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Cleaning Between Deck Boards

Atlanta Deck Doctor specializes in cleaning between deck boards. 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. Although we don’t offer cleaning between deck boards as a standalone service, it is included as part of our deck restoration service (deck cleaning, staining, sealing).

Cleaning Between Deck Boards Customer Review

Compacted Leaf Debris Removed When Deck Cleaning
Cedar Deck - Debris Removed After Cleaning Between Deck Boards (Compacted Leaf Matter). Circa 2021
Image Of Debris Below Deck After Cleaning
Image After Cleaning Between Boards, Below Deck View: Notice BLack Dots (that is all compacted leaf matter).

Benefits Of Cleaning Between Deck Boards:

Think of it like flossing: 

Especially during fall-  leaf debris, pine straw, acorns, fall on decks. As cooler temperatures move in home-owners start using these outdoor spaces less. That decrease in outdoor space usage lessens blowing leaves off decking, routine cleanup-  allowing this organic matter to collect on deck surfaces. As this matter starts to break down, crumble the crumbled leaves get caught between deck boards. As rainfall moves in, normal traffic, etc this crumbled leaf debris is compacted 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 made available 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.

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. 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.

To clean between deck boards properly one has to HAND CLEAN BETWEEN THE BOARDS, then clean with light pressure without using bleach  using wood safe chemicals -in order to remove mold, mildew, dirt. Cleaning a deck with  bleach (without removing compacted debris between boards) will just add bleach to the compacted matter (worsening things). Bleach damages woods cell structure, so by using bleach on a deck with compacted matter you are accelerating the possibility of having rot, not preventing it. 

The myth that decks have to be disinfected or sanitized should be put to rest by now. Cleaning a deck with the proper wood safe chemicals – obviously removes mold, mildew, dirt-  Want to really help a deck to ward off wood rot? You’ll have to eliminate those conditions which allow fungus to thrive on a deck, has nothing to do with bacteria.

There is no easy way to clean between deck boards. It has to be hand-cleaned!

Benefits of cleaning between deck boards (by hand) as a yearly maintenance routine:
  • Removal of compacted leaf debris
  • Allows proper airflow between deck boards
  • Allows water to drip through boards.
  • Aids in ability to stain deep between boards sealing out moisture between boards.
  • Prevents joist rot (joist rot is expensive to fix!)
  • Extends deck stain life (by preventing pooling of water on deck)
  • Extends deck floor board life (preventing rot )
  • Keeps fungal growth & fungal decay at bay

99% of wood rot on decks occurs between deck boards, vertical deck surfaces have little if no rot.

The main aim in deck maintenance is to extend the lifespan of a deck. This involves regular upkeep.

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.

Cost to clean between deck boards varies, best way to give you a ballpark price is for you to submit a few pictures via our contact page, our quotes are always fast and free.

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