Cleaning Wood Decks

Wood decks need to be cleaned before they are resealed. Surface debris must be removed to restore the wood to its original look and the cells of the wood must be cleaned out in order for the sealer to penetrate. As mentioned in the first part of this series, the "secret" to a long lasting wood deck is to fill the cells of the wood with a synthetic resinous compound that will take the place of the natural resins, cellulose, and lignin which break down once the wood is cut from the living tree. In effect we are trying to create a man-made "petrified wood."

There are countless "old home recipes" for wood cleaners and a wide variety of pre-mixed wood cleaners many of which contain:

Chlorine bleach:

Chlorine kills algae, moss, and mildew. BUT - chlorine breaks down the lignin holding the wood together, causing excessive damage to otherwise healthy wood. Chlorine is dangerous, environmentally unsound, and likely to cause problems with surrounding greenery. If you must use it we recommend using no more than 1 cup per gallon of water. Acidic compounds such as citric, oxalic, and even phosphoric acid. Phosphoric acid is fast, dangerous, and ecologically unsound. It is banned in some states and faces ever-tightening restriction or even elimination as time passes. Citric acid is a little slower, easier to control, effective, non-hazardous, and quickly gaining popularity.

Hy-Tech produces House Wash a wood cleaning compound which will clean and prepare wood for refinishing without the use of dangerous chemicals. House Wash contains our Oxygen Bleach, an environmentally friendly, bleach/brightener which reacts with water to form hydrogen peroxide. The hydrogen peroxide is unusually effective in lightening darkened wood and kills mildew and algae. House Wash also contains special wetting agents which lower the surface tension of water to allow the cleaning solution to wet surfaces and penetrate into, under, and around soils and surface crevices.

- Bio-degradable - Non Ioinic - Non Toxic - Non Flammable

A Pound of House Wash will clean 200 to 300 square feet of deck surface. Extremely dirty deck surfaces sometimes need a second quick cleaning. A lineal foot of average railing has appx 4 square feet of surface area.

The Cleaning Process:
  1. Remove any loose soil or dirt.
  2. Wet the deck with water.
  3. Pre-treat oil and grease stains with TSP (tri-sodium phosphate) or some other degreaser.
  4. Add 8 ounces (1 cup) of House Wash in a gallon of hot water. Allow to sit for 5 minutes for the powder to dissolve and become active.
  5. Apply the deck cleaning solution with a pump-up garden sprayer, paint roller, mop or deck cleaning brush. Wait 15 to 20 minutes after application then scrub with stiff bristle brush on a pole or a push broom.
  6. Use a garden hose to rinse away the dirt and grime. Repeat as necessary, especially for really worn or stained decks.

Power Washing: For washing large wood decks and house cleaning prior to painting, power washers make the job fast and easy.

CAUTION: The extreme pressure can break up the wood fibers leaving a fuzzy wood finish of broken wood fiber. Not only does this shorten the life of the wood, it also leaves you with poor surface to refinish. Locking down the loose fibers requires more effort and material. There is no need to use one of the giant 3000 psi machines designed to remove multiple layers of paint from cement and stucco, a 500 - 1000 psi machine with a wide fan tip held 2-3' off the surface will do a nice job without destroying everything in its path.

House Wash is available in:
  • 2 1/2 Pound tub -$19.50
  • 5 Pound tub -$29.95
  • 10 Pound tub -$53.00