Experience/Recommendations-deck cleaners/sealers
The deck is mahogany, about 23 years old.  I've cleaned and sealed it just about every fall since it was new.  It's that time again, and it seems particularly dirty this year.  I'm thinking of using one of the new (at least to me) oxygenated deck cleaners, and would like to hear of your experiences with these cleaners, and also your recommendations.  Also, over the years, I've tried a wide variety of stains/sealers, most recently Sikkens Cetol SRD translucent wood finish, and before that Benjamin Moore Arborcoat.  Neither lasts a full year.  So I'd also appreciate your experiences and recommendations on stains/sealers.  Thanks! ronwhit
  Re: Experience/Recommendations-deck cleaners/sealers by ronwhit (The deck is mahogany...)
I, too, would love to find a deck stain that would last a year.  But I'd settle for one that doesn't trap dirt and provide lunch for the black mold that gets on my Ipe' deck.  Jomax stripper works really well to strip off the old finish, dirt, mold, etc., but it's expensive.  I've found TSP in hot water plus bleach to work really well, too, at much lower cost, followed by low pressure power washing.  

As for stains, I started with Ipe' Oil, then tried Penofin Hardwood Oil.  Both looked great for a month, then started to fade, then collected dirt and mold over the Winter, and were a dirty mess the next Spring.  This year I tried Armstrong Clark oil based deck stain.  It's been on about 2 months now and looks good, though not as rich as either of others first did. Too early to give you any feedback about the dirt/mold issue, though.  

I'll be interested in what products you choose and how they work.  

  Re: Experience/Recommendations-deck cleaners/sealers by ronwhit (The deck is mahogany...)
I have had a Western Red Cedar deck 20 years I am presently replacing only because I want to save the original 35 year old framing for another 10 to 15 years, when we move. Minimal-knots cedar trim wood (old growth) was used. The first surface disintegrated at about 10 years, when we bought the house.

I have tried semi-clear oil stain, solid oil stain, Penofin, Flood CFM(?) that is a clear paint, and others I have forgotten. I chlorine bleach and powerwash every spring--we are the algae and moss capital of the nation. Wait, that's Forks, WA. Finish is applied afterwards. Chlorine is harsh but the crud is tough, and a low pressure (1500 psi) washer will strip weathered surface fibers. Tight, really tight vertical grain holds up best.

Any and all oil is food for black mold. That is *ALL* oil. Mold loves paraffin, so throw away Thompson's Water Seal. We had candles that melted and I replaced the affected wood.

I don't think any finish will protect wood, exclusive of oil paint on a regulated regimen. Pick your color.  

There is little to praise in treated wood manufactured after the early 2000s and the change to "new" chemicals. I think a lot of the problem includes juvenile sources of the wood. I think the only alternative to wood is plastic and composites. From what I have seen they don't live longer than 25 years. But I am into the next phase of your decks.
  Re: Experience/Recommendations-deck cleaners/sealers by ronwhit (The deck is mahogany...)
Found this cleaning recipe online:

2 gallons water
2 cups Oxiclean powder
1 cup Borax powder
1/4 Cup dish detergent

Mix and scrub with deck/bristle brush: lots of fun. Rinse (and repeat).
Hose down shrubs before and after coming in contact with this solution (just to be safe).
  Re: Experience/Recommendations-deck cleaners/sealers by ronwhit (The deck is mahogany...)
UPDATE - I talked with a contractor who recommended a product new to me - Messmer's cleaner, brightener, and then sealer specifically made for hardwoods. (Available at my local Benjamin Moore.) Here's what I learned.
1) I like the cleaner - part A.  I applied it with a garden sprayer, kept it wet for about 15 minutes during which I scrubbed it with a stiff bristle brush, and washed it off with a garden hose set on "jet spray".  I tried an 1800 psi power washer with a fan nozzle at a variety of heights which always left swirl marks.  The garden hose proved adequate.
2) The jury is still out on the brightener - part B.  It was quite effective - possibly too effective.  In some areas it left random light gray areas right next to light brown on the same board. (?!)   In another area, I had about a gallon of cleaner left from the day before and I mixed it with a fresh gallon.  Here it left a decided gray tone to the whole area which did not change after repeated flushes with water.  I left it this way. Later the applied sealer softened the contrast a great deal, but I can still see the difference in the right light.  Perhaps time will allow more color blending.  If using this product, I would recommend not using a mix from the previous day.  Although the directions do not mention this, it seems the cleaner strength changes over time.  I talked to the BM dealer who had no explanation.  The mix is 1/3 cup powder to 1 gallon of hot water which I followed exactly.
3) I applied the sealer with a brush, working late in the day or when it was cloudy so as to avoid direct sun.  This went well and the deck's appearance is much approved.  How long it will last is the question.
Some other points.
4) The sealer instructions recommend cleaning the deck (not "brightening" it) every 6 months, and not applying sealer more than once a year.  Either this stuff is a miracle product or the Messmer's marketing department is smoking something.  We will see.
5) If the deck still looks good in a year, I will heartily rejoice, but I won't use a brightener again unless I am sure of consistent performance.  YMMV.
  Re: Experience/Recommendations-deck cleaners/sealers by ronwhit (The deck is mahogany...)
Your Benjamin Moore "system" sounds like several I have tried: iron stain remover (brightener), bleach of some kind, detergent, etc..

I wish we could see the actual chemicals that we apply and spray all over ourselves. I still suffer from HD bleach applied periodically over the summer. I learned my lesson years ago, wear white or accept bleach spots; and burned eyes and sinuses. Still, some cleaners actually kill moss and algae rather than loosen the crud. I don't think bleach can be stored long term, or you could stock up.

Hope yours works!
  Re: Experience/Recommendations-deck cleaners/sealers by ronwhit (The deck is mahogany...)
BTW, curious. Why clean and seal in fall rather than spring at the start of traditional outdoor living?
  Re: Experience/Recommendations-deck cleaners/sealers by ronwhit (The deck is mahogany...)
Good question about my timing.  We had a very wet spring this year, and that, coupled with a couple of other projects delayed my doing this.  My guess is that I will be doing the cleaning bit again this coming April, and have my doubts that the sealer won't need refreshing also at that time.  (In spite of their optimistic instructions.)  I would not use the bleaching agent again. I'll settle for a clean, dark colored deck instead of a splotchy "bright" one.  There must be some hidden problem that we don't understand.  One would think the major paint companies would have solved this by now.  Thanks for all the replies.

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