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When you buy a home, it doesn’t come with a fence and deck maintenance manual. So naturally, we receive a lot of questions about Nashville Deck Cleaning or fence restoration from our clients. A lot of contractors will lead you to believe that cleaning and prepping your wooden structure is super complicated, and they will spit out a ton of fancy chemical names and lingo. This is more times than not a sales technique. While there are a few things we need to know, deck cleaning or fence restoration is pretty simple.
Step 1. Is cleaning really necessary? The truth – if you have a brand new fence or deck it probably needs little more than a quick sweeping to remove leaves and debris on the surface of the deck or at the base of the fence. On some high end projects it is not uncommon for our team to do a light deck cleaning to remove footprints, dirt, and lumber stamps on brand new wood but nothing more. At the other end of the spectrum, an older fence or deck, especially in our Middle Tennessee climate, can obviously need to be cleaned as soon as 6-8 months after installation. Lumber begins to deteriorate as soon as it is cut, so the sooner we can apply a high quality oil based stain and sealer to preserve the wood the better. If your fence has turned gray or has begun to show black mold, then now is time to act.
Step 2. Any cleaning is better than none at all. There is an age old debate on how to clean and what to use. If you ask ten contractors, you will likely get ten different answers. First of all, you know that the mold, mildew, and grime has got to go but you may not know how to go about removing it. Honestly, just about any method mentioned will work well and give better results than doing nothing.
Option one is to simply wet the fence down, scrub with a brush, and then rinse again. This works by removing grime but does not kill the mold and mildew that will eventually destroy your investment. Option two is most common in our Nashville staining market. Use a chlorine bleach solution at a 1:1 ratio to clean your fence or deck to kill the mold and mildew, remove oxidization, and brighten the fence. Simply put – bleach works. There is no doubt about it. Some contractors will turn up their nose at this method, probably because you simply cannot charge very much money for this service. In some cases after the wood is cleaned with bleach, you do get an unnatural light color to the wood. However, if you’re staining your fence with Coffee Brown or Cedar Tone stain, does it really matter? Remember, it is common for a dark headed woman to bleach her hair before coloring her hair the desired color. The main thing we are looking for is a clean slate and consistent coloring so that once the stain is applied, everything is uniform. Is bleaching for everyone? No. Is it an effective way to clean your fence or deck before staining? Absolutely!
Our third and final option is what you might refer to as a high end cleaning service. This is a three-step process, and we do recommend this method if your budget will allow. Our three-step process starts with a sodium percarbonate cleaning solution applied to the surface of the wood. This solution needs a little time to work its magic, but it will penetrate deep into the wood to kill the mold and mildew and loosen the dirt and debris on the surface of the wood. Now, it’s time to pressure wash. In Tennessee, our most common lumber types are treated pine and red western cedar. With these lumber types it is imperative that you do not go overboard while pressure washing. We want to use a relatively low pressure to simply wash away the dirt and grime. Some Nashville pressure washing companies will clean your fence or deck with extremely high pressure, and while it looks good at first, it can destroy the wood and cause felting (the wood will look permanently fuzzy). Once the pressure washing is complete we want to adjust the ph level of the wood with a brightener. The brightener is what will give you that beautiful brand new look and create a great canvas to apply a high quality oil based stain and sealer. Depending on your location, you may get different cleaning recommendations. For example, Nashville fence staining contractors usually recommend bleach cleaning. Although, just 30 miles down the road, Murfreesboro fence staining contractors usually recommend the three step system. Choose what you understand and are comfortable with.
The final step – We all know that no project is complete until it is finished. We are talking about a deep penetrating oil based stain and sealer in one. Check with your local stain and seal companies to determine which oil based stain is best for your environment. In our Middle Tennessee Fence Staining market we have found three brands to be top quality and commercial grade. We recommend Standard Paints Wood Defender and it is our first choice and comes with the best warranty. We also highly recommend Ready Seal. Ready Seal is another high quality product that has a beautiful array of color choices. Our third choice is Bakers Gray Away. They have a ton of color choices and give great results.
To recap – we need to identify if cleaning is necessary and to what extent. Next, decide which cleaning method will work best on your fence or deck. The last step is to apply a high quality penetrating oil based stain and sealer in one like Wood Defender.
If you have any questions or comments, please let us know.
Stain & Seal Experts | Nashville fence staining contractor.
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