How to Clean Your Deck After a Long Winter

New Again Deck gives tips on how to provide year-round protection for your deck.

After a long winter of heavy snow and freezing temperatures, homeowners have an endless list of maintenance and repairs to attack before enjoying the warmer seasons. Those with wooden decks have extra steps to take. If not well-maintained, a wooden deck can be costly and time consuming because of repairs. Barak Brodni, owner of New Again Deck Renewal, recommends routine maintenance to ensure your deck withstands the elements for a long-lasting, like-new appearance for years to come.

Brodni started New Again Deck Renewal in 2008 in Minnetonka. His extensive knowledge and experience with a five-star hotel has helped shape his business practice providing a positive customer experience. “The customer is No. 1,” Brodni says. “Many companies can pressure-wash and work hard,” Brodni says, “but it’s the personal attention that counts.”

Colleen Szot, a client of Brodni’s, has been especially impressed.  “In this day and age, it is far too rare to find a service company that takes such pride and care in their business,” Szot says.

Brodni encourages his clients to continue regular upkeep, and is happy to be a resource and provide input on how to protect deck wood from common issues. Regular maintenance can make a significant difference in whether or not a deck will need extensive repairs, and small changes can be the key. “Our grill is on our deck, and [Brodni] suggested using a grease catcher,” Szot says. “That alone saved us time and money down the line.”

The warmer months—spring, summer and fall—are when deck cleaning is important. “In the fall and springtime, there’s a lot of stuff coming from the trees and bushes,” Brodni says. “That’s really bad on the wood.”

He suggests using a leaf blower every few weeks to rid the deck of leaves and pollen that accumulate. When mixed with rain or other moisture, these particles can leave black or green dots on your deck that are difficult to remove. “When you see green dots on your deck, it’s usually mold or green algae,” Brodni says. He adds that in the fall, leaves mixed with water will leave black marks.

Brodni also suggests paying attention to the area surrounding the deck. “When there are nearby bushes, it’s important to trim them and make sure they are not going over the handrails or the floorboards,” he says.

The most important preventive measure Brodni tells his clients is to keep potted plants off the deck. “Over time, sometimes as soon as a few weeks, a black ring will appear around the pots,” Brodni says. “There is no way to clean or sand the marks.” If plants must be kept on the deck, rotate the pots every week or use plant bases with legs or wheels that allow space between the deck and the bottom of the pot. This will help avoid permanent damage. “The No. 1 rule is having air between the plant and the deck,” Brodni says.

In the winter, Brodni recommends homeowners shovel snow periodically, but leave about an inch to prevent shoveling too close to the deck and damaging the wood. Ice can be left to melt.

Even with routine maintenance, it is important to fully clean and seal your deck every two years for all horizontal surfaces, and every three to four years for all vertical surfaces. Every five to six years, Brodni recommends a full sanding to help cover cracks and splinters. For these more intensive repairs, it’s best to consult with a professional to discuss the next steps.

For more information on deck restoration or to learn more about other services that New Again Deck Renewal provides, visit Mention this article for a special discount on any home restoration service.

Staining Tips:
Looking to stain on your own? Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • It is important to have bare wood before staining. Make sure you have used a wood cleaner to remove leftover finishes, a pressure washer to deep clean and then a brightener to neutralize the wood. Bare wood will hold a new stain better and help avoid any markings from leftover stains or coatings.
  • Use an oil-based stain for any finishes you plan on using on your deck. An oil-based stain will penetrate deeper and protect from the inside, whereas a solid stain or paint will only create a shell around the wood. Once this shell cracks, moisture can get locked in and damage the wood from the inside.
  • If you’re not sure what to do, call a professional. It is important to do research and gather information to avoid any unintended damage to your deck, which may lead to costly repairs.