The Need to Treat Wood

Wood, even if it has been pressure-treated, must still be cleaned and sealed to prolong its life. While decks and fences made of pressurized wood, cedar, cypress and other exotic woods are safe from insect infestation, but they are not invulnerable to weather’s corrosive effects. Wood that does not have protective coating can pose a danger in just a year or two.  Wood will eventually crack, split, bow, cup, or shrink. This is something we have no control over. Staining and protecting your deck right away may limit these natural causes.
When is Wood Ready for Sealing?
We recommend using a stain that specifically designed for wet wood applications. If you are using a conventional stain we recommend waiting until the wood dry’s out a bit so that the stain will absorb into the wood. You can easily tell if the wood is ready for sealing. A simple method is to sprinkle drops of water on the surface of the wood. If the water is quickly absorbed, it means that the wood is dry enough and is ready for sealing. If water beads off the wood, then we recommend waiting for the wood to dry a bit longer unless using a sealant or stain that may be applied to wet lumber.

Preparing you deck such as cleaning, sanding or using wood filer in cracks is recommended prior to staining. This is called maintenance. Other contractors may say that wood should be sealed after a year so that the wood is completely dry. However, a year may be to long of a time to wait to seal wood.  During this time, the wood would have incurred too much damage, most of which cannot be reversed. Wood can be completely dry and ready for sealing in two or three months. It all depends o It has been found that wood that has been sealed within three months is much more durable and look better than wood that has been sealed after one year.


Preparing the Wood for Sealing
To prepare the wood for sealing, thoroughly clean the wood. Get rid of mold, mildew, dirt and algae that may be present on the wood. Wood that is properly cleaned has open pores and balanced pH, allowing the sealer to adhere to the wood.

Choosing the Cleaning Agent
There is one negative to acid-based cleaning compounds: they are not really that effective at cleaning wood. The alkaline-based cleaning compounds, which we have used, are more effective. We recommend a  two-step cleaning process. First, we clean wood with alkaline cleaners and then follow it up with an acidic brightener. With this cleaning method, the wood’s natural colors emerge, bringing out the wooden deck or fence’s beauty even before sealing.

Dangers of Pressure Washing Wood
Pressure washing is one way to clean wood with or without cleaners mixed with the water. However, because water impacts the wood at a high velocity, the wood’s surface can become damaged and we don’t recommend it. In order for this cleaning method to be successful and not damage the wood, the right amount of pressure must be applied and the right cleaning solution must be used. If you are pressure washing the wood, be careful not to apply too much pressure. In addition keep in mind that pressure washers that are for rent are typically designed to have a pressure of 1750 to 3500 psi. These pressure washers, though, are too much for wood. The ideal for pressure washing wood is between 800 and 1200 psi. In addition, never pressure wash wood with hot water. Doing so will sharply raise the wood grain and cause striping. Striping are indentation marks left on the wood when pressure washing the wood is improperly done — such as starting and stopping the cleaning stroke as the wand of the pressure washing is aimed very close to the surface of the wood. Striping causes the wood fence or deck to look uneven an appear as if it was poorly built.
Oil-Based Sealers
Oil-based sealers are derived from either crude oil or vegetable oils such as tung or linseed oil. Crude oil sealer is able to penetrate wood better, so the result is wood that looks natural and soft. On the other hand, vegetable oils give wood some sheen, making it look like the wood has been varnished. Vegetable oil sealers have natural sugars and starches, which can encourage mildew and mold growth. In addition, vegetable oil sealers can be difficult to remove. Crude-based sealers, unlike vegetable oil sealers, are easy to strip.
More importantly, they are cheap, but effective. Oil-based sealers that are sold in most big box stores contain a little vegetable oil.
These sealers last from 12 to 18 months. I also recommend people to use deck sealers that had color pigments in them to retard the graying process. The microscopic pigment particles in the sealers and water repellent products are very effective at absorbing the ultraviolet light that causes wood fibers to turn gray.

When choosing Semi-Transparent or solid color stains…

They are different but it’s a matter of personal preference. Semi-Transparent allows you to see the natural wood grain of the wood while a Solid Stain is maximum protection and almost like a paint. (good for very high traffic areas)

Sealer/ Stain is what protects your deck from the elements. To keep your deck at its best, it should be resealed every other year. Before resealing, clean your deck to remove the old sealer.

Waterproofing Your Deck

You may also want to waterproof your deck, which is not the same as sealing. Sealant penetrates into the wood’s pores and protects it from mold, pests and the accumulation of moisture. If you stop at just sealing the wood, the sealant can break down if standing water is allowed to collect. Waterproofing causes the water to bead up and easily roll off your deck. By not allowing the water to soak in, waterproofing helps your deck dry faster as well. While some people have had great luck with combination waterproofing sealers or waterproofing stains, others prefer to have a separate product for each stage.

The combination products sell for between , a stand-alone waterproofing agent costs around $15 per gallon. If you use separate waterproofing and stain, you will need to remove both in order to reseal, so the waterproofing will have to be reapplied as well.


Deck Maintenance Tips for Snow/Ice: 

At All Decked Out we do not recommend using rock salt on your treated deck. Rock salt can be damaging to treated lumber, It can leave it splotchy looking or worse can cause cracks to appear in the wood when spring hits. We recommend taking the time to shovel the snow and ice off of your deck with a plastic shovel and make sure to shovel in the direction as the decking planks. If necessary use sand or kitty litter to to help with high traffic areas and simply sweep off when snow has stopped falling.

Composite/ PVC Cleaning guide

Low Maintenance doesn’t mean totally “care” free. To keep the beauty of your maintenance free deck , it is recommended that you clean it periodically and remove stains, mold, and mildew. Depending on the brand of composite decking your deck is made with, there are different manufacturer recommended cleaning products. However, it is very important that you DO NOT use harsh chemicals such as gasoline, acetone, benzene, carbon tetracholoride, or paint thinner to clean your deck. It is also important that you DO NOT sand your deck to remove stains or scratches. Harsh chemicals or sanding can change the appearance of your decking and are not recommended.

Below are care and cleaning suggestions for AzekTimbertech,Evergrain, and Trex.

Wash deck periodically to remove grease, dirt and debris. AZEK Deck can be cleaned using liquid soap such as dish, car wash or specially formulated all purpose deck cleaners and rinsed with a garden hose.

Rust Stains
Use a household cleaner with phosphoric acid as the active ingredient (generally toilet bowl cleaners work well). Rinse with garden hose.

Avoid using cleaners containing abrasives which can dull the surface of the deckboard. It is always best to test the cleaner on an inconspicuous or scrap piece of the deck to make sure the cleaner/product does not harm the deck surface. Avoid the use of rubber-backed mats.

Power Washing
AZEK Deck can be cleaned with a power washer using the FAN setting. PSI should not exceed 1400, this said, always, before spraying the deck, test the pressure on an inconspicuous or scrap piece of the deck to make sure the pressure setting does not harm the deck surface.

Ice Removal
Rock salt or calcium chloride can be used without damage to the deck surface. Both products may leave a white residue, which can be cleaned using the above guidelines.

TimberTech recommends periodic cleaning of your TimberTech deck to help maintain the beauty of the product. For best results a cleaner like eco-friendly Corte Clean ( or Zinsser’s JOMAX ( that contains or is mixed with Sodium Hypoclorite. Follow the manufacturer’s application instructions. Power washing will enhance results when cleaning your TimberTech deck. 1500psi is the recommended maximum for TimberTech products. A fan tip nozzle should be used along with the proper cleaning product. Spray in the direction of the brush/grain pattern to avoid damaging your decking. Use caution not to damage the material and always take the proper safety precautions when operating a power washer. To remove product identification printing from the side or bottom of a TimberTech deck plank use Isopropyl Alcohol (rubbing alcohol).

Ice and Snow
If you reside in a cold weather climate where ice and snow periodically come in contact with your deck, use calcium chloride or rock salt to melt the ice and snow.

TimberTech wood composite products can be painted or stained. TimberTech does not recommend painting and can not guarantee the performance of anything applied to the product.

Stains and sealers that are recommended for use with TimberTech are:

– Cabot Clear Solution-Oil Based (

– Cabot Australian Timber Oil

– Weatherall UV Guard Deck and Fence Coating (

Wait approximately 8-10 weeks or until TimberTech has completed its weathering process before painting or staining. Clean your TimberTech decking surface prior to applying paint or stain. Never paint or stain over surfaces that may contain dirt, or mildew. Be sure paint or stain does not clog drain holes in the TimberTech Floorizon Planks. Once TimberTech is painted, stained or sealed, subsequent applications will be necessary to maintain appearance. TimberTech cannot be responsible for the performance of stains or paints applied to any TimberTech product. Always apply paints and sealers in accordance with the manufacturer’s application instructions.

TimberTech products are formulated to inhibit mildew growth and minimize staining. Wash your deck periodically with a cleaner like eco-friendly Corte Clean ( or Zinsser’s JOMAX ( that contains or is mixed with Sodium Hypochlorite. Follow the manufacturer’s application instructions. Rinse off your TimberTech deck periodically with a hose. Even if your deck appears clean, it is important to prevent build-up of pollen/debris. Mildew stains may occur where moisture, pollens, and/or dirt are present. Mildew needs a food source to grow, which can be grass, pollens, dirt, debris, wood and wood resins. Maintaining a clean, dry deck surface is the best method for combating mildew. Ensure that water drains effectively from your deck. Keeping weep holes clear and unclogged on TimberTech Floorizon Planks. For TimberTech Earthwood, TwinFinish, ValuPlank, DockSider and XLM Planks, be sure that gaps exist between planks to allow for drainage.

Tanin Stains
Like any wood-based product, TimberTech’s wood-plastic composite products (Earthwood Plank, Floorizon Plank, TwinFinish Plank, DockSider Plank and ValuPlank) may experience a naturally occurring process called Extractive Bleeding. This process may cause a temporary discoloration that will weather away. In most cases this process takes 8-10 weeks but could vary depending on location and specific application such as a covered porch. To clean these areas on your TimberTech deck, it is recommended that you use a product such as Dekswood, manufactured by Flood (800) 321-3444, or eco-friendly Corte Clean

Spot Stains
Oil Eater Cleaner and Degreaser is very effective against oil, grease and other stains. For extra heavy oil and grease stains or other specific stain types, check with your local lumberyard, hardware stores or home centers for cleaners applicable to a specific stain type.
If stains have set on TwinFinish, ValuPlank, DockSider or Floorizon (in Cedar, Grey or Redwood only) planks, you may want to use fine sandpaper and sand lightly, following the wood grain finish of the plank. The sanded area will weather back in approximately 8-10 weeks.
Do not apply this method to TimberTech Earthwood and Floorizon planks in tropical colors, XLM Plank, Builder Board or TimberTech Railing.

Rust, Ground-in Dirt and Grime
Use a cleaner that contains Phosphoric Acid or Oxalic Acid. Follow manufacturer’s application instructions.
If the stains have set on TwinFinish, ValuPlank, DockSider or Floorizon (Cedar, Grey or Redwood only) planks, you may use fine sandpaper and sand lightly followed by a wire brush to re-grain the decking. Always follow the wood grain finish of the plank. The sanded area will weather back in approximately 8-10 weeks but can very depending on location and specific application. Do not apply this method to TimberTech Earthwood and Floorizon planks in Tropical Colors, XLM Plank, Builder Board or TimberTech Railing.

Scratches, Nicks, Cuts and Grooves
For TwinFinish, ValuPlank, DockSider and Floorizon (in Cedar, Grey and Redwood) Planks: Scratches, nicks, cuts and grooves can be eliminated by using a wire brush. Brushing will need to be consistent with the grain of the product and the brushed area will weather back in approximately 8-10 weeks. For Earthwood or Floorizon planks and TwinFascia Only In Tropical Colors; Surface scratches and abrasions on these planks will fade after weathering. Once they have fully weathered, they are more resistant to visible scratching.
Please note that any cleaning product can lighten the color of your deck. Always test any cleaning product in an inconspicuous area of your deck before cleaning a large area.

Reducing Dirt & Grime
Semi-annual cleaning of your deck is recommended to reduce dirt, dust, grime and other residue build-up. When cleaning, rinse your deck with a garden hose using a fan-tip nozzle at a pressure not exceeding 1,000 psi. Regular cleaning may not eliminate all dirt, dust, grime and other residue build-up on your deck. For a more thorough cleaning of your EverGrain deck, use a deck wash containing sodium hypochlorite such as those listed below:
– BEHR® Multi-Surface Cleaner & Mildew Stain Remover
– ARMOR ALL® E-Z Deck Wash
– OLYMPIC® Deck Cleaner

Removing Rust Stains
Metal outdoor furniture can leave rust marks on your deck. Therefore, we recommend that you apply appropriate plastic or vinyl tips to metal furniture to prevent staining. If rust stains do appear on your EverGrain deck, they can often be removed using deck cleaners containing oxalic acid or phosphoric acid such as those listed below:
– BEHR® No.63 Wood Cleaner Brightener Conditioner
– Flood® Dekswood® Deck Cleaner Brightener

Cleaning Oil and Grease Stains
To keep your deck in the best possible shape, we also recommend the use of grill mats to reduce the risk of grease stains associated with grills. Should grease or oil stain the deck’s surface, it is important to clean the stain immediately using a commercial degreasing agent such as those listed below:
– Castrol® Super Clean

Removing Suntan Lotion
Since suntan lotions and oils can potentially stain your deck, please take precautions to avoid these types of spills.bThese stains can often be removed using commercial degreasing agents such as those listed below. Be sure to remove as much of the lotion spill as possible with water before using cleaning agents.
– Dawn® Soap

Removing Mold and Mildew
Periodically rinse your deck with a garden hose, using a fan-tip nozzle at a pressure not exceeding 1,000 psi, to help reduce the occurrence of mold and mildew. Mold and mildew stains are a natural result of moisture. These stains can often be removed using cleaners containing sodium hypochlorite such as those listed below:
– BEHR® Multi-Surface Cleaner & Mildew Stain Remover
– ARMOR ALL® E-Z Deck Wash
– OLYMPIC® Deck Cleaner

Additional Tips

  • Dragging furniture and other objects across the deck boards may cause surface scratches.
  • Remove food, spills and other debris and clean immediately to minimize the possibility of staining.
  • Always test any cleaner on a small portion of your deck before cleaning the entire deck.
  • Always follow manufacturers’ application instructions when using any cleaner.
  • Please note that any cleaner can lighten the color of your deck.
  • Place mats under metal objects to protect against rust stains.
  • Place grill mats under your grill to protect your deck from grease spills.
  • Never mix two or more cleaning agents when cleaning your deck.
  • Do not use a metal shovel to remove snow or ice from your deck, as you may cause damage to the deck surface.
  • Always follow proper gapping (installation) instructions to prevent water from accumulating on your deck.
  • Keep the area under your deck clean and well ventilated.
  • Never apply harsh solvents such as acetone, gasoline, benzene, carbon tetrachloride or paint thinner to your deck.
  • Sanding the surface to remove stains is not recommended.

All exterior building materials require cleaning. We recommend basic cleaning with a composite deck cleaner or a combination of soap, hot water, and a soft bristle brush at the time of installation, and semi-annually (typically Spring and Fall) after the installation. This will help to maintain the beauty of Trex decking, fencing, railing, and outdoor trim.

Dirt and Debris
Clean deck to remove dirt and debris. Soap, hot water and a soft bristle brush are all that is needed.

Chalk Markings
All colored chalk lines are permanent except white. We suggest using white chalk or baby powder. Scrubbing the area with hot soapy water with bleach may dislodge some of the chalk.

Visible Mill Markings
The mill markings on the side of Trex decking boards are required by building codes. With careful installation, most mill markings can be hidden. Visible mill markings can be lightened with acetone.

Water Spots/Leaf Staining
Tannin leaching occurs in Trex and all wood based products naturally. Allow for at least 16 weeks of normal weathering. This process may be hastened through the use of a product containing oxalic or phosphoric acid commonly known as a Deck Brightener.

Pigment Staining
During the weathering process, a small amount of surface pigmentation may wash off of the Trex surface, which may discolor neighboring surfaces. Remove with common rust cleaner.

Ice and Snow
Calcium chloride or rock salt, available in many home centers, will melt ice on Trex decking. Rinse off when first practical.

Scuffs & Abrasions
Will fade or disappear naturally after 12-16 weeks of weathering. This can be accelerated with a bleach-based deck wash followed by weathering.

Rust Stains, Ground-In Dirt and Grime
Use a cleaning product containing oxalic or phosphoric acid base to lighten or remove the rust or dirt. Product may need to sit on stain 10-15 minutes.

Oil and Grease Stains
Scrub in a household-degreasing agent as soon as the stain occurs. Rinse with hot water. For more severe stains call 1-800-BUY-TREX.
Berries and Wine Stains Mix bleach into hot water according to the bleach-packaging label. Scrub the stain lightly and rinse thoroughly. The stain may not disappear entirely.

Ink Stains
Inks may be permanent. However, the stain may be lightened by scrubbing with hot soapy water. Rinse thoroughly.

Pressure Washer
Trex does not recommend the use of a pressure washer. The use of a pressure washer with a greater than 1,500 PSI and/or applied closer than 10″ from the deck surface could damage the decking surface and result in a loss of warranty coverage.

Use conventional deck washes or cleaners that contain sodium hypochlorite (bleach) and detergent (refer to Mold Technical Bulletin). Periodic cleaning (Spring and Fall) of your deck, even if it appears clean, is important to prevent the build-up of pollen/debris that can cause mold.

Trex does not recommend sanding. Sanding will change the appearance of the surface of Trex material