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How to increase the life of a wood deck, while lowering the cost.

Posted by Linda Chambers on Sun, May 01, 2011 @ 09:00 AM

When you are thinking about adding or replacing a wood deck to your home you need to do the math.

First is the actual cost of the materials. Pressure treated lumber is the most affordable decking material running at about $15 per square foot installed as a national average. A little bit more if you want additional decorative features. Cedar can run twice as much at around $30 per square foot but should last longer with proper maintenance, with Teak wood setting you back the most between $40-60 per square foot, but it can stand the most weathering with the least amount of maintenance. You can also consider composite decking which will not require repeated staining or sealing but that will run between $25 to $50 per square foot installed, almost as much as Teak, for your initial investment.

Once you have decided on the size of your deck and the material you can not forget the maintenance costs. This is the major contributing factor of how long your deck will last. Most decks will cost over their life time any where from $300 - $1,200 dollars a year to maintain. This will vary not only because of the size and material of your deck but with the amount of cleaning, type of staining and sealing that is required and if you do the work yourself or hire it out to a professional. Even with a professional the costs will vary due to the quality of the contractor and the materials they are using. It will not pay in the long run to hire some one cheap that uses inferior products that will cause you to rehire some one the very next year vs. a competent contractor using superior products that will last 3-5 years before the work needs to be repeated.

The way to tell if your deck needs treatment is to throw a bucket of water at it or look at it right after a hard rain. If the water beads up, then your sealant is working. If the water is absorbed by the decking, then it's time to reseal. A deck that isn't sealed properly is vulnerable to the elements and could experience rotting, warping and splitting. Routine maintenance is far cheaper than replacing the deck so make sure you keep your decking in tip-top shape. Stain is not weather proofing, only a color enhancer, you need a sealer for that.

Even woods that do not requiring routine staining and sealing need to be cleaned and cleaned correctly so not to destroy the wood and its own natural properties. Be sure the contractor you hire is experienced with your type of decking. Even composites need cleaning, especially for mold and mildew and they can be damaged if cleaned with improper chemicals.

Knowing the costs beforehand can help you make the right decisions when it comes to choosing materials and who to hire to do the job. Keeping your deck in top shape will increase its life and there by reduce the yearly cost by spreading them over a longer period of time.

To find a professional contractor to clean or stain and seal your deck check out one of these links:
/ under “deck cleaning and waterproofing” or “pressure washing” in your area

You can also get products to use for your self at

Tags: exterior maintenance, reduce deck cost, increase deck life

Exterior Maintenance Cleaning Products for Concrete, Wood & Fabric

Posted by Linda Chambers on Thu, Apr 08, 2010 @ 11:38 AM

Each month we are featuring a group of our products to help our current and future customers learn what products we carry that they might not be aware of. Plus this gives information regarding the differences between some items as well. This month we will discuss products used for exterior maintenance cleaning.

For concrete flat work we have a basic “Concrete Cleaner” as well as degreasers like “Mighty-O” “Mighty-Max” and “Mighty Max Plus” these all contain butyl, a great grease cutter. The differences between these three mainly are the amount of butyl they contain, 3%, 6% or 10% respectively. We have a product called “Pro BRC” or Building Restoration Cleaner for brick and masonry to remove years of neglect, mold, mildew and dirt. It will restore mortar lines back to original or near original color with out using damaging high pressure that can loosen mortar joints. To remove rust stains from concrete, sometimes caused by certain mineral waters or irrigation thru metal water lines, we have “Concrete Rust Remover”. This is a powder that is mixed 4 lbs per 5 gallons of water for best results. We also carry some more environmentally friendly products when other products can not be used due to Home Owners Associations or other factors, like our “Natures Green APC” all purpose cleaner or “Mighty Green” which is in the same family as the well known Simple Green®. We also have a bio degradable Economy degreaser called “Rite Stuff” that contains an organic solvent if butyls are not allowed to be used.

For wood cleaning for decks and other wood structures we have the following:

Deck Wash” for regular cleaning of most wood surfaces it can clean anything from cedar to pressure treated wood. Now if a softer approach is needed to clean, and in no way can contain any acid or harsh ingredients, then our “So Safe” can be used. This percolating product comes in a powder that is mixed just prior to use and only in the amount that is expected to be used, since it will loose its cleaning ability if left to sit. This is perfect when you just need to lift off a layer of dirt with out touching the stain, finish or the woods own character like with teak or a newly stained deck. Now if you are in need to remove an existing finish or stain then you will need one of our strippers. We have two; the first is just called “Deck Stripper” and can handle most normal single layer or worn stain jobs. But if multiple or thick layers of stain, sealer or varnish need to be removed then we have the product “Super Stripper” that will do the job. With either of these you will need to follow them up with a neutralizer to stop the chemical action and for that we have our “Wood Brightener”. This comes in a powder and is mixed 4 lbs to 5 gallons of water and can also be used alone to brighten a previously untreated wood surface. The last product we have in our exterior wood section is our Bio Barrier mold inhibitor product. This should be applied to a surface after it has been cleaned and is completely dry. This will prevent the re-growth of mold on wood in areas having known pre-existing problems. Bio Barrier does not kill mold, that is why the surface must first be clean and old mold removed, but once applied to a surface it should stay mold free for at least 6 months if not for a year or more. Length of time will depends on factors like amount of time area is in the shade, how much water or moisture it comes in contact with, how much air circulation is available to the area and if the surface is horizontal or vertical.

Next is a product for outdoor cloth or plastic fiber fabrics found on lawn furniture pads, umbrellas, awnings and fabric gazebos called “Carpet & Fabric Cleaner” this is a great multi use product. It is formulated with optical brighteners to give colored fibers deeper tone and better contrast. It will help restore color to fabrics that are faded by dirt and grime. It contains no harsh chemicals that will damage fibers and will help to extend the life of the outdoor fabrics use. Companies such as Sunbrella® suggest to only use mild detergents for heavy soiling or to remove molds and mildew by adding a small amount of bleach to the cleaning solution, hot water should NEVER be used on Sunbrella® fabric and may require some brushing to remove stubborn stains from between fibers. “Carpet & Fabric Cleaner” can be used in this recommended manner.

Tomorrow we will cover our products for house washing.

Tags: exterior maintenance, exterior cleaners, Deck wash, building restoration cleaner, Carpet and Fabric Cleaner, Deck Stripper, Super Stripper, Concrete Cleaner

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