Pool chemicals a recipe for distress for your deck and grill

Consumer Reports News: May 17, 2011 02:39 PM

The very chemicals that keep the water in your swimming pool pristine can corrode your grill or degrade your deck. Mix in a little dampness and a lot of foot traffic and you get a real mess. Fortunately, there are a few simple things you can do to protect your deck and grill and enjoy your pool too.

The chlorine in pool chemicals reacts badly with the metals in the grill so keep yours as far away from the pool as possible. "No matter how well you control your pool water's chlorine level, you're going to get some chloride ions that will react with moisture on the grill to form a very dilute form of hydrochloric acid," says Alex Gafford, Char-Broil's director of research and development. "And on a stainless steel grill, the acid will react with the chromium in stainless steel and corrode it."

Gafford recommends treating stainless steel grills with the manufacturer's polish and wax once a week. Porcelain enamel grills can be cleaned less often and don't need to be waxed because the baked-on porcelain resists acid better. (Our grill tests include both finishes.) Keep your grill covered with a vented cover to avoid condensation but skip the cover if your grill is in a very damp or heavily shaded area—a mossy deck or lawn is a tip-off.

Decks, especially those that surround a pool, require regular attention too. Hose yours down every few days and clean it weekly with a mild soap or commercial deck cleaner to remove any chemical residue from the pool water. "If moisture isn't beading up on your wooden deck anymore, it's time to refinish it with a good penetrating stain to keep that chemical-laden water from leaching into it," says Richard Kleiner, a lumber specialist at the non-profit Southern Forest Products Association.

"Decks near pools get a lot of foot traffic, sun and chemical exposure, so we recommend using the most opaque semi-solid or solid penetrating stain available," says Russell Neale, director of marketing for Cabot Stains, one of the stains in our latest wood stain tests.

Composite decks with a high level of wood in them should also be stained and cleaned regularly. But plastic decking may be a more durable choice around pools. If you're in the market for a new deck, plastic decking generally rated higher than composite decking in our tests for resistance to mildew and slipping.

Gian Trotta

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