how to clean deckPrepping a wood deck can be fairly easy if you have the proper cleaners. Never pressure wash a deck with just water. This can cause sever damage to the wood. It is okay to use a pressure washer at a low pressure as long as you utilize a deck cleaner. The cleaner will do most of the work making it easier and reducing the chance of any damage to the wood.

How to deck cleaning tips:

  1. First decide if you should be using a deck cleaner or a stain stripper. Typically a deck cleaner is used if the wood is new, dirty, oxidized gray, of if a previous stain has faded evenly. A stain stripper should be used if the old stain has failed unevenly or peeled. In addition if you decide to change brands it might be best to use a stain stripper.
  2. There are many different brands of deck cleaners. We suggest using the same brand as the wood stain if possible. See here for a full list of Deck Cleaners
  3. Remove all furniture off the deck so that it is at least 20 feet away.
  4. Following the manufacturer instructions, mix the cleaner to the proper ratio. Best to apply the cleaner with a pump sprayer. You can also apply with a bucket and scrub brush.
  5. Saturate the deck with the cleaner in sections of about 200-300 square feet. Lightly agitate all wood with a stiff broom or scrub brush,
  6. Lightly pressure wash or heavy scrub all dirt and grime. Make sure to clean with the grain of the wood. Take extreme caution with the pressure washer. If using a pressure washer make sure to use a fan tip, not the red tip!
  7. Repeat until finished. Make sure that when you are done that you thoroughly rinse all decking, railings, house, etc to remove the loose dirt and grime that may have accumulated.
  8. Apply a wood brightener to neutralize the deck cleaner and restore the natural pH balance of the wood.
  9. Let the deck thoroughly dry for 48 hours before applying a deck stain.

If you have any questions on how to clean a deck please ask below. All questions are typically answered within a day.

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Comments   

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Use the TWP 1500 for this. Prep all first with the Restore A Deck Kits that we sell.
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what to do next
I have a 5 year pine deck. 2 years ago I used a water based stain that failed on the decking in the sun. The stairway is in the shade and still looks ok but a bit dirty.

Last year I stripped the deck and deck railing but it got cold before I could stain. Today sanded the deck and rails entirely. The deck looks fresh but rails look a bit dark.

So questions on my 2 areas:

First the deck and rails. ( Freshly sanded) Do I need to do anything else before I stain? I want to go oil based this time so it lasts longer. I live in Maryland. Deck is in the sun am to early afternoon. What oil based stain would do best?

Second the stairs: The stairs are in the shade and only look dirty at this point. I was thinking of redoing them entirely next year. ( yeah I am aware I may end up with slightly different colors but I have lots of projects to do and it will start getting real hot soon) What should I use to clean them?

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I am sorry but we do not have any stains for composite decking.
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I need to seal composit decking (EverGrain-Tamk o) Decking what to use??
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You will not leave footprints if you step in the first coat of stain. Make sure to not step in your second coat.

Do not use a borate.

If you use a stain stripper you do not need a cleaner.
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I would like to see the answer to Rod Weirick's question re: wet on wet. Also, I saw a demo from This Old House in which the fellow used Borate between cleaning and staining. If I'm using Defy Extreme Stain, is that recommended? Lastly, if I use a stain stripper on my deck, because I'm changing to Defy, does that handle all of the elements that the cleaner would (the deck is old, grayed, very green w/alphae with just a few traces of the previous stain, which was a latex, I think)?
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Excellent. I'll go with the TWP 1500. A final question: If I am to apply two coats wet on wet, how do I go about putting on the second coat (applying using a roller or pad) while the first coat is still wet? Surely my footprints will become evident on the first coat while applying the second, thereby compromising the appearance of the stain on the flooring.
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Olympic and Cabot used to be excellent stains prior to numerous formulas changes in the last years. Average at best now. I would stick with the TWP.
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Thank you for your previous response. I'm now on to deciding on the best products to use to clean and stain my deck. The man at Lowe's was defensive when I informed him that his store didn't carry the Internet's more popular semi-transparen t stain brands (i.e., Defy Extreme, TWP 1500, Armstrong Clark) and informed me that his use of Olympic on his own deck suited him well. The other product Lowe's carried that he recommended was Cabot. From what I've read, these two products are not up to par with those touted on the Internet. (Consumer Reports rated nine broadly marketed semi-transparen ts--including Olympic and Cabot--and only one product, Behr, received a rating above fair.) I'm therefore leaning toward Defy Extreme or TWP 1500. Do you agree with the Lowe's employee that Olympic or Cabot are as good as any stain product out there, and, if not, would you recommend the water-based Defy or the oil-based TWP? Thank you for your time.
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re: Novice with a new deck
Yes all new and older wood should be prepped with a deck cleaner and wood brightener.
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Novice with a new deck
First of all, great Web site. Second, I'm new at this. I live in Kansas and have a new deck that was built nearly 7 months ago. The wood is not pressure treated. I purchased a pressure washer and am trying to decide on the best brand of semi-transparen t stain. I was surprised by the comment above that one should never pressure wash a deck with just water. I've been conducting research on the Internet and have not come across this advice. I was simply going to lightly pressure wash the deck, let it dry for 72 hours, then stain it. Now I'm reading on your site that I need to clean the deck with more than just water and that I also need a wood brightener, which I thought was recommended only for decks that were older and had previously been stained. I was not aware until reading above that the brightener was necessary to neutralize the deck cleaner. I'm not lazy, but I'm trying to determine if it is necessary to use a cleaner and brightener for a new non-PT deck. I look forward to your feedback. Thanks.
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re: Some old - some new
New wood will not match old wood. Best to remove all previous coatings form the old boards then stain all the same color.
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Some old - some new
My husband just finished replacing some of the deck boards that were warped or shrunk. Now we have some new boards and some old boards. The older boards have been down for about 10 years and need to be restained. How do we go about restaining this deck with some old and some new boards?
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re: cleaning a deck.
You could try 1 part bleach to 5 parts water. Just apply then rinse after 10 minutes.
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cleaning a deck.
I rebuilt my deck last year and cleaned, brighten and stained/sealed it using Defy products last summer. Now I need to clean it of some mold. If I use the deck cleaner do I need to restain/seal it? Or is there something else I can use to clean the mold? I tried just a mild soap water and scrubbing but the mold will not come off. Thanks for your help
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re: One year into TWP 1501 question
The older products were discontinued by Gemini for the better Restore-A-Deck products.
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One year into TWP 1501 question
I have a low deck...second summer with TWP 1501, started seeing some mildew/mold. Use oxyclean and detergent mix to clean successfully. Some deck stain was removed in process...deck is lighter and not water repellent any more. Previously used Gemini Deck Maintain and Brightener, but can no longer find these products...does gemini no longer recommend or make these? The Restore-a-deck products seem to be pushed on all the TWP sites. On PT Pine full sun, would u recommend the RAD products or should i seek out the older products from gemini?
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re: How long should I wait and what method of cleaning is recommended for new deck
I would wait at least a month to let the PTP wood dry before staining. You would then need to use a deck cleaner (www.opwdecks.com/.../) and a deck brightener (www.opwdecks.com/.../) to prep the wood, remove the mill glaze and open the pores of the wood.

One Time will not live up to its claims and the warranty is not going to cover color retention. It is also known to turning black. We will not carry it because we do not believe in BS warranties/guar antees.
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How long should I wait and what method of cleaning is recommended for new deck
Just finished building my deck 2 days ago and have been researching stains. So far I like what I've found with One Time stain products. My question is with the preparation before applying. My deck is exposed to sun for basically the whole day, how long should I wait before even thinking about staining it and when it's time to stain it since it's new pressure treated pine is anything else needed done to it besides applying a deck cleaner and rinsing it off?
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re: Is powerwasher necessary?
Yes on new wood or lightly gray wood you can use a scrub brush and spray nozzle.
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Is powerwasher necessary?
On wood that is either new or not badly 'degraded', can you use a hose with spray nozzle instead of a powerwasher?

Thanks
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re: Does Messmer's make a brightener?
Messmers Part B (www.opwdecks.com/.../) is their brightener
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Does Messmer's make a brightener?
I use Messmer's Deck Cleaner. Do they make a brightener that you recommend?
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re: ipe deck
Any wood deck cleaner (www.opwdecks.com/.../) will work.

For the stain you might want to look at the Armstrong Clark (www.opwdecks.com/.../) in the Mahogany color.
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ipe deck
mom of 4 boys single parent - i have large ipe decks - i have oiled previously with Australian Timber Oil - 3 years ago. Decks no longer red - near to trees so covered in green grime and oil coming off - i have power washed but still needs to be cleaner. what would you recommend to clean so i can re oil - is the Aust Timber oil the best thing to use to oil once clean thanks???
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