Listen Here!
October 23, 2016
Local Show archive

Listen Here!
October 22, 2016
Handyman Show archive

Get help from the Handyman:  

Glenn's mailing
it in every week!

Enter your email address below to subscribe to Glenn's weekly e-newsletter. It's free!

Lawn and Landscape Supply

Rock Shoppe

You'll save tons of money and have tons of fun, explore our inviting yard for unique statuary, mulches, soils and hardscape materials. One of the largest vendors of landscape supplies in Southeast Michigan. Rock Shoppe north off M-14. SW corner of Territorial and Gotfredson.

Website for more info

Kitchens & Baths

Universal Plumbing Supply

Why settle for pictures when you can get a world of choice at Universal Plumbing? Choose from Michigan's largest selection of under mounted sinks, a display of 500 faucets and a huge collection of working toilets, vessles, tubs, spas & designer items.

Website for more info


Kearns Bros. Inc.

Check Us First for Beechworth Windows by James Hardie; the beauty of a REAL WOOD interior where you want it with a fiberglass exterior where you need it or look at the Restorations Windows by Sunrise Window; beauty, options, & maintenance free replacement windows.

Website for more info

Subscribe to the FREE Handyman Helper e-newsletter

Register with your e-mail address here to get America's Master Handyman® Helper, our new weekly newsletter by email with information and special offers from the Handyman Show.

Publication date: 06/17/2006

 Click here for a printer-friendly version

A cleaning solution may be all that's needed on deck

It's almost summer and we have run out of excuses. Now is the perfect time to clean and seal the deck.

What you do and which cleaners you select depends on the decking surface and the condition of the deck.

The temptation is to say that the deck needs to be pressure-washed. Most decks are soft wood and are especially fragile in early summer when they have not dried thoroughly. Cleaning solution and a little agitation with a good, stiff, short-bristled brush are all that is needed. Pressure washing grinds away the surface and can cause major splintering and gouging.

Man-made decking

Man-made decking, such as vinyl, plastic or a wood/plastic composite, has to be cleaned with a deck wash or a mild cleaning solution such as a Simple Green solution of 1 part cleaner to 10 parts water. If it's very dirty, increase the strength to 1 part cleaner to 3 parts water.

If you have a mold or mildew problem, use a mildewcide such as BioKleen Prep from Kleen Sales, (866) 319-3600, www.kleen, or a house cleaner such as BEHR No. l62 Multi-Surface Deck-Prep Cleaner & Mildew Stain Remover, Oxi Brands O2 Algae and Mold Remover, (800) 745-5186,, or Zinsser,, (800) 899-1211, Jomax House Cleaner or Mildew Killer and household bleach.

We have used BioKleen on our test deck and found it quite effective. This is one of the times that the manufacturer actually recommends rinsing with a pressure-washer up to 1500 psi.

The mixture for Zinsser Jomax should be mixed 1 quart Jomax, 3 quarts bleach and 4 gallons water. No pressure washer is needed with either of the Zinsser or Oxi Brands products.

The directions for cleaning grayed and stained composite decking are the same as those for cleaning grayed and stained real wood decking.

Wooden decks

Wood decks can be new or old, stained or natural. If decks are left natural, they gray until they look like driftwood. Stained decks may just have to be cleaned or stripped and re-stained. Each of these is a distinct cleaning problem.

New decks

New decks need to be cleaned and sealed. I recommend they be given an oxalic acid bath to neutralize the surface so that it accepts a sealer evenly. I'll cover that next week.

Gray decks

Some people want their decks to look like driftwood. If that's the look you want, all you ever have to do is clean it. If your deck has never been sealed, I would suggest you seal it after cleaning with a clear wood sealer to protect the wood.

Graying is caused by ultra violet rays from the sun, which destroy the uppermost wood cells. The only way to remove the gray is to remove those cells. If you want to remove the gray, clean away the accumulated winter dirt with a light cleaning solution such as a 1 to 10 mixture of Simple Green and water, or a solution of 2 ounces dry measure of trisodium phosphate per gallon of water, then remove the gray with an oxalic acid or phosphoric acid bath.

An acid bath sounds strong but it isn't. Oxalic acid is found naturally in asparagus, broccoli, cabbage and carrots. Phosphoric acid is used an as antioxidant in food and as a flavoring agent in jellies.

You can find oxalic acid at home centers and hardware stores in such products as BEHR Wood Brightener Conditioner No. 63, Flood Dekswood, Cabot Problem-Solver Wood Brightener No. 8003, Wolman Deck & Fence Brightener for Cedar & Redwood and Superdeck Wood Brightener and Rejuvenator. Phosphoric acid is found in Bio-Wash Simple Wash and Penofin Weatherblaster.

Stained decks

Stained decks may get dirty from winter weather, or the stain may have deteriorated and needs to be removed before re-staining. If the stain still looks good, just wash it with a gentle or medium-level cleaning solution.

Mildew stained decks

If a stained or unstained wooden deck has mildew, you may want to use BEHR No. l62 Multi-Surface Deck-Prep Cleaner & Mildew Stain Remover, Oxi Brands O2 Algae and Mold Remover, or Zinsser Jomax House Cleaner and Mildew Killer and household bleach. Use the same formulation recommended for man-made decks.

Bleach is usually not recommended on wooden surfaces. Jomax includes ingredients that neutralize the bleach and makes it safe on wood. You will find BEHR products at Home Depot. Other products can be found at OPW Decks, (866) 856-3325, or independent hardware stores and Ace, True Value, ACO and N.A.. Mans.

Come back next week for tips on stripping and re-staining your deck.

Note: This article was accurate at the date of publication. However, information contained in it may have changed. If you plan to use the information contained herein for any purpose, verification of its continued accuracy is your responsibility.

20 most recent Handyman Columns

Winter work gear keeps you warm for projects

Countertops have come a long way

Don’t let dust take over home this winter

LED now viable choice for indoors, outdoors

Homearama opportunity to see a dream home

Keep gutters free of debris to avoid problems

Protect ears, eyes and lungs during projects

Zone systems keep home at even temperature

Vo-tech programs offer career paths

Bath remodeling doesn’t have to include tile

Choosing the right saw blade makes project easier

Hundreds of options when replacing siding

Cordless power tools becoming the norm

Still time to revive your deck

Myriad new flooring options to choose from

Cleaning your home’s countertops and floors

Trend toward tiny homes growing in U.S.

Ladder one of most important project tools

Do 4th of July prep before the guests arrive

Tool gifts have changed in past 100 years

Browse-by-date Index

Copyright 2016 H & S Associates, Inc. | Copyright & Proprietary Information Notice | Contact us