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Wood, Composite & Concrete Care

All the decking products that are exposed to the elements, especially those which are exposed to our heavy Colorado sun for many hours a day, will need some kind of care and normal maintenance, regardless of the manufacturer's care recommendations or any other claims to the contrary.

Please notice the difference between the words "maintenance free" and "low maintenance" products. For, there are no truly "maintenance free" products in our industry that are outside in the weather. Exposure to the sun means that you will have a need for protective coatings on all surfaces if the product is a real wood, house siding or trim. I will attempt to describe the maintenance procedures of the main products that we sell and build decks out of, but this should not be mis-perceived as an exhaustive list, by any means, and further changes could also apply at any time as products are updated and re-mastered. Any type of climate will affect the use of surface products, and the suggestions that are given on this web site will apply to Colorado, and more specifically to the Denver metro area, including those close mountain regions and the desert plains.

Composite and Cap-Stock Deck materials -

Prevention is always easier than maintenance; a BBQ mat is a quick and affordable prevention tool to keep from dealing with the oil spills and grease spots, which can occur with the normal use of BBQ's and smokers. Oil stains usually are only temporary if it is caught and dealt with immediately and the temperature is cool enough that the oil does not burn the plastic surface on contact. If left to soak in, in will most likely become a permanent stain, but it can be avoided in most cases.

All composite type decking materials will need to be cleaned of dirt and leaves on a regular basis with a standard water hose and a light bristled push broom. Trees in nature are a wonderful thing, but they can drop sap and certain types of tannins that will mark up or stain the deck if they are left there for extended periods of time. Spraying or cleaning the deck off in the spring, summer and fall months when it is mostly warm is always suggested; winter time cleanings can get a bit more tricky because of the ice that may form, making the decking surface dangerous. Avoid the use of water on the deck if the ambient temperature is below 50 degrees. Do not walk on an icy deck surface.

Soap and water may be used when spills occur, with a sponge or soft rag. A very light soap, like Dawn Dish Washing Liquid, is quite concentrated but will not damage the plastic surface shean or surface texture. You may use a medium bristle broom or scrub brush for harder spots (maybe into the grooves), but be sure not to scratch or mar the surface material with too much pressure. Rinse the entire surface several times thoroughly to dissipate any soap that could leave a residue. A warm deck is easier to clean in most of these cases.

Chemical solvents and cleaners may damage the composite decking, stair and railing components. Combining two or more products may be dangerous and cause damage to the deck products and or the users. Basic soap and water is suggested in most cases, if the water alone doesn't clean off the area at first, but remember - not too much force.

Sanding, scraping and using heat or abrasive products on composite decking and metal pieces should be avoided whenever possible. Dents and scratches are normal and will usually fade over time if they are in direct sunlight. Make sure to move your BBQ mat for even fading.

PVC Coated Composite Decks -

Many chemicals will damage the PVC surface, core texture or the products sheen sealer of the material being used. Do not ever use cleaners or chemicals of any kind on your deck, unless you personally know the products limitations and effects on these materials and (or) completely trust the source of the information referenced. Once the chemicals have damaged the PVC coating, you cannot restore the material to its original condition, no matter what you do to it.

All PVC coated composite type decking materials will need to be cleaned of dirt, debris and leaves on a regular basis with a standard water hose and a push broom. Spraying the deck off in the spring, summer and fall months when it is warm is always suggested. Avoid using water on the deck if the ambient temperature is below 50 degrees. Do not walk on an icy deck surface, or if it has rained on the deck, when the temperature is less than 50 degrees. All plastics can be very slippery when wet and ice can form without you even seeing it.

Soap and water may be used when spills occur. A light soap like Dawn Dish Washing Liquid is quite concentrated but will not damage the plastic surface or a surface texture. You may use a medium bristle broom or a scrub brush, but be sure not to scratch or mar the surface with too much pressure. Rinse the entire deck surface off several times thoroughly to dissipate any soap residue. This process will be easier and take less time if the temperature outside is 70 degrees.

Chemical solvents and cleaners may damage the composite portion that is under the PVC or what is considered the base core of the decking, stair and railing parts. Combining two or more products may be dangerous and cause damage to the decking product and the users. Basic soap and water is suggested in most cases if water alone doesn't clean the area the first time using a push broom or simple scrub brush.

Sanding, scraping and using any kind of heat or abrasive products should be avoided whenever possible. Dents and scratches are a very   normal occurrence - over time, on all types of building materials.

Stamped Concrete Patios -

Concrete will remain porous forever, so oils and other liquids will penetrate the surface and may stain the surface of any patio, masonry or concrete surface. A high quality concrete sealer should be applied 28 to 30 days after the stamped concrete is poured and then reapplied according to manufactures recommendations. If an improper sealer is used or the sealer is applied incorrectly (too thick or unevenly), it may end up costing you up to four to five times more money and a lot of time, to strip the sealer and re-seal the concrete surface. Also, these type of stripping chemicals could damage plants and grass if not used correctly. Quality concrete sealers are specialized products (usually designed in a lab) and should be purchased from a concrete products supplier and not a hardware store or the home improvement outlet.

Patio Covers (roofs); Siding and Trim -

Most soffit, eave, siding and trim components are lightly primed at the factory, but should be primed after construction because of the cut ends and edges, which occur to fit pieces together. It is always a good idea to primer the product within a couple weeks of its construction, weather permitting, and allow the primer to fully cure before applying the paint. All products used in this application expand and contract with heat variation and weather, so it is a good idea to use a flexible caulk or spackling. All products should be applied when it is warm.

Redwood and Cedar Wood Decks -

Redwood dries out in our climate differently than all other woods and it will need to be professionally sealed more frequently. It is always a good idea to seal the deck and railing surface materials at least once a year. This frequency will depend on the products being used. Most oil based sealers are complex and can include more than one type of oil. Please read the directions thoroughly before using any product, and ask a trained professional questions if you are unsure how to apply it.

If an oil based deck sealer or stain (of any kind) is applied incorrectly or unevenly, the cost to fix the problem or to sand down the deck can often get quite expensive. It is always a good idea to have your deck serviced by a professional if you have a lack of experience with these type of products and their applications. This is actually a very small price to pay for protecting your own deck investment in the long run.

Please call Steve Tussing at American Redwood Deck Care to satisfy this need at (303) 885-9766. Please call if you need more referrals.

For the do-it-yourselfer, please contact Philip at (303) 730-9642 or email him at the Deck Answerman, who will provide you with some basic guidelines you can follow, before is always more helpful.

Tropical Hardwood Decks -

Tropical hardwood decks are becoming increasingly more popular in today's deck markets. Some will come into the United States with a wax coating and will need to be exposed to the sun for several months before an oil based sealer will penetrate the pours and fibers of this wood. Consult a trained professional if you are unsure of the product used on your deck or its present finish. The extreme dry climate here in Colorado tends to increase the steps of this oil sealer application process, which sometimes leads to increased bows, twisting, cupping and cracking in most cases; training and accurate application is key.

It is a good idea to maintenance these decks early (just after or soon after construction) and often. Although the applications and type of sealers (and opinions) vary for this type of product, the process to protect hardwoods well can get laborious over time. Plan ahead for the time necessary to be consistent and do not over do it. These oils stay on the surface way too long, because it takes so much time to soak into the dense wood pours, so plan to wipe off the excess oil and residue the following day and keep trafic off of the deck for about a week. People, pets and other animals will carry it on their feet (paws) into the house and also smaller dirt particles in the air, will collect on the surface of the deck. If the wrong products are used, the oils may not dry properly or if the sealer is not applied evenly, then the entire appearance will look spotty and inconsistent. It is suggested to have your deck serviced by trained professionals if you lack the experience of dealing with these type products and hardwood finishes in general.

 

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