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It's often easier to write about the importance of regular home maintenance than to live it. I'm as guilty as the next person for letting things slide and waiting until the last minute to clean them up. Case in point: our back deck.

Weathered wood is certainly attractive for an old-timey cabin look, but when it's not deliberate, that graying patina just looks unkempt. Because it had been so long since we last cleaned our deck, we weren't sure what we would find in power-washing it. So we opted to coat it with a tint to a) cover up potential blemishes, and b) to buy us a little more time between cleanings because, clearly, this is an issue for us. (The more pigment the stain has, the longer it will last because it's blocking more of the sun's rays from reaching the wood.) Plus, it allowed the natural grain to still show through, which was a nonnegotiable as far as my husband was concerned.

When the grime was removed, I almost wished we had opted for a clear coat because of how pretty the wood shone after a good bath. But the end result looks just as good. I think we might have gotten off lucky that there weren’t serious issues with the integrity of the deck and the wood because of how long we had waited between cleanings. Dirt and leaf buildup can wreak havoc on decking materials, so most professional recommend maintenance at least once a year.

Of course, a deck that is surrounded by trees, with leaves and sap dripping on it, will probably need to be cleaned more frequently. Add in the additional shade of such trees, and you’re dealing with a wetter deck more prone to moisture issues such as mold or mildew, which may require monthly or bimonthly washing. Use the correct products for each application as well; if your deck is constructed from composite wood, it may not be able to handle the pressure of a power washer.


A clean deck is an inviting deck, too, and I’m hoping it cools down a bit more so it’s more comfortable to use ours (which will hopefully remind me to clean it again next year). Do you have any helpful deck tips to share?

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Comment by Whitney Richardson on July 23, 2012 at 10:34am

Thanks for the additional suggestions. And Denny: Definitely a doctored photo (courtesy of Sherwin Williams). But a good illustration nonetheless of what a good rinse and color can do for a deck, I think.

Comment by John Duke on July 17, 2012 at 10:41pm

I don't have a deck now, but I have had good success in the past with OxiClean to get rid of the dirt and grime on decking before any other treatment. OxiClean is much gentler on the environment than other products, and is inexpensive to boot. Try an Internet search for "oxiclean deck" to find some helpful techniques and videos. Oxiclean is great for a wide variety of cleaning chores -- it is worth looking into.


Comment by Denny Johnson on July 17, 2012 at 9:29am

We put a coat of Sashco Transformation on our new deck this spring. It really does make a difference and allows the wood grain to show through so nicely. It's not a lot of fun to maintain a deck but considering all the time and money invested in building it, cleaning, sealing and staining it regularly only makes sense. So, was this picture doctored in Photoshop or did you really stain it this way for a test?

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