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Outdoor Deck Cleaning and Staining Guide

Give tired old boards the full treatment -- a deep cleaning and a new tint

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Step 1: Replace Loose or Damaged Boards

We expect a lot from an outdoor deck. It needs to rise to various challenges -- assaults by the elements, furniture being pushed around, and lots of foot traffic -- and still look terrific. But years of abuse take a toll on the wooden boards. "Luckily, you can renew most decks with a thorough cleaning and resealing for a lot less than it would cost to replace them," says Jeff Wilson, host of Restore America and Build a Deck, shows on the HGTV and DIY networks, respectively. Following is his advice for giving an aging wooden deck a fresh face-lift.

Replace loose or damaged boards, tap in popped nails, and patch cracks with wood filler.

Step 2: Choose a Cleaning Agent

Choose the right cleaning agent for the job. If you've kept up with regular maintenance, a basic deck wash will remove dirt, fungus, and traces of sealant. A heavy-duty deck cleanser will do all of that, plus eliminate spots and semitransparent stains. To battle heavy soils or remove waterproofing and opaque finishes, you'll need a deck stripper. Cedar and redwood boards require a brightener, which restores the natural wood tones as it cleans. Pour your solution into a plastic pump-action garden sprayer.

Step 3: Clean the Deck

Drench surrounding plants with water (and cover delicate foliage with plastic sheeting). Working in an 8510-foot area, spritz the cleaning formula onto the deck. Let it sit (following the manufacturer's instructions), scrub with a synthetic stiff-bristle brush, and rinse with the garden hose. Repeat on the rest of the deck.

Step 4: Pick a Stain

Let the deck dry (according to product specifications). Pick a water-, mildew-, and UV-resistant stain. Wilson's favorite? Thompson's WaterSeal Advanced Natural Wood Protector, which adheres to damp boards. "Less drying time means the entire process takes hours, not days," he says.

Step 5: Stain the Deck

Stain the deck when the weather's warm and arid. Use a paint pad or roller on a long handle to apply the stain, going in the direction of the grain. Begin at an inside corner, and work your way out. To avoid lap marks, brush backward from dry area to wet, or use a paintbrush to even out strokes. Let dry completely.

Produced By and Written By Wendy Manwarren
The deck is just the beginning ... click here for the perfect porch makeover.

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