Why Not to Use Chlorine Bleach Outdoors

We firmly believe that we have a responsibility to protect our clients’ properties by using appropriate non-toxic cleaners for the job. It is our desire to leave the property looking beautiful and protected for years to come. We take great care not to damage the landscaping or any structure.

Renew Crew uses environmentally friendly cleaning products to clean siding, decks, concrete, pavers, etc. We are often asked what we use, we unfortunately, won’t tell you as it is proprietary – no offense. We do not use chlorine bleach as many of our competitors unwittingly do.

Why should you care if chlorine bleach is used on your wood deck? Chlorine bleach works well to kills germs, however, it is destructive to wood. Chlorine bleach destroys wood lignin (the woods’ fiber), is drying and removes woods’ natural colors. Additionally, chlorine bleach can corrode hardware and will destroy and kill vegetation.



Our proprietary foam (left) is very effective yet gentle.  It brings the dirt and grime to the surface without damaging the wood fibers or bleaching the         wood.  As an added bonus the cleaner does most of the work allowing us to use low pressure to rinse off the dirt and grime.  Following some drying           time, we can seal the deck with our Natural, Cedar or Brown protectant.  This last step will keep your deck looking great for years to come.

New Wood?

It is a common misconception that you cannot stain or seal a new wood deck, fence, pergola or even outdoor furniture for 6 months to a year. When we had our new deck built, our contractor told us just that – to wait a year before we sealed it.  We learned the hard way that this was not the right advice.  Our deck boards warped, cracked, peeled, splintered and even became soft in some areas.  We had essentially taken years off of the lifespan of our new wood deck.  To avoid our mistake, we highly recommend that you clean, seal & protect your new deck and fence.  It will save you lots of money and time in the long run.

Most wood used in the construction of wood structures is pressure treated (green), cedar, or kiln dried.  All are great to prevent rot and insect damage.  With pressure treated lumber, it comes from the mill with a certain degree of water repellency as it has been dipped and treated.  Once the wood is installed, if you put water on the deck it will more than likely bead up.  Cedar or kiln dried lumber will do the same as they have a condition called mill glaze.  Because the wood is repelling water, many recommend letting the structure sit for 6 months to a year and tell you that if you seal or stain it, it won’t take the sealer.  This is true if you do not clean it first.  In fact, mill glaze if left on the wood and exposed to sunlight will actually get worse as the mill glaze further hardens.  You need to use a chemical cleaner (we use environmentally friendly cleaners) to remove the mill glaze and the film on pressure treated lumber as soon as possible as within 2 weeks, wood will begin to grey and damage from the elements will start. Many of our Renew Crew clients have reluctantly (at first) asked us if we could do anything with their new deck, fence, etc.  They thought they also had to wait and that we, Renew Crew Richmond did not provide any service for new wood decks or wood structures.  We absolutely can and do clean and seal all types of new wood decks, pergolas, fences and even furniture.  We highly recommend sealing your wood structures as soon as the project is finished.  Protecting your wood deck immediately will preserve its natural beauty, prevent the wood from splitting, warping and most importantly rot due to moisture penetration, mold and mildew.

Brand New Deck following our 3-Step process.  We applied our Renew Crew Natural Protectant.  You can expect this look to last for 2 years or so.  The UV protectant that is in our stain will prevent graying from occurring.

Brand New Deck following our 3-Step process. We applied our Renew Crew Natural Protectant. You can expect this look to last for 2 years or so. The UV protectant that is in our stain will prevent graying from occurring.

Give us a call today at (804) 561-6777 or if you have questions feel free to email us a southjames@renewcrewclean.com. We can recommend a preventative maintenance plan to protect your new deck or fence that will keep it looking as good as new for years to come.

How to care for your fence in Chesterfield

We hear from so many homeowners that their privacy fence or picket fence requires a lot of maintenance to keep it looking like the day it was installed.  This is somewhat true if you do not have the proper tools to tackle the job or if you’ve let your fence go for too long with out maintaining it.  Renew Crew can help you maintain your fence by properly cleaning it and sealing it with our proprietary 3-step process.  You would be surprised what we can do.

You might think that this before and after could not possibly be for real.  We assure you, it’s typical of what we do.


Your fence is an investment and adds value to your home when properly cared for.  A dirty and damaged fence can make your home less appealing from the curbside.  Here’s a couple of things you can do to keep your wood fence in tip top condition.

  • Inspect the fence for damage regularly.  Look for cracked or broken boards, termite damage and rot.  The advantage to having a wood fence is it easy to replace a board or two as needed instead of entire sections as you would have to do with vinyl
  • Tighten loose boards if nails or screws have popped this will help with warping.
  • Stain or seal your fence, preferably both sides, to prevent sun and water damage. Our protectants contain UV protectant and water repellant that is time tested.  You can expect our products to last 3-5 years on wood fences, maybe even longer depending on various environmental factors.  A good rule of thumb is if water beads on the surface of the wood, then your fence is protected.  If water is absorbed then it is time to re-seal.
  • A good home remedy for termites is to use Borax along the fence line.  To best protect against termite damage to make sure your fence is not buried in mulch and dirt.  Allow air to get to the wood and that will help keep the termites away.  If your yard is particularly wet, consider using stone or a french drain along the fence line.

Perfect Trees

Small yards in Chesterfield and Richmond can make it challenging to chose the proper sized landscaping. How many homes have you seen that have been swallowed by the trees and bushes that were planted when the house was built or how many homes do not have any landscaping to speak of. Landscaping should add value to your home and not take away from its beauty. You don’t have to be fearful to plant a tree or bush for fear of the upkeep. There are plenty of good choices that are low maintenance and small enough that they won’t over take your small lot. Here’s a list of small decorative trees that you can plant this spring that will be sure to beautify your Chesterfield home.

  1. Japanese Maple – These compact trees are a popular choice based as they come in may shapes, sizes and colors.  They can be trained and pruned to look sculptural if that’s your desire.  We recently cleaned and stained a multi-level deck and prominently featured was a Japanese Maple.  The homeowner was concerned about harsh chemicals coming in contact with the tree and loved that our cleaning products would do no harm to his beloved tree and surrounding landscape.
  2. Dogwoods – Dogwoods are native to Virginia and again are popular due to their small size and numerous varieties. Dogwoods are wonderful as they bloom in early spring signaling that Spring has come.  We planted several varieties in our yard.  We have white, yellow, pink, variegated and dwarf varieties.  They line our driveway and are in our flower beds.  They are so versatile!
  3. Plum – This wonder is great to add interest as it is red in color and produces pink blooms in the spring.  It will grow larger than the previous two types, however, it stays compact and is great in the full sun.  You can buy flowering varieties or fruit producing varieties.

    Mountain Stewartia (Camellia)

  4. Saucer Magnolia – One of my favorites! It offers some of the most beautiful flowers of any tree. It produces large blooms in shades of white, pink, and purple in mid- to late spring. This one grows up to 20 feet.
  5. Mountain Stewartia – This one is not common in our parts yet I found it should be.  It is a small tree with white and orange flowers. It blooms in midsummer and in the fall the foliage changes to a beautiful orange / red.

Cabin Fever in Chesterfield

If you are like me, you are wishing your life away wanting Spring to arrive early. Well, the groundhog said 6 more weeks of winter, however, here in Chesterfield, Virginia, this weekend we will hit 60 degrees or higher. I am very excited to get outdoors and enjoy some fresh air without freezing.

I fully admit I don’t like the cold and I avoid it as much as possible. I stare out my home’s windows at the porch and deck and wish I could sit out there and do some work or just relax.

spring cover copy

This weekend is a teaser of the spring to come which in turn makes me want to make a list of things to do. I can’t wait to add some cheer with some new flowers and plants and plant them in some bright pots. I’m excited to bring the furniture out of storage for the deck and porch. I look forward to shopping for new additions to my outdoor spaces. And then I look around and see projects…we need to clean the siding, the vinyl railings and wood deck and porch. It’s the part I don’t like about spring until it is done and then I love it. Fortunately, we own an outdoor surface cleaning and protection company, Renew Crew-South of the James and I can request our technicians to do the work, unfortunately, we get really busy as soon as we get a week of warm spring air so my house waits for some free time.

Well enough about me.. Why should you clean and protect your house and outdoors spaces?

Besides the obvious reason to make it look nice, your home’s exterior needs to be protected to protect your investment. Here’s some guidelines:

Wood structures such as decks, porches, gazebos, siding, and fences are exposed to ultraviolet sun which contributes to the graying you see as time passes. In addition, these structures are exposed to all weather conditions which can result in moisture damage. Staining/Sealing/Protecting your deck, fence, etc., will prevent graying, cracking, rotting and checking. Applying a quality stain/sealer/protectant will protect against this damage.

When is the best time to clean and seal your deck? As soon as it is built preferably within 30-90 days and should be resealed every year or every other year for the best results. In addition, the deck must be thoroughly cleaned before applying the sealer otherwise the dirt, grime, mold and mildew will be under the sealer and will cause the sealer to fail, the end result to look terrible or even cause the wood to rot. We use a proprietary cleaner (foam) that we allow to sit and work into the wood to clean and kill the mold and mildew. We then use low pressure to clean off the cleaner to neutralize and to remove the dirt. The result is wood that looks new!

Dirt, grime, mold and mildew removal on deck.

Dirt, grime, mold and mildew removal on deck.

What about siding? Why should you clean it and seal it? Periodic cleaning of your home’s siding is necessary to prolong the lifespan of your siding. In addition, it boosts your home’s curb appeal and your home’s value. To prolong the lifespan of your siding, you should clean the siding to remove mold, mildew, dirt, grime, tree sap, bird dropping and oxidation. Sealing is optional but does help to repel the dirt and grime as well as making the next cleaning less labor intensive. Our sealer is clear, however, you will see water bead especially due to condensation. The sealer is much like rain-x that you use on your car. To clean we apply our cleaner from bottom to top and then clean from top to bottom this diminishes streaks or runs that are caused when water is pushed up under the siding laps.

Your can read more about other surfaces at chesterfield.renewcrewclean.com

Welcome to Winter

Unfortunately, Fall has been cut short this year in Virginia.  I haven’t given up on some warm days to come, but, the cold reminds me of the work that must be done to keep the house protected.  I’ll share some of those tasks that will help you do the same.

  • Remove leaves and debris from gutters.  Clogged gutters can lead to ice build up which can ruin your gutters or worse damage your roof, trim, windows and doors.
  • Clean and protect your deck or patio for harsh weather.  Rain, Dew and melting snow soaks into unprotected wood and freezes.  The causes the wood to expand and crack which will lead to rot.  Nails and screws will also loosen and pop up causing additional wood damage.
  • Concrete, just as wood, should be protected against the freeze/thaw cycle.  Concrete is porous and if not sealed will allow water to be absorbed.  When the temperature dips down to freezing so will the concrete and any water that has been absorbed will freeze and potentially cause the concrete to crack and heave.  Applying ice melt can cause harm not only to the finish but also exaggerate the freeze/thaw cycle.
  • Don’t forget those pots and flower boxes.  Move ceramic pots indoors or remove the soil and turn upside down to prevent freezing which will crack and break your coveted pots.

A little prevention now will not only protect your investment but extend the time you spend outdoors entertaining or relaxing. Even when it is cold, turn on that outdoor heater or fire up the fire pit and enjoy a hot beverage.  Hang some lights and bring out the blankets and enjoy.

Renew Crew offers year-round cleaning and protection services.  We are your local expert on outdoor surface cleaning and protection.  Let us do the work for you. Reclaim your weekends!