How to Clean and Brighten a Wood Deck Before Sealing

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How to Clean and Brighten a Wood Deck Before Sealing

A backyard deck is a great place to spend time with family and friends during the warmer months. However, after a few seasons, your deck can start to look worn and like it can use a facelift. 

It’s recommended that you reseal your deck once every 1 to 2 years to keep it looking its best. Before you can do that, though, you need to prep your deck for resealing. This includes cleaning it thoroughly so the new sealant can better penetrate the wood. 

To clean and brighten your wood deck before resealing, follow these steps:

Step 1: Sweep the Deck

Sweep the deck

Start by sweeping your deck with a broom to loosen any dirt, leaves, or debris. Be sure to sweep in the direction of the grain to avoid damaging the wood.

Remove any furniture, plants, or other items from the deck before you begin sweeping. Set them aside in a safe place where they won’t get in the way.

Step 2: Wash Away Dirt and Debris

Wash away debris deck

Once you’ve finished sweeping, use a hose or pressure washer to remove any remaining dirt and debris. Hold the hose or pressure washer nozzle at least 6-12 inches away from the surface of the wood to avoid damaging it. 

If you’re using a pressure washer, start with the lowest setting. Then, work your way up to a higher setting if needed, but be careful not to use too much pressure.

Step 3: Apply a Cleaner

After removing all the dirt and debris, it’s time to apply a cleaner. You can use a commercial deck cleaner or make your own homemade deck cleaner.

Use a paint roller or brush to apply the cleaner to the deck’s surface. Wear gloves and other protective clothing while you work.

Let the cleaner sit on the deck for however long is recommended by the manufacturer or recipe. Then, rinse it off with a hose or pressure washer.

Step 4: Scrub Tough Areas

Scrub tough areas of wood deck

If there are any stubborn stains on your deck, you can remove them with a scrub brush while the cleaner is still on. You may need to use a power washer set to a low setting for tough stains. Once you’ve removed the stains, rinse the area with clean water.

Step 5: Brightening the Deck

After cleaning and rinsing the deck, you may notice it looks dull. To fix this, you can apply a wood brightener, which can be found at most hardware stores.

A wood brightener will lighten the color of your deck and bring out the natural beauty of the wood. It will also help the stain look better and last longer when applied.

Use a pump-up sprayer, paint roller, or brush to apply the wood brightener to the deck’s surface. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for how long to let it sit before rinsing it off.

Step 6: Allow the Deck to Dry Completely

Inspect the deck

After cleaning and brightening your wood deck, it’s important to allow it to dry completely before applying a deck sealant. This could take several hours or even a day or two, depending on the weather and humidity.

Once the deck is dry, you can proceed with sealing it. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the best results.

Step 7: Inspect the Deck

Once the deck is dry, look closely to ensure that you did not miss any areas and that everything has been cleaned properly. If any spots need attention, go back and clean them now. Otherwise, these spots will show through after you apply the sealant.

You should also look for loose nails and ensure they are tightened before sealing the deck.

Step 8: Apply the Sealant

Apply sealant to wood deck

After the deck is clean and dry, it’s finally time to apply the sealant. You can use a brush, roller, or pump-up sprayer to apply the sealant.

Start in one corner of the deck and work your way across, covering all surfaces. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for how long to let the sealant dry before walking on it or placing the furniture back on it.

Frequently Asked Questions About Deck Care & Maintenance

You may have a few lingering questions about how to best care for and maintain your deck in between sealing. Here are answers to some answers to our most commonly asked questions:

How often should I clean my deck?

You should clean your deck at least once a year. However, if it’s particularly dirty or you notice any mildew or mold, you may need to clean it more frequently. 

You may also need to clean your deck more often if you live in an area surrounded by trees or other vegetation. This is because leaves and other debris can fall on the deck, which can lead to stains and other problems.

How do I remove mildew or mold from my deck?

If you notice any mildew or mold on your deck, you’ll need to clean it as soon as possible. It only takes 24 to 48 hours for mold to begin spreading on a surface.

You’ll need to use a mold and mildew stain remover cleaner specifically designed for wooden surfaces. You may need to let it sit for a few minutes before scrubbing the area with a brush. Then, rinse the area with clean water once you’ve removed the mildew or mold.

Can I pressure wash my wood deck?

Yes, you can pressure wash your deck. However, be careful not to use too much pressure, which could damage the wood.

If you choose to use a pressure washer, use the lowest setting. You should also be mindful of how close you hold the nozzle to the deck. Holding it too close could apply too much pressure to the wood.

How can I fix scratches on my deck?

If you have minor scratches on your deck, it’s important to buff them out before applying a new coat of sealer. Otherwise, they’ll be much more challenging to fix later.

To buff out scratches, you’ll need to use fine-grit sandpaper. First, sand the scratched area until it’s smooth. Then, wipe away any dust with a clean cloth. If it’s a deep scratch, you may need to use a power sander or call a professional.

What can I do if my deck is turning gray?

If your deck is turning gray, it’s likely due to the sun and weather exposure. This is a common problem, and there are several products you can use to restore the wood’s natural color. For instance, you can use a wood brightener.

However, if your deck is severely weathered, it’s best to call a professional. They’ll be able to sand down the deck and stain it to restore its original color.

What should I do if my deck shows signs of warping?

If you notice any warping on your deck, it’s crucial to take action as soon as possible. Warping is often caused by moisture and could lead to further damage if not addressed.

It’s best to call a professional if your deck is warping. They’ll be able to assess the damage and make recommendations for how to fix it. In some cases, they may just need to replace the warping boards. In other cases, they may need to replace the entire deck.

Let Us Help You Revive Your Deck’s Appearance

If you’re looking for help restoring your deck’s appearance, the experts at Teak & Deck are here to help. We offer deck cleaning and sealing services that will have your deck looking like new again in no time.

Contact us today to learn more about our services or schedule a free consultation. We look forward to serving you.

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Drew Isaacman

Drew Isaacman is the owner and founder of Teak & Deck Professionals, a leading restoration company specializing in teak, exotic wood, concrete, and stone. With a passion for preserving outdoor assets, Drew has built a team of skilled professionals dedicated to providing exceptional service to clients in San Diego, Orange County, and Los Angeles. His expertise in wood restoration and refinishing, combined with his commitment to customer satisfaction, has earned Teak & Deck Professionals a reputation for excellence in the industry. Drew's dedication to protecting and revitalizing outdoor spaces ensures that clients can enjoy their valuable assets for years to come.