Summertime is in full swing and hopefully you’re spending a lot of time outside on your deck, porch or patio. Here in Portland with our mild winters, outdoor living space not only adds value to your home, it also significantly increases your quality of life. You can be outside nearly year round with the right outdoor space.
For suggestions on setting up an outdoor living space, see our Outdoor Living article.
Keeping your patio or deck clean will help protect your investment for years to come, and it will make hanging out in the space much more enjoyable.
Why Spend the Time Cleaning Your Deck and Patio in Portland
Cleaning and sealing your deck and patio on a regular basis is a smart way to protect your investment and add value to your home. Here in Portland, our rainy winters can really take a toll on all types of outdoor surfaces. Moss forms seemingly overnight and decomposing leaves are a recipe for slick surfaces. Over time, this material can cause lasting damage to concrete and wood.
Keep Your Deck and Patio Free from Debris
Sweep your deck or patio frequently. Keep wood surfaces free from debris as much as possible. In the rainy months, debris can begin to break down and on wood surfaces, this creates a dangerously slippery environment. After a while, a slick coating can begin to develop across the entire wood surface, making it difficult to clean.
When to Clean your Deck or Patio
Even with regular sweeping, it can be hard to keep a deck or patio perfectly clean. It’s a good idea to plan for an annual sprucing up of the space and a good deck scrubbing, If a slick film has begun to appear, you’ll need a deep clean. You’ll know how severe the condition is only when the surface is thoroughly wet, so sometimes it’s best to assess your deck and patio in the springtime on a rainy day.
How to Clean Your Deck or Patio
Wait for a sunny day, then set aside a few hours for the project. Start by clearing everything off of the surface you wish to clean so you have an open workspace and can completely immerse yourself in the cleaning process.
There are many cleaners on the market that purport to make easy work of cleaning a deck or patio, but they often contain harmful chemicals. Most decks and patios can be easily cleaned up with a little elbow grease or a power washer.
Specialty brushes with extra firm bristles (often called deck brushes) are good for removing caked on debris. Using a lot of water and a non-toxic solvent or soap solution will help in this process. Use extreme caution when cleaning a painted surface, you don’t want to scrape off the paint.
A power washer is a fantastic way to deep clean a deck or patio, but only use one if you are certain you can handle the noise and control the pressure. A power washer is not recommended for a painted surface.
Concrete is a durable surface that easily masks how dirty it really is. Once you spend some time deeply power washing your patio or front walkway, you’ll be amazed how light and fresh the space will be.
Most power washers have an array of spray nozzles of varying intensity. Select the nozzle that provides enough pressure without causing damage to the surface. Even if you have selected a gentle nozzle, most power washers are extremely powerful (hence the name!) so use caution every step of the way. If a neighbor stops by to say hi, be sure to turn the power washer off. If you’re not paying attention, you could slip up and over-spray an area of the deck, causing lasting damage.
Hire a Professional
If you don’t have the time or interest in cleaning your deck or patio yourself, hire a service to come take care of the work. There are many companies who specialize in deck and patio cleaning. Landscape maintenance companies often offer this service on the side.
If you’re going to hire a company to power wash, be certain to check their references. Some deck surfaces vary in hardness, and you want to ensure you select a company that is skilled in treating your deck carefully.
Re-Seal Your Deck
If you’ve had to do a deep cleaning of a wood deck, re-sealing the wood is probably a good idea. You should only need to do this every 5-10 years, depending on what type of wood it was built with and what sort of conditions it endures year round.
Select a sealant that is recommended for your type of wood and follow the instructions carefully. Be sure to respect the curing time - rushing that process could cause damage to all the beautiful work you’ve done to make your deck sparkle.