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Deal yourself a clean deck

On The Houseby James & Morris CareyGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Spring brings the same old question: Why won’t the deck stay bright and fresh-looking for more than a year at a time?Here’s our answer: Our technique for care and cleaning of wood decks is really easy and by using it you’ll enjoy spring a lot more. This is what we do:• First, we wash our deck with good old laundry detergent and water. Experiment with the concentration to see what works best for you. We use 1/2 cup of detergent in a gallon of hot water.• Wet the deck with plain water first.• Then, use a garden pump sprayer to apply a plentiful amount of the soapy mixture. Use a stiff brush on a long handle to make scrubbing easier, and scrub, scrub, scrub.• After a quick rinse with fresh water, apply an ample layer of oxalic acid (wood bleach). We sprinkle it on like applying dry rub to barbecue, the more the better.Note: Think safety here. Use gloves and eye protection and wear a filter mask over your nose and mouth. You can get a mask for about $1.50.• Scrub the bleach into the wood and mist it with plain water from time to time to keep it wet. After scrubbing for about 5 to 10 minutes you will notice that the wood is beginning to look much better.• Repeat this process 2 or 3 times to get your deck looking brand new.• Rinse with fresh water and let dry for 48 hours.• Finally, apply a wood preservative. We suggest one that is pigmented (colored), because these last longer than the clear ones. Don’t over-apply the preservative. If it puddles you’ve applied too much. Wipe any excess away with an old cloth.Warning: If you use the wrong type of preservative you can get into trouble. Using on a deck a wood preservative designed for walls or fences would be a mistake. Wall-type material used on a deck will end up being tracked onto the floors in your home.It’s important to know about the differences in wood preservatives and to use them for their intended purposes to avoid major heartaches. These are the two basic types:• One is used for vertical surfaces (walls and fences). This type is usually very thick and opaque. It is not designed to be walked upon. Walking on this material will remove it.• The other type is used for horizontal surfaces (decks and furniture). This type is usually semitransparent and is designed for very thin application. Puddling during application is a very bad thing and should be dealt with immediately. Use a cloth to remove excess material. Puddled materials always result in a sticky mess.Here’s a tip for the end of your cleanup: A pressure washer can be used for the final rinse. It isn’t absolutely necessary, but it makes the entire process easier and the result is usually superior.Outdoor furnitureSpring is a good time to deal with tattered outdoor furniture, too. Here are a few tips that may help to reduce your work. Again, a pressure washer is not an absolutely necessary tool in the cleaning process, but it sure makes things easier, especially with metal and plastic furniture.Apply your favorite cleaner, scrub and then rinse with a pressure washer. For metal, canned spray paint can be used to brighten the finish in less than 5 minutes for most pieces of furniture. Count on using a can or two on each piece. You also can paint plastic, but it simply won’t last. We recommend scrubbing only.Wood furniture is a bit more complicated. Here, you do not want to use a pressure washer and if you use water for cleaning you must immediately follow with drying.Water will raise the grains in the wood and you may end up sitting in a bed of splinters if you aren’t careful. After the cleaning, follow with a very light sanding and an even lighter coat of wood preservative. Apply the preservative carefully and wipe away excess vigorously – to avoid ending up with a new color on your clothing.More home improvement tips and information are available on the Web at: http://www.onthehouse.com or by calling 1-800-737-2474, ext. 59.More home improvement tips and information are available on the Web at: http://www.onthehouse.com or by calling 1-800-737-2474, ext. 59.


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