Outdoor Surface Cleaning Blog

It's more than clean, it's Renew Crew Clean

How to Choose a Deck Sealant

If you’re anything like me, the number of choices you have to make at a home improvement store can overwhelm you. The decision becomes infinitely more difficult when you don’t know anything about whatever it is you’re purchasing. Who knew there were so many kinds of white paint?


We often get questions on how to pick the right deck sealant. If you’re in the market for a product like this, here are some questions to ask yourself.

Do you like the look of wood? Do you enjoy seeing the wood grain and knots? If so, a semi-transparent protectant many be a good option for you. At Renew Crew, the vast majority of our clients choose a semi-transparent wood sealing product. It does breathe color back into the wood, but you can still see the details in the wood. There are still color choices like natural, cedar and brown and a pressure washing company like Renew Crew can help you decide which is right for your home.

If you want something that covers the material more consistently, you’re in the market for a solid deck sealant. Solid protectants look more like paint and sometimes have a slight sheen to them.


Is it eco-friendly? A lot of the wood sealants and protectants perform well, but few are eco-friendly like Renew Crew’s. If you are at all concerned with the surrounding landscaping or ground, look for an eco-friendly product that won’t harm it.

What does it say it protects against? Not all wood sealants work the same way. Take a look or ask what types of things it is protecting against. Most products will repel water, moisture, dirt, dust and grime from working its way into the wood’s surface, but there are other harmful elements out there. The sun’s UV-rays can cause a lot of damage to wood, drying it out and bleaching it. Renew Crew’s deal sealing product repels against those harmful rays.

If you have questions on cleaning and sealing wood surfaces, please reach out to your local Renew Crew office. We’ll work to leave you with an outdoor space that looks great.

Evening Out the Color of Your Wood

Outdoor living structures have to withstand a lot being outside in the elements all year round. It isn’t surprising that sometimes they have to be updated or parts have to be replaced.

I was recently walking my dog around the neighborhood when I noticed a fence that had had some work done. The majority of the fence was a greying wood. It was probably installed several years ago. In the middle of the space, however, was a section of brand new wood boards. They were clean as can be and had obviously been replaced a short time ago. The replaced section made the rest of the fence look even worse than it was.


New wood boards stand out when installed next to boards that have been out in the elements for years, just take a look at this deck to the left. There is a way, however, to update the old boards so they are close in color and look to the new. First, the old wood has to be thoroughly cleaned. A wood deck cleaner will loosen the dirt and grime that has built up on the wood over time. Additionally, and more importantly in the case evening out the appearance of the structure, a good deck cleaning product will loosen the dried out, greying wood fibers.

Once the cleaner has worked its magic, the surface can be pressure washed. The pressure of the water will rinse away the dirt and dead wood fibers. During this step, you’ll notice the difference in the wood’s appearance. It will begin to look similar in color to the new wood boards. It helps if the new wood is also cleaned too.

The last step is to apply a protectant to both the old wood and the new wood. At Renew Crew, our semi-transparent wood protectants and sealants allow the wood grain to show, but does add some color to the space. This picture shows the same deck as above and you can’t tell which board is new and which is old!

If you need to have the color of your deck or fence evened out, please contact your local Renew Crew.

Foam Cleaner Instead of Liquid

A few weeks ago I posted about the different wood cleaning products that are available on the market. Some are super strong, but can be harmful while others aren’t strong enough for all of your cleaning needs. Renew Crew’s foam cleaner is the best way to get your outdoor surfaces, not just wood, looking brand new.

Several years ago (pre-Renew Crew) my brother “cleaned” the siding on his house. I say “cleaned” because I’m not exactly sure what it did (it didn’t look any cleaner to me). He sprayed some liquid cleaner on the siding which to me looked like it just ran down the side of the house without doing any cleaning. This is one of the reasons Renew Crew uses foam cleaner.

Renew Crew’s proprietary cleaning solutions come in foam form instead of liquid. We find that using foam allows it work deeper into the surface than liquid. Take this dirty deck for instance. It has greyed in areas and has mold and mildew built up on it. There a lot of cleaning to be done. Whatever cleaning solution is used, it has to dig deep into the surface, loosening embedding dirt and dead wood fibers and killing the mold and mildew.

Here is a picture of the fence mid-project. It has been foamed with our wood cleaner. You can see that the foam is sticking to the horizontal surface allowing it work its magic. Yes, it will drip down (it doesn’t defy gravity), but it takes longer to do so, giving it time to do its job. Liquid cleaners don’t do this. They drip down on horizontal surfaces or sometimes puddle on vertical ones. That’s why you may see projects that don’t look even in cleanliness or color.

With any outdoor cleaning product, even environmentally friendly ones likes ours, the surface does need to be rinsed. In most cases, a pressure washer is used because it provides the strength to get rid of everything that is rooted in the surface. We at Renew Crew suggest having a professional pressure washing company do this, especially if you aren’t familiar with using a power washer. It can not only damage your outdoor surfaces, but it can also be dangerous for the person using it if not handled correctly.

Here is the same fence after it has been cleaned and protected. Doesn’t it look great? The rich wood color is back without the dirty mold and mildew.

If you have any questions regarding cleaning outdoor surfaces, please reach out to your local Renew Crew office.

Cleaning your Wood Surfaces Correctly

From fences to decks, many homeowners have a wooden exterior surface. While they are great to have for entertaining and enjoying friends and family, they do require some maintenance. We are often asked the best way to keep your decks and fences clean. Here’s our guide.

Wood inevitably needs to be deep cleaned. It is outside all year-round! For deep cleaning, it is best to have a professional pressure washing company clean your exterior surface. A professional has the experience to ensure that your structure isn’t damaged in the cleaning process. At Renew Crew, we have a different way of doing things that the regular power washer.

The normal pressure washer uses harsh chemicals to kill the mold and mildew on wood and then uses high-pressure wash to clean. At Renew Crew, we have a three-step process that is much better!

Instead of using harsh cleaning chemicals, we use environmentally friendly foam to clean the wood. The foam is applied to all the wood surfaces and works its way into the wood, killing the mold and mildew and loosening all the dead wood fibers.

The foam doesn’t need too much time to work its magic. Once it is ready, we use a low-pressure wash to rinse everything away. In this step, the wood starts to look new again.

The last step in the process is protection. The normal pressure washing company stops at cleaning, Renew Crew doesn’t. Our proprietary polymers keeps the wood looking better longer by blocking the dirt and grime from working into the wood’s surface. It even blocks UV-rays.

Once your exterior wood surfaces are professionally cleaned, there are a few things that you can do to help your Renew Crew Clean look last. Periodically through the year, take a hose to the surfaces to wash off anything that is sitting on the wood. Pay special attention to the bottom of the fence that is closer to the ground. Dirt tends to bounce up onto the vertical surfaces. In the fall, sweep off the deck when leaves and other yard debris start to accumulate.

If you have any questions on wood surface cleaning, please contact your local Renew Crew office.

Increased Curb Appeal When Looking to Sell

When my husband and I were looking to purchase our first home, I was excited to visit different properties to see if I could envision us there. The outside of the home became an important piece of the puzzle as we went from house to house. While some homes were beautiful on the outside, there were others that I knew I didn’t like as soon as we pulled our car up to the front. When looking to sell a house, there are a few exterior cleaning projects that will make your home look great.

Last week we talked about cleaning vinyl siding. If the front of your home is siding, make sure that it is properly cleaned, removing the dirt and exposing the color below. Particular attention should be paid to the areas right below the roof line where some stains will accumulate.

Driveways and walkways in front of the home can make a huge impact. Take this house for example. If I had cropped the picture to not include the driveway, it looks great, a beautiful brick home. The driveway makes it look much dingier than it really is. Driveways, not surprisingly, get very dirty. Between dirt from the car tires, oil leaks and daily traffic, keeping a driveway perfectly clean is nearly impossible. Most of those stains, however, are removable. Take a look at this after photo. The home looks brighter and cleaner for people who visit the property.

I was surprised to find how much attention I gave the front stairs of the homes that my husband and I looked at. Why? Our realtor came to all of the houses with us and would have to get into the lock box and unlock the front door. During that short few minutes, we would be standing on the front stairs waiting. Cleaning the front stairs will make your home look better than if there is caked on dirt on all of it. Wouldn’t you rather picture yourself sitting on these after picture stairs than the first? I know I would.

Lastly, take note of any fences you have towards the front of your property, especially those that have gates that potential buyers have to walk through. Ridding it of all the embedded dirt and mold and having a new protective seal will make it look so much more welcoming.

At Renew Crew, we pride ourselves on making a huge visual difference on the property through the deep cleaning and protecting of all your outdoor surfaces. When preparing your house for sale, make sure not to only focus your efforts on the inside of the home. The outside is just as important, if not more. It is the first impression that people get of hopefully, their future home.

Semitransparent vs. Solid Wood Stains

When it comes to the Renew Crew proprietary 3-step process, we are firm believers that the most important step is the last one, protection. Without a seal to protect the wood deck or fence, it will get dirty again more quickly. We are often asked about our wood stain and why we go with a semitransparent seal as opposed to a solid wood stain.

When it comes to protecting your outdoor living space, ultimately the look and finish that you like is most important.

Solid wood stains look and act like a paint. The color is even across the entire space, but they hide the beauty of the wood. The wood grain and knotting cannot be appreciated under a solid wood stain. If you like that consistent look, it may be a better choice for you.

Solid wood stains, do have some downsides. They do tend to show wear more quickly than a semitransparent seal. The areas of the space that are most travelled will show over time. Also, depending on the product, it can be difficult to remove for future cleaning and sealing.

One of biggest threats to wood is the sun and its UV rays. That’s why we don’t consider a clear sealant. Clear sealants don’t provide the UV protection that is necessary for long-lasting protection, greying your wood quickly.

At Renew Crew, we realized the best sealant is a semitransparent one. The semitransparent seal allows the polymers to penetrate deep into the wood for a good seal that will last. It blocks the sun’s rays and stops moisture and dirt from working their way into the surface.

Wood, to us, is beautiful. We like to see the beauty of it through its grain. As much as we can, we try not to cover that up. The semitransparent seal brings color and life back into the wood surface in a natural and beautiful way.

Renew Crew does have several colors of semitransparent seal. The most commonly used colors are the natural and the cedar. While the same color may be used on several decks, it may not look the same on each one. They bring out the natural colors and tones within the wood. So one deck with cedar sealant may look more red than the next. It’s all about enhancing the natural beauty of the wood.

If you have any questions, please reach out to your local Renew Crew office.

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So Much More than a Deck Sealant

We at Renew Crew often get questions regarding our deck sealant and what makes it better than the rest that are on the market. The answer: it’s much more than just a sealant, it’s a protectant. Our protective deck sealant does have a staining factor, but it also protects the wood from further damage. What a lot of homeowners may not understand is that the sun’s rays are harmful to wood decks. They dry them out and turn the wood grey. Our wood protectant stops the sun’s rays and reflects them away from the wood.

While we have 9 color choices for our Renew Crew deck sealant and protectant, the majority of our jobs use two colors that we refer to as cedar and natural. Why with nine colors do we primarily use two? It’s because of the versatility of these two protectants. And just because it’s two colors doesn’t mean it has only two finishes. Let’s take a look at these jobs from Eric McVey, who provides deck cleaning in Northwest Arkansas.

Both of these two projects were finished with our cedar protectant, but the color doesn’t look exactly the same, does it?

The deck has a more subtle look while the fence is a deep reddish brown, that’s because the cedar color isn’t necessarily a specific color, instead it enhances the natural characteristics of the wood itself. If it’s applied to a redwood deck, it will bring out the natural red colors in the wood, while it will bring out the deep brown colors on a darker wood.

Here’s an example of the natural protectant. The decking was done with the natural product while the pergola was finished with cedar, which is a little darker. In both cases you can admire the natural grain of the wood. Water beads up on its surface as opposed to soaking into the wood just like some other stains, except it has a much more natural look. The vast majority of our clients prefer this over a blanketed color.

For those clients that do like something that is more uniform, we do have a variety of protectants that are always a standard color, but it does cover the wood grain. Take a look at this deck sealant from Renew Crew of Northwest Arkansas for an example. The color is consistent throughout, which is just what the client wanted and it looks great! It’s just a different finish which totally depends on your tastes.

If you have questions on any deck cleaning or sealing products, reach out to your local Renew Crew office. They will surely be able to help you with your outdoor cleaning needs.

Carpenter Bees in Your Wood Siding?

Carpenter bees are found throughout much of the southern and eastern United States. They resemble bumblebees except they have smooth and shiny bodies instead of hairy bodies. They also lack the pollen baskets on their legs that bumble bees have. They are not usually serious pests, although their tunnels can be damaging if the bees infest the wood annually to nest.


When carpenter bees nest they do so in wood and create tunnels in and out. The original entry hole is perfectly round and approximately a half inch in diameter. The tunnel turns at a right angle after penetrating the length of the bee’s body and runs across the grain of the wood.

Carpenter bees don’t usually create any structural damage despite their tunneling in wood, but that doesn’t make them any less annoying. Males are known to be aggressive when they are in their spring mating season, which may ruin your outdoor relaxation, but, don’t worry, the males can’t sting.

I for one don’t enjoy the thought of bees tunneling into my wood siding, deck, porch, fence, et cetera, but what can we do to prevent or treat them? Carpenter bees don’t tunnel into just any wooden surface. In general, they go after untreated, unfinished wood. Making sure that your wooden outdoor structures are finished and sealed is a great way to keep carpenter bees at bay. At Renew Crew, every time we clean and pressure wash a deck or any other wooden surface, we follow it up by protecting it. Our protective finish not only deters carpenter bees from tunneling, but also stops dirt and grime from settling in the surface.

If carpenter bees are already tunneling in your decks or fences, you’ll need an insecticide to get rid of them. The best method for bees is to use a dust type insecticide that can be shot into the tunnel holes. You’ll want to apply the dust in the spring months before the adults become active. If you wait, make sure to use the dust at night, reducing your risk of agitating the female bees. Angry female bees are known to sting to protect their nests.

So what do you do if you have tunnels in your wood that you would like to cover up? The first thing to do is to block and seal the nest holes so that future bees don’t find them (carpenter bees will use empty nests before creating new ones). Wood putty will work well to fill any holes. Once the deck is treated, the holes should be less noticeable. For instance, at Renew Crew, our protective finish will camouflage any preexisting holes and deter bees for the future!

If you have questions about maintaining wood structures, please contact your local Renew Crew office.

Getting More Out of Your Outdoor Living Spaces

When my husband and I bought our house, it already had a small deck on the back off the kitchen. Unfortunately after updating other parts of the house, we didn’t want to spend another $10,000 on a new deck when the one we already had one that was structurally sound. That’s when we realized that we just needed to get it cleaned and refinished.

That’s the idea behind Renew Crew, to get more time out of your outdoor living spaces before replacing them. Every deck, patio or walkway is going to show some wear as time goes on, especially in areas of the country that have harsh winter elements. Wood will fade and stains will happen. Renew Crew’s deck cleaning and sealing process will rejuvenate your outdoor spaces making them look new again.

Our Pre-Soak foam penetrates deep into the outdoor surface loosening and lifting embedding dirt. For especially difficult stains a specialized product may be applied to make sure we get the majority of the spot out.

After rinsing your deck, porch, patio or other outdoor living space with non-damaging pressure, Renew Crew seals the structure with a product that protects the space from dirt, grime and the natural elements. Our deck sealing product has special polymers that block those and UV rays that often fade your deck to grey.

Here are some great before and after pictures to show you what a different Renew Crew can make: