Annual Deep CleanSpring cleaning happens once a year – and this should include your deck. This space needs a deep cleanse and exfoliation at least once annually. Reapply protective sealant to protect the wood. This should be done when the weather is between 60 to 70 degrees. Fortunately, with LA’s climate, there will be plenty of opportunities for that. There are several deep cleaning solutions for decks available. These products also kill bacteria and mold.
A high-powered washer works in this scenario, but be careful not to overdo it. While it saves time and labor, it can create holes in the wood if not used properly. If this tool is not available to you, a regular garden hose with a “firehose” attachment also works.
Protect the ShrubberyBefore the high-powered cleanse, protect the plants! These cleaners and sealant products can have harmful chemicals. It would be awful to perfect the deck while killing the plants. To mitigate this, cover plants with plastic or tarp. Keep this loose enough that air still circulates.
Use the Right ProductsBefore throwing sealant or cleaner on the deck, do the research. You cannot use just any product on these materials. For example, never use chlorine bleach. This is especially important for wooden decks. Bleach on a wooden deck will strip the wood of color and damage the cellular structure. If you are unsure what is safe to use, contact your deck installation company for recommendations.
Sand Before SealingOne important rule of deck ownership is to sand before sealing. This helps with the deck drying process. Lightly sand the deck to take away fuzzy or splintery patches made from washing it. This should be a very light sand, possible using just 80-grit sandpaper. Power sanders would sand too much. After this, seal the deck. This protects against cupping, cracking, and warping. Clear sealer lasts the longest. A tinted sealant or stain will fade with foot traffic.
Paint should not be used as a sealant. It looks nice, but not for long. If that paint fades and you decide to refinish the deck, you will have to sand it all off. Paint finishes only leave a film and do not penetrate the wood. This means the lacquer and varnish will eventually peel and crack. There are also oil-based sealants that should be avoided since they attract algae and mildew. With the sun in mind, a semi-transparent finish will protect against sun damage and add some color.
Clean RegularlyThat deep cleaning should not be the only time the deck is getting some TLC. Your actual living room is protected by four walls. This is not the same for your outdoor living room. An uncovered deck will take all of the LA sun, rain, and wind. You can prevent water damage by sweeping away leaves, branches, water puddles, and other debris. Even after treatment, wooden decks and composite decks still need to be cleaned regularly.
If you have an outdoor grilling area on the deck, do not let grease stain it. Clean the grease trap regularly and often. Grease stains are often the hardest stains to remove.