How to Clean Trex Decking: A Comprehensive Guide to Effective Composite Deck Care

how to clean Trex composite decking

Trex decks make such a beautiful, long-lasting addition to any home. They’re also extremely popular among homeowners because they’re known to require minimal maintenance. However, regular upkeep is recommended to keep your Trex deck in top condition. Don’t worry – the cleaning tasks are easy and are only necessary on a semi-annual basis. Read on to learn how to clean trex decking properly so your family can enjoy maximum outdoor living with a nice, clean deck for years and years.

Understanding Trex Composite Decking

Let’s briefly explore what makes Trex decking a popular choice for homeowners. Trex is a composite material made from a blend of wood fibers and recycled plastic, offering the best of both worlds – the natural look of wood and the durability of plastic. Trex decks are resistant to fading, staining, and mold, making them a preferred option for those seeking a low-maintenance outdoor living space.

The Importance of Regularly Cleaning a Trex Deck

Regular cleaning is crucial to ensure your Trex deck retains its beauty and functionality. Despite being resistant to many elements, your deck is still exposed to environmental factors like dirt, pollen, leaves, and mildew, which can accumulate over time. Cleaning not only preserves your deck’s aesthetic appeal but also prevents mold and mildew growth that can compromise its structural integrity.

Materials Needed for Cleaning

Before diving into the cleaning process, you’ll need to gather the necessary materials. Fortunately, cleaning Trex decking requires only a few essential items:

  • Mild soap or specialized composite deck cleaner
  • Soft-bristle brush or sponge
  • Water hose or pressure washer (with a fan tip)
  • Bucket
  • Plastic sheet or tarp (optional)
  • Soft cloths or towels

Ensure that the cleaning products you choose are safe for composite materials and won’t cause damage to your Trex deck.

How to clean Trex decking

General Cleaning Steps

Now, let’s walk through the step-by-step process of cleaning Trex decking:

Step 1: Remove Dirt and Debris

Begin by sweeping off loose debris, leaves, or dirt from the deck surface using a broom or leaf blower. This simple step prevents abrasive particles from scratching the composite material during the cleaning process.

Step 2: Use a Hose or Pressure Washer

Using a water hose or power washer with a fan tip, thoroughly rinse the decking surface to loosen and remove surface dirt. It’s important to use a pressure washer with a power that’s no greater than greater than 3100 psi. If you use a power washer pressure greater than 3100 psi, you risk permanently damaging the deck’s surface. Also, maintain a safe distance to avoid adding excessive pressure that could damage the deck boards. If possible, try to avoid using hard water as well. Cleaning your Trex board with soft water is ideal.

Step 3: Prepare A Cleaning Solution

If the dirt and grime on your Trex deck aren’t taken care of after you’ve pressure washed or hosed, you can try using a soapy water solution. You can mix a mild soap solution or use a specialized composite deck cleaner following the manufacturer’s instructions. Avoid harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners containing bleach or acid, as they can harm the composite material.

Step 4: Apply Cleaning Solution

Always test any new cleaning solution on a small, inconspicuous area of your deck to ensure compatibility and prevent potential damage. Apply the cleaning solution to the deck surface, focusing on areas with stains, mold growth, or mildew. Use a soft-bristled brush or sponge to scrub gently with warm water. For stubborn stains, let the cleaning solution sit for a few minutes before scrubbing.

Step 5: Rinse Thoroughly

Once you’ve scrubbed the deck surface, rinse it thoroughly with clean water. You can do this using a pressure washer again or just a hose to remove surface residue. Ensure all soap, cleaning solution, and dirty water are all completely washed away to prevent residue buildup.

Step 6: Dry the Deck

Allow your Trex deck to air dry, or use soft cloths or towels to speed up the drying process. Ensure the deck is completely dry before replacing furniture or accessories.

Step 7: Apply a Brightener

After allowing the deck surface to dry thoroughly, apply a deck “brightener” as per the instructions of the manufacturer. These brighteners contain oxalic acid, which also helps to remove tannins.

picture of cleaned Trex decking boards

Specialized Cleaning Tips for Tough Stains

If your Trex deck has encountered tougher stains like rust, oil, or wine spills, additional steps may be required:

  • Rust Stains: Use a specialized rust remover following the product’s instructions, and gently scrub the affected area.
  • Oil and Grease Stains: Promptly clean oil or grease spills with a degreasing agent or mild dish soap. Rinse thoroughly afterward.
  • Mold and Mildew: For persistent mold or mildew, consider using a mixture of vinegar and water (2:1 ratio). Apply the solution, let it sit for 15-20 minutes, and then scrub gently before rinsing.
  • Hard Water Stains: White vinegar can be used to clean these deposits on decking surfaces, but rinsing is required. If hard water must be used, surfaces should be dried with a cloth or blower. In some cases, a deck brightener product may help remove hard water stains.

Long-Term Trex Care Advice

To keep your Trex deck looking its best over the long term, consider implementing the following maintenance tips:

  • Regular Inspections: Periodically inspect your deck for any signs of damage, loose boards, or protruding fasteners. Address any issues promptly to prevent further damage.
  • Furniture Pads: Place furniture pads or protective mats under heavy furniture to prevent scratches and indentation on the deck surface. However, avoid using rubber-backed mats, which can sometimes discolor the decking surface.
  • Removing Snow and Ice: When removing snow from your decking surface, a plastic shovel is a great tool to use. To melt any remaining snow and ice, try using calcium chloride or rock salt on the deck surface.
  • Avoid Abrasive Cleaners: Steer clear of abrasive cleaners, steel wool, or brushes with stiff bristles, as they can scratch and dull the surface of your deck.
  • Mildew Prevention: Ensure proper ventilation around your deck to prevent moisture buildup, which can contribute to mildew growth. Trim nearby vegetation if necessary.

Now You’re a Master Composite Deck Cleaner

Although Trex decking isn’t completely maintenance-free, it only requires a semi-annual cleaning – which is way less maintenance than many other exterior building materials require. Lucky for you, maintaining a clean and well-cared-for Trex deck is a straightforward process. When done regularly, it ensures the longevity and beauty of your outdoor living space. By following the outlined cleaning steps, using appropriate materials, and incorporating long-term maintenance tips, you can enjoy your Trex deck for a lifetime.