Composite decking typically requires less regular cleaning than natural wood. For some people, the fact that composite decking requires little maintenance is a deal maker. For others, composite decking creates an expectation of carefree enjoyment. To keep your composite decking looking beautiful for as long as possible, thorough maintenance is key.
Here is our guide for cleaning your composite deck and how to keep it looking good.
Prevention is better than cure
Sometimes people get complacent with the ease of composite decking, and don’t realise that there is still a level of regular care and cleaning that it needs to maintain its look and durability.
The good news is that, unlike wood and timber decking, this is easy to do.
Regular cleaning looks like this:
- Sweep the deck often and whenever you can see that it needs it by the build-up of dirt and debris.
- Whenever you do sweep the deck, remember to sweep and clean underneath pots or furniture that can collect dirt or moisture underneath them.
- Clean up spills straight away, especially if it is from food, oils and wine that can cause staining when left for long periods.
Prevention can also include using mats, stands or holders for things like plants and around BBQs and furniture to avoid spills, splashes, and moisture from reaching the composite decking in the first place.
Regular sweeping and preventative measures will need to be combined with a gentle soapy clean from time to time. This could be needed when cleaning up after a party or when food has been spilled on the deck, after a storm or wet season where wet leaves and moisture have sat under your furniture for some time, or just from everyday dirt build-up.
Just like how the regular vacuuming of indoor floors doesn’t stop the need for mopping, your composite deck will need a wash every now and then.
A general clean of your composite decking can be done with warm soapy water and a soft brush. This brush could be a broom or dustpan brush – so long as it is soft and used in the direction of the ‘wood grain’. Harder materials like harsh bristles or metal wires that is used against the ‘grain’ of the boards can scratch and damage the deck’s surface.
Removing Spots Stains
Composite decking is not totally stain resistant. The ideal answer to stains is to avoid them by cleaning up spills and mess straight away, but stains do still happen sometimes.
Oil-based stains can come from things like BBQ splatter or sunscreen. A household degreaser can work well for these stains.
For more stubborn stains, you can try a harder brush than you would generally use for cleaning, brushing lightly with the grain but avoiding scratching at and compromising the surface.
If the stain still won’t budge, we recommend talking to a professional or someone from your local hardware shop about what solutions you could try. Make sure you let them know that it is for composite decking and ask about what risks might be involved with the chemicals they recommend for both the look and durability of your deck.
Like stains, mould and mildew should ideally be avoided with regular care and cleaning. Mould and mildew will usually only occur where moisture and dirt have been allowed to sit for long periods of time. This makes moisture management important and things like drainage should be considered when planning your deck. Avoid using rugs, mats or furniture that will block the gaps or holes between boards and prevent proper drainage.
We usually recommend avoiding bleach products at all costs as it can compromise the surface of the composite and cause discolouration, but if you have a particularly stubborn area of mould that is compromising the area anyway, a diluted bleach cleaning solution may help. Be very careful with it, ensure you wash it off completely and avoid getting it on surrounding decking boards.
Few Things to Avoid
When stains seem stubborn or the build-up of dirt or grime is extensive, it can be tempting to try and find quicker cleaning methods.
Always avoid pressure washing composite decking. Pressure washers can damage and remove the finish of the composite decking and reduce its durability and lifespan.
Don’t use any paint or staining products on your composite decking. It will void your warranty and rarely ends up giving you the result you’re looking for.
Never use chlorine bleach, even if it’s in a ‘deck cleaner’ solution. Bleach is corrosive and will ‘eat’ at the surface of whatever it’s applied to, wearing down the integrity of the surface of the composite decking. Over time this can cause discolouration and exacerbate any stubborn mould or mildew issues you have. Sodium Hypochlorite is a bleach product, so check the ingredients of any deck cleaners carefully knowing that they may call it that instead of ‘bleach’.
Always avoid using coarse brushes, wire brushes or anything metal that might scratch or damage the decking. If you are trying to remove ice and snow from your composite deck, try using a plastic snow shovel and make sure you are following the ‘grain’ of the deck.
Composite decking is by far the simplest and easiest form of decking material to clean and take care of. It doesn’t require annual sanding, stripping, painting, oiling or any kind of time-consuming work to maintain. It only needs a regular basic clean and a standard level of care that involves cleaning up mess when it happens and avoiding moisture build-up to ensure it has a long, durable lifespan.