In the following post, we will look at the most efficient ways to clean your composite decking quickly and efficiently for far less than you might think. Although one of the core features is the ease and speed of cleaning, there can be a risk of damage to your boards without following the correct procedures. This guide will help you to keep your beautiful composite decking looking fantastic for many years to come.
Low Maintenance – Easy Cleaning
Composite decking doesn’t require any painting or staining like timber decking and you won’t find weeds growing through the cracks like paving slabs, due to the elevation provided by the composite decking joists that create the underlying structure. It’s also very easy and quick to clean.
Variable wood grain patterns and PermaTech coatings provide a highly realistic alternative to timber. It also lasts longer and has a very similar look and feel, without the maintenance problems that can occur. Furthermore, this exterior coating means oil, grease and other spoilages can easily be wiped off with a simple combination of warm soapy water and a soft brush, in contrast to the difficulties of removing stubborn stains from timber and wood.
How do I clean composite decking?
It doesn’t hurt to spend 2-3 hours a year to clean your composite decking to keep it looking pristine and in ‘as-new’ condition. This of course will help your deck boards last even longer and help safeguard against any potential issues in the future.
Let’s break down the entire process into a few steps:
- If you’re organised, you can get it all done in just a couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon. Get it done during the summer, when your decking is at its driest and any water you add will evaporate quickly. With that said, you’ll want to work in small sections if you’re working in direct sunlight, to prevent dirty water and suds from drying onto the surface before you have a chance to wash them away.
- You’ll want to move all the furniture sitting on your decking. This might include chairs, tables, barbeque grills and potted plants. Don’t try to clean around them it’s more hassle than it’s worth.
- One of the problems in the sweeping phase is that your decking is covered in small gaps, into which little bits of debris is sure to fall. Allow this stuff to accumulate, and it’ll form blockages that will prevent rainwater from properly draining. The organic particles that sit in these gaps can then stew, leaching tannin into rainwater. This is the same stuff that gives red wine its colour, and it’ll stain terribly if not checked. Standing rainwater can also cause the boards to swell, warp and crack.
While composite boards are far more resistant to warping than their traditional timber counterparts, they aren’t invulnerable to damage caused by standing water. Get those gaps cleared every time you clean, and this is a problem you won’t have to deal with.
General instructions for cleaning:
- Use a soft brush, vacuum cleaner or leaf blower to get rid of dirt and debris
- Hose down your decking to get rid of excess dirt and debris
- Mix some warm, soapy water into a clean bucket ready to wash
- Use a soft bristle brush to scrub the decking (or a pressure sprayer) to loosen any trapped dirt and debris between the joints and remove any mold or grease
- Hose off and dry down and enjoy your newly cleaned composite decking
Let’s take a look at some further details on how to clean your composite decking efficiently and answer some common questions often asked by owners:
How to clean composite deck railing
But what about the railing? The same principles apply here, but the task is mercifully simple as you won’t need to worry about standing water or gaps between boards. Just use soapy water and a soft scouring pad, and scrub that composite railing clean. Rinse, and allow to dry in the sunlight, and it’ll be as good as new!
Can I use bleach to clean my composite decking?
In a word no! Chlorine bleach is particularly corrosive and can damage your decking. Bleach is also a poor choice anyway for removing mold. This is because bleach is effective on non-porous surfaces (although it will strip away protective coatings on capped composite decking), but does not perform well on porous surfaces such as uncapped composite decking.
A better option is to use a dedicated composite decking cleaner. These products are specifically formulated for the job in hand and will not damage your decking. There are some great products available in the UK and cost around £40 to £50 for 2 – 3 litres. A word of warning though, never mix bleach in with specialist decking cleaner in an effort to enhance the formula or attempt your own DIY cleaning concoction – otherwise you could be in for some unpleasant results..
Can I use a pressure washer on my composite decking?
A pressure washer (if used with extreme caution) can be used on capped composite decking, but it is not advised and not recommended on uncapped decking boards at all. This is partly due to the materials often being softer than standard wood and therefore more prone to damage.
To avoid damaging the protective coatings on capped decking, If you do decide to use a pressure washer, make sure it is at least 30cm away from the decking and under 3000psi of pressure. Always wash along with the grain to avoid damaging the appearance. A great way to clean your decking is with a manual pressure sprayer which is much more gentle on your decking boards – or go with a simple bowl of warm water and soap, which should suffice. Below we take a look at the most effective techniques to clean different types of common spoilage:
- Oil and grease
Warm, soapy water and a soft brush
Loosen with a soft brush, clear and wash with warm soapy water
- Snow & Ice
Use a plastic shovel and gently remove the snow or ice from your decking. A soft brush may also suffice
You can leave scratches to gradually fade away on their own
- Bird droppings
Warm, soapy water and a soft brush
Solid decking helps reduce the risk of internal moisture build up and is generally stronger. If you are looking to purchase decking, read more about different types of composite decking including hollow and solid variations, to help make your choice.
Whatever decking you choose to use, treat it with care to ensure a stunning area to relax in the garden for many years to come.