Power Washing a Deck – Get It Done – Ask THE Handyman St. Louis

power washingI’m thinking of refurbishing my deck.  Should I power wash it first, or use the deck cleaning products?  My house is in need as well.

Great question.  I am a believer in power washing.  If your deck has not been stained in about 2 years, power washing will get the dirt out like you won’t believe.  There are some that do not recommend power washing a deck, but I believe power washing will do a better job than the cleaners, with less effort.  However, it does take some practice to use a power washer.  You don’t want to use a spray nozzle with a tip that is less than 20 degrees spray.  If you do, it can scratch the wood and leave marks.  Use a wide spray, and after practice, you will get the feel.  Sometimes, you will need to have the nozzle closer than 12” to the wood, but as long as you are using a wide tip or spray, you shouldn’t have any trouble.  If you are planning on doing the work yourself, a power washer can be a good investment.  Just be sure to allow enough time to do the job correctly.

If your deck has mold on it, you may need to use a bleach solution.  Simply spray it on, let it sit for a few minutes, then power wash it off.  However, if you are power washing the vinyl siding of your home, and it has mold (usually on the North sides), do not let the bleach sit longer than 2 or 3 minutes.  If you do, it could discolor the siding.

The electric power washers are good, although generally not as powerful.  They are also much lighter if you should have to carry it.  I believe that you don’t have to buy the most expensive power washer, so do some research to see what is best for you.

After power washing your deck, be sure to let the deck dry for at least two days before applying a stain or sealer, and be sure to follow the directions of the stain manufacturer for the amount of time that is required afterwards where there won’t be any rain.

When power washing your home, a ladder may be needed.  If so, remember that the ladder will be wet, so use a great deal of caution.

Staining My Deck – Get It Done – Ask THE Handyman St Louis

StainI just moved in to a new home.  The deck apparently hasn’t been kept up to date as far as staining.  Is this something I can do myself?

Not only can you refresh your deck by yourself, you might even find it to be fun (well, maybe).  The first step in restoring the finish of a deck is to clean it.  There are a number of products available at the hardware stores and paint stores.  Basically, they combine cleaning agents and bleach.  A typical product requires spraying the liquid onto the deck, waiting a while, then brushing the deck and then rinsing.  For a deck which has not been cleaned  in a while, this process may have to be repeated.

An alternative to this would be to power wash the deck.  Power washers can be rented at some hardware stores, or a rental store that carries tools, ladders, etc.  This is where the fun happens, at least for me.  A few things to think about however: a power wash can be heavy, so you may need some help getting it into and out of your car; a power washer can damage wood and siding if you aren’t careful; be sure to use a tip on the wand which is suitable for decks.  It should have a 30 degree spread or more.  If the spread is lower than that, it can easily mark up your deck beyond a quick repair.  Please allow yourself plenty of time for this project.  Power washing a medium size deck can take all day.  Add more time for stairs, posts, and the outside portions.

Start in an area that won’t readily be seen, so that you can get the hang of it, and be sure to start by holding the wand about a foot off of the decking.  Once you get the feel of it, you can get the wand closer to the wood and the cleaning will go more quickly.  Take your time and be sure to achieve a uniform cleaning.  You will immediately see the dirt being removed from the wood.  In many cases, the color of new cedar wood will come through.  However, be aware that power washing will not take off any stain that was applied.  Therefore, when restaining the deck, you should go with a similar color of stain.

Once the deck is clean, you should wait for at least three days for the deck to dry.  I recommend talking with the experts where you buy your stain.  They will help you with a brush and roller and all the supplies you might need to apply the stain.  If by chance you have a patio below your deck, it would be a good idea to cover it with plastic, as the stain can drip down between the boards if you aren’t careful.  While staining, try to stain only an area that will let you follow the deck board continually until the end.  In other words, start with one or two boards and keep staining these boards until they end, rather than going across on several boards, then coming back and continuing.  This way, you won’t have areas on the boards that get two coats of stain, which will show when you’re done.

This next step is important.  As soon as your deck is dry (about 2 or 3 days), have a Bar-b-que with some friends so that they can see what a great job you did.

When to Stain a New Deck – Ask THE Handyman St. Louis – GET IT DONE!

I had a new cedar deck built this spring.  Is it too late to get it stained?

Congratulations on your new deck.  I hope you have been enjoying it!

Although it is close to the time when you will not want to stain the deck (under 40 degrees overnight), there is something else to consider.    Before cedar (and treated wood as well) should be stained or painted, it needs to “weather” for a while.  In other words, it needs to dry out.  Usually, a 3 month wait is recommended.  As a side note, I have never been able to get an answer to the following: if only the top part of a board is sealed, why can’t the boards “weather” from the bottom, where there is no stain or sealer?  If anyone can answer this, I’d love to know.

However, if you want to keep the new color and not let it start to turn grey, there is something that you can do.  Flood makes a product called “Seasonite” that can be applied to new wood.  Although it doesn’t give protection to the wood like a sealer, it does prevent it from turning color.  This means that in the spring, after the deck has weathered, you will be able to stain it, without having to do a lot of power washing or deck cleaning.

The product goes on just like a stain or sealer, so you can apply it by brush and roller, stain pad, or if you have the right equipment, sprayer.  However, if you are not an expert with a sprayer, I would not recommend using it for this.  You would be amazed how many decks I’ve seen stained with sprayers and the stain is all over the siding.  As well, if you have a patio under your deck, laying plastic on the patio is a recommended practice.

There are other products like Seasonite, just be sure to read the label and ask a professional any questions.  And remember, check the minimum temperature for the stain or sealer before applying this fall.


Get It Done

Ask THE Handyman St. Louis