How to clean and treat composite decking?

The best way to clean composite decking


Composite decking is a low-maintenance structure, but it does require periodic attention to keep it looking its best. As the timber is outside all the time, the changing weather affects the look of the decking. Mould and mildew can take hold, as composite timber offers an ideal surface for these to grow upon, so getting rid of these unsightly fungi requires a little elbow grease from time to time. Set an afternoon aside every six months or so to refresh and renew your deck area so it remains a lovely place to be.

Step one: Prepare the area

Remove all the furniture, pots and storage so you can easily access the whole deck in one go. This is a good time to inspect the timber which is hidden beneath objects, areas that you would not normally be able to see. Next, thoroughly brush all the loose debris off the deck; get right into the corners and along any grooves.

Step two: Spot clean

Before starting to clean the deck as a whole, begin my working on any patches and stains that have appeared on the decking. Areas around a table or barbecue may have oil and grease stains which need extra attention to clean them. Using hot water and some dish detergent, scrub with a brush and remove the grease spots. Make sure you use plenty of clean water to rinse away afterwards. If the stain remains stubborn and simple washing-up liquid isn’t working, there are purpose-made removers that will do the trick. For rust marks on the wood, purchase a deck brightener that will lift the stain off and leave it looking like new.

Step three: Clean the deck

When it comes to the final cleaning stage, you can use a garden hose and decking brush, but the best and easiest method is power washing. These machines are inexpensive to buy these days, and they are great at lifting dirt and mildew from composite timber. Use the power washer on the fan blade setting, and keep the pressure low to avoid damaging the wood. Start at the edge nearest to an adjoining building and work your way systematically to the opposite edge. It is a good idea to use a top-quality deck cleaning solution at this stage because this will remove mildew spores, and slow down any regrowth. Make sure it is an environmentally safe product so any plant or wildlife in your garden is not affected. Follow the instructions on the packaging closely to get the best results. Don’t forget to clean the steps, balustrades and handrails at the same for a really satisfying finish.

Step four: Sealing the decking

You do not have to seal composite decking, but as you have spent time cleaning it thoroughly, you may as well finish the job. Sealing it will slow down any mould regrowth and it will make cleaning easier the next time. A water-based deck sealant is the best to use as it won’t alter the colour of the timber, and it is environmentally safe. Follow the directions for the sealant which can usually be applied by roller, spray or brush. Brushing does give a better result because the friction creates a stronger contact, but it is also more time-consuming to do. As you apply the sealant, keep the coating consistent for a uniform finish. Excess product in patches can mean the sealant flakes off, so check your work as you go.

Step five: Finishing off

Don’t be in a rush to return the outdoor furniture to the deck. Make sure it has thoroughly dried out, usually at taking least 24 hours, before you lay out all the fixtures again. This will keep marks to a minimum. Now all you have to do is sit back and enjoy the renewed beauty of your outside space.

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