Composite decking is a low maintenance material for building your deck, but it still requires some maintenance. As a matter of fact, a little maintenance goes a long way to help your composite boards last longer and prevent any damage that may happen. Most composite decking boards come with a warranty, so proper maintenance and cleaning procedures are necessary for those just-in-case scenarios where you might have to use the warranty.
It is always a good idea to double-check the cleaning instructions for your brand of composite decking boards before cleaning so you don’t do anything that will void the warranty. If you have a composite deck installed in your home or commercial property, a simple soapy water solution with a pressure cleaner should do the trick. However, some composite decking comes with cleaning guidelines and require more effort to maintain than others.
A few factors will dictate how often you need to clean and what type of cleaning is required: the season and location, along with how much traffic the deck gets and if debris tends to accumulate on it.
Preventative cleaning is definitely a better option than reactive cleaning to undo the damage if you want your deck in top shape.
Keep a simple cleaning routine
Most composite board manufacturers suggest a weekly or monthly cleaning to keep the deck as clean as possible. This can be as simple as a quick once-over with a broom to clean off dirt, leaves, and other accumulated materials.
For larger decks or in autumn, when there may be a large amount of leaves that need to be removed and cleared, you may find using a leaf blower easier. For decks with a lot of dirt accumulation, use a high pressure water cleaner to hose the dirt off.
Remove stubborn dirt from your composite decking
For hard to remove dirt, you’ll want to use soapy water and a brush. Start by hosing off the deck and then use a soft bristle brush with a mild detergent mixed with water to scrub the deck. Make sure that you get into the cracks and corners of the deck, this will ensure that you will remove any mildew or mould that could possibly build up on the deck.
A wash with soapy water is recommended at least twice a year, and more often if exposed to a very dusty or humid and moist environment. Or you decking material is a 1st generation or un-capped composite.
If your deck is larger or if scrubbing it seems too hard, you can use a pressure washer instead. Make sure it is set to under 3100 psi and the nozzle is at least 21 cm from the boards. To prevent damage always spray with the grain of the composite.
For both scrubbing and pressure washing, make sure to completely rinse the deck with clean, preferably warm, water afterwards. Soap can leave a film on composite decking that could damage it over time. Also, never use a harsh detergent or acetone solution; instead opt for mild soap and use a high-water dilution ratio.
Take fast action with any food spills
On a day-to-day basis, especially during the summer when outdoor entertaining is frequent, make sure you remove and clean any food spills as soon as possible. Certain composite board manufacturers have a material warranty that will be voided if food is left sitting longer than seven days.
Remove the food or drink spill and then wash using a warm soapy water mixture. This method is not limited to food alone, it will also work on any grease or oil stain.
Keep your deck in pristine condition
Some composite board manufacturers will have brand specific ‘brighteners’ that can be used after cleaning to protect the boards and will also remove any tannins that could be left over from debris. Double check to verify the brightener can be used with the decking material you have, clean the deck, then apply the product after the deck is completely dry. For 1 generation or un-capped decking there are stains or sealers similar what is used on timber decking to restore and revitalise your deck.
All in all, cleaning a composite deck is quite simple. With regularly scheduled maintenance, your deck will look great and last a whole lot longer.
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