How to Maintain and Care for Your Deck
We recommend one thorough cleaning every spring and fall. By sticking with a regular cleaning schedule, your deck should keep that same new look for years.One of the best things you can do for your deck, no matter what type of decking you have, is blow or sweep the leaves and other fall debris off at least weekly. If that stuff builds up it can get stuck between the deck boards and cause issues with water draining off the deck. And if you let little clumps of leaves stick around to long, they could eventually discolor your deck.
Vinyl Decking & Railing
The easiest of all deck surfaces to maintain. You should be able to keep your deck & railing fairly clean by pressure washing it a few times a year. When you do use a pressure washer, make sure you keep the pressure around 1500 psi and you won't have any issues. If you need more than just a pressure washing, you can use any of the numerous deck cleaners available at your local Hardware store. Or use my favorite heavy duty cleaner for vinyl decking, Chomp Pro Gutter Cleaner. It is available on Amazon in spray bottles or 1/2 gallon containers. You can use it as a spot cleaner or as a whole deck cleaner. Spray the Chomp Pro across the deck floor evenly, brush it in with a stiff bristled brush, both with the grain and against the grain. I usually spray about 5 boards at a time so the Chomp Pro doesn't dry before I brush it in. Throughly rinse the deck when done applying the Chomp Pro, and wipe it dry with cloth towels.
For your Railing, any household cleaner will work great on it. Mr. Clean magic erasers are by far the most convenient method I have found yet.
For isolated stains, try to start using soap and water and stiff brush. If that doesn’t work try using a mild household cleaner such as Spray Nine or Fantastick. If it’s a really stubborn stain- we’ve used WD 40 and that got it right off. If you have roofing tar, grease, or any other tar/grease stain, try using Mineral Spirits on it. With all these cleaners, we recommend testing a small inconspicous area first. Also make sure you thoroughly rinse the cleaners off the deck immediately.
For set-in stains and rust, first try the basic deck cleaners in combination with a pressure wash. If the stain is stubborn, you may want to use a toilet bowl cleaner with phosphoric acid as it's main ingredient. With any of these cleaners, make sure you thoroughly rinse the deck imediately after use.
If you have any issues with a chalky, white haze appearing on your vinyl deck after a few years. This is a common problem called oxidization, it is caused by the UV rays from the sun reacting with the plastics in the Vinyl Decking. The good news is, a product has been created that will easily restore your deck back to like new condition. It is called Deck Max E2, and is only available on their website. They will send out instructions for applying it with each order. They also make handy wipes for getting that same haze off your railing.
Composite Decking & Railing
Compared to maintaining a wood deck, a composite deck should be fairly easy. I would reccomend cleaning it thouroughly at least once a year with something like Corte Clean. Follow their instructions for application and this will keep your deck looking it's best. For any kind of spills on the deck, it is best to clean the affected area immediately with hot soapy water, and rinse it thoroughly. The key is to get to it right away, if spills sit on the deck for any amount of time, they can stain the deck boards. If this happens you can try using any mild household cleaner and a stiff bristled brush. Always consult the manufacturer's website for a list of cleaners to use.
If you get any kind of mild scratches on the deck surface from dragging furniture etc. You can easily use a wire brush to sort of smooth out the scratches. Brush with the grain pattern on the boards, (never go across the grain), slowly increasing pressure untill the brush marks match the grain pattern.
Power Washing can save a lot of elbow grease and time! Just make sure you are using a fan tip on the nozzle, not a staight tip. And keep the tip of the nozzle about 6 inches away from the deck floor. Be careful, especially if your deck is older. Composite decking will soften over time, if you use to much pressure, and/or get the nozzle too close to the decking it will damage the boards.
Wood Decking & Railing
All the Pressure Treated wood we use to build our decks is already kiln-dried. So there is no need to wait any amount of time to stain your new deck. However if your deck was built with lumber that wasn't kiln-dried, we would reccomend waiting at least 6 months for the wood to dry out some. After the intial treatment, you will need to power wash and reapply stain every few years at least. Just how often, depends on how much exposure your deck gets, and how nice you want to keep it.
If you went with a hardwood deck like Ipe or Cumaru, your decision may be a bit more complicated. You will want to wait at least a year to do anything to it. Because of how dense the wood is, it won't allow the stain to absorb into it very well, which means it will wear off the surface quickly. Some people stain their deck every couple years during the first 10 years or so. Other people will let the wood wether naturally for 5-10 years before applying anything, The wood will weather and turn a shade of gray over time, however it can be power washed, and easily returned to it's original brown color. Over time the weathering and power washing will open the pores of the wood, and allow stain to absorb well into it. This will ensure that you get your money's worth out of the stain, instead of it wearing off quickly. We don't know that one way or another is better in the long run, it is simply a matter of preference.
Winter Deck Care
You won’t really damage our deck if you leave a few inches of snow on there-especially with our Mid Atlantic Winters where the snow will melt in a short time. If you have significant build up on your deck, you are wise to shovel it off, just like you would your roof. If you want to remove snow and ice from your deck, be mindful not to chip the surface with a shovel and never use an ice pick. A plastic shovel is safer than a metal one. Ice melt or rock salt are both safe to use on your deck- but just like your concrete- use in moderation so as not to cause any pitting or discoloration. "As soon as the ice melt has done its trick sweep it off right away- so it doesn’t pit the material. Oh- and run shovel in the same direction of your planks so to reduce any scuffs."
Owner John says, “The biggest reason I think folks opt for a synthetic deck is the low maintenance. With a wood deck, you’ll have to treat it every 2 years with a water sealant then with a stain. Follow our advice above on how to give your deck a real thorough cleaning, then start with the water sealant followed up with the stain.
Some special advice from Decks R Us on your Deck:
Make sure your furniture or anything you put on the deck has little feet. If your furniture gets bumped moved around it will scratch the floor. Cheaper furniture may start rusting faster. And the bad thing it will actually rust right where the furniture hits the deck- and show up on the deck. But find the rust culprit! Check any metal furniture for the cause of your rust. Repaint any metal furniture-especially underneath and the bottom.
“Use some felt/stick tape on the bottoms of your furniture to prevent scratching and maybe treat the furniture with Rustoleum.”
A common deck problem: mold or algae.
If you have potted plants on your deck- which is the best way to dress up your deck- consider raising the plants up off your deck by at least a few inches-like with a plant stand or a metal riser. How to clean a deck with algae/mold stains, make your own cleaning solution of household bleach, water, a brush and a little elbow grease. Mix a solution of 2 cups bleach and 4 cups water. Use a brush with the solution to wash away the algae. Wear rubber gloves, and rinse the area thoroughly after you're finished.
If your grill is on your deck, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure- put some kind of grill mat under it so any drippings don’t fall directly onto your deck. Just remember not to use any mats that have a rubber or plastic backing on them, as that will cause reactions with any PVC decking.