Why is Deck Cleaning and Sealing Important?
At least once a week we will be asked by a homeowner to pressure wash a wooden deck. Before I even ask the size of the deck I fire right back with questions of my own, “Are you planning on sealing and staining it when we are finished?” Now you may think I ask this so we can piggyback services contracting services and make a few extra bucks off of one customer. Truth is we do not even offer deck sealing and staining so if pressure washing and staining are the only services you are looking for we will save you time and refer you to another pressure washing and deck staining company in your area.
While it seems like these services would go hand in hand we would rather refer you to a painting and staining specialist who not only has experience with pressure washing wooden decks but also sanding and staining. Unfortunately, it can get a bit expensive if you want it done correctly. This is because it is not generally a one day process. Most contractors will recommend pressure washing the first day and sanding and staining the next day.
Why is Sealing or Staining Important
At this point you may be asking yourself why sealing or staining a wooden deck or fence is important. Depending which source you read approximately half of residential homes in the United States have at least a wooden deck, siding, fence or roof. While this number may be declining in recent years due to the increased usage of composite materials like vinyl siding, composite decks and vinyl fences the point is there are a significant number of homeowners that still have some form of wooden materials used on the property.
You probably know that rain, snow, and other precipitation can wear down natural wood and cause cracks, fading and in some cases mold and mildew. Over time sun light will cause fading in wood decks and fences. And, if you see some form of mold or dirt growing it will most likely not disappear on its own. Staining or sealing your deck can prevent all of these things at least for some period of time.
Cleaning Product to Use
Many homeowner will use a household bleach to prepare a deck or fence for staining and while this is a major component that any pressure washing contractor will use it should not be the only agent used. Phosphoric acid can remove aging, oxalic acid can remove rust stains, and citric acid can be used on harder woods. If you are unfamiliar with what type of wood your deck is made of or it looks like too big of a job to tackle on your own contact an expert.
If you decide to take on the job yourself make sure you do not use high pressure. The cleaning agents are supposed to do most of the work. You will have to sand at least once, first with a lower grit paper and second with a higher grit paper for the fine look you are hoping for. If your deck was sealed previously, you will need to remove the existing finish with a stripper. You will probably have to sand the deck after this process as well.
Sealing your Deck
There is no one sized fits all sealant for all wooden decks in the world. There are different sealing agents used for the different types of wood on the market. Sure, you can buy the cheapest seal out there or the most expensive seal out there but odds are if you do a little research your money will go a long way. In many cases a homeowner will purchase the most expensive sealant on the market assuming that it HAS to work. But in my experience that is like putting a premium gasoline in a car that is built to take regular. Yes, it will probably work but you will be wasting money.
Choose the sealant that is best for you. A decent sealant will provide fading against sunlight and resistance against mold and mildew. You should wait at least 24 hours (read the manufacturers instructions) before applying any protective coating. Mix all of your sealants together before applying to ensure uniformity in both color and consistency for your deck or fence. Two coats are generally better than one but again refer to the manufacturers guidelines.