How to Rescue an Old and Dingy Back Deck with Water and Gasoline

Patio & gardenCleaning Hacks

We are finally taking this all OUTDOORS! Wowee! *Cue Cheekiness!*

That’s right folks, we are going to show you how to rescue an old and dingy back deck with water and gasoline!

Okay… for real, what this is about is how to rehab your deck without a full-scale replacement. Today is Phase One and it’s a major one.How to Rescue an Old Patio - A Guide to Pressure Washing

Here’s a little background for you. First of all, we live in a climate where ‘summer’ happens when the calendar says it should be summer. This means that true outdoor, shorts and t-shirt time doesn’t really happen until about July and it ends more or less in mid to late September. Secondly, we have spent the last three summers just clearing the yard of left over debris, sea rocks (some of which weigh upwards of 50 pounds), and invasive species.

Oh joy.

Now do you see why I’m not a big fan of ‘gardening’? Ya. I hate it.

But, I AM a fan of lounging, outdoor cocktail hour, afternoons spent on a comfy cushion with a lemonade reading a magazine… you know – LAZY things.

As we cleared our yard and started to bring it back to a place where we’d want to hang out, we realized our deck was in a sorry, sorry state. Mildewy, unkept, awkward and not optimal in anyway. We cannot afford to rebuild our deck, but we figured we can do everything we can to improve it and rescue it!

Here are some before shots. This is our ‘under deck. It gets SUPER wet and never seems to dry because the hose hook-up is there and because it’s all enclosed by these weird fence boards.The under deck area BEFORE

Under deck BEFORE close up

Here’s the ‘seating and dining’ area that is flanked by another McGyver type privacy wall with some sort of bench. Outdoor patio area BEFORE

Privacy Screen and Bench BEFORE

Our overall wish list for this summer:

  • Phase One: Demo the rotten and hodge podge parts of the deck and then wash
  • Phase Two: Make it purdy again with some stain and sealant to bring back the lustre
  • Phase Three: Add in some new and stylish architectural elements
  • Phase Four: Bring in some colour and added interest to a new and improved seating area

Today, we’re going to start at the beginning and show you how we tackled the demo and cleaning! It’s already made such a difference!!

First thing, we turned to our handy dandy power tools to help out with the demolition. The fence boards on the ‘under deck’ were fairly easy to get rid of with a combination of some elbow grease and our Ryobi reciprocating saw.Using a reciprocating saw to demo part of the deck

Opening up the under deck area

The demo of the weird bench-lattice thing was a little more involved and Dan (and my Dad who was visiting!) basically just used brute force and a crowbar to rip it apart.Doing demo on the patio bench and lattice

Next up we needed to deal with the SQUIRF. Yes. That’s a made up word that perfectly describes the gross, green, algae, dirt accumulation on our deck and siding. It’s SQUIRFY. For that, we turned to our handy dandy Ryobi Pressure Washer. It is gasoline powered and hooks up the main hose line. Ryobi pressure washer

Dan did all of this and I supervised. He added oil to the pressure washer and fuel stabilizer to the gas tank before filling it. He used the lightest pressure available when spraying because, as you can see, our deck was in terrible shape. Using too much pressure would have just ripped it to total shreds and we didn’t want that. He made sure to test the pressure on a scrap piece of deck wood first just to double check.Testing the pressure on a scrap board

Then cleaning.

Freshly cleaned and still wet on top. Still Squirfy on the bottom.
Freshly cleaned and still wet on top. Still Squirfy on the bottom.

And cleaning.Pressuring washing an old deck

And cleaning.

Look at how the goo just melts away!
Look at how the goo just melts away!

And cleaning!Pressure washing the whole picture

By the time it dried, it looked like a brand new deck. I was astonished. Sure, it took Dan the better part of five hours to do the entire lower level, but it was so worth it!A clean deck Before and After Side by Side Pressure Washing

Next step? Stain, seal and protect it. Of course we wanted to stain the following day, but then it rained :/ It’s really hard to find two consecutive days in the Maritimes where there’s weather good enough for outdoor improvements.The new under deck after demo and washing

Meantime, we are also working on the plans for a new and easily DIY’d privacy wall and I have a colourful project on the go for August’s Monthly DIY Challenge (did you catch July’s? There’s still a big giveaway going on. You should enter!) that I cannot wait to show you! I’m really pleased we decided to tackle this space this year. It will set us up for additional improvements in the spring and will definitely make cocktails on the deck for the remainder of this summer much more enjoyable.

Now, let’s just hope the rain holds off.


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We were provide product to review for this post by Ryobi Canada. This post may contain affiliate links. You can see our full privacy and disclosure policy here. 

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Hi! I’m Erin and I wrote this post!

I’m a former broadcast journalist turned DIY blogger; I love all things paint, and power tools. My husband and I work on DIY Passion to share our commitment to inspire others to see beauty in the every day. I love dogs, cats, Han Solo and pie – probably in that order. If you’d like to chat about working together, please get in touch and sign up for our email updates.

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