Deck cleaning

Deck Cleaner Info for Ipe and other hardwood species

 

If you are lucky enough to own an ipe deck or any of the hardwood species of decks then you may already be aware that these woods require maintenance like any other wooden deck. Hardwood deck cleaning is not that much more difficult than cleaning any other type of deck with a few caveats.

 

1) Though the term hardwood is used often and certainly applies, this does not mean the wood is impervious to damage. Always use low pressure and even washing strokes.

2) Hardwood decks can have mold spores carried with them from their place of origin. Mold strains from a rain forest in Brazil are very hearty and must be removed prior to finishing.

 

Ipe deck problem while using ipe deck cleaner containing sodium hypochlorite

Deck cleaning is surrounded by myth. The big box stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s cater to a mass market. The deck cleaners that are sold in these stores almost always contain sodium hypochlorite better known by its common name, household bleach. There is a problem that arises when using sodium hypochlorite. When wood decks are constantly exposed to bleach, they degrade. The lignin in the wood gets broken down and is washed away. In addition, this type of deck cleaner leaves an unnatural whitening to the wood’s surface. If you apply a stain or pigmented sealer after cleaning you can end up with a blotchy finish.

 

What you should use is an ipe deck cleaner containing sodium percarbonate

A true professional deck contractor will use deck cleaning products that contain sodium percarbonate. This mild chemical agent is the precursor to sodium hydroxide and is contained in the brand name product OxyClean™. OxyClean by itself is not a perfect wood cleaner. It contains too many fillers and byproducts. Products that contain sodium percarbonate will effectively kill mold spores. The oxygenating power of the chemical will bring dirt to the surface. Percarbonate is also an good emulsifier of oil based stains.

 

How to apply your ipe deck cleaner that contains sodium percarbonate

Choose a deck cleaning product that contains sodium percarbonate. This cleaning compound will bubble up dirt and mold from below the surface. Deck cleaning on hardwoods like ipe should be performed whether the wood has been outside for awhile or if it is new construction. Apply the deck cleaner via a pump up sprayer. Let it sit for 15-20 minutes. Use a deck brush or pressure washer to agitate the mixture and then rinse methodically. Do not use high pressure. Keep your pressure washing wand far from the surface and walk the entire length of each board without stopping. This will prevent any lap marks and give you a clean surface to stain and seal.

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