Cleaning a Cedar Deck

We had a fairly large cedar deck built onto our house a little over a year ago. The contractor put a clear water sealant on (we didn't want a brown stain, opting for the natural look). Now the wood has a lot of black spots (probably from the overhanging trees), and the cedar has a whitish coat, which appears to be normal aging. There's not a lot of direct sunlight on the deck, because of surrounding trees. I tried cleaning thew ood with a strong household cleaner, but it takes a lot of elbow grease. I would rather not use a commercial deck cleaner, because it is toxix, and our well is nearby.
As I see it, here are my options:
1) Scrub like hell. 2) Hire someone to pressure wash the wood. 3) Buy my own pressure washer for $175 and take a chance I won't damage the wood. 4) Maybe use an electric sander...the rectangular kind where the bottom vibrates--for fine wood sanding?
After cleaning, I've already purchased a couple gallong of Sikkens Natural Cedar stain (very small amount of pigment).
I know a darker stain would last longer, but my wife and I just love the natural look of cedar, and we'd like to keep it looking new.
By the way, we live in Minnesota.
Any suggestions?
Thanks! Scott
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Sadly, you will have to strip the old finish off, which is a PITA.
Unless your wood is really flat, a sander won't do much and will take a very long time. Pressure washing aggressively enough to remove the finish will damage the wood.
Which brings us back to stripping the old finish off.
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Toller wrote:

Toller,
I really don't think there's any "old finish". The whitish coating I assume is the natural aging of the cedar? Am I wrong on this?
Scott
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finish had turned milky white and had to be removed before I could put a new finish on it. Stripper worked fine, though it was difficult because the builder didn't leave any space between the boards, so there was no place for the old junk to go.
Anyhow, I assumed that was why yours was whitish also. Maybe I made a bad assumption. I put water repellent on my dock every few year. It never whitens; just wears off.
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Just addressing this reply.
as you say the builder didn't leave ANY space between the boards.
Did they use Tongue and groove ? OUTSIDE ?
If so , hang that builder.
AMUN
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crevices and was a bear to get out. I suppose if you built the deck in the summer when the boards were still green, they would only contract and never swell; so a space was "unnecessary". But, they also built it level, with no slope to the outside, so water just sat there in puddles. Fortunately it wasn't my deck. I was just refinishing it for a friend who was overcommitted.
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Toller wrote:

Toller,
You're probably right. The finish has turned milky white, so it must be the clear sealer. Scrubbing with a strong household cleaner, I can get about half of it off. It takes a lot of elbow grease. Maybe I'll try some stripper or bleach. The other problem is black mold...maybe from the trees. Which brand of water repellant do you use?
Thanks! Scott
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