If sun exposure or a wet winter has left your deck looking gray and worn, a good cleaning might be all it needs to perk up.
Scrubbing your deck on top and between boards can remove the grime that dulls a beautiful wood deck: dirt, fungi, moss and mildew, and stains.
Use a stiff brush and a cleaner designed specifically for wood decks. Avoid chlorine bleach, which can drain the color out of your wood. And skip the pressure washer; it can cause your wood deck to splinter and erode.
If your deck has been stained and the stain is flaking off, you might need to strip it. Stain and finish removers formulated for wood easily and quickly remove oil or latex stains, including clear stains.
Once your deck is clean, protect it by sealing it with a protective, water-repellent finish. You can stain the wood first if you want to enhance the color, or you can add a transparent finish that will reveal the natural wood color but protect the wood. Choose a finish with an ingredient that impedes mildew growth.
In Arizona, you’ll probably need to repeat this process once a year, even if the manufacturer of the finish says you can do it every few years. In Phoenix and Tucson, the heat and sun wear the finish off quickly, and the climate in northern Arizona is pretty hard on finished wood.