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Cleaning Between Deck Boards

Atlanta deck doctor specializes in cleaning between deck boards (by hand). Compared to other contractors who surface clean decks with a pressure washer: We hand clean all horizontal deck board crevices with a specialty deck cleaning tool ensuring to go deep to remove all leaf debris, decaying leaf matter preventing wood rot issues.. Cleaning between your deck boards is a maintenance routine that should not be skipped.

We are creating this page to raise awareness of the importance cleaning between your deck boards will make in extending your deck’s life, avoid rot. Please follow our table of contents above if you’d like to navigate to a speficic topic.

Why Is Cleaning Between Deck Boards Important?

Think of it like flossing: During fall months – Leaf debris, pine straw, acorns fall on decks. As cooler temps move in, these outdoor spaces are used less. The decrease of outdoor space usage allows organic debris to collect on deck surfaces. As this debris starts to break down, crumble, it collects between deck boards. This compacted debris will remain wet for prolonged periods of time. This is where the compacted debris does its damage.

Damage Caused By Compacted Leaf Debris:

Wood rot is caused by fungal infestation & fungal decay. Fungus feeds off wood causing wood to lose its structural integrity. Fungus needs lack of air circulation, needs constant moisture in order to thrive. These two conditions are created on decks whose space between boards are not cleaned regularly. Wood boards (whether floor boards, stairs) will start to collect water, as water cannot fall through deck boards, this compacted matter will remain wet, also create a dam effect causing water to collect on decking for extended periods of time. This constant moisture will eventually allow fungal growth to move in- unfortunately this fungal growth will happen out of sight- fungus moves in typically at deck cut-ends, or between boards. This is where the analogy of flossing comes into place. Think of the leaf debris as tartar/calculus/food matter between teeth, causing fungal growth to move in. Not cleaning regularly between deck boards will assure the premature rot on most decks especially on decks who have dense tree canopies above them.

Will Cleaning Between Deck Boards With A Pressure Washer Help?

Cleaning a deck with a pressure washer and bleach is not the solution, either-  as using too much pressure between boards to try and ‘blast’ the debris out can, and has caused extensive damage from unskilled technicians, not to mention creating a hazardous work environment. You also run the risk of causing damage to joists below. Cleaning a deck with bleach will not ‘disinfect’ or ‘sanitize’ the deck. Using bleach on a deck will damage the deck!!  These buzzwords used by pressure washing outfits about using bleach to disinfect and/or sanitize a deck are just that: buzzwords- for SEO ranking (winding up higher on the google search result) instead of actually educating the prospective customer as to what’s important to preserve and protect their deck.

How To Clean Between Deck Boards Properly?

To clean between deck boards properly one has to HAND CLEAN BETWEEN THE BOARDS with a specialty cleaning tool ensuring to remove all the compacted leaf debris. It is tedious work as sometimes the space between the boards is tight, so there will be plenty of resistance to get the gunk out, sometimes requiring multiple passes, sweeping, vacuuming, blowing off. This is not easy peasy, it is hard work, messy work. We recommend tackling the cleaning between deck boards methodically. Here are some excellent tips to do so.

Image Of Space Between Deck Floor Boards Being Cleaned By Hand.
Cleaning Between Deck Floor Boards

See Image above, a proper cleaning between deck floor boards will create a large amount of debris, take a look at the pictures below:

Leaf Pulp Removed Between Boards Sitting On Top Of Cedar Deck
compacted leaf debris cleaned between deck boards.
Leaf Debris Removed By Hand From Between Deck Floor boards. Leaf Debris Turns Into A Mucky Mess
Leaf Matter Removed Between Deck Boards

10 Tips To Clean Between Your Deck Boards Properly:

  1. Clear deck completely , make sure to remove furniture, plants, rugs.
  2. Start off by sweeping entire deck to get the bulk of debris off.
  3. Start with a manageable section: Don’t try to go from end to end, instead tackle a small area at a time. That way you don’t contaminate other areas, keep it organized!
  4. Wear gloves, eye protection to ensure you don’t accidentally get debris in your eye, or get blisters, etc.
  5. With gentle, sweeping motions gently scrape out the compacted debris.
  6. As debris begins to collect, gently sweep up or vacuum up so debris doesn’t fall into crevices again.
  7. Be patient: This cleaning takes time, especially if you haven’t cleaned between the boards for a while, and you have a dense tree canopies. If your deck is large in size, break the cleaning between a few weekends.
  8. Be persistent: The more often you clean between your deck boards the easier it will be. If you clean your deck boards once a month you’ll find that cleanings are done quickly without much effort.
  9. Don’t use power tools: Never use a circular saw, jigsaw, as these can cause issues with joists, and in the hands of someone who isn’t familiar with these tools can sustain severe injury.
  10. Don’t use a pressure washer: Don’t try to power your way to get this debris out. If not wearing eye protection you could injure yourself severely, you could also damage the floor boards, scoring, leaving indentations on deck boards requiring costly sanding repairs.

Okay, All Done, Now What?

Once you’ve cleaned between your deck boards you’re almost there- there is one vital step left. With your deck still cleared off , clean all deck surfaces with light pressure without using bleach. Use wood safe chemicals -in order to remove mold, mildew, dirt. Bleach damages woods cell structure, so use oxygen based cleaners. If you want to add a little extra measure of prevention treat the exposed joist tops with a borate wood treatment to prevent fungal growth. This is a simple step you can easily take and will pay dividends long term.

Cleaning Between Deck Boards Customer Testimonial

Benefits Of Cleaning Between Deck Boards

  • Removal Of Compacted Leaf Debris
  • Allows Proper Airflow Between Deck Boards
  • Allows Water To Drip Through Boards
  • Clean Space Between Boards Allows Thorough Staining OR Painting.
  • Prevents Joist Rot
  • Extends Deck Stain Or Paint Life
  • Extends Deck Floor Board Life
  • Prevents Fungal Growth, Decay.

How Much Will Cleaning Between Deck Boards Cost?

Pricing to clean between deck boards varies as it depends on how dirty your deck is, how tight the gap between the boards is, how large of a deck you have. Unfortunately this is not something we can price out by pictures, and would have to do an in person consultation to determine rough labor costs. We would love to hear from you, so please click one of the buttons below to submit a quote request, or better yet invoke a chat session with us.

Cleaning Between Deck Boards FAQ:

No, decks with tree canopies above, decks with debris falling from adjacent trees need regular cleaning. If your deck has zero debris falling on it it does not need to be cleaned regularly. Just as needed if you notice debris .

Yes you can! You can purchase one type of deck cleaning tool online which should help in cleaning between boards without having to get on your hands and knees. Send us a message and we’ll gladly recommend a quality tool which can help with any DIY Cleaning between boards.

It all depends how dense a tree canopy you have above your deck. Some trees will release debris year round. Some do not, If unsure send us a message and we may be able to help with finding a cleaning schedule that will be just right for you.

Sometimes deck builders do not leave enough space between boards to allow debris to fall through. This is especially so with kiln dried decks whose wood will not shrink but swell. In some cases the boards may be too close together to properly clean, that said we can do our best to carefully clean between boards without scratching/scoring decking boards.

Yes, we can clean between composite, hardwood , pine, cedar deck boards.

Cleaning between deck boards is a slow process. One has to be careful not to score deck floor boards, stairs, etc. It is a methodical process that can take several hours, to a full day even a couple days. How long cleaning between boards takes depends on:

  • How large of a deck you have.
  • How much compacted leaf and organic matter is caught between boards.
  • How close together deck boards are.

Typically we can clean a normal sized deck (12×12 with steps (deck with a LOT of organic compacted matter) in 4 to 6 hours. Larger decks take longer, smaller decks take less. Decks with heavy soiling will take longer, decks with light soiling less, etc.

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