Spring is in the air, which means it’s a perfect time to spruce up your decking. The first step is giving it a blooming good clean in time for the good weather to come around. The first in our series of how to keep your decking looking tip-top, in this week’s blog we tell you about some of the best ways to clean your decking while keeping it free of marks or damage.
Getting Started On That Dirt And Grime
Before you get cracking, make sure you’ve got the area set up to do it. That means removing potted plants, patio furniture, and anything else you don’t want liberally getting sprayed with a hose. Pick up all the large bits of rubbish and debris with your hands or gloves, then put your best broom to work getting rid of the remaining nitty-gritty stuff like soil, gravel or plant/leaf debris. When the surface is all clear, use a slender brush (some recommend a putty knife) to get what you can out from the gaps in between the boards
That takes care of your decking boards – when it comes to the railings and balustrades, there probably won’t be as much loose debris hanging around on them, but they might also require a light dusting with a brush all the same. It’s best to do the railings first by the way, as anything you sweep off them will obviously fall straight onto the boards. This might be irritating if you’ve just spent ten minutes getting dirt out from in between them.
Washing Down Your Decking
Now get ready to give your deck a good old jet washing. When it comes to this bit, you’ve basically got two options: hose or pressure wash. Whichever one you choose, it’s always best to make sure it’s something smaller than 1500psi, with a wide fan jet. Be methodical about it, following the grain from one end to the other and finish by using the hose to clean any remaining debris between the boards that you couldn’t get with the putty knife.
You can also use a concentrated jet to focus on particularly dirty spots, but if it’s too high or powerful it’ll gouge the wood so use your judgement. If in doubt, work your way up from the lower settings rather than starting on the higher ones – this way you can be sure it’s only ever as powerful as it needs to be. Even then, don’t do it too up close; leave a little space between the nozzle and the deck, just to be on the extra safe side. With the balustrades, gently wash them with the spray setting then use a scrub brush to gently clean them. You can also use specially formulated wood decking agents just for the purpose. An alternative is oxygen bleach, which we’ll get onto in just a moment.
Cleansing And Bleaching Your Softwood Decking – Very Carefully
Once you’ve rinsed down your decking boards with the hose or pressure washer, there are a few ways to go from there. One is by cleansing it with a solution of sudsy water using a laundry detergent. You can use a long handled brush or your trusty broom to gently scrub it in, leave it for a short time, then use the garden hose or pressure washer to rinse it again.
If you’ve spotted any algae or mildew anywhere, another viable option is bleaching it. Obviously, this needs a steady hand and a careful eye – two things, incidentally, that you should make sure to protect when handling it. Use gloves to keep the bleach off your hands, especially if you’ve got delicate skin, and exercise caution with it. Use a solution that’s 1 part bleach, 4 parts water, and pour it onto the growth. If it looks new, you can leave it for about five minutes or so, but if it looks like it might have been there a while then fifteen minutes might be a better idea. Then promptly scrub it with the brush or broom. If the algae refuses to go away, repeat the process carefully each time until it’s completely gone. When that’s done, thoroughly rinse your decking again and allow it to dry.
And that’s it! It looks like a lot, but that’s because we’ve accounted for just about everything. You might only need the core steps, depending on the state of your decking. Look out for our blog next week, when we’ll be talking about the various methods to seal your decking boards.
In the meantime, feel free to visit one of our stores in Blackpool, Wigan or Preston, and our staff will only be too happy to help. Alternatively, you can call 0345 0268 799 for a quick bit of help and advice over the phone.