A wood deck requires regular maintenance just like any other major part of a home. Regular cleaning and application of a high-quality stain and sealer will help protect your deck from the weather and ultra-violet ray damage caused by the sun and will extend the usable life of the deck.
Cleaners containing Chlorine Bleach are commonly used to clean decks but they are not recommended for cleaning Ecolife® treated wood. Excessive use of chlorine bleach containing cleaners (sodium hypochlorite or calcium hypochlorite) can damage treated wood leaving it with an unnatural whitewashed appearance. Chlorine bleach also can raise the wood fibers and cause a fuzzy-looking surface.
Cleaners that contain Oxalic Acid are a better choice for Ecolife treated wood.
Basic Deck Cleaning
There are a number of commercial products in the marketplace that are recommended for the cleaning of preservative treated wood decks. For best results always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. The following suggestions are provided as supplementary guidance.
Clear the deck of all furniture, grills, etc., and the surrounding area of all debris and obstacles to create a safe work zone.
Remove all debris trapped between deck boards and the edge of the house and sweep or blow the deck to remove all debris.
Prepare the surrounding area and protect your shrubs and plants with a plastic drop cloth. Spray water on plants in the surrounding area to dilute any over-spray of the deck cleaner that lands on desirable plants.
For mild stains and dirt use a mild dish detergent diluted in a bucket of water. Mop a small area of the deck surface with the detergent and then use a stiff bristle brush to work the dirt free from the surface. Rinse the solution with a garden hose and re-clean areas as needed.
For more severe stains and dirt use a deck cleaner. Before use carefully mix/stir the product in accordance with the manufacturer's directions. Use eye protection and rubber gloves as directed.
Apply the deck cleaner according to manufacturer's instructions.
Unless directed otherwise by the manufacturer, apply the cleaner only to the amount of deck surface you can work at one time. Work in sections and let the deck cleaner do its work. Many cleaning solutions should not be allowed to dry on the wood so periodic spraying/misting may be required.
Let the cleaner set on the deck boards for the time period recommended by the manufacturer.
Once the cleaner has worked for the specified time, use a hard-bristled broom with synthetic bristles to scrub the deck clean. Scrub parallel with the wood grain at all times.
Rinse well with water and repeat the process on the next section of the deck.
Once cleaning is completed inspect your work. The surface should be consistently clean and unmarred or damaged. Re-clean any stubborn areas that still look dirty.
Power Washing Your Deck
Many homeowners want to use a power washer to clean decks but, without appropriate care, it is easy to ruin the deck surface and cause significant damage to the wood. Be especially careful power washing newer deck surfaces that have not been previously sealed or coated. If you do choose to use a power washer pay careful attention to the manufacturer’s instructions. In addition, these general recommendations obtained from various online sources may be helpful.
Use the lowest possible pressure that effectively cleans the surface.
Use a fan-tip only, set for an angle of spread between 40 and 60 degrees.
Never use a narrow stream or a rotating “tornado” type of tip.
Always start by pointing the spray away from people and glass windows and at least 24" away from the wood deck.
Once the fan spread is properly set, slowly begin feathering the spray approximately 18 inches from the deck.
Test your spray in an inconspicuous area and not the primary deck surface.
In general, avoid spraying closer than 16-20 inches unless the pressure is very low.
As you sweep the sprayer along the deck boards, many people will have a tendency to pivot their arm and that will create an inconsistent distance of the tip from the deck surface. Try to maintain a consistent distance from each deck board as you clean. You can do this by walking slowly and holding the sprayer steady at a level distance and angle.
Start cleaning deck boards closest to the house and work from the house outward to the far edge of the deck.
Work with the grain by feathering the spraying lengthwise with the deck boards and overlapping each area slightly. The objective is even cleaning with no visible differences on any board.
Cleaning Mold On Your Deck
Mold and mildew are present everywhere in our environment, both indoors and outdoors. Mold and mildew need four things to thrive: air, water, temperatures between 32 and 120F, and a food source-- conditions that are common wherever humans live, work, and play.
The best way to minimize mold and mildew growth is to control water and food sources. When it comes to mold or mildew on wood decking, water, and organic matter are the primary conditions that enable mold and mildew colonies to thrive. To minimize these conditions, make sure water has the ability to flow away from the deck surface and areas surrounding the deck to lessen the absorption of water. Ensure there is adequate ventilation between deck boards and underneath the deck surface, so water can rapidly evaporate.
And since both mold and mildew feed on dead or decaying organic matter, it is important to keep your deck clean of leaves and debris.
Tips for Minimizing Mold
Maintain a deck that is dry and clean.
Ensure gutters/downspouts and dryer vents do not discharge directly on decks.
Ensure adequate ventilation under and between decking boards.
Minimize water puddles under decks and the use of wet mulch up against the deck structure.
Cleaning a deck just after the last of the major pollen events (when your car doesn't change color from the pollen anymore) will minimize the seasonal outbreak of mold and mildew.
Periodically rinse off your deck using a garden hose with a spray nozzle, especially after the major pollen events. Skilled professionals may use pressure washers with wide fan tips but in the wrong hands, your deck can be damaged. Exercise extreme caution when using pressure washers.
Ensure the gaps between the decking boards remain free of debris so that regular rain showers can remove pollen and organic debris between cleanings.
Avoid fertilizer over-spray.
Staining and Sealing Your Project
A deck is a special part of your outdoor living space that should last for years. Keep it looking its best with the right deck cleaners, sealers and stains to enhance its long-term beauty.
You can stain treated lumber when it is dry. Test the wood with a few drops of water to see if the wood is dry enough to readily absorb the water. Apply the stain to a small portion of the deck to ensure the wood is sufficiently dry. As soon as the wood is porous enough to accept the stain, it is ready to stain.
Apply a high-quality oil or water-based finish with UV protection to slow down the process of wood turning gray from exposure to the sun.
Apply a water repellent sealer at least every two years.
Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for new and re-application.
Safe Practices When Working With Pressure-Treated Wood
Wear appropriate safety protection when working with treated wood products including gloves, goggles and dust mask.
Wash hands thoroughly with mild soap and water after working with treated wood.
Do not burn pressure-treated wood or use treated wood debris as mulch.
Pressure-treated wood should not be used where it may come into direct or indirect contact with drinking water or a component of food, animal feed or beehives.
Dispose of treated wood debris in accordance with local regulations.
Florida Lumber, Miami, FL
“Florida Lumber has carried Ecolife for over four years, and we keep our lumber stock outside. The Miami weather can be harsh on treated lumber, and we’ve seen a dramatic decrease in cracking and cupping in our inventory compared with other treatments. The other big benefit is Ecolife is fully compatible with fasteners and in our constantly humid and moist climate, that is a big advantage to builders. We’ve done very well with Ecolife, and we probably sell one to two truckloads per week and have lots of repeat customers that return to buy it again.”
Vision Ace Hardware, Wauchula, FL
“Vision Ace Hardware has carried Ecolife for at least three years, and we’ve seen a dramatic drop in our waste from inventory losses. We used to lose approximately 10 to 20 pieces from a 208-piece unit of lumber, and with Ecolife we now lose only 2-3 pieces. Our lumber inventory seems straighter and looks good while in stock here. Our customer base is a mix of commercial and consumer/DIY, and both types of customers have been very happy with Ecolife thus far.”
Orlando Tellez, Owner
Sarasota Fence, Florida
“We use Ecolife almost exclusively now and it has been working great so far. We’ve seen a dramatic decrease in the number of issues like checking and cracking. The treatment can’t fix wood issues, but the chemicals in Ecolife definitely do a great job in helping the wood stand up to the rough weather here in Florida.”
Southern Lumber Millwork, Charleston, SC
“We’ve carried Ecolife since March 2012 and have been pleased so far. We generally turn our truck-load orders quickly and deliver nearly full loads to job-sites, and our contractor customers also seem happy with Ecolife.”
Eric Hayes, Purchasing Director
Parks Building Supply
“We converted our treated lumber to Ecolife at the beginning of 2012. Since the conversion, our cull rates have declined drastically and our loaders have the ability to pull quality loads without having to sift through lumber. We have had zero complaints from customers since the change! Ecolife not only gives Parks a superior product but also gives me the confidence that our customers are going to be completely satisfied, and superior customer service is what we strive to deliver day in and day out.
Rob Thompson, Assistant Manager
Guy C. Lee Building Materials
“We find once we explain and demonstrate the benefits of Ecolife, it’s a hands-down winner, and consumers come looking for it. We stock some #2 and some premium grade dimensional lumber in Ecolife that our professional customers are now also seeking out, and they’ve grown accustomed to finding it in our warehouse. Pros are appreciating the better product performance, and that has helped Guy C. Lee Building Materials stand out by carrying a quality product at a fair price.”
Jim Melchiorre, General Manager
Tri-County Lumber, Berwick, PA
“When you’re trying to be the best in a down economy, it’s tough. We first learned about Ecolife by recommendation from another dealer, and Ecolife has been positively received by our customers since we started carrying it. The Ecolife treated lumber that we sell helps differentiate Tri-Country Lumber from our competition. Ecolife helps us stand out in the marketplace, and we’d never consider switching away from it.”
Bob Heidenreich, Owner
The Deck Store, MN
“Because it repels moisture so effectively, it doesn’t crack and warp in wet environments like other types of treated lumber. We highly recommend it for framing, substructures, and decks. Ecolife is our first choice. You can’t build great decks with bad materials.”
Danny Talbert, President & Owner
Talbert Building Supply, Durham, NC
“Talbert Building Supply has been selling treated lumber from Tucker Lumber for over 20 years. Their quality lumber and service is second to none. Since their conversion to Ecolife, we have had fewer complaints about lumber shrinking and warping. After the unusually hot summer we have experienced, that is very important.”
Legacy Building Company, Roxboro, NC
“We at Legacy Building Company use Ecolife Treated Lumber often and have had no call backs or complaints. We are very happy with the product and will continue to use it on all our projects.”
J.D. Morris Construction, Durham, NC
“I just recently finished a project using Ecolife Treated Lumber which I also plan on entering into the Bass Boat contest. My client, and ex Bass Master, is ecstatic about the project and also the chance of winning a Bass Boat. They could not be happier with the end result or the product. We plan to use it more in the future.”
Yandle’s Building Materials, FL
“We are convinced Ecolife is a better-treated wood product. Out in the yard, boards remain straighter and look nicer for a longer period of time. Our inventory shrinkage is lower due to fewer boards going bad on the rack. Best of all, we have repeat customers coming back and asking for Ecolife because of its performance for them as well. Word of mouth has spread, and business for Ecolife is definitely growing.”
Woodland Building Supply, PA
“We have been very happy with Ecolife Stabilized Wood. We store our treated products outside and have noticed significantly less culling since we switched our inventory to Ecolife.
Ecolife has been a home run for us and our customers. Our customers are very happy with the performance in the field. Ecolife yards better and is a greener, safer product for us and our customers to handle at relatively the same price point.”
Jim Cataquet, Buyer
Williams Lumber, NY
“We switched to Ecolife early on, and Williams Lumber has been very satisfied with Ecolife. Ecolife lumber yards well on our steel racks, and our builders like that it is less corrosive to their fasteners in the field."
Wallace Builder’s Supply, Carrrollton, GA
“We’ve carried Ecolife for about two years and it has a better shelf life than CAC or MCA. We’ve had fewer culls from inventory since making the switch to Ecolife.
Buy Low True Value Hardware, Rockmart, GA
“We’ve sold the dark and lighter treatments in the past, and Ecolife seems to stay “newer” longer. We carry mostly decking and 2-by’s in our covered storage and the inventory holds up better and we’re having fewer culls. We’re very happy with Ecolife here in the store, and I never get complaints from my customers about it.”
Jeff Rorex, Homeowner
“I used Ecolife to build a 24' x 36' deck around my above-ground swimming pool to make the pool easier for people to use. I chose Ecolife because of the consistent uniformity in the appearance of the deck boards and the warranty. I installed a composite deck about ten years ago, and have never really been happy with it, and wish I could have used Ecolife instead back then. The clarity and natural wood beauty of the Ecolife deck boards is impressive, and I have recommended Ecolife to friends and would continue to recommend it in the future.”
Joseph Miranda, Homeowner
“Our home was built 30 years ago, with a ground-level entrance deck up to a landing and front door. After the original deck passed its useful life, we decided to rebuild the deck on its original footprint since it functioned not only as a distinctive entry-way but also as an extended outdoor living space integrated into the front-yard landscape.
We chose Ecolife, first because of its appearance. We wanted the look of authentic wood, in place of the synthetics, the promise of a long life as we had with our original wood deck, and the ease of construction that came with using stabilized, dimensioned wood, as well as the integrated eco-friendly wood preservative and weathering treatments. We also wanted to balance cost with quality, for both final appearance and quality of construction. We were also looking for a product that would weather naturally and hold up well under our challenging coastal climate of heat and humidity. Ecolife fit the bill and has been performing well.”
James Wolfe, Homeowner
“We built a 16’x25’ deck using Ecolife. I am in the process of building benches and flower planter boxes for the perimeter in lieu of a railing. In my area, I had a few lumber yards to choose from and spent a lot of time talking with staff members about their products and of course pricing. The YouTube video describing the product side-by-side with the competitor sample was very helpful and informative, and the “green” benefits and affordable price were also huge in our decision process.
Working with the Ecolife product was very nice compared to other products I have used in the past. The decking also sat in the sun for a few hours and there was no board warping or twisting. The boards cut very easy and did not split while using self-drilling screws even when screw placement was near the edge. I will definitely be using Ecolife when I rebuild my pond dock later this summer!”