Q: I read your column about how to seal wood decks. My deck is made of a product called Trek. I would like to know how to seal this particular type of wood. It has developed a rather dirty look and I would like to clean it up. Any suggestions?

A: We’re betting your deck is built from a synthetic material sold under the brand name of Trex.

Trex is one of many engineered lumber products made from wood byproducts such as sawdust and wood chips, developed as a more environmentally friendly alternative to wood.

According to the manufacturer, Trex is made primarily from hardwood sawdust and recycled polyethylene plastic grocery sacks and plastic wrap.

Engineered lumber products have developed rapidly over the past few decades to the point that, in some ways, they are superior to wood. Engineered lumber is more moisture resistant and thus more stable. It expands and contracts less with changes in humidity and temperature and does not warp or twist.

In fact, Bill is planning a large deck at his home in Idaho and will more than likely build it from Trex or a similar material.

Engineered lumber is fabricated into everything from posts and beams to floor joists and finished molding, and, of course, decking.

Go to any new home being built in the San Francisco Bay Area and you’ll find examples of engineered lumber being used in most, if not all, of these applications.

We wouldn’t recommend that you try to seal your deck. Trex decking is designed to be water resistant and should not need sealing to prevent water penetration. Most likely your deck just needs a good cleaning.

We’d recommend that you use a commercial deck cleaner available at home centers or hardware stores. Apply it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If the deck is especially dirty, rent a pressure washer to remove the deck cleaning solution. Remember to keep the nozzle at least 12 inches from the decking to avoid damaging the surface.

If you simply have become disenchanted with the color of your deck, and it is Trex, the manufacturer claims that it can be painted or stained. Of course, that will mean periodic repainting or restaining.

If you decide to go this route, make sure to thoroughly clean the surface with deck cleaner and a pressure washer before applying the new finish.

For more information check out the Trex Web site at www.trex.com.

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