Power washing and refinishing a deck adds years of life to the structure and should be periodically. The process of cleaning and painting or staining is fairly straightforward. Many homeowners choose to tackle this problem on their own, while others hire the professionals. There are occasionally some issues that can arise in the process that are best handled by the pros or a person with some do-it-yourself knowledge.
Most people choose to rent a power washer for this project. A power washer will clean off dirt and debris while spraying on a stripping chemical to remove previous paint and stain. The ideal pressure to use is between one thousand to two thousand psi. Soft woods such as pine might only be able to tolerate pressures up to six hundred psi. Higher pressure could make the wand challenging to control and damage the deck. Be sure to test on an inconspicuous area that is easy to replace if ruined, such as a stair tread.
The pressure washer should have an intake hose that will pull in the chemicals from a second container. Be sure to use plastic buckets and not metal to hold the chemicals. The most common deck stripper will contain sodium hydroxide and usually needs to be partially diluted with water. This chemical can be toxic to plant life, so cover any plants or shrubs surrounding the deck with plastic. The best way to wash the deck is by using a sweeping motion, with the wand about twelve inches above the deck surface. The deck may need to be sanded in spots after washing.
Problems That Can Arise During Power Washing
Power washing can cause damage to both wood and composite decks. It is possible to refinish the deck without needing to power wash. Many times, power washing is resorted to because the structure has not been cleaned in years. In these extreme cases, power washing makes sense. However, if the homeowner keeps up on the cleaning power washing can be avoided.
A deck should be cleaned about every two weeks using dish soap or laundry detergent. The deck should be swept clean of debris and all furniture removed. Then, using the hose, soap, and a bristle brush, clean the deck. Be sure to not scrub hard enough to damage the deck. Once dry, move all furniture back on the deck. Done frequently, this procedure will allow the homeowner to avoid power washing.
Painting Your Deck After Power Washing
The deck must be dried for at least twenty-four hours before painting or staining; forty-eight hours is ideal. Do not paint or stain a deck if there is high humidity or the temperature is above seventy-nine degrees. Be sure to stir the paint or stain before applying and follow the directions on the can. For both paint and stain, use a roller tray with a roller brush or foam pad for the floorboards. A spray bottle can be used to stain hard to reach areas. The railing of the deck should be treated first, using a standard or foam brush. The stairs should be painted last. Be sure to follow the grain of the wood when staining.
To avoid overlap marks, try not to stop in the middle of a board. Do stir the paint or stain frequently throughout the process. It may be necessary to apply an additional coat of paint or stain. If so, be sure to wait at least four hours before applying the second coat. Once completed, the paint or stain should be allowed to dry at least twenty-four hours before using the deck.