Deck cleaning products are used to prepare decks for a stained or painted finish. These products include deck cleaner, deck stripper, and deck brightener. Refinishing a deck may require using some or possibly all of these products depending on the existing condition of the deck.
A deck cleaner is typically an alkaline base product (pH greater than 7) formulated to remove dirt, decayed leaves, grease, mildew, and other foreign matter that can interfere with a new stain or paint finish. Because a deck is a horizontal surface, these contaminants can easily produce a stubborn film that water alone cannot eliminate.
Deck cleaners are often sold as concentrates that can be diluted with water to produce a cleaning solution. When a deck cleaner is applied, it generally requires some scrubbing action to effectively remove stains. Once the scrubbing is completed, the residue can be rinsed away with clean water. A second application of deck cleaner may be necessary for deeply penetrated stains.
Some deck cleaning products are referred to as a deck cleaner/brightener. This type of product is most likely an acid base solution. Acid base cleaners are only effective removing contaminants that dissolve in acid, such as rust stains from fasteners (nails and screws) and tannin stains.
deck stripper is used to remove an existing deck stain coating so that a new
coat of stain can function properly. This is an especially important
step, if a
new coat of oil base deck stain is to be applied. Deck stripper together with scrubbing action works to soften the existing stain resins within the pores of the wood,
so that they can be rinsed away. A second application of deck stripper is often needed.
Deck strippers contain chemicals like Potassium Hydroxide or Sodium Hydroxide. Because these
chemicals have a high pH, the deck surface needs to
be neutralized before a new coating is applied. Deck stripper is usually available in a ready-to-use formula.
A deck brightener is fundamentally an oxalic acid
solution that etches the surface of the decking, removing the old, sun-damaged wood fiber as well as extractive tannin stains and rust stains. A wood brightener also serves to neutralize the pH of a deck surface after deck stripper has been used.
Deck brighteners are available in both concentrates
and ready-to-use formulas. Once applied to a deck surface, some scrubbing with a stiff bristle brush is necessary for optimal results. Once the scrubbing is completed, the residue can be rinsed away with clean water.
Always take adequate safety precautions when using any strong acid. Wear chemical resistant gloves for hand protection and chemical splash goggles for eye protection. As with all deck cleaning products, follow label directions for proper use.