Once a year you should consider giving your wood deck a deep clean. During this time, usually in the spring, you should also treat your deck to help protect it throughout the year. Adding and maintaining that protective coating will keep your deck looking brand new, and most importantly, keep your deck protected.
Thoroughly Cleaning and Preparing Your Deck
When it comes to preparing your deck for sealant, paint, or stain, you want to do a much deeper clean to prep the wood compared to when you’re just doing your annual deck cleaning.
Declutter the Area: Make sure any furniture and decorations are cleared away to make cleaning easier and more efficient. You will also want to move any plants, possibly even cover nearby plants, that could be affected by cleaners you might use. You’ll want to clear any large pieces of debris or dirt off the surface of the deck, as well as between the boards. This is preparation for actually cleaning and scrubbing the deck with a proper outdoor cleaner.
Prepare Your Deck: Getting all of the previous stain off of the deck before applying anything new is crucial to making sure the new treatment you’re applying is being absorbed and adhered to the surface of your deck. Power washing your deck during this process is an option. Take precautions to make sure you are doing so properly, because you could potentially damage your deck by power washing. After cleaning your deck, you’ll want to sand it with a palm sander to further assure there is no residual topical treatments still on the surface, as well as create a clean smooth surface that will make it easier for your new treatment to absorb into the wood and go on evenly.
Sealer, Paint, or Stain?: Paint isn’t a good option due to the fact that the wood doesn’t absorb the paint. This is crucial in the paint’s longevity, because if the paint is not being absorbed into the wood it will crack and flake when the wood flexes from temperature changes. These flexes in the wood will also promote pockets for moisture to pool and become trapped within the wood, which contributes to wood rot. Sealer and stain doesn’t trap moisture like paint does, because it absorbs into the wood and still allows the wood to breathe, so to speak. This is the largest factor in what makes a good quality sealer or stain the best option.
You should annually clean your deck at least once every year, and you should apply a new topical treatment to your deck every 2 to 3 years to further ensure your deck stays protected and lasts as long as possible.