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How to Care for Hardwood Decks, Porches, and Patios

Exterior decks made of ipe, mahogany, and other exotic hardwoods add beauty and value to your home. Although extremely durable, wooden decks can quickly deteriorate without proper care and regular maintenance. Protect your investment by cleaning and staining your hardwood deck regularly.

Daily Cleaning

Sweep your deck on a regular basis to prevent dirt or leaves from staining the deck’s surface, paying attention to the gaps between the floor boards. When leaves, pollen, tree seeds, and other debris collect in the gaps, it prevents your deck from breathing and draining properly. This natural debris holds moisture and will accelerate rot. Elevate flower planters to prevent trapped dirt or moisture on your deck’s surface and prevent grease stains from your grill by always using a grease catcher.

Heavier Cleaning

You’ll want to spend a few hours twice a year giving your deck a more thorough cleaning. After sweeping, scrub the deck with a simple soap, water, and a stiff brush before rinsing with a hose. If your deck is stained or spotted with mold or algae, it may require some scrubbing with a commercial hardwood deck cleaner that has a mildew killer, borate, or oxalic acid as an active ingredient. Do not use a pressure washer on your hardwood deck as it can tear wood fibers, causing a course, uneven, or fuzzy surface.


Without proper and regular sealing, dirt, grime and moisture will penetrate the pores of your hardwood. Before staining, make sure your deck is fully dry so penetrating oils do not trap moisture inside the decking. Wood dries from the outside in so even if it feels dry to the touch, it could still be wet on the inside. Wait 2-3 days after a moderate rain, for the wood to completely dry, being aware that cooler temperatures and higher humidity extend drying time. Shake or stir your stain (specifically developed for hardwoods) to make sure it is mixed evenly. After testing an area, apply one coat, working with the grain. After 30 minutes, brush or roll out excess product that has puddled or pooled on the surface to prevent sticky, shiny spots.

Frequency of Staining

The length of time between staining depends on wood type, deck construction, the direction your deck faces, sun intensity, and your local climate. If a drop of clear oil or water soaks into your deck’s wood within a few seconds, then the stain will also soak in. If the oil or water stays on the surface for a few seconds then your deck is not ready to accept the stain. You will probably need to stain your hardwood deck every 8 months or so in the first few years and then once every few years over the lifetime of the deck.

Cleaning and staining your hardwood deck requires a bit of work, but you’ll love the finished results. If you have any questions about your hardwood decking or are interested in adding to your outdoor living area, call Atlanta Porch & Patio today!