What is the best way to clean composite decking?
Whether you love to grill for the family, take quiet naps in the sun or need to remodel the designated summer spot for ‘happy hour’ with friends, you can transform your backyard into an oasis with a custom deck or patio. Not only are they a great space to cook, relax and entertain, but they add beauty and value to your home. Additionally, AllPoint Construction is proud to be a Certified TrexPro Deck Installer, creating decks and patios that are beautiful, affordable and of the highest quality.
Once we have built you the deck of your dreams, you want to know how to keep it that way! All exterior decking requires cleaning. And although composite decking can be lower maintenance than other types of decking, this certainly doesn’t mean “maintenance free”. In fact, there are some mistakes that could actually increase the regular care required to maintain your composite deck. Here are a few tips to restore your deck and get it clean and ready to enjoy every day.
Don’t Use the Wrong Cleaner
Choosing the correct cleaner can literally make or break your deck. Although the surface looks solid, composite decking is actually quite porous and it needs an oxygenated cleaner that can reach deep into the material and clean both inside the deck and also the surface. When buying a cleaning product, always check the label and never use anything labeled as a Chlorine Bleach based “deck cleaner”. If the active ingredients include Sodium Hypochlorite, it contains Bleach. Chlorine bleach is very corrosive and will eat into any material it’s applied to. Eventually, it will lead to discoloration of your deck, damage the surface (not to mention your landscaping), and can exacerbate any mold/mildew issues that may occur. Avoid this costly mistake by choosing a non-toxic, sodium percarbonate based cleaner.
Be very careful when pressure washing your composite deck
Pressure washing is typically not recommended for composite decking. If done incorrectly, it can be a big mistake and cause damage. Pressure washing too close or using too much pressure can ruin your deck. Composite decking material is softer than natural wood, meaning it can be “etched” more easily. Once the material has been opened up, many issues can arise including chipping, sun damage, and mold staining the plastics inside the opening. Once mold has stained has occurred, it can be extremely hard to remove. In most cases, a garden hose is sufficient for regular cleaning. If you have to pressure wash your composite deck, remember to keep it at the lowest pressure possible and no closer than eight inches from the deck surface.
Don’t forget the gaps!
All homeowners want to prevent mold from growing under their deck. One of the biggest contributing factors to this problem is a simple step that many people overlook during their regular cleaning – the gaps! Dirt and debris can build up over time and the collecting moisture provides the perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew. We recommend the gaps between your deck boards should be cleared and cleaned out at least once a year. This allows air to pass between the boards, which helps keep the underside nice and dry. Use the right tools
Just like remembering your gaps and proper cleaners, the same advice applies here. Composite decking requires a little extra attention when cleaning. Regular cleaning of dirt and debris can easily be done with a household broom or a garden hose. For a deeper clean, always use a soft bristle scrub brush, never use a wire brush. Again, if you are using the right cleaner, only a small amount of scrubbing will be required. For snow or ice removal, always choose a plastic shovel instead of metal.
How to Clean a Composite Deck
Looking for a more natural way to restore and clean your composite deck? To keep up the beauty and functionality that you want from your deck, a little care and cleaning can go a long way.
While composite deck cleaners are available (remember, no bleach!), the actual composite deck cleaning process is simple and easy enough that you can keep it looking fresh and clean with your own homemade composite deck cleaner.
All you need to make your natural composite deck cleaner is some soap, water, vinegar, and baking soda (for cases of mold) and a soft bristle brush to remove dirt, debris, and other grime. Remember, if you are going to use a pressure washer it should be no closer than eight inches from the surface and less than 3100 psi. You can perform a semiannual cleaning on your composite deck to preserve its longevity.
- Step 1: Pre-spray your deck
Begin by spraying the deck off with a hose and water to remove any surface debris.
- Step 2: Spray with soapy water & scrub
Next spray with soap, followed by gently scrubbing the deck boards with a soft bristle brush.
- Step 3: Rinse thoroughly
After you’ve put a little elbow grease into scrubbing and cleaning with your brush, rinse the deck thoroughly. Don’t skip this step: This is important because if dirty water from the cleaning is left to dry, a thin film may remain on the composite surface.
Removing mold from your composite decking
For mold removal, try cleaning composite decking with vinegar.
- Step 1: Pre-rinse
Use your hose to remove as much of the surface grime and mold as possible.
- Step 2: Mix up your vinegar solution
Mix two parts vinegar and one part water into a bucket and pour the solution directly on the mold.
- Step 3: Sprinkle baking soda
After the solution is poured, sprinkle some baking soda on the area. Let this compound sit and soak for 20 minutes and then use your gentle bristle brush to scrub the area and remove any leftover mold and mildew.
- Step 4: Rinse thoroughly
Finally, thoroughly rinse the area clean to avoid leaving a layer of film.
And that’s it! With just a little soapy water and gentle pressure can keep your deck clean and in peak condition. That’s what we call maximum outdoor living with minimal maintenance!