Deck Cleaning: How Much Prep Does It Take Before You Can Start?

Deck brush with deck cleaner. Cleaning the deck

Your deck is a place to spend time with family and friends, relaxing. But decks need maintenance – not just to keep them looking good but to extend their life. That includes painting or staining them every two to three years to protect against wear and tear, not to mention the effects of rain, snow and sun. If you’re thinking of DIYing your deck stain, here’s what you should know about deck cleaning before you start.

Cleaning Your Deck, the Right Way

Before you can paint or stain your deck, you should definitely clean it. This gets rid of stains, mold,  mildew, algae and dirt. It also creates a clean canvas for your finish.

The first step in cleaning your deck is to clear the area. Remove furniture, planters, the grill – anything that’s blocking your ability to get access to the deck, itself. Plan to leave everything off the deck until after the job is completely finished; that way, you’ll only have to move it twice.

Once you’ve cleared the deck, your next job is to clean. Use a wood deck cleaner plus a power washer for optimum results.

Depending on the size of your deck, it could take several hours to prep it for staining, so set aside half a day for this project. Set aside another half day or day to stain it. Once the deck is power washed, let it dry 24-48 hours before applying any stain.


To prep your deck for staining or painting, you’ll need the following materials:

  • Broom to sweep the deck and remove debris
  • Deck cleaner like Olympic Premium Deck Cleaner
  • TSP for grease stains (check under your grill for these)
  • Pump sprayer or roller for deck cleaner
  • Scrub brush to scrub the cleaner into the wood
  • Gloves and protective equipment for your eyes to avoid contact with the cleaner
  • Garden hose with spray attachment to rinse the deck
  • Power washer

You can buy these materials online or at your favorite home store. Most hardware stores will rent power washers for daily rates if you prefer not to purchase one.

How Much Does It Cost to DIY Your Deck Prep?

Before cleaning your deck, figure out if DIYing really will save you money. In some cases, it may be better to hire out the job.

When hiring your job out, expect to pay anywhere from $1.50 to $4.00 per square foot. That means a 12×12 deck will cost anywhere from $216 to $576. Please note, this is a rough estimate and several factors can vary this price.

But when you figure in the cost of materials, including the cleaning supplies and the rental (or purchase) of a power washer – plus your time (anywhere from one to two days, depending on deck size), you may find it’s more cost- and time-effective to hire it out. If that’s the case, reach out to Paintzen’s deck staining pros. Find out what services are available in your area and get a free estimate.