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Friday, May 28, 2010

How To Clean a Composite Deck ...Step by Step


     Currently about 80% of the decks we install at Your Deck Company are "Low Maintenance" materials such as Trex and Timbertech. There are many different brands and kinds of materials on the market today, and not all of them will require the same amount of care or cleaning methods. Today I would like to get a little more specific and talk about how to clean a "Composite Deck".

     Composite decks are a composition of recycled plastics and recycled wood fibre. Usually around a 50/50 mix. This category of decking will perform much better than a wood deck and last much longer. What I mean is that when a composite deck is installed properly it will not rot or splinter, crack or twist like a wood deck will. Composite decks will however absorb a stain like a wood deck. The wood fiber that is exposed on the surface of the composite decking will capture a stain and hold it like a wood deck will. So if you spill red wine or drop a hamburger on your composite deck it will leave a stain. The same wood fibres can and will capture mould spores and create a spotted look on your deck. The benefit is that composite decks do not need to be sanded, stained or painted like a wood deck will require.

     An alternative material to composite decking is a product like Timbertech XLM. This is a cellular PVC decking material that has no organic fibre in the decking or on the surface. This type of product has excellent stain, scratch and dent resistance. Although any material can have mould grow on it. Timbertech XLM is very resistant to mould and mildew due to the fact that there is no organic fibre exposed. This type of decking is very easy to clean....Soap and water will generally remove most spills.

     Now back to how to clean your composite deck. Soap and water will generally not be able to clean a composite deck very well. Generally a deck wash will be needed. I highly recommend using Corte Clean deck wash. It does a great job on Trex, Timbertech and many other composite decking products. I also recommend you try the product first in a small area to test the results prior to cleaning your entire deck. Also check with the manufacturer of your decking product to see if Corte Clean is recommended for your type of decking, or contact your contractor that installed your deck.

     As for the amount of time it may take you. I am usually able to clean my deck which is around 850sq ft in around 2 hours from setup to clean up. Your first time may take you a bit longer until you are comfortable with the process.

I also recommend watching our video on how to clean your deck.

What You Will Need
1-Corte Clean
2-Hose with a good sprayer
3-Rubber gloves
4-Safety goggles
5-A clean bucket (at least 2 gallons in size is good)
6-A soft to medium bristle brush to gently scrub the deck floor with
7-Pump sprayer (2 gallons or larger is great)
8-A deck (just thought I would see if you were paying attention)

Step 1:
     To use Corte Clean your deck must be dry and free of any debris. Sweep off your deck and clean out the gaps between your deck floor to allow proper drainage of your deck. Also move any furniture or other items off the deck or away from the area to be cleaned.

Step 2:
     Corte Clean comes in a powder format. It is necessary to pre-mix the product. Only mix what you are going to need. Once it is mixed it cannot be stored for use at a later date. Corte Clean comes with a small measuring cup in the package. I have found that a good mild solution to clean your deck with is 3 scoops mixed with 1 gallon of clean water.
     If your deck is heavily soiled you may need to use a stronger mixture. The Corte Clean package has mixing directions on the back of the package as well. Always wear gloves and goggles when using any deck wash product.

Step 3:
    Stir the Corte Clean product until it is completely dissolved. I have found that generally around 4 gallons of this mix will clean about 700 sq ft of deck surface. Once it is mixed pour it into your pump sprayer.

Step 4:
     Spray an even amount of Corte Clean onto the deck surface until it is quite wet. The product will start to foam slightly and begin to lift the mould, mildew and dirt off of your deck.

Step 5:
     Only spray one area at a time. Generally I spray about 200-300 square feet at a time. Start at the highest points of your deck and work your way down. It is important to not let the solution dry onto your deck before it is rinsed off. If the solution starts to dry simply spray a little more onto the area and keep it wet.

Step 6:
     After the product has sat on your deck for about 10 minutes (and is still wet) gently scrub the deck to agitate the mould, mildew and dirt.

Step 7:
     After gently scrubbing your deck. It is time to rinse it off. It is best if Corte Clean has been on your deck floor for a minimum of 20 minutes, so you may need to let the product sit a bit longer after you have scrubbed the deck. Remember to always keep it wet until you are ready to rinse it off. Use a hose and rinse the Corte Clean off your deck. Be sure to thoroughly rinse the product from your deck.

Step 8:
    After rinsing your deck if there are any areas that may still be dirty apply some more Corte Clean and repeat the cleaning. As I mentioned earlier the 3 scoops to one Gallon mix is fairly mild and good for general cleaning of your deck.

Your deck should now be clean and ready for use.

     The only thing I have noticed when cleaning my own deck is that if my mix is too strong and I do not rinse it off well enough it leaves a white soap like residue on the deck surface. I simply use a brush and remove it after the deck is dry. It comes off like a powder. Also the colour of your deck may lighten slightly. I have not noticed this with mine although it is possible.

     Although you may have to clean your deck a few times a year to keep it spotless, the time involved is marginal to what it will take to maintain a wood deck. The sanding and staining involved for a wooden deck is a large commitment of time and energy. Also staining your wood deck will not prevent the cracks, splinters and rot that will occur. Now don't get me wrong. I love the look of a freshly stained cedar deck. After all I have been a carpenter for well over 2 decades (since 1986) and I do love lumber and what I can do with it. However I do not like the work that is involved in keeping a wooden deck looking good. Also don't forget, you still need to clean a wood deck as well. Wood decks are exposed to the exact same elements as composite decks are. A deck, is a deck... and they should all be cleaned regularly

Enjoy your outdoor season.

Todd Mounsey
Owner / Designer
Your Deck Company