of the deck are prone to mold, mildew and algae growth. Check under railings, behind planters and in corners. Black spots and green film indicate fungal growth that needs removing.

Look for Splitting and Cracked Boards

Inspect the deck boards for any cracking, splintering or splitting of the wood. This can create an uneven surface and allow dirt and moisture to penetrate the boards.

Identify Weathering and Discoloration

Over time, sun exposure and weather can cause graying and discoloration of the deck boards. This may require more intense cleaning methods.

Check for Nail Popping

Nails popping up out of the deck boards present a tripping hazard. Hammer them back into place before cleaning.

Gathering the Right Cleaning Tools and Products

Having the proper equipment makes washing the deck much easier. Here are the must-have tools:

  • Pressure washer – Has the power to remove dirt and debris from between boards.

  • Stiff bristle broom – For sweeping away leaves, dirt and debris.

  • Wood brightener – Removes discoloration and weathering from deck boards.

  • Bleach solution – Kills mold, mildew and algae.

  • Deck stain/sealer – Protects and beautifies the freshly cleaned deck.

Preparing the Deck for Cleaning

Before bringing out the power washer, some preparatory steps will make cleaning more effective:

Clear the Deck of Furniture and Decor

Removing all furniture, planters, wind chimes and other decor from the deck provides complete access for cleaning.

Sweep Away Debris

Give the deck boards a thorough sweep with a stiff broom to clear away dirt, leaves, twigs and other debris. Dispose of the sweepings.

Wet Down the Boards

Use a regular garden hose to lightly pre-rinse and wet down the entire deck. This prevents the wood from drying out during pressure washing.

Pressure Washing Tips and Techniques

Pressure washing provides a deep clean by blasting away grime lodged between boards. Here are some useful techniques:

Work in Sections

Divide the deck into sections to clean one area thoroughly before moving onto the next. Overlap sections slightly.

Adjust Nozzle and Pressure

Use the widest fan nozzle and lowest pressure needed to avoid damaging the wood. Test on an inconspicuous spot first.

Go With the Grain

When power washing, always go with the direction of the wood grain. Going across the grain can lead to scratching and damage of the deck boards.

Remove Stains and Discoloration

For weathered, discolored areas, use a deck brightener as instructed before power washing. This helps return the wood to its natural color.

Kill Mold and Mildew

Apply bleach solution to fungal infected areas and allow it to sit for 10 minutes before power washing. This kills the organisms. Rinse thoroughly.

Finishing Touches After Cleaning

After the main cleaning process, a few finishing touches protect the deck and keep it looking pristine:

Allow the Deck to Dry Completely

Let the deck dry out completely over 24-48 hours before applying any protective sealant.

Make Any Necessary Repairs

Replace cracked boards, loose nails/screws, warped boards, etc. for safety and appearance.

Apply Deck Sealer

Use a water-repellent wood sealant made for decks. This protects against moisture, mold and sun damage. Apply as directed.

Inspect and Admire Your Clean Deck

Walk around the deck and admire your hard work! Your timber deck will look like new again.

Maintaining a Clean Deck Year-Round

Regular maintenance keeps a deck looking fresh between deep cleans:

  • Sweep frequently to prevent debris, dirt and leaves from accumulating.

  • Periodically hose down the deck to remove pollen, dust and bird droppings.

  • Re-apply deck sealer each year or as directed on the product.

  • Inspect monthly for any new cracking or damage to address promptly.

  • Keep furniture, planters and decor organized to simplify cleaning access.

  • Check for plant overgrowth, mildew and other environmental factors and remedy quickly when found.

With proper diligent care, your timber deck will stay clean, inviting and Insta-worthy all year long!

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