Taking preventative care of your pool deck is one of the most worthwhile investments you can make – it is the eye catcher of your home’s backyard and a spot where lifelong memories will be made. Not only is keeping your pool deck clean and inviting good for your enjoyment and your loved ones, but it is also good for the health of the pool deck itself. Just like your own body and health, it must be maintained as things in nature deteriorate. Not maintaining it properly and keeping it clean can lead to a scroll-sized list of problems that can cost you thousands of dollars extra over the course of the deck’s lifespan. In this article, we are going to go over different kinds of materials used to build pool decks, why it is important to clean them, and how to clean them like a professional.
Why You Need To Clean A Pool Deck
Pool deck cleaning and maintenance goes much further than just making it look good. We like to think of pool decks like cars – to maintain their value and keep them running for a long time, you need to take care of both the aesthetic and mechanical/structural health over time. Below are our top reasons on why pool deck cleaning is a must.
- Safety from slips and falls – algae and mold buildup on flat surfaces can make them as slick as ice. Having someone get hurt on your property can open an array of health, legal, and financial problems for the person injured. This is applies to both residential and especially commercial pool patios where you can have hundreds if not thousands of people walking on it daily.
- Aesthetic appeal – a clean house is better than a dirty house. We 100% agree the same can be said for pool decks. More peace of mind. For commercial pool decks, such as those at hotels or resorts, keeping them looking their best means more satisfied customers and overall appeal of your property.
- Better air quality – mold is harmful to your health. Keeping it off your pool patio ensures the best health for yourself and others.
- Keeps pavers from getting damaged – Cleaning, and especially sealing paver pool patios, keeps them from getting cracks and keeps the surface looking newer longer. The constant heating and cooling over the years causes the pavers to expand and contract, meaning moisture can get into the porous surface of the pavers. Eventually they can crack, leading to hundreds or thousands of dollars in repairs.
- Keeps stains off more effectively – cleaning your pool patio as soon as it gets stains on it like food and drink spills, sunscreen, tanning oil, and other manmade contaminants keeps them from soaking into the pavers and causing a permanent stain. Especially on commercial pool decks, regularly cleaning with a degreaser keeps foot traffic stains from building up on busy areas.
Different Types Of Pool Patio Materials
Below are various types of surfaces used to construct pool decks. Each type of material used has its own benefits, and we believe each type is fit for making a great looking pool patio. Why people choose different types depends on budget, scope of use, as well as personal visual preference.
Concrete – Concrete is much cheaper and sturdier than soft stone pool patios. It is also less porous than many types of pavers, and therefore easier to clean. Concrete can also be painted easily which is useful for commercial pool patios that need signage on the ground, such as no-diving signs or the depth of the pool. Since it is less porous, it can get slippery faster than natural stone.
Natural Stone – Often called flagstone, travertine, etc., natural stones are a great choice for those looking to get a more unique look on their pool deck. They are more expensive than concrete but are better at absorbing water, need less cleaning over time, and there are hundreds of styles to choose from that could be right for anyone. The only downside other than cost is that certain natural stones can break under excessive weight, so some natural stones are not fit for high foot traffic areas like hotel pools or resorts.
Brick – This classic building material is strong like concrete and can be customized like natural stone. Brick with mortar between joints is strong enough for commercial applications, does need not as frequent cleaning as concrete, and is often cheaper than natural stone but more expensive than concrete. Overall, brick is great for those looking for high strength from their pool patio, but to look more unique than concrete.
Rubber – These types of pavers are great for high traffic areas as they are virtually slip-resistant, are cheaper, and can easily be replaced. Rubber is great for around pools and hot tubs.
How To Clean A Pool Deck From Start To Finish
We are providing this info for those serious about their pool deck maintenance. Regularly sweeping and rinsing with a garden hose spray attachment can drastically increase the time between professional cleaning, which may only need to occur every 2-5 years. The tools needed below are what you will need for the periodic deep cleaning to remove any algae, mold, and other stains that have gotten on your pool patio over the years.
- Pressure washer
- Garden hose
- Outdoor bleach 1 gallon per 200 sqft
- Pump up sprayer
- Personal protective equipment such as rubber gloves, protective glasses, respirator
- Optional: turbo nozzle or surface cleaner for the pressure washer
- Optional: 3/8” in-line pressure gauge
First, start by identifying the type of pool patio you have and use no more than the recommended PSI on the list below. Going any higher than the recommended amount can crack, etch, or break the surface. If you have a pressure gauge and surface cleaner, it will be easy for you to get the exact amount of PSI by attaching the pressure gauge between the wand and the pressure hose, and then adjust the throttle down until it gets to the right value while keeping water running through the pressure hose. If you do not have access to the gauge and surface cleaner, use the white tip on your pressure washer roughly 2-6 inches away from the surface, or until the contaminants start breaking loose from the surface.
- Concrete: 1800-2200 PSI
- Brick: 1200-1500 PSI
- Natural stone: 1200 PSI or less
- Rubber: 1000 PSI or less
Once you gather your materials, start by cleaning the surface of any loose debris with a broom or leaf blower. Next, pre-wet any surrounding vegetation such as grass, shrubs, or flowers, as the outdoor bleach can burn up the leaves or kill the plant if not pre-wetted. Pre-wet the pool patio as well so the surface absorbs mostly water and not your cleaning chemical. The cleaning chemical only needs to penetrate the very top layer of the surface to kill any algae and/or mold.
Now it is time to start getting your outdoor bleach ready. Most outdoor bleach comes at 5-10% sodium hypochlorite, which is the active ingredient in the bottle. You want your solution to be between 2-3% sodium hypochlorite. Either add 1 gallon of bleach per 1 gallon of bleach, or 1 gallon of bleach per 2 gallons of water if your bottle comes closer to the 7-10% range. Mix it in your pump sprayer with the correct dilution.
Special tip: Add a 1-2 ounces of laundry detergent to your pump sprayer to minimize the bleach smell and help the cleaning chemical stick to the surface better.
Make sure your personal protective equipment is on, and start by spraying outdoor bleach with a fan or conical shaped tipped on the pump sprayer in small even sections. Spray enough so there is a thin layer of soapy solution sitting on the surface. Not spraying enough means it will dry and not work effectively. Spray enough solution so that way it stays wet for 10-15 minutes without having to reapply. We recommend spraying your cleaning solution over a workable for 10-15 minutes at a time before firing up the pressure washer. This gives the chemical ample time to dwell and kill the contaminants, and it usually dries in about 15-20 minutes.
Time to fire up your pressure washer per manufacturer instructions. If you are using the 40 degree white tip, dislodge any contaminants on the pool patio, using the fan tip between 2-6 inches. Any closer and you are using too much pressure, and you need to retreat the area with chemical. Pressure can only do much; most of the effectivity of this cleaning process comes from the chemical use. If a stain is not coming up with the recommended pressure, do NOT continue to blast away at it or turn up the pressure.
Work slowly and evenly with your white tip. Do not swing it back and forth; this will leave areas more clean than others. Hold it straight down moving slowly from left to right. If you have a surface cleaner, make sure you have the right pressure and use the same strategy as you would read a book: left to right and top to bottom, moving slowly while the surface cleaner tool does its thing.
Once treat the entire area with chemical followed by pressure washing, rinse the whole area one more time to get any loose rinsed off and into the surrounding landscaping. Rinse off all the plants one more time in case any chemical overspray got on them.
By this point you should have a rejuvenated pool deck. With everything clean and drying, it is now time to consider whether you want to seal your pool patio. We highly recommend sealing any concrete pool patios, and especially on brick or natural stone around pool chairs (people applying sunscreen and tanning oil), outdoor kitchens, and BBQ grills.
How to seal is a whole different conversation we will be covering in our next article. From what type of sealer to use, what rollers to buy, how to add polymeric sand is worth going over in thorough detail. If you want to save yourself a week or are not yet ready to tackle your own pool patio cleaning project, contact the professionals at Mount Pleasant Pressure Washing. We specialize in cleaning different types of natural stones, travertine, concrete, and brick. With the right pressure and just the right amount of cleaning chemicals, we effectively clean all these surfaces while not damaging plant life, the pavers themselves, or surrounding surfaces in the process. Our highly trained technicians and responsive staff will make cleaning your pool patio a seamless, no-headache process.