How to Care for Vinyl and Composite Decking

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Many homeowners opt for vinyl or composite decking because of the low maintenance properties of these materials. While wood decking is a beautiful and natural choice for any yard, you may simply want to enjoy your deck without dealing with the frustration of frequent staining or repainting.

Vinyl and PVC decking are composed of plastics, and as a result, these materials are the best for resisting mold, moisture damage, and insect damage. Often, the terms vinyl and PVC are used interchangeably, but to be more accurate, PVC, which stands for polyvinyl chloride, is a type of vinyl. Vinyl refers more broadly to a variety of ethylene-based materials. Composite decking is blended from wood and plastics, and because the raw materials are often recycled, composite is known for being eco-friendly. Vinyl and composite can both replicate the appearance of wood if that’s what you desire, or you can opt for a more modern look in a variety of colors.

Caring for your vinyl or composite deck is simple—this is exactly why these materials have been gaining so much popularity.  Predictably, the method for cleaning these kinds of decks is similar to the process for cleaning a vinyl or composite fence. We recommend following these steps once or twice a year or as needed.

How to clean your vinyl or composite deck

The materials you need to clean a vinyl or composite deck are basics that you’re likely to already have. They include:

  • A soft bristled brush: Brushes with harder bristles can cause scratches on your deck.
  • A soft bristled broom to sweep up excess debris
  • A garden hose
  • A bucket filled with:
    • A gallon of water
    • ¼ cup of soap: For vinyl, you can use dish detergent. For composite, you may need a soap specifically formulated for the material.

Once you’ve assembled your materials, you can get started:

  1. Sweep off your deck with a broom to remove stray any stray dirt and debris.
  2. Combine dish detergent and warm water in a bucket.
  3. Spray off the deck with your garden hose.
  4. Scrub with your soft bristled brush and soap mixture where you still see any debris still clinging to the deck.
  5. Rinse off again with your garden hose. Allow to air dry, but make sure you do not leave any pools of standing water. While vinyl and composite decks resist mildew better than wood decks, it can form whenever there is a combination of water and plant matter.

Should you use a pressure washer on your deck?

Pressure washing your vinyl or composite deck is recommended by some sources, but if you use this option, be careful not to damage your deck with a pressure washer that is too strong. For Trex composite decking, a pressure washer greater than 3100 psi is not recommended, while TimberTech recommends a maximum pressure of 1500 psi for their composite decks. Check with an expert about your decking material before using a pressure washer.

Maintaining your deck as needed

You may end up with stains if you’re grilling for a backyard barbeque and end up splattering grease onto the deck. We recommend that you clean messes from food and grease within a week in order to avoid permanent staining. You won’t have to do anything special—just use a hose and soapy water like you normally would. If you live in a wooded area and leaves collect on your deck, you can simply remove them with a leaf blower. To remove snow after a winter storm, you can use a snow shovel as long as it’s not metal, which may scratch your deck.

There you have it! Caring for vinyl and composite decking is fairly straightforward. The majority of your time will be spent relaxing on your deck, not cleaning it! If you have any specific questions about caring for your deck, don’t hesitate to reach out to your contractor or supplier to avoid damage. 

How do you care for your vinyl or composite deck? Have any tips? Encountered any challenges? Share in the comments!

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