How to Clean and Finish a Wood Deck
By: Danny Lipford
Since wood sun decks receive constant abuse from the elements, they require periodic cleaning and refinishing to protect them and keep them looking their best.
Start by applying deck cleaner to all the surfaces of the deck and railing using a pump up sprayer. Cleaners often contain strong chemicals, so be sure to read the warning on the container and protect your eyes and skin from contact.
After allowing the cleaner to work for the recommended period of time, a pressure washer is used to clean the deck. Pressure washers deliver a concentrated blast of water at anywhere from 1,000 to 3,500 pounds per square inch and may be purchased or rented at home improvement centers or rental stores.
Use care when pressure washing your deck and don’t overdo it. Pausing for too long in one spot or holding the nozzle too close to the surface can actually damage the wood. For large open areas, a deck scrubber attachment can make pressure washing even easier.
After the deck has been cleaned, it’s time to perform any necessary repairs. Wood movement caused by exposure to the sun and rain can cause nails to work their way out of the board, so drive any protruding nails flush with the surface or replace them with deck screws. Repair or replace any badly deteriorated boards and use a sander to smooth rough spots—especially railings—to prevent splinters.
Once the deck has dried thoroughly, refinish it with a tinted deck stain or clear sealer. Deck stains come in solid colors to hide the grain of the wood and semitransparent shades that allow the wood grain to show through. Since stains and sealers are much thinner than paint, they can be applied using a pump up sprayer as well.
After spraying an area, go back over it with a paintbrush while the sealer is still wet to work it into the cracks and spread the finish out evenly.
If you maintain your wood deck regularly, you’ll be rewarded with many years of service and enjoyment.