Trex composite decking is designed to be low maintenance and long lasting. However, regular deck cleaning and care is still required to keep your Trex deck looking its best. This guide will walk you through the recommended products and techniques for effectively cleaning Trex deck boards without causing damage.
An Introduction to Trex Decking
Trex is a popular brand of composite decking made from a blend of plastic and wood fibers. The combination of materials gives Trex several beneficial properties:
- Durable – Resists cracking, rotting, splitting, and other common deck board damage
- Low Maintenance – Requires less frequent sealing, staining, painting than real wood
- Stain/Fade Resistant – Color pigments and polymers reduce discoloration from sun and stains
- Splinter-free – Composite materials create solid deck board with no splinters
However, Trex decking is still exposed to outdoor elements like dust, pollen, mold spores that can discolor and dirty the surface over time. Additionally, spills from cooking, plant materials, beverages and other substances can stain if not properly cleaned.
While Trex won’t rot or crack like real wood, excessive pressure washing can damage the material by eroding the protective polymer layer. Thus, regular light cleaning with proper composite deck products is recommended instead to remove buildup and prevent ingrained staining over time.
Cleaning Supplies for Trex Decking
- Mild or Composite Deck Cleaner
- Stiff Bristle or Soft Scrub Brush
- Garden Hose with Spray Nozzle
- Soft Clean Cloth or Sponge
Do NOT use abrasive cleaners, scouring powders, bleach or acid based products on Trex. Only use specifically designed composite cleaners or mild soap solutions. Harsh chemicals can damage protective outer shell.
Preparing Your Trex Deck for Cleaning
Before starting washing, make sure to sweep deck clear of loose debris using a stiff broom. This prevents excess dirt and leaves from acting as abrasives during the cleaning process.
Next, wet down all plants and vegetation bordering the deck using a garden hose. This protects them from accidental chemical exposure during cleaning which could cause leaf burn or discoloration.
If using a pressure washer, start at widest nozzle pattern/lowest pressure setting and increase slowly only if needed. Maximum recommendation is under 1500 PSI for Trex to prevent erosion.
Finally, mask off or carefully cover any windows or doors near the deck area that could be accidentally sprayed during the washing process.
Mixing Composite Deck Cleaner Solutions
Always follow label instructions for proper mixing and use of commercial deck cleaning products. But here are some general guidelines:
For light cleaning:
- 2-4 oz composite cleaner
- 1 gallon warm water
- Mix well in pump sprayer until fully dissolved
For moderate cleaning:
- 6-8 oz composite cleaner
- 1 gallon warm water
For heavy cleaning:
- Create paste of composite cleaner powder with just enough warm water to allow scrubbing action on the boards
Safety Tip: Wear gloves and eye protection when mixing and handling deck cleaning chemicals.
How to Clean Trex Decking Boards
- Prep Deck & Mix Cleaner: Sweep, pre-wet vegetation, adjust nozzle, mask off doors/windows, mix cleaner solution.
- Spray On Cleaner: Use pump sprayer to evenly coat a small section of decking boards with mixed cleaning solution. Allow to sit for 2-5 minutes.
- Scrub With a Brush: Use a stiff bristle brush to vigorously scrub boards to release buildup of dirt, mold and discoloration. Scrub lengthwise along grain.
- Rinse Clean: Thoroughly rinse scrubbed section with garden hose, letting excess dirty water run off deck edges.
- Repeat Incrementally: Systematically work in small sections across whole deck surface to prevent cleaner solution from drying on boards.
- Inspect & Spot Treat: Scan the wet deck and spot treat stubborn stains using a soft scrub brush or magic eraser sponge along with a small amount of concentrated deck cleaner paste.
- Rinse & Dry: Finish by quickly triple rinsing the entire deck surface to remove all residues. Allow deck to thoroughly air dry before using.
Tip: Use a soft sponge or microfiber cloth to gently wipe metal railing, hardware or ornamental accents near the end once decking is dry. Avoid direct spray application of cleaners on metal surfaces.
Tips for Avoiding Damage During Cleaning
- Never use metal bristle brushes or abrasive pads that could scratch decking surface.
- Don’t allow cleaning solutions or residues to dry out on deck boards.
- Adjust pressure washer nozzle to avoid stripping protective polymer layer.
- Test cleaners on inconspicuous area first before overall application.
- Hold nozzle at least 4-6 inches away from deck to prevent damage from concentrated spray.
- Work in manageable sections, rinse thoroughly as you go.
- Never spray cleaners directly on plants or grass which could cause discoloration.
- Don’t use or mix any strong solvents, acids, bleach products or scouring compounds.
How Often Should Trex Decking Be Cleaned?
On average, plan to do a thorough top-to-bottom cleaning of entire Trex deck surface once or twice a year. Target spring and fall seasons when mold, pollen and environmental buildups are highest.
For preventative maintenance in between, do a basic hose down or use a soft deck brush with composite cleaner every 2-3 months during active use seasons. This keeps ahead of staining and keeps the deck looking clean.
Immediately spot clean any spills like wine, greasy food or flower pollen when they occur to prevent lasting discoloration marks.
Best Practices for Maintaining Trex Between Cleanings
- Sweep loose debris regularly with stiff broom
- Routinely hose off top surface, between boards and side gaps
- Address leaf tannins, drainage issues promoting mold growth
- Use furniture/planter feet protectors to prevent scuffing
- Shade sun-exposed areas of extensive staining when possible
- Consider re-sealing concrete cracks weeping below deck
- Winterize planters, pots to prevent mineral leeching stains
Following these cleaning, maintenance and preventative steps for your Trex deck will keep it shining like new for decades to come!
Keeping Your Trex Deck Beautiful Has Never Been Easier
As you can see, with some basic cleaning tools and composite decking products, keeping your high-performance Trex deck looking fresh and clean is very achievable. The key is staying on top of routine maintenance with seasonal deep cleanings as needed.
For those looking for some extra help, Sullins Suds offers full service Trex and composite deck cleaning services to clients throughout the area. Our team of trained composite deck technicians have all the latest pressure washers, soft scrub brushes, and approved deck cleaners to safely deep clean and revive your aging Trex deck.