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Unfortunately, in the Scottish climate, your decking has to weather leafy autumns, chilly winters and wet springs. So when the sun does eventually peak out from behind a cloud some time in early-July, decks are often covered in a thin film of algae, lichen, moss and general grime.
The good news for Scottish deck owners is that we’ve got you covered. This blog post will teach you how to clean your deck and get it back to looking its best. Let’s get started!
You’ll still meet deck owners who swear that scrubbing a deck by hand is the best way to clean it. (I’d actually count myself amongst them.) If you want to join the old fashioned crew, pick up a long-handled, stiff-bristled brush and read on.
Before you start scrubbing, wash your deck down with a decking cleaner and leave it to work its magic for around 20 or so minutes. During that time, the cleaner will work its way into all the nooks and crannies and loosen the algae, moss and other grime off the boards.
Once all the grime’s loosened up, get scrubbing. Remember to brush with the grain to avoid damaging the wooden fibres.
Once you’re finished, rinse your deck with fresh water from the hose to wash away any excess cleaning liquid.
Elbow Grease Tips
- Apply the deck cleaner onto dry wood
- Leave the cleaner to work for half an hour
- Use a stiff-bristle brush
- Bring a smaller brush for corners
Pressure washers sound like a great idea. Instead of hunching over a brush and scrubbing away, you stand upright, hose in hand and blast your deck clean with a supercharged jet of high-pressure water.
However, while pressure washers are the perfect choice for hard surfaces like tarmac, they aren’t necessarily so good for wood.
If you use too powerful a pressure washer or hold the jet too close to the decking surface, it can (and will) obliterate the wood fibres and leave a serious welt your decking. The fibres that aren’t sent flying are prone to fraying and can dry rough and scratchy.
Pressure Washer Tips
- Practice on scrap wood first
- Start at a low pressure and work up slowly
- Use a wide angle fan tip
- Spray with the grain not against it
- Always test your washer on a small area of decking
Whether you use a pressure washer is ultimately up to you. All I’ll say is that if you decide to use one, I strongly recommend you experiment with it first. Once you’re confident you know how to use it, test out the spray and pressure on a small and ideally obscured bit of decking to see how it reacts.
Do not start in the middle of your deck. If it goes wrong, it’s really difficult to hide!
Also, you’re always better to start off at a super low pressure. You can always spray your decking a second time but you can’t replace a chunk of timber if it’s been blasted off by a high-pressure stream of water.
Even with a pressure washer, water is rarely enough to work all the grime off your deck. Just like with a washing machine, you’ve got to use detergent to dissolve the grime and then wash it away.
There are hundreds (if not thousands) of homemade cleaner recipes online, usually consisting of laundry detergent, water and some special ingredients like bleach.
Depending on what recipe you follow, these cleaners might do the job but it’s just as likely to make a huge mess and not really remove any dirt.
If you want a cleaner that’s specially designed for outdoor use on decking, you’ve got to go with an official brand.
At Stewart Timber, we recommend Cuprinol’s Decking Cleaner, which is specifically designed to remove dirt, grease, algae and mould from wooden decking. We’ve used it for years and have always been happy with the quality and consistency of the clean. Give it a go and let us know what you think.
Since most homemade cleaners include some bleach in their recipe, we’re often asked about whether it’s safe to use bleach on wooden decking.
Typically, we don’t recommend using bleach as it’s a whitening agent and doesn’t really help with the cleaning process. It’s just like washing your clothes. Bleach might make them whiter but it won’t help remove the all the grime.
If the stain or finish on your deck is wearing thin, it might be time to reseal your deck. If you’ve already cleaned off the grime from the timber, not is probably a really good time to reseal your deck.
To prepare your decking, strip off all stain, paint or varnish using a sander. Once you’re finished, the surface should be stripped back to bare wood.
Next apply a consistent coat of timber protector (we stock Cuprinol’s Decking Oil), ensuring that all exposed wood is treated. Whatever product you decide to use should penetrate the timber and provide a strong defence against water. Ideally, it should also contain chemicals to protect against mould, fungi and algae.
Finally, if you want to change the colour of your deck, it’s time to stain it. (Some stains, like the Cuprinol product we stock, actually offer anti-slip properties too!)
Load up a tray with some wood stain and apply it to the timber boards using a large brush. If you want even faster protection with a super consistent finish, use a power sprayer instead.
So that’s how you make an algae-covered deck look like it was only laid yesterday. If your garden has a conspicuous deck-shaped hole, we ay be able to help! Jump over to our decking page for some inspiration and get planning your next project!
Images courtesy of www.yourbestdigs.com.