Get you deck in shape for summer

Date:12 October 2013 Tags:, ,

Q: Every summer we have several large family braais and as a result our pressure-treated deck is, basically, trashed. It’s covered in grease stains, muddy footprints and mouldy leaves. Can you help me get it back to good health?

A: Before you clean, make repairs. Replace splintered and rotted parts, and sand down any rough spots. Be sure to use stainless-steel or weatherproof fasteners, not drywall screws or plain steel fasteners, which rust. If you haven’t checked your deck for structural soundness, now is a good time. For detailed guidance, download the Deck Evaluation Checklist from the North American Deck and Railing Association (

Grab the family and get to work. Protect adjacent surfaces with dropcloths or sheet plastic taped in place, and use a broom, leaf blower and putty knife to remove debris from the deck’s surface and between individual deck boards. Wash the deck with a cleaner formulated for exterior wood. Rust stains and tannin stains from leaves, berries and nuts are among the toughest to remove from a deck, and cleaners that contain chlorine bleach can make them worse. Instead, use a cleaner containing oxalic acid (wood bleach). In most cases, apply it with a paint roller, paintbrush or garden sprayer. Scrub heavily soiled areas with a deck brush; for really stubborn grease stains, apply a water-rinsable degreaser, and let it sit for a few hours first.

Rinse the deck thoroughly with a garden hose or a low-power pressure washer. The procedure is much the same if you’re removing a finish, but you apply a finish remover formulated for decks. Whether cleaning or stripping finishes, don’t overdo it. If the wood begins to look pulpy as you clean or pressure-wash, you’re going at it with too much force.

After the deck has dried thoroughly, apply a clear water-repellent finish that contains an antifungal agent. A well-sealed deck resists stains from fallen leaves and nuts.

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