(Every project has special nuances so please, use the Ask Earthpaint tool for professional advice if you are unsure about your project.)
All things considered, Lime Clean is the best wood and deck cleaner when a comprehensive wood cleaner is needed. We use it before staining a deck, timbers, logs or siding. Brush or roll it on, keep it wet for 30 minutes, scrub and rinse with a hose. Simple but effective.
SUMMARY: A number of things can thwart proper wood staining including, Algae, Mold and Mildew Stains, wood extractives, mill glaze, leftover glues, surface sheen, existing coatings and environmental contaminants. All must be addressed to properly prepare wood for coating. Changing the color of wood like bleach does is fairly easy and can seem impressive. Many times it's just the natural grey patina at the surface level that quickly brightens up, giving the illusion that mold was killed. However, after about 6 months the delusion fades as many coatings fail because all of the factors that affect wood finish and stain were not properly addressed.
DEEP CLEANING: Many problematic wood contaminants get deeply into the wood fiber, below the surface. These things tend to migrate to the surface in time, if not addressed properly. Wood Cleaners that require oxygen or that react quickly at the surface level can be limited in their ability to plunge the depths required for serious exterior wood cleaning. Lime Clean is designed to get to those places and remain strong. This isn't the only reason we stopped using chemicals like bleach long ago, but also because of the environmental and health concerns. Of course, if a simple surface brightening is all that is desired then bleach is a fast, cheap, easy way to get that effect. Lime Clean is a more comprehensive wood cleaner and is an essential part of deep wood prep, especially for certain wood types such as hardwoods, cedar and redwood. So if quality matters then Lime Clean is worth the effort. In fact, to stop greying on quality woods, like ipe, cedar and such, we have found that Lime Clean is an indispensable part of the prep work before applying our Clear 00 System.
ADVANTAGES: No Bleach, toxic chemicals or acid is used. Addresses wood extractives, many of which tend to be acidic. Acid based cleaners tend to be limited in this area and neutralizers and brighteners are often insufficient to properly address the extractives. Lime Clean is Zero Voc with practically no odor. This is the strongest, most effective wood and deck cleaner we've ever seen for stain prep. Lime Clean can be used in direct sunlight for best results with severe black mold stained wood, just be sure to keep it moist. Lime clean magnifies the power of lime (calcium hydroxide) to clean wood. Lime has been used for centuries and is a natural, odorless, yet powerful mineral when properly formulated. Lime naturally neutralizes when rinsed off and dried. It turns to calcium carbonate (used in chalk, tums...) after drying. For health and sustainability reasons we feel this is a great advantage.
Lime Clean is a "stay in place" cleaner. It is a thick paste that can be diluted as needed but when working over certain areas having the ability to control the application can be quite advantageous. For instance, a bridge or dock, over water could be coated with a tarp strung over streams or waterways to redirect any rinse water away. Lime Clean offers the ability to control application and protect sensitive areas. Sometimes wood is washed and can't be coated right away. Lime Clean leaves a protective residue (faint, whitish haze) that disappears when coated and helps protect the wood after washing and until the final stain is applied.
LIMITATIONS: Do not use on aluminum. Read label and instructions. This is a comprehensive wood cleaner. It is more work than a spray on bleach type cleaner. Sample pints are recommended for testing in advance and to compare to any other method of cleaning to insure it is the right fit. Will strip most semi transparent stains and even some solid stains, so we don't recommend using Lime Clean for maintenance coats over Mountain XT or Rainforest Sealer. Instead Earth Clean is the best deck cleaner and house wash for maintenance cleaning.
THEORETICAL COVERAGE: 300-1000 sft / gallon
Coverage is excellent averaging 300 - 1000 sft / gl depending on porosity of surface and thickness of application. Figure 300 sft / gl full strength, on rough, heavily stained wood. 1000 sft / gal on smooth, new wood with product diluted 1:1 with water. Lime Clean can be used full strength for heavily soiled areas or it can be cut in half with water for low to medium soiled areas. Dilution can be adjusted to suit the needs of the project.
APPLICATION METHOD: Apply with brush or roller to wet wood. Allow to soak 30 minutes. Keep product moist by occasionally misting lightly with water. Do not allow to dry. Wet product will actively cleanse the wood. After 30-90 minutes give a light scrub and rinse or pressure wash off. (Leaves a temporary protective residue that disappears completely when finish is applied.)
Apply - Keep Moist - Scrub - Rinse.
If by mistake the deck cleaner is allowed to dry on wood, wet for 30 minutes and then scrub and rinse.