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HJB cleans and restores:

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The War on Wood

By Howard Smith,
Owner HJB PowerWashing and Restoration LLC
Article Appeared in The Business Monthly

Everyday, mold, fungus and mildew are at war, winning a battle against your wooden deck, siding and fence. Over time, mold, fungus, oxidation and mildew have deteriorating effects on wood foundations, which can lead to costly restoration or replacement. The truth of the matter is that over half the homes in the United States have some type of wooden structure. Many homeowners have limited or no knowledge in maintaining and properly protecting the appearance of their wooden additions to their home. Wood in poor condition depreciates the value of the homeowner's property. Decks and fences that are well maintained over a period of time, add value to the home. The purpose of this article is to give the reader instruction on how to properly care for their investment in a timely manner.

There is no way to stop wood from deteriorating from the following elements: water, sunlight, mold, mildew, algae, fungus, and contamination. Water is absorbed into wood and washes out natural wood resins and color. Freezing/thaw cycles can splinter and crack the wood. Also, water promotes algae, mold, and mildew growth and rotting. Sunlight or Ultraviolet (UV) rays bleach the wood fibers and break down the cell structure. Wood and moisture are a natural food source for mold, mildew, algae, and fungus. This generally causes a black, green or gray discoloration. Contamination comes in the form of food, dirt, and atmospheric pollution. This is a good food source for mold, mildew, fungus, and algae. The proper procedure to slow down the deteriorating process of wood is through preventive maintenance.

Furthermore, many sealants found at paint stores and home centers contain resins and natural oils like linseed oil, vegetable oil, animal fats and tung oil. These resins and natural oils are actually food for mildew and algae. To stop the organisms from feasting on the sealants that contain natural oils, manufactures have to add mildewcides and fungicides to the product. Unfortunately, these chemicals are water-soluble. Rain and snow can dissolve them and wash them away, leaving a deck unprotected. This is one reason why decks can turn gray and green in just six to nine months. Synthetic penetrating water repellants do not contain food for mildew and algae.

If you are to properly seal a wooden foundation, it is important that you use a non-film coating sealant. They contain acrylic, varnish, or alkyd resins. These resins do not easily soak into wood. They leave a coating that will ultimately peel. This will result in the homeowner having to strip the wood in the future in order to add more sealant to the uneven coating.

Depending on the locality of your wooden foundation project, the effects of direct sun exposure, foliage coverage, and inclement weather conditions, etc., it may be advisable to clean, brighten and recoat (in other words, restoration of wood) every two years. However, if you choose to wait two or more years to perform your next wood restoration, you may need to strip the existing finish or sealant prior to pressure washing. Be sure that the cleaner/brightener contains a mildewcide to retard the growth of mildew and algae. Finally, after every cleaning, reapply a synthetic outdoor wood sealer that contains both a water repellent and ultraviolet stabilizer that will protect the wood from water and sunlight.

This information will help your wooden investment decisions in the future and most importantly; increase the value of your home. However, mold, fungus and mildew will eventually appear over a period of time. The weapon to win the battle over environmental conditions is by proper preventive maintenance techniques.