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DIY OR NOT? POWER WASH A DECK

You might be surprised how much dirt and mildew can accumulate on a deck. You should get in the habit of routine cleaning to preserve its quality and life. To clean a deck, you can pay a cleaning service or rent or buy a power washer and do it yourself. - You'll pay a service $165 to clean a 15- by 20-foot one-level deck (about 300 square feet). To clean it yourself, you can rent a pressure washer for about $80 or buy an electric pressure washer with a pressure range of 1,500 to 2,000 PSI (pounds per square inch) for about $175. No matter who does the work, take time to inspect the deck looking for loose fasteners and split or damaged boards, and repair them. For added protection, apply a water sealer, which runs about $30 for 2 gallons and is best applied with a paint/stain pad on an extension pole. - The payback on the investment in the washer isn't immediate, but if you want a good excuse to buy one, this is it. We use ours to clean the deck, the siding, the picnic table and even our boat, and it's been on loan for many other uses. - You can view deck-cleaning videos and get more information at thompsonswaterseal.com, a manufacturer's site. Gene and Katie Hamilton, Tribune Media Services

Pro cost DIY cost Pro hours DIY hours DIY savings Percent saved $165 $110 2.0 4.0 $55 33%

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