The ABC's & D's of Deck Care


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It's Time to Clean

This is the step where you get to take years of gray color, dirt and more off the deck. Applying the new deck stain to a clean surface helps ensure good penetration and adhesion so you don't have premature peeling and wear. And the finished deck will look much better.
First, if you have flowerbeds or landscaping right next to your deck, water thoroughly, then cover with the plastic drop cloths. If you do this, the deck cleaner won't affect the plants. 
Clear the deck of all furniture and get ready to start!

Applying the Cleaner

Most deck cleaners can be applied using a pump-up sprayer. Just unscrew the cap, pour in your cleaner, put the cap back on and pump until the pressure is built up. But, remember to read and follow the package instructions. If you're using a deck stripper, it cannot be applied with a sprayer, it must be applied with a watering can.
Whether you're using a deck cleaner or a deck stripper, the application is the same. Don't try to do the whole deck at once. Start working in a small area (about 50-70 sq. ft.) and complete the whole deck cleaning process there before moving on.

Begin Lightly Scrubbing

Wait 10-15 minutes, then begin lightly scrubbing the boards, working your way down. You don't have to scrub hard, but be thorough. When the cleaning is done well, staining the deck goes really quickly. When each section is done, rinse well and move on to the next section. If you can get a friend or family member to work on the other end of the deck at the same time, the job goes much faster.
Don't forget to check the railings to see if they need to be cleaned and re-stained, as well.

Using a Deck Stripper

Now if you have used a deck stripper, there may be an additional step. Because the deck stripper has an alkaline base, it can darken the natural color of some woods. So you may need to neutralize it with Thompson's® WaterSeal® 3 in 1 Wood Cleaner. This will brighten the wood back to its natural look or color. Apply just as you would if you were cleaning, but only a light scrub and a good rinse is needed.

Check Your Work

Give the deck several hours to dry then check it for any missed spots. Repeat the cleaning procedure in small spots, if necessary. This is also a good time to reset any screws or nail heads that have popped up to avoid stub toes. Remove the plastic drop cloths from the plants, give them another watering, then rinse out your tools.