How To Clean and Restore Trex Decking

With its superior durability and weather-resistant properties, Trex makes some of the best composite decking money can buy, but it isn’t indestructible. Unless properly maintained, a Trex decking, like all composite decking, can succumb to mold and mildew, stains from food and hard water, and even rusty furniture.

Even with regular care, the sun’s damaging UV rays will eventually cause a composite deck to fade. If your precious Trek decking is facing these issues, fear not. There is hope for a dirty, stained, or faded composite deck.

Simple homemade cleaning products can help remove mold, dirt, grime, and unsightly stains from your Trex decking. And, if the deck requires a facelift, there are several quality stains and paint products you can use to help restore your composite deck to its former glory.

In this article, we’ll review how to clean and restore Trex decking while also looking at some of the products you can use to help restore the look for your composite deck.

How To Clean Trex Decking

Can You Damage Trex Decking?

Although Trex decking, like most composite decking products, is quite durable, holding up to the elements better than standard treated lumber, it certainly isn’t invincible. In fact, in some ways, it’s more susceptible to damage than wood decking.

This means the homeowner must be mindful of certain hazards that can damage Trex decking.

Steel and iron outdoor furniture and grills that are susceptible to rust can create rust stains on the decking that can be difficult or, in some cases, nearly impossible to remove.

Allowing leaves, dirt, and other organic debris to build up and remain on a deck for long periods of time can cause mold to grow or leave stains on the deck. Even spilled food, if not cleaned up promptly, can absorb into composite decking, leaving permanent stains.

Even cleaning and maintaining the deck is fraught with peril. While power washers can be a very useful companion for cleaning. If they aren’t used properly, they can cause damage to many items, including Trex decking.

Using the wrong nozzle or too high of a pressure level will cause the pressure washer to remove some of the deck material, causing unsightly scratches or divots while removing the decking’s protective outer coating. Snow removal also presents a complication for Trex decking. Using a metal shovel can cause scratches on the deck surface.

You also need to be mindful of using corrosive cleaners that can eat into the decking. Never use bleach on Trex decking, as it will eat into the composite decking’s protective coating, creating an environment that promotes mold growth.

What Is the Best Way to Clean Trex Decking?

Best Way to Clean Trex Decking

When it comes to cleaning Trex decking, simplicity wins out. Yes, you can clean a deck more quickly with a power washer. You can also spend money on a composite deck cleaner, but both of those options carry risks.

It doesn’t take much to do damage with a power washer and, unless you’re using a cleaner made by or endorsed by Trex, it’s hard to be certain it doesn’t contain bleach or some other chemical that can potentially damage it.

That is especially true given the fact that Trex’s own cleaning guidelines vary for its product lines, which consists of its first-generation products–Accents, Contours, Brasilia, Profiles, and Origins–and its new “high-performance” products–Transcend, Enhance and Select.

In fact, Trek recommends using a composite deck cleaner for its early generation products and soap and water for its newer high-performance product lines. If you know what type of Trex decking you have, it’s best practice to follow that product’s instructions.

If you’ve inherited a Trex deck or simply don’t remember what product you purchased for a deck built years ago, play it safe and go with a good old-fashioned solution consisting of water and a mild dish detergent, such as Dawn. This cleaning method doesn’t use any astringent chemicals that will damage the decking while still being effective.

If you’re looking for more cleaning power, you can also add oxygenated bleach, which is safe for use on composite decking.

While this solution will work for general cleaning, chances are you’ll need something a little stronger to remove stubborn stains. For that, you’ll need to use more extreme methods, which we’ll get into in detail a little later.

What Is the Best Cleaner for Trex Decking?

The best cleaner for Trex decking is a solution that consists of oxygen bleach powder, dish soap, and warm water. While the dish detergent will cut the grease, the oxygen bleach release oxygen when exposed to water, helping to lift dirt and grime out of the embossing in the Trex decking. If you’re dealing with a mildew problem, you can use a combination of vinegar and baking soda to kill and remove the mold.

If you do have an older generation of Trex decking and would like to use a composite deck cleaning product to clean the deck, use a product such as Rock Solid Composite Deck Cleaner from Rusto-Oleum.

How to Clean a Trex Deck

How to Clean a Trex Deck

Step 1: Clear the Deck

First, make sure you get everything off of the deck before you begin the cleaning process. Not only will this make cleaning the deck easier, but it will also ensure you don’t damage items such as patio furniture or a grill in the process.

Oxygen bleach, per its name, contains oxygen, which is a key ingredient for creating rust, so it shouldn’t be used near a metal grill. Oxiclean can also damage wicker, a common material for outdoor furniture, and certain latex paints. Cleaners can also harm any potted plants you may have sitting on your deck.

Step 2: Remove Debris

Now that you’ve removed all furniture, potted plants, and grills from your composite deck, it’s time to get rid of all the debris that has been hiding under these objects. Use a leaf blower to quickly clear the deck of leaves and dirt, then follow up with a broom for a more thorough cleaning.

Finally, use a hose to spray off the deck to remove any remaining loose dirt from the decking surface.

Step 3: Make a Soap Solution

Mix a soap solution that consists of two cups of oxygen bleach powder, a 1/4 cup of dish soap, and two gallons of warm water, then mix it thoroughly. Remember that oxygen bleach is a different product than standard bleach because they have different active ingredients.

Oxygenated bleach contains sodium percarbonate, which is safe for the decking, while chlorine bleach contains sodium hypochlorite, which is not safe for Trex decking. Never use regular bleach on your Trex decking.

Step 4: Scrub the Deck

Scrub the deck using a stiff brush. While it’s okay to use some elbow grease when scrubbing, never use a brush with metal bristles, as this will scratch the surface of the decking. A brush with a longer handle will work better than one that requires you to get on your hands and knees. The goal here is to work the grime and dirt out of the embossing.

Step 5: Clean the Gaps

Often homeowners will forget to clean the gaps between the decking. This is a common area where dirt and debris become trapped, creating a breeding ground for mold. Use a smaller brush to clears these gaps and apply the cleaner to these areas.

Cleaning Composite Decking With Vinegar and Baking Soda

If you’re out of dish soap or are looking for an alternative with a little more stain-cutting power, then consider this alternative household remedy. Combine a half-cup of vinegar (white or apple cider) and a1/4-cup of baking soda with a gallon of water.

Scrub the deck with this mixture, then rinse with clean water. When the vinegar and baking soda combine, they create a reaction (think elementary school volcano science experiment) that helps break dirt away from the deck’s surface.

How to Remove Stains From Trex Decking

While the cleaning instructions described above will help you remove dirt and grime from decks, sometimes you need a little extra to handle stains.

Food and Grease

Since decks are popular places for backyard barbecues and al fresco dining, it’s only a matter of time before food will fall to the surface, leaving a greasy residue. Since oil resists water, it’s not enough to rinse the deck with a hose or wait for the rain to take care of clean-up.

The best way to cut through grease is to use the same cleaner you use to wash dishes: dish soap. Mix dish soap with water and wipe it over the grease using a sponge. Allow the soap to soak into the stain for about 15 minutes.

Scrub lightly if necessary, then rinse the area clean. It’s vital that you don’t sit on cleaning up food stains. Grease will soak into composite decking over time, permanently staining it. In fact, Trex requires homeowners to remove food stains within seven days to avoid voiding the decking’s warranty.

Mold and Mildew

While natural mold and mildew resistance are benefits of composite decking, it can still form if pollen or other organic debris is allowed to collect on the deck surface.

Resist the urge to reach for the bleach when tackling mold or mildew. While bleach is the most effective cleaner for mold, it will damage the surface of your Trex decking by removing its protective coating.

Instead, treat the area with a vinegar and water solution, then sprinkle baking soda on it. Give the solution about 20 minutes to work into the mold. Scrub it lightly with a brush to help break up the mildew, then rinse clean with a hose.

Hard water

Hard water contains silica, lime, and calcium, which is left behind after the water dries, leaving hard water stains on the surface of your Trex decking. Water stains can generally be cleaned by using a solution of water and white vinegar.

Lightly scrubbing the area is also effective at removing these deposits. For extra stubborn stains, consider using a Magic Eraser sponge.

Tannins

If tree bark or leaves remain on a deck, they will eventually get wet and release tannins that can stain the decking. Unless you like a permanent leaf imprint on the surface, you’ll need to remove the stain. To remove tannins, first clean the deck of any debris, then apply a deck brightener to remove the stains.

Deck brighteners have oxalic acid, which will break down the tannins and allow you to rinse them away.

Rust

If you have metal furniture on your deck, it may eventually rust, leaving small orange rings or markings on your deck that can be very difficult to remove. Removing rust is difficult if you use the right chemical, and that chemical is vinegar.

Create a vinegar and water solution, then spray that solution with the rust stains. Allow it to soak in and disintegrate the rust, then rinse off with water.

Can I Use Simple Green on Trex Deck?

Since Simple Green doesn’t use any abrasive chemicals in its formula–its active ingredient is peroxide–it’s safe for use on composite decks. In fact, since Simple Green is a foaming formula that cuts through mold, tree, sap, pollen, and other dirt, it’s a great option for cleaning Trex decking.

Can You Power Wash Trex Decking?

You can power wash Trex decking as long as you follow certain guidelines. Using the wrong nozzle or even holding the wand too close to Trex decking can cause the high-pressure water to damage the deck’s surface, causing unsightly marks while also breaking the seal on the surface of the decking. So, be careful.

Use a pressure washer with no greater than 3,100 PSI with a fan attachment and soap dispenser. Use the soap dispenser to apply cleaner to the deck surface. Scrub the surface with a soft-bristled brush, then use the fan attachment to rinse away the cleaner and dirt.

How to Restore Old and Faded Trex Decking

How to Restore Faded Trex Decking

Although Trex decking is superior to treated lumber when it comes to durability, it will still eventually succumb to the elements and begin to fade. Fortunately, there are several ways you can restore your Trex decking to its former glory. Like wood, composite decking can also be painted or stained.

Begin by first cleaning the deck thoroughly. While you can use a mix of dish soap and water (see above) to clean the deck, it might be a good idea to use a commercial composite deck cleaner for thorough cleaning to ensure better results when painting or staining the deck.

How to Paint Trex decking

To ensure the paint adheres to the decking properly, it’s a good idea to lightly sand it using fine 240-grit sandpaper. Be sure to clean the wood dust off of the deck after the sanding is complete. Next, prime the deck with a quality exterior primer using a roller with a long handle that allows you to apply it while standing.

How to Stain Trex Decking

Begin by picking a quality stain and sealer that will help protect the deck from the UV rays that damaged it in the first place. There are several ways to apply deck stain and sealer; however, given the size of most decks, the best options are either a roller with a long handle that allows you to apply the stain from a standing position or use a sprayer.

Apply the stain evenly using the product’s directions as a guide. If you need to apply multiple coats, pay attention to the drying time and application directions for the stain.

Once the primer is dry, apply the paint using a roller, making sure to allow the paint enough time to dry between coats.

Top Composite Decking Restoration Products

The key to restoring a composite deck is using a quality stain or paint designed to create a good finish that will endure the elements. Below, we’ve assembled some of the top products for restoring a deck.

Rust-oleum Rock Solid Composite Deck Cleaner

GAL Deck/Patio CleanerThough Rustoleum’s Rock Solid products come with a premium price tag, given that they last longer than cheaper deck cleaners, it’s worth it.

This cleaner requires only a single coat and protects against harmful UV rays, mold, and mildew growth. It also creates a shell over the decking that’s very effective at repelling water.

A gallon of Rock Solid Composite Deck cleaner covers 2500 square feet.

Rock Solid Composite Deck Resurfacer

RUST-OLEUM 300081 300081 Gallon 20X Tint ResurfacerComposite deck resurfacer provides complete coverage and can fix minor imperfections, is a great option for worn-out composite decks.

The coating is 20 times thicker than paint, creating a new surface over the deck that’s waterproof and UV resistant.

In addition to adding weather resistance to your deck, it also fills cracks, scratches, and other imperfections. And, with its 60 color options, it’s easy to find a hue that matches your home. One gallon of Rock Solid Composite Deck Resurfacer covers 40 square feet.

Valspar All Weather Exterior Primer

Valspar 21851Q Red Oxide Primer Enamel - 1 QuartIf you’re planning to paint your composite decking, it’s vital to use a quality primer that can adhere well to the existing decking surface.

Valspar is one of the best options. It boasts superior adhesion properties, making it quite resistant to cracking and peeling.

Valspar primer also creates a waterproof seal over the decking that resists mildew and tannins. Valspar All Weather Exterior Primer comes in one-gallon containers and can be applied with a brush or sprayer.

Trex Deck Maintenance Tips

Once you’ve cleaned and restored your Trex decking, there are few tips you can follow to ensure it keeps its “like-new” appearance for as long as possible.

  1. Avoid using rugs with a rubber, vinyl, or latex backing, as these materials can leave a residue that can stain the decking.
  2. Following any backyard dining or barbecuing, check the deck for grease and food stains and clean them up quickly. The longer grease sits on the deck, the more likely it will soak in and stain the decking.
  3. Mind the gaps. Debris caught in the gaps between the boards will quickly breed mold, which will spread onto the decking surface. Prevent this from happening by cleaning the gaps between the boards regularly.
  4. Clean the deck twice a year. By cleaning Trex decking regularly, you can prevent mold growth and stains that are difficult to remove.
  5. Never use a metal shovel to clean snow off a composite deck, as it could scratch and damage it. Instead, use a plastic shovel to remove the snow or rock salt to melt it.

Conclusion

While Trex decking can last up to 30 years, that doesn’t make it maintenance-free or indestructible. You still need to clean it from time to time to prevent mold growth and stains from marring its exterior.

By using a simple cleaning solution made from products you already have stored under your kitchen sink, you can clean and refresh the look of your deck.

Even if you have allowed stains to form on your deck, thankfully, there are solutions to help remove those stains and return your Trex decking to pristine condition. And when that deck does begin to look faded and weathered, there are refreshers, stains, and paints that can help you restore your Trex decking to its former glory.

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