About Geoff Godfrey

Dirty Decking? Tips To Keep Your Deck And Rails Delightful

by Erik Evans

From washing windows and painting shutters to staining a fence and cleaning gutters, the challenges of maintaining your home are easy to see. Unfortunately, many homeowners are not placing enough time and effort on their outdoor living areas. Considering a traditional wood deck offers you an 80 percent return, the addition is a great investment. However, without proper cleaning and maintenance, your outdoor living space will lose appeal, value, and function.

If your wood deck offers aluminum accents, you may notice a powdery, chalk-like substance on the surface. This powder coating is part of the aluminum's natural aging process. Although unappealing, the chalky residue is easy to remove.  Using this guide on cleaning tips, you can clean and maintain your wood deck and aluminum accents.

Washing 101

To prevent heavy buildup on your deck and  aluminum accents, consider washing once per year. A pressure washer offers an efficient and effective cleanup. Be sure to choose the right PSI, or Pounds per Square Inch, to protect the stain from discoloring and wood from splintering. A medium-duty washer offers between 2,000 to 3,000 PSI, which is sufficient for a yearly cleaning. Before washing, combine the following ingredients in an outdoor sprayer to remove residue from the surfaces:

  • 3 gallons of warm water
  • 4 cups of baking soda

Mix and spray a thick layer on your wood surfaces. Allow to sit for 20 minutes. Holding your sprayer nozzle at an angle, rinse with your pressure washer in sweeping motions.

To wash the metal accents and aluminum rails, fill a bucket with 2 gallons of water. Add 3 cups of gentle laundry detergent and mix. Soak a soft sponge or cloth in the bucket before washing each section of aluminum. Avoid using sponges with scrubbing pads since this will scratch your aluminum. After washing, rinse off the excess soap with your garden hose.

Got Mold?

If you live in a hot, moist climate, you may develop dark green or black patches of mold on your wood or aluminum. Mold is not only  unattractive, but it is also harmful to your health. To remove these toxic patches, consider a vinegar solution.

Although shocking to many people, vinegar contains acidic properties that are antibacterial and antiviral. While a strong and effective mold removal, it is actually safe for use around landscaping, pets, and your children. In spray bottle, combine the following:

  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 cups of white vinegar

Mix the bottle to shake before spraying on to areas with mold, mildew, or algae. Allow the solution to sit for 20 minutes before rinsing with your garden hose.

Deck Conditioning

Cleaning your deck is important, but conditioning is imperative for preventing damage from moisture and weathering. Applying a wood stain not only protects your deck, but can also update its look. Available in a variety of color and wood tone options, you can easily find a stain that suits your style and need. Of course, if you are applying stain for the first time, choose a stain that guarantees protection for 10 or more years.

Before applying your stain, be sure your wood is completely dry. In addition, be sure there is no rain or heavy wind gusts in the forecast. Working from one corner to the end, apply your wood stain. You can use a paint sprayer or a traditional sponge applicator on a long-handled tool. Allow the stain to dry overnight before conditioning your aluminum rails and accents.

Spend a bit of time and effort on your rails to maintain the natural beauty of aluminum. Since washing, you should not have any chalky residue on the aluminum, but the rails will benefit from a wax application. Apply a layer of auto-body wax to the rails using a soft applicator sponge.  This will bring back the original, shiny look of the aluminum, but also protect the rails from future discoloration.

Cleaning your wood deck and metal rails may seem like a tedious task. However, periodic cleaning and conditioning will protect your investment and ensure your deck remains delightful.