Composite decking has become increasingly popular among homeowners due to its low maintenance requirements and durability. While composite decking is designed to resist stains, mold, and fading, it still requires regular cleaning to maintain its appearance and longevity. One common question among homeowners is whether or not they can use a power washer to clean their composite decking. This blog post will explore the benefits and risks of power washing composite decking and provide tips for safely and effectively cleaning your deck using this method.
Purpose of power washing composite decking
Power washing composite decking is an effective way to keep it looking new. Below are five key purposes of power washing:
1. Removing Algae and Mildew Buildup:
Power washing removes the buildup of algae and mildew, which can discolor, stain, and degrade the strength of your composite decking if left untreated. Pressure washing combines water pressure and biodegradable cleaning agents to break down harmful substances on the surface of your composite deck boards.
2. Cleaning Dirt and Grime:
Besides algae and mildew buildup, dirt and grime can accumulate on composite decking over time due to outdoor exposure. A power washer helps clear away dirt particles, leaving your composite deck looking clean and fresh.
3. Rejuvenating Color:
Pressure washing can restore the original color of your composite deck boards by removing stains and discoloration caused by dirt and grime buildup over time. This helps maintain the aesthetic appeal of your outdoor space for years to come.
4. Preventing Damage:
Power washing also plays a key role in helping to prevent damage to your composite deck due to harsh weather conditions or wear and tear from regular use. The pressure wash removes any debris that may cause structural harm to the deck, keeping it safe and secure for its entire lifespan.
5. Minimizing Maintenance Time:
Regular power washing ensures you spend less time on maintenance tasks, as it helps reduce the amount of dirt and grime buildup. This means you can enjoy outdoor space without worrying about heavy maintenance regimens. Power washing is a quick and easy way to keep your composite deck looking new.
How to power wash composite decking?
Power washing composite decking is a great way to maintain its appearance and keep it looking new. Here's how to do it:
Prepare the area for power washing by clearing away any furniture or other objects from the surface of the decking. Make sure that all areas of the decking are accessible.
2. Pressure Setting:
Adjust the pressure setting on your power washer to a medium-low level. This will help ensure that you don't damage the delicate composite material of your decking while still effectively cleaning it.
3. Applying Cleaner:
Apply a mild cleaner such as soap or detergent specifically made for composite deck cleaning to the decking. This will help loosen any dirt or grime built on the surface over time.
Begin power washing your composite decking, starting at one end and working in an even pattern until you reach the other end of the decking. Make sure to keep a steady pressure and not concentrate too much pressure on any single area.
Rinse off all surfaces of your composite deck with clean water to remove any remaining soap residue or dirt particles. Let it air dry before further cleaning or applying sealers or coatings.
6. Clean Up:
Once complete, turn off your power washer and disconnect it. Use a garden hose to rinse any debris or residue from the power washing.
Regularly wash your composite decking with a mild detergent and a soft brush to maintain it. If desired, rinse with clean water and let the surface dry before applying sealers or coatings. With regular maintenance, your composite deck will remain looking like new for many years to come!
Benefits of power washing composite decking
Power washing composite decking can be beneficial to your outdoor living area. Here are six great reasons to power wash your deck:
1. Improve Aesthetics:
Power washing your composite deck will help restore its natural beauty, removing dirt and debris built over time while leaving the underlying material untouched. This process can also reduce staining caused by air pollutants and other environmental factors, making it look new!
2. Enhance Durability:
Regularly power-washing outdoor decking can help protect and extend its lifespan. The pressure from the power washer loosens embedded dirt and debris that can cause wear and tear on the composite material, helping to keep it in tip-top condition for years to come.
3. Reduce Mold & Mildew:
Composite decks are naturally prone to mold and mildew growth due to their organic material makeup. Power washing your outdoor living area regularly helps reduce these issues by removing any existing buildup before it can spread further, creating a healthier environment for everyone.
4. Enhance Slip Resistance:
A slippery deck is unsafe, especially if you have kids or elderly family members who use it frequently. Power washing your composite decking helps remove any built-up grime and debris that can cause slipping hazards, making walking safer.
5. Save Time & Money:
Power washing your composite deck is relatively quick and cost-effective to ensure your outdoor living area always looks its best. It eliminates the need for manual scrubbing and harsh chemicals, saving you time and money in the long run.
6. Increase Curb Appeal:
A well-maintained outdoor space will increase your home's curb appeal, helping it stand out from the rest on your street! Regular power washing helps keep your composite deck looking great all year round, positively impacting anyone who visits or passes by.
Risks associated with power washing composite decking
Power washing composite decking can be a great way to keep it looking its best. However, without the proper care and technique, it has potential risks.
A. Warping and Cracking:
Power washing composite decks at too high pressure or too close of a distance may cause warping or cracking of the deck boards - making them less stable and potentially dangerous. Therefore, it is important to use the appropriate pressure setting recommended by the manufacturer of your decking material. Additionally, you should always keep your power washer wand moving as you clean to avoid concentrating too much pressure on one spot, which could lead to damage.
B. Damage to the Surface:
Using an improper nozzle on a pressure washer can also cause damage to the surface of composite decking. Inappropriate nozzles or settings, such as using a red or black nozzle (the highest pressure setting) instead of a green nozzle, could end up etching into the decking material. To avoid this, always use the manufacturer's recommended pressure setting and nozzle type for safe and effective power washing.
C. Unwanted Fading or Discoloration:
Power washing composite decks may also cause fading or discoloration of the deck board color if not done correctly. This is especially true if a harsh chemical cleaner is used with the power washer. Therefore, it is best to consult the manufacturer before cleaning your composite decking to ensure you use the correct cleaning method for optimal results without damaging your decking material.
Alternatives to power washing composite decking
Power washing composite decking can be hard on the material. Here are some alternatives that will keep your deck looking its best:
1. Scrubbing with Soap and Water
Using a non-abrasive soap and warm water is a great alternative to power washing. Scrubbing in circles, up and down, or side to side will get dirt and mildew off the decking quickly and easily. Rinse thoroughly afterward to remove all remaining soap residue.
2. Vinegar Mixture Cleaner
Mix together vinegar, baking soda, and warm water in a bucket for an effective, gentle cleaner on composite decking. Use a stiff scrub brush for more stubborn stains, and rinse thoroughly with a garden hose or pressure washer.
3. Dry Cleaning Solution
Mix eco-friendly dry cleaning solution with warm water and gently scrub the deck surface with a soft-bristled brush. Rinse with clean, cold water afterward. Dry cleaning solutions effectively remove stains from composite materials without harsh chemicals.
4. Specialized Cleaners
Another alternative is to use a specialized cleaner designed specifically for composite decking material. Follow the directions on the label and apply with a garden hose or pressure washer. This type of cleaning will quickly remove dirt, mildew, algae, mold, and more without damaging the composite material. Rinse thoroughly afterward and let the surface dry before reapplying sealant or stain if needed.
In conclusion, while power washing can effectively clean many outdoor surfaces, including wood decks, it is generally not recommended for composite decking. Composite decking is designed to be low-maintenance and resistant to many types of wear and tear, but power washing can damage the surface and compromise its protective coatings. Instead, using a gentle cleaning solution and a soft-bristled brush or mop is best to remove dirt and grime from your composite decking. Taking proper care of your composite decking can help ensure that it remains a beautiful and functional part of your outdoor living space for years to come.
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