May is almost here, and that means it's time to open the deck for the season. But before you invite people over for the Memorial Day barbecue, you'll probably need to bring your deck back to life after the winter.
Before you start any deck project, I highly recommend downloading my free e-book, "Deck Care Fast & Easy" at the bottom of the home page on my website, www.masterhandyman.com. It is an easy way to learn all you can, help you plan out your deck maintenance project and achieve results you can brag about.
When it comes to deck maintenance, one thing I never suggest is using a power washer to clean it. If you don't use a power washer properly, you can seriously damage both composite and wood decks.
If you have a composite deck, you were willing to pay a premium to avoid the hassles of stripping and re-staining a wood deck every few years. But while composite decks require much less maintenance, they aren't maintenance-free. However, they are much easier to clean and maintain than a wood deck.
Generally, all you need to do is clean your composite deck using a soft-bristled brush with a multipurpose cleaner such as Krud Kutter, www.krudkutter.com; or SuperDeck Wood and Composite Deck Cleaner, www.superdeck.com. If you have stubborn water spots or leaf stains, you can use a deck brightener such as Wolman's DeckBrite, www.wolman.com, or Benjamin Moore's CLEAN, www.benjaminmoore.com to get rid of these stains.
Unfortunately, composite decks are susceptible to certain types of mold, which can look like black spots. To get rid of it, you can use a product such as Olympic Premium Deck Cleaner, www.olympic.com; Expert Chemical's Composite Deck Cleaner and Enhancer, www.expertchemicalinc.com; or a dual-purpose system such as UltraMean Mold Stain Remover and UltraBan Mold Barrier from Rhino Hide,www.rhinohide.com. You also can use Composite Cleaner from Corte-Clean, www.corteclean.com, if you want a more eco-friendly cleaner.
If your composite deck is older, you might notice the color has faded over time. This is because of its wood flour content. To bring the color back to life, you actually can stain your composite deck with a product such as Penofin's Knotwood Oil Finish, www.penofin.com, Sherwin Williams Deckscapes, www.sherwinwilliams.com or Behr's Premium Solid Color Wood Stain, www.behr.com.
While composite decks are becoming more popular, many people still have a wood deck they need to clean and maintain. If your wood deck is in good shape and you previously used a penetrating oil stain on it, a good cleaning might be all you need to do to bring it back to life. Using one of the deck brighteners previously mentioned usually can do the trick without having to re-stain it.
If it has been a few years since you stained the deck, you might need to strip it and re-stain it. Fortunately, today's paint and stain strippers are much more environmentally friendly than in the past. Behr's Premium Stain and Finish Stripper No. 64; Penofin Pro-Tech Stripper; Cabot Problem-Solver Wood Stripper, www.cabotstain.com; and CitriStrip from W.M. Barr, www.citristrip.com are some good products to use for stripping your deck.
Once you have stripped off the old stain, you have a lot of choices for new stains, including clears, semi-transparent, semi-solid and solid colors. Deciding which one to use depends on the age and condition of the deck. If you have a newer deck and want to show the wood grain, you should choose either a clear or semi-transparent. If your deck is worn and you want to hide the wear, or you want to match the color with your brick or siding, solid stains would be the best choice.
Manufacturers such as Benjamin Moore, Behr, Cabot, Penofin, Sikkens (www.sikkens.com) and TWP (www.twpstain.com) all make excellent deck stains. If you are looking to refurbish the look of an older deck, two products you might want to consider include GacoShield from Gaco, www.gacoretail.com, and Deck Restore from Synta, www.synta.com.
Follow these directions, and your deck won't end up being a four-letter word that lives in the backyard.
If you would like to suggest a question, email email@example.com. If you want to talk to Glenn Haege personally, call his “Handyman Show” on WJR-AM (760) at (866) ASK GLENN, (866) 275-4536 between noon and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The “Handyman Show” can be heard on more than 130 radio stations nationwide.
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