Maintaining your deck’s appearance is likely to be a high priority on your list, especially if you recently built one. Exposure to weather and the outdoor elements means that even lower-maintenance material such as composite decking will require occasional cleaning.
One of the first questions that many deck owners ask is “Can you power wash composite decking?” This is a natural question, since power washing is increasingly used as a method of cleaning landscape elements around the home, such as sidewalks, pavers and driveways.
It is not, however, generally recommended that you pressure wash composite decking for a variety of reasons. The primary reason is that composite material is softer than wood and can easily be damaged by a composite deck power wash. If the material becomes damaged, this can lead to a host of compounding issues that could ultimately increase your maintenance needs and costs while reducing the lifespan of your deck.
Although it’s not recommended, can you use a power washer on composite decking? There are safe ways to use a power washer. Let’s take a closer look at the risks of power washing, power washing tips and other ways to keep your deck clean.
Power Washing Composite Decking — What Problems Can Occur?
Without taking the proper precautions, power washing your composite decking could create a cascading series of issues that may ultimately end up costing you more money for maintenance and replacement. These issues can include:
- Cosmetic damage to the deck: If the pressure setting is too high or the nozzle is held too close to the surface, “etching” can occur, permanently marking the deck surface.
- Compromising the finish: Composite decking will almost always have a finish that protects the core from moisture. If this finish is damaged or compromised, moisture can become trapped, creating mold or mildew that can spread throughout each piece of damaged decking. It is nearly impossible to get rid of mold once it occurs, meaning the deck — or some components — may need to be prematurely replaced.
- Higher maintenance costs: Damaged decking means increased time and money spent on refinishing and battling mold and moisture.
Power Washing Composite Decking — Proceed With Caution
Composite decking offers a vast range of benefits, one of which is a polymer finish that helps prevent dirt, grime and other material from becoming deeply engrained in the material. It can still, however, be tempting to use a power washer thanks to the speed and efficiency that they offer. If you do choose to use a power washer, be sure to take the following precautions:
- Only use the lowest pressure setting or, if you have manufacturer specifications available, the lowest setting recommended for your decking material.
- Be sure that the nozzle is adjusted to produce the widest possible spray.
- Keep the nozzle at least 12” from the deck surface.
- If you are unsure how your composite decking will handle power washing, it is usually a good idea to test a hidden or inconspicuous area of the deck before beginning the full wash. Even during this test, however, be sure to follow the steps above since any damage to the decking finish can create further problems.
Alternative Cleaning Methods
So, if you choose not to power wash, how can you keep your composite decking clean? The protective finish on your deck means that a simple soap and water treatment is often all that is needed to return the deck to a like-new appearance. You may also want to use a vinegar solution for tougher stains. Always avoid abrasives such as chlorines and bleaches. Although this process may take a bit more time than power washing, you are much better able to avoid the potential problems described above.
Turn to NewTechWood for Composite Decking
Ultrashield composite decking from NewTechWood is the result of years of precision engineering and testing, producing a core material made from wood fiber and polyethylene, with a protective polymer finish. Ultrashield comes in a broad range of attractive colors and finish appearances, with minimal maintenance requirements over the lifetime of the deck. We are so confident in the performance of Ultrashield decking that we offer a 25-year limited transferable warranty.
To learn more, contact us today.