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How to Clean Composite Decking Material: The Ultimate Guide

Apr 9, 2024

Composite decking, such as Trex, has become a popular choice for homeowners thanks to its beautiful aesthetics, low maintenance, and durability. Unlike traditional wood decks, composite decking won’t warp, splinter, or rot, but it still requires regular cleaning with a composite deck cleaner to maintain its beauty and lifespan. This guide from DeckIt, your local supplier of composite decking materials in Tulsa, OK, will equip you with everything you need to keep your composite deck looking its best for years to come.

Understanding Composite Decking

Composite decking is a blend of wood fibers and plastic polymers, offering the natural warmth of wood with the strength and resilience of plastic. This combination makes composite decking resistant to moisture, insects, and fading, requiring significantly less upkeep compared to traditional wood decks.

5 Common Misconceptions About Composite Decking (Cleaning Related)

Here are some common misconceptions about composite decking, particularly regarding cleaning:

1. Composite decking is maintenance-free

While low maintenance, composite decking still requires regular cleaning to prevent dirt, grime, and mildew buildup.

2. You can use any cleaner on composite decking

Harsh chemicals and abrasive cleaners can damage the deck’s surface. Always use gentle cleaners designed specifically for composite decks.

3. Pressure washing is the best way to clean composite decking

High-pressure washing can damage the deck boards. Use a regular garden hose for most cleaning tasks, but for tougher stains, a composite deck cleaner may be necessary.

4. Stains won’t show on composite decking

While composite decking resists stains better than wood, spills, and dirt can leave permanent marks if not addressed promptly, highlighting the importance of a proper cleaning guide for composite materials.

5. Mold and mildew won’t grow on composite decking

While less susceptible than wood, mold, and mildew can still grow on composite decks in shady or damp areas. Regular cleaning helps prevent this.

Why Composite Decking Material Cleaning is Crucial

Why Composite Decking Material Cleaning is Crucial-img

Regular cleaning with warm water, dish soap, and a deck brush removes dirt, debris, and environmental elements that can dull the deck’s appearance and lead to long-term problems. Unattended dirt buildup on composite decking can trap moisture, creating a breeding ground for mold and mildew. Regular cleaning with mild soap and a soft bristle brush is recommended. Mildew can leave permanent stains and deteriorate the deck’s surface if left unchecked. Additionally, neglecting spills and stains can make them harder to remove later.

Tools and Materials Needed to Clean Composite Decking Materia

For successful composite deck cleaning, you’ll need a deck brush, composite deck cleaner, and possibly a plastic shovel to gently remove snow.

  • Soft-bristle brush (nylon or natural fibers)
  • Deck cleaning solution (consult your deck manufacturer’s recommendations)
  • Garden hose with spray nozzle
  • Broom
  • Dustpan
  • Optional: Shop vacuum cleaner or leaf blower

DeckIt also recommends using environmentally friendly cleaning solutions and a soft bristle brush for maintenance that’s easier to clean and gentle on composite materials. specifically formulated for composite decks, these solutions prevent actions that could damage your deck. These cleaners are effective and gentle on the deck’s surface, minimizing environmental impact and making maintenance easier to clean.

Step-by-Step Composite Decking Material Cleaning Process

Preparation (Step 1):

  • Clear the deck of furniture, planters, and any loose items.
  • Inspect the deck for any existing stains or spots that may require special attention.

Dry Cleaning (Step 2):

  • Begin by sweeping the deck thoroughly with a broom to remove loose leaves, dirt, and debris.
  • For stubborn dirt or leaves in crevices, use a shop vacuum cleaner or leaf blower.

Wet Cleaning (Step 3):

  • Attach a spray nozzle with a fan tip to your garden hose and thoroughly rinse the entire deck surface, ensuring no damage to your deck. This removes loose dirt and prepares the deck for cleaning solution application.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your chosen deck cleaner. Most cleaners require dilution with water. Apply the solution to a section of the deck at a time to start cleaning your composite decking.

Scrubbing and Brushing (Step 4):

  • Using a deck brush with soft bristles, scrub the deck surface in the direction of the grain to clean your composite deck efficiently. Pay particular attention to areas with visible dirt, grime, or mildew.
  • For stubborn stains, you may need to reapply the cleaning solution and scrub more vigorously. Be careful not to use excessive pressure with a pressure washer that could damage the deck boards.
  • Don’t forget to clean the edges and corners of the deck, where dirt and debris tend to accumulate.

Rinsing (Step 5):

  • Once you’ve finished scrubbing the entire deck, thoroughly rinse the entire surface with clean water from your garden hose.
  • Ensure no cleaning solution residue remains on the deck, as this can attract dirt and grime.

Additional Tips for Composite Decking Material Maintenance

  • Conduct regular inspections of your deck to identify and address any potential problems like loose boards or mold growth early on.
  • To prevent mold and mildew growth, keep your deck free of leaves, debris, and moisture. Trim nearby trees and shrubs to allow for proper air circulation and sunlight exposure, which helps keep your composite deck easier to clean and maintain.
  • For specific stains like grease or oil, address them promptly using a cleaning guide designed for capped composite materials. Use a degreaser specifically designed for composite decks, such as Trex, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

5 Dos and Don’ts of Composite Deck Cleaning

Do’s of Composite Deck Cleaning:

  • Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines

    Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to avoid any actions that could damage your deck. Always refer to the cleaning recommendations provided by your deck manufacturer. Different brands, such as Timbertech, may have specific cleaning product requirements for composite and PVC decking.

  • Use gentle cleaning solutions

    Opt for cleaners specifically formulated for composite decks. These cleaners are effective at removing dirt and grime without harming the deck’s surface.

  • Work in sections

    apply composite deck cleaner, scrub with a deck brush, and then rinse thoroughly. Clean the deck in manageable sections to ensure thorough cleaning and prevent the cleaning solution from drying on the surface.

  • Rinse thoroughly with mild soap and water

    After applying the cleaning solution and scrubbing with a soft bristle brush, ensure you rinse the deck completely with warm water to remove any cleaning residue. This step is crucial in how to clean a composite deck effectively.

  • Clean spills promptly

    Address spills and messes as soon as possible to prevent them from setting and becoming permanent stains.

Do’s of Composite Deck Cleaning:

  • Use harsh chemicals

    Avoid bleach, strong detergents, or abrasive cleaners, as these can damage the deck’s surface and cause fading.

  • Use abrasive brushes

    Stick to soft-bristled brushes made of nylon or natural fibers to avoid scratching the deck boards.

  • Pressure wash

    Pressure wash at high settings with caution using a fan tip nozzle to prevent damage to your composite deck. High-pressure washing can damage the deck boards. If pressure washing is necessary, use a pressure washer on a low-pressure setting (around 1,500 PSI) and keep the nozzle at least six inches away from the surface to clean your composite deck properly.

  • Neglect regular cleaning

    Regular cleaning is vital to maintain the beauty and longevity of your composite deck. Aim to clean your deck at least once a year, or more frequently in high-traffic areas.

  • Forget about shaded areas

    Pay special attention to shaded areas of your deck, as these are more prone to mold and mildew growth. Regular cleaning and proper ventilation are crucial in these areas.

Local Composite Deck Material Supplier in Tulsa, OK

DeckIt, your trusted supplier of composite decking materials in Tulsa, OK, offers a wide selection of high-quality, durable composite decks that are easier to clean and maintain. We also carry various cleaning products specifically designed for composite decks to ensure you have everything you need to keep your deck looking its best for years to come. Visit our showroom or contact us today to learn more about our composite decking products and cleaning solutions.

By following these tips and using the right cleaning methods, including a composite deck cleaner, you can ensure your composite deck remains beautiful, functional, and a valuable asset to your home for many years to come.