Surface Prep For Clean Outdoors

Imagine that it's a nice summer day and you're looking forward to spending some time on your deck. But when you step outside, you see a dirty, stained surface that doesn't make you feel welcome. Do you recognize it?

If you're a homeowner who likes to spend time outside, you know how important it is to keep your deck clean and well-kept. But before you pull out the power washer and start blasting away, there is one important step you can't skip: preparing the surface. In this article, I'll talk about why preparing the surface is so important when cleaning a deck and give you some tips and tricks to help you do the job right. So get a cold drink, put on your work gloves, and let's get started!

Importance of Surface Preparation for Outdoor Cleaning

Why is Surface Preparation Important?

Coatings work better or worse depending on how well they stick to the material underneath them.

Surface preparation not only gets rid of unwanted contaminants like mill scale or grease, but it also gets rid of organic matter, salts, and visible soils that stop microbes from being killed.

Cleaning gets rid of a lot of microorganisms, and if a place is not cleaned first, the disinfection process might not work as well as it could.

When you want to refresh outdoor surfaces like decks, walks, or other outdoor surfaces, it's important to start with a clean surface that doesn't have any growth on it.

Left on the surface and covered with paint, stain, or sealer, moss, algae, mold, and mildew will grow and finally make their way to the surface, leaving ugly black and green stains on the finished project.

So, you need to start with a clean surface if you want the paint, stain, or finish to work well and last for years.

Tools and Equipment Required for Surface Preparation

The tools and materials you need to prepare a surface depend on how it looks, how big it is, and whether you are working inside or outside.

The following tools and items can be used to prepare a surface:

  • Concrete surface preparation: A good quality floor scraper is needed to remove unwanted material like paint, tiling, or carpet glue.
  • Asphalt surface preparation: Wire street brooms with wire bristles are used to remove dust, loose aggregates, and vegetation from asphalt surfaces.
  • Metal surface preparation: Metal scalers, metal scarifiers, stainless steel finishing, metal descaling tools, and metal high-pressure hold are used.

Preparing a surface can be done with chemical or mechanical methods, like using liquids, abrasive blasting materials, heat, acids, or water jets.

Hand tools can be cleaned with a wire brush or sander to get rid of mill scale, rust, or old paint that isn't stuck on very well.

For better surface preparation, you can use power tools like grinders, sanders, and shot blasters.

Wet & Forget Outdoor

Wet & Forget Outdoor is a cleaning tool that gets rid of moss, mold, and mildew stains over time without hurting the surface.

Wet & Forget Outdoor doesn't contain bleach and isn't acidic, so it won't hurt or change the color of new paint, stain, or seal coat finishes.

Deck Maintenance: A Crucial Part of Cleaning Outdoor Surfaces

If you're looking to clean your outdoor surfaces, you can't ignore the importance of deck maintenance.

Your deck is one of the most used outdoor spaces, and it's also one of the most exposed to the elements.

Over time, dirt, grime, and even mold can accumulate on your deck, making it look unsightly and even dangerous to walk on.

That's why it's crucial to maintain your deck regularly.

This involves cleaning it thoroughly, sanding it down, and applying a protective coating to keep it looking great for years to come.

Not only will this make your deck look better, but it will also help prevent slips and falls, which can be a serious hazard.

So, if you're serious about cleaning your outdoor surfaces, don't forget about your deck.

With a little bit of maintenance, you can keep it looking great and safe for everyone to enjoy.

For more information:

Deck Maintenance 101: Cleaning & Care TipsDeck Maintenance 101: Cleaning & Care Tips

Cleaning Different Types of Outdoor Surfaces

It's important to keep your outdoor areas clean so they look nice and last a long time.

Different surfaces need different ways to be cleaned, so it's important to use the right option for each.

Here are some tips for cleaning different kinds of outdoor areas.

Hard Surfaces

Stone, brick, concrete, and glass are all hard surfaces that are often used for outdoor countertops, floors, and walls.

Water and soap can be used to clean these surfaces, and a professional cleaner can be used to get rid of tougher stains.

You should read the cleaner's label to make sure it is safe for the area you are cleaning.

Metal Surfaces

Outdoor tools, fixtures, and hardware often have metal surfaces like stainless steel, aluminum, and iron.

You can clean metal surfaces with a damp cloth and a mild soap solution.

For tougher stains, you can use a commercial aluminum cleaner.

Again, you should read the cleaner's label to make sure it is safe for the area you are cleaning.

Outdoor Furniture

Mold spots can grow on wood, plastic, or metal outdoor furniture over time.

At big box and hardware shops, you can buy cleaners that are made to get rid of mold stains on outdoor wood surfaces.

Most outdoor furniture with mild mold can be cleaned with a mix of water, soap, and a little bleach.

COVID-19 Cleaning

During the COVID-19 pandemic, most outdoor places just need to be cleaned as usual and do not need to be disinfected.

To make surfaces and items even less likely to have germs on them, they will need to be cleaned and then disinfected.

This includes things like light switches and doorknobs that people touch often.

Cleaning Solutions

Depending on the type of surface, different cleaning methods are needed to get it clean.

The Wet & Forget Outdoor Multi-Surface Cleaner is one of the best ways to get rid of mold and mildew on decks.

It comes with a sprayer and can be used on many different surfaces.

It could hurt the plants, though, and it doesn't work right away.

The Pro-Kleen Ready to Use Simply Spray & Walk Away is a good way to clean concrete decks.

It is easy to use, and you don't have to scrub.

When you use cleaning products, it's important to think about how they might hurt the earth.

Some cleaning products contain toxic chemicals that can hurt the ecosystem of nearby dirt and water sources, kill wildlife, bleach your yard, and even hurt children and pets.

Always read the package and use the solution in the way that it says to.

General Cleaning Tips

When cleaning outdoor floors, it's important to use a broom made for outdoor surfaces and to sweep as often as needed to get rid of dust and other debris.

Spray the whole area with water every so often to get rid of things that stain.

Before using cleaning products, spots, or sealants, it is important to carefully read all instructions.

Use only scrub brushes with natural bristles or made of plastic.

Surfaces can be easily scratched and stained by metal brushes.

Before using cleaning solutions, make sure the area is completely wet.

Don't let cleaning products dry out on surfaces.

Tips for Safe and Effective Outdoor Cleaning

Dirt and stains can build up over time on outdoor areas like patios, decks, and outdoor rugs.

But if you know how, it's easy to clean spots and dirt off of outdoor surfaces.

Cleaning Grass Stains on Clothes

Grass spots can be hard to get out of clothes, but with the right method, you can do it.

Before you wash it in warm water, you should treat the stain with an enzyme-based stain remover or a heavy-duty liquid soap with enough enzymes to break up the stain.

This should work well to get rid of the spot.

Ground-in Mud Stains

Mud spots that have been ground in can be cleaned like protein stains.

The best way to get rid of them is to let them soak in cold water with a high-quality liquid cleanser and a bleach that won't hurt the color of the fabric.

Soak it for 30 minutes first, then wash it in warm water.

Cleaning Outdoor Rugs

If you want to clean outdoor rugs, you should first sweep away any leftover dirt and debris.

Then, clean up the dust and dirt with a broom or a cleaner.

Most mistakes can be cleaned up by mixing a few drops of liquid dish soap with warm water.

Mold or mildew on an outdoor rug is easy to get rid of with either white vinegar or baking soda.

Cleaning Concrete Patios

You can use an outdoor hose or a pressure washer to get rid of water stains or mildew on a concrete patio.

If this doesn't work, mix 3/4 cup bleach with a gallon of water and use a stiff-bristled brush to scrub the area.

Dish soap and water can be used to clean oily and dirty decks.

A mixture of equal parts vinegar and water can be used to scrub the patio to get rid of rust or charcoal spots that won't go away.

Cleaning Hard Surface Patios

For hard surface patios such as concrete, brick pavers, flagstone, or concrete pavers, different stains require different cleaning methods.

For paint, paraffin, or wax stains, you should use a putty knife to scrape off as much of the mark as you can.

Then, use a metal scrub brush and clean water to scrub the area.

If that doesn't work, try scrubbing it with mineral spirits and then rinsing it well with clean water.

Dirt and mud marks can be cleaned with water and a stiff brush or broom.

Safety Precautions

When cleaning outdoor areas, it's important to keep yourself and other people safe.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says to use disinfectants that are registered with the EPA and follow the directions on the label to kill germs on places that a lot of people touch or when someone around you is sick.

But disinfectants are strong tools that can hurt children's health if they are used or stored wrong.

Children and students shouldn't use disinfectants and should stay out of the area while it is being cleaned.

The first step in any decontamination process, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is to clean.

Cleaning gets rid of organic matter, salts, and obvious dirt, which all make it harder for microbes to die.

Germs can be physically removed from surfaces by scrubbing with soaps and surfactants and then rinsing with water.

When cleaning surfaces in the environment, it's important to start each cleaning session with new cleaning cloths and wipe surfaces in a general way, such as cleaning from dirty to clean, high to low, or in an orderly way.

Methodical Cleaning Strategy

It is also important to clean the surroundings in a methodical and systematic way, moving around the patient care area in a methodical way.

It is best to clean the floors last when cleaning, so that any dirt or germs that may have dropped can be picked up.

Between patients, surface barriers should be taken off and thrown away while still wearing gloves, and the surface should still be cleaned and sanitized.

Maintaining Cleanliness of Outdoor Surfaces

Frequency of Cleaning

How often outdoor surfaces need to be cleaned relies on the type of surface and how much traffic it gets.

To stop the spread of germs, you should regularly clean things like door handles, shopping cart handles, and elevator buttons.

At least twice a year, business buildings should use a power washer to clean the outside, entrances, sidewalks, parking lots, dumpster areas, and other places where dirt, grease, and seasonal elements can build up.

It is best to power wash outdoor patios at the start of the warm weather season to get rid of any dirt, mildew, or algae growth.

This should be done every year at the beginning of spring.

It's also important to clean outdoor furniture regularly to keep it looking nice and to keep it lasting a long time.

Outdoor furniture should be cleaned regularly by wiping down the surfaces with a soft-bristled brush and running water over them.

Deep cleaning should be done at least twice a year on outdoor furniture, once in the spring before it is used regularly and again in the fall before it is put away for the winter.

Maintaining Cleanliness

After cleaning outdoor areas, it's important to keep them clean to keep germs from spreading and to keep them looking their best.

The EPA says that some surfaces only need to be cleaned with soap and water, while surfaces like light switches and doorknobs that are often touched need to be cleaned and then disinfected to lower the risk of germs even more.

The CDC says to clean surfaces in your home regularly to get rid of germs, dirt, and other messes.

They also say to sanitize or cleanse surfaces after cleaning to kill any germs that are still there.

When taking care of outdoor surfaces, it's important to think about what kind of surface it is and how often it's touched.

High-touch surfaces should be cleaned often, like pens, counters, shopping carts, door handles, stair rails, elevator keys, touchpads, bathroom fixtures, and desks.

Other surfaces should only be cleaned when they look dirty.

Cleaning Techniques

To clean outdoor areas, you can use pressure washing, special cleaners, or rakes and brooms to get rid of loose dirt and debris.

When cleaning surfaces with a product made for that surface, it is important to follow the directions on the product box.

It is not necessary, effective, or suggested to spray cleaning or disinfecting products on outdoor surfaces that are not touched often, like sidewalks, roads, or groundcover.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Cleaning Outdoor Surfaces

When cleaning outdoor areas, it's important to use the right product for each surface and follow the directions on the product label.

The CDC says that high-touch areas like door handles, shopping carts, and bathroom fixtures should be cleaned often.

It is not necessary, effective, or suggested to spray cleaning or disinfecting products on low-touch surfaces like patios and sidewalks.

Avoid Abrasive Materials and Harsh Chemicals

When you use rough materials or strong chemicals, you can damage the surface.

It is important to use the right cleaner for the job and to think about both the surface and the spots that need to be cleaned.

Rust and oxidation need different cleaners than grease and oils, and organic spots like algae, mold, and mildew also need a different cleaner.

It is also important to rinse the area well after cleaning so that no residue is left behind.

Check the Weather

Trying to clean when the weather is bad is one of the most common mistakes.

If it might rain before the job is done, it could make a bigger mess.

So, it's important to look at the weather before you start cleaning.

Also, you shouldn't clean when it's too hot to keep water from evaporating quickly.

Avoid Using Powdered Abrasive Cleansers

When you use powdered cleaners that are rough, they can scratch the surface.

It is important to use the right cleaner for the job and to think about both the surface and the spots that need to be cleaned.

Rust and oxidation need different cleaners than grease and oils, and organic spots like algae, mold, and mildew also need a different cleaner.

It is also important to rinse the area well after cleaning so that no residue is left behind.

Cleaning Outdoor Furniture

Use an all-purpose cleaner that doesn't scratch and a soft sponge or cloth to clean outdoor furniture.

Steel wool soap pads should be used to get rid of tough stains, and paste wax should be spread on furniture and buffed with a clean, soft cloth to protect it.

Cleaning Outdoor Surfaces

To keep outdoor places in good shape, it's best to sweep the deck once a week to avoid buildup.

Most people use a 50/50 mix of bleach and water to clean outdoor surfaces like decks, but eco-friendly products like Simple Green Oxy Solve and Wash Safe can also be used.

Closing remarks and recommendations

In conclusion, surface preparation is an important step if you want your outdoor surfaces to last long and look good. Taking the time to clean and prepare the surface of your deck, patio, or walkway will save you time and money in the long run.

But let's step back and look at the whole situation. Not only do our outdoor spots give us a place to relax and have fun, but they also show how close we are to nature. When we take care of our outdoor surfaces, we take care of the world as well.

Think about it: when we don't take care of our outdoor areas, we let dirt, grime, and other pollution build up. Then, rainwater can wash these pollutants away and send them into our rivers, lakes, and seas. By cleaning and preparing our outdoor areas the right way, we can cut down on the amount of pollution that gets into our waterways.

So, the next time you clean your deck or patio, keep in mind that you're not just doing it for looks; you're also helping to protect the environment. And that's a reason to be happy.

In the end, surface preparation isn't just about cleaning; it's also about being aware of how our actions affect the world around us. So, let's all do what we can to keep our outdoor areas clean and beautiful for future generations.

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Links and references

  1. "Surface Preparation and Application Guide" by Tnemec Company, Inc.
  2. "Awlgrip Application Guide" by Awlgrip
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    Surface Prep for Clean OutdoorsDeck Cleaning 101: Tips, Tools & Solutions

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