Time and Materials
Most homeowners do the work themselves because they can save money. The materials for a 20x20-foot deck will run between $80 and $120, plus another $80 or so to rent a power washer for a day. What's more, the actual work takes just two days — one to clean the surface and another to apply the finish. But you will have to wait three to five days after cleaning for the deck to dry so the finish will penetrate fully. If you don't have the time to do it yourself, you can hire a deck-maintenance contractor. But the relative newness of this specialty means most of the pros don't have much experience. That makes checking references and visiting past jobs especially crucial. And because most pros have their favorite products, you'll probably have little say about the ones used on your deck. Expect to pay between 60 cents and $1 per square foot for materials and labor — up to $400 for a 20x20-foot deck. Choosing a Cleaner
Deck cleaners get rid of mold, mildew, and any dirt or stains imbedded in wood fibers. Though you can mix your own with laundry detergent and bleach, a store-bought cleaner is best for very dirty or damaged wood. These products fall into two categories: cleaners and restorers. Among the leading makers are Thompson's, Wolman, and ZAR. Cleaners contain detergent and bleach and work best on dirt and mildew. Restorers contain oxalic acid and are ideal for removing tannin streaks and stains around nail- and screwheads in cedar and redwood decks. Both come in liquid and crystal form and cost about $15 for enough to make 5 gallons of solution (good for 750 to 1,000 square feet of deck area). If your deck was painted or sealed with varnish (a big mistake), you'll need to remove these high-maintenance finishes with a deck stripper before cleaning. Whether you use a stripper or cleaner, or both, apply it with a roller or stiff-bristle push broom. Wait a few minutes for the product to soak in. Then rinse with a hose or power washer. Remember to clean the exposed ends of cut deck boards.
Ask TOH users about Decks

Contribute to This Story Below