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Painted wood decks can be a beautiful addition to any home, but they require a bit of extra care when it comes time to clean them. Stained decks are a bit easier to clean because you don’t have to worry about damaging the paint.
Many people are unsure of the best way to clean a painted deck without damaging the paint or causing problems with peeling. In this article, we’ll explain how to clean a painted deck and keep it looking its best.
How frequently you need to clean your deck will depend on a few different factors like the amount of foot traffic it gets, the type of paint you used, the climate, and the surrounding landscape and vegetation.
If your deck is in a shaded area or doesn’t get a lot of use, you may only need to give it a thorough cleaning once a year. If it’s in a sunny spot and sees a lot of action, you may need to clean it more frequently.
How to Clean a Painted Deck
Before you begin, it’s important to inspect your deck for any areas that need repair. If there are any cracked boards or peeling paint, you’ll want to address those issues before you start cleaning. Once your deck is in good repair, you can proceed with cleaning.
What You’ll Need
Thankfully, you don’t need a lot of tools or supplies to get the job done, and generally, you won’t need expensive cleaners. If you’re willing to do the work yourself, this is a very inexpensive project.
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- Liquid dish soap. We recommend using a natural product and you can see our list of the best non-toxic dish soaps for suggestions.
- Oxygen bleach (optional). The oxygen bleach will help with killing mold or mildew and removing tough stains.
- A large bucket. At least one gallon, but a larger bucket may be helpful if you have a big deck.
- Soft-bristled brush. For applying the cleaning solution on the deck boards and scrubbing where needed.
- Garden hose. To rinse off the cleaning solution.
To make the cleaning solution, use about 2 ounces of liquid dish soap per gallon of warm water. If you want to include oxygen bleach as well, mix in 5-10 ounces per gallon of water.
It’s also important to avoid certain cleaning solutions where you’re working with a painted deck:
- Chlorine bleach. Regular household bleach is too harsh for painted decks and can damage the wood, as well as the paint. Oxygen bleach will still kill mold and mildew but will not damage the wood. However, you may need to scrub to get results.
- Ammonia. Ammonia is another common cleaner that is too harsh for use on painted decks.
- Vinegar. Although it is an excellent natural cleaner, vinegar can cause the paint to deteriorate.
Although oxygen bleach is more gentle than household chlorine bleach, it still has the potential to damage certain types of wood. If you know what type of wood your deck is made from, you can research to see if oxygen bleach is safe. In any case, it’s best to try a small amount of the DIY cleaner in an inconspicuous area to be sure that it is safe before using it on the entire deck.
If you’re using a store-bought deck cleaner, be sure that it’s made specifically for painted decks. Most deck cleaner is made for stained or unpainted wood.
Step 1: Clearing Off the Deck
The first step in How to Clean a Painted Deck is to clear everything off the deck so that you can give it a good cleaning. This includes any furniture, rugs, or other items that may be on the deck. If possible, move them to another area of your yard or garage.
Step 2: Protect Nearby Plants
Next, you’ll want to take measures to protect any nearby plants from the cleaners you’ll be using. You can do this by covering them with plastic sheeting or tarp. This small step will help to ensure that your plants stay healthy while you’re cleaning your deck, and you can simply remove the tarp as soon as you’re done.
Step 3: Sweep Off the Debris
Once the area is clear, sweep off any leaves, twigs, or other debris that may be on the deck. A leaf blower can also be helpful for this step. You want to make sure that the surface is as clean as possible before you start washing it.
You may need to clear small twigs, acorns, and other debris from between the deck boards. This is an important step because this organic material can cause the deck boards to rot over time. A putty knife can be helpful for this step, but be careful not to damage the deck boards.
Step 4: Check for Any Damage
Before you start cleaning, it’s a good idea to check the deck for any damage. This includes things like loose nails, splintering wood, or cracked paint. If you find any damage, make sure to repair it before proceeding with the cleaning. You may also want to hammer down any nails that are sticking out a little.
Step 5: Wet Down the Deck
The next step in How to Clean a Painted Deck is to wet down the deck with a garden hose. This will help to ensure that the cleaning solution does not dry on the surface of the deck.
Step 6: Apply the Cleaning Solution
Now you’re ready to start cleaning. Begin by applying the cleaning solution to the deck with a soft-bristled brush. Alternatively, you can use a broom to spread the solution if you prefer. Mops usually don’t work very well because they tend to get damaged quickly by the deck boards.
If you see any areas of mold or mildew, be sure to scrub them with the brush to remove as much as possible.
Let the solution sit on the deck for at least 15 minutes before moving on to the next step.
Step 7: Rinse Off the Cleaning Solution
Once the solution has had a chance to work, it’s time to rinse it off. Begin by rinsing the deck with a garden hose. You may need to do this a few times to make sure that all of the cleaner is removed.
Since you’re only leaving the cleaning solution on for about 15 minutes, you’ll need to work on the deck in small sections. Apply the solution and do any necessary scrubbing in one small section, then rinse it off. When that’s done, you can move on to the next small section.
After following all these steps in How to Clean a Painted Deck, you will be left with a nice, clean deck to use.
Optional: Cleaning a Painted Deck with a Pressure Washer
Pressure washing is common for cleaning stained decks, but some people avoid using a pressure washer with painted decks out of fear of damaging or chipping the paint. However, power washing your painted deck can be done carefully without causing any damage.
Like other cleaning methods, it’s best to try a pressure washer in a small, inconspicuous area first. If it causes any damage to the paint or deck boards, stop and use the method covered above.
To use a pressure washer, start by wetting down the deck with a garden hose. Then, set up the pressure washer according to the manufacturer’s instructions and begin washing the deck. Be sure to hold the nozzle about 1-2 feet away from the surface of the deck to avoid damaging the wood or paint.
Pressure washers have different nozzles that control the amount of pressure being used. If you’re unsure which nozzle to use, start with the low-pressure nozzle and work your way up until you find one that is effective without causing damage. Generally, a 40-degree nozzle is safe for painted decks.
Start at one end of the deck and work your way across in even strokes. Make sure to rinse off any loose paint chips that may come off while you’re pressure washing.
Frequently Asked Questions
How often should I clean my deck?
It’s generally recommended that you clean your deck at least once a year. However, if your deck gets a lot of use or is exposed to elements like rain or snow, you may need to clean it more often.
Can I pressure wash a painted deck?
Yes, you can pressure wash a painted deck, but you need to be careful not to damage the paint. Use a low-pressure nozzle and hold the nozzle 1-2 feet away from the surface of the deck while you’re pressure washing. And always test in an inconspicuous area first.
Can you use deck cleaner on a painted deck?
If you’re using a store-bought deck cleaner, you need to be sure that it is made for painted decks. Check the label and the manufacturer’s instructions.
How do I clean my deck without removing paint?
The best way to clean a painted deck without damaging the paint is to use a soft-bristled brush and a gentle cleaning solution. You can also pressure wash the deck, but be sure to use a low-pressure nozzle and hold the nozzle 1-2 feet away from the deck surface.
What do you clean painted wood with?
You can use a number of different things to clean painted wood, including water, liquid dish soap, and oxygen bleach. For more stubborn dirt or stains, you may need to use a store-bought deck cleaner that is made for painted decks.
How do you remove mildew from painted wood?
Mildew can be removed from painted wood by using a number of different cleaners, including oxygen bleach or liquid dish soap. You’ll also need to scrub the area with a soft-bristled brush.
Final Thoughts on How to Clean a Painted Deck
Cleaning a painted wood deck can be tricky, but it’s important to do it carefully to avoid damaging the paint. In most cases, you can use a soft-bristled brush and a gentle cleaning solution to remove dirt and debris. This approach is simple and it’s a straightforward solution for how to clean a painted deck.
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