Wood restoration can be one of the most misunderstood services and one of the toughest for do-it-yourself homeowners. One thing to keep in mind is that the main reason a new deck sealer will fail prematurely is that the wood was not cleaned properly beforehand.
When wood becomes weathered, it needs to be cleaned prior to sealing. Cleaning a wooden deck can be a difficult task for a homeowner that is uneducated about the process.
Using a pressure washer can be an effective method. You must also use the proper cleaners to get the dirt and grime out that is deep down in the wood. Most people make the mistake of using too much water pressure when using a pressure washer. Wood is actually pretty soft and can damage easily from excessive water pressure.
Turning the pressure down on the washing unit or switching to a spray nozzle that has a bigger orifice will both successfully provide a lower suitable pressure. Using lower pressure will still give you a deep clean as long as you use a quality wood cleaner. Wood cleaners will break up the dirt and debris allowing a lower amount of pressure to be adequate in cleaning the wood without risking damage.
Some wood cleaners are caustic and raise the pH of the wood. Once the wood is clean, it is best to use a brightening or neutralizing product to lower the pH of the wood. Most any quality wood sealer will be more effective and last longer when it’s applied to a more acidic surface. It is highly recommended not to skip the brightening process after washing.
After the wood has been cleaned correctly and rinsed thoroughly, it needs to dry for a few days. You can check the wood with a moisture meter but it isn’t necessary. You don’t want to apply a wood sealer to the deck until the moisture level is below 10%. If you don’t have a moisture meter, waiting a few days is usually adequate time before sealing.