In the mid- to late-1990s, thousands of home and business owners jumped at the chance to have their old wooden decks replaced with a newer, sexier building material called composite wood that was heavily promoted as being easier to use, and would last far longer than traditional wood. While a composite deck now enjoys many advantages over wooden decks, first or second generation composites had a critical flaw – the manufacturing process didn’t include additives to prevent the growth of mildew.
Composite wood is made from a mixture of plastic and wood fiber/wood flour – saw dust, basically – which is a top food source for mildew. Thus, many composite decks built right through the early 2000s had the same flaw and suffered from black mildew that was nearly impossible to remove.
Manufacturing processes for composite wood are more advanced now than in the early days, but home and business owners still need to take care with a composite deck to make sure it lasts as long as needed.
Toronto Custom Decks has installed dozens of composite decks all across the greater Toronto area, and while we offer a comprehensive warranty on workmanship, nothing can ensure the life of a composite deck more than simple, ongoing maintenance.
Ways to preserve and maintain a composite deck
- Before you can seal a composite deck, it needs to be cleaned. Debris such as leaves, branches, and other small items can be removed using a broom and dust pan, but for dirt or stains the best method is using a power washer. If you decide to use a power washer, never exceed 1500 PSI and keep the spray nozzle 12 inches away from the surface of the deck.
- If you know the name of the company that made the composite wood deck boards, follow their recommendation as to the kind of cleaner than can be used. In most cases, manufacturers have their own brand of cleaner that works best with their product, but you also can use off-the-shelf cleaners as long as they’re formulated for composite wood. In all other cases, avoid cleaners that contain bleach.
- Seal the deck using a good quality product made especially for a composite deck or, again, contact the composite manufacturer for their recommendation.
- When sealing a composite deck, follow all of the directions for whatever sealer you buy. There’s no such thing as a good short cut when it comes to quality work.
- Whether you roll or spray the sealer to apply it, always make sure to use a brush afterwards on each board – before the sealer dries. The bristles on a brush allow the sealer to penetrate the composite better than just letting it sit. In any case, rolling or spraying the sealer then walking away could result in it drying unevenly.
- Once finished, allow the composite deck to cure for 24 hours before using it. Keep children and other visitors away, especially dogs and other pets.
- The final recommendation is to clean your composite deck each year with a product especially formulated for composite wood surfaces.
Toronto custom decks specializes in design, construction and installation of composite decks. Call us today for a free one on one consultation where we will visit your backyard, learn about your specific needs, lifestyle and show you our work.