How to Remove Sap From Decking

Welcome to our blog where we are about to uncover one of the most frustrating dilemmas that deck owners encounter – the notorious sap menace! Whether you are an experienced deck enthusiast or a newbie to the world of outdoor living spaces, dealing with sap stains is a challenge that can leave even the most patient of individuals on the brink of frustration.

How to Remove Sap From Decking

But fear not, for we have got you covered about how to remove sap from decking! In this ultimate guide, we will unveil the secrets to removing that sticky, stubborn sap from your beloved decking and provide you with practical tips and tricks to prevent its unwelcome return.

So, grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and get ready to banish those pesky sap stains once and for all!

What Will You Need?

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of sap removal, it is essential to ensure that you have all the necessary supplies at hand. Here’s a list of things that you will need:

  • A plastic scraper or putty knife
  • White vinegar or dish soap
  • Warm water
  • A soft-bristle brush or scrubbing pad
  • Rubbing alcohol or mineral spirits
  • A clean cloth or paper towels
  • A garden hose or pressure washer (optional)

Once you have gathered all these items, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get ready for some serious sap removal!

10 Easy Steps on How to Remove Sap From Decking

Step 1. Scrape Away the Sap

The first step in removing sap from decking is to scrape away as much of the sap as possible using a putty knife or other sharp tool. Be sure to use a gentle scraping motion to avoid damaging the wood. You can use a nylon brush or scrubbing pad to help loosen and remove any stubborn sap residue.

Use a Nylon Brush

Step 2. Apply Mineral Spirits

Once all of the visible sap has been removed, apply mineral spirits to the affected area. Mineral spirits are an effective solvent for removing sap residue and will help break down any remaining residue that was not able to be scraped away. Allow the mineral spirits to sit on the affected area for several minutes before wiping it out with a clean cloth.

Step 3. Clean and Seal

Finally, once all of the sap has been removed, it is essential to properly clean and seal the area in order to protect it from further damage. Use a mild detergent and warm water to clean the affected area, then let it dry completely before applying a sealant such as polyurethane or varnish. This will help protect your decking from future damage caused by sap or other substances.

Step 4. Regular Maintenance

Regular maintenance is an essential part of keeping sap at bay. It is advisable to clean your deck regularly, especially during the sap-prone seasons. You can use a deck cleaner or a mixture of warm water and soap to clean the surface regularly.

Clean Your Deck Regularly

If sap stains are spotted, tackle them immediately to prevent them from hardening and becoming more challenging to remove. Regular maintenance not only prevents the build-up of sap but also helps prolong your deck’s life.

Step 5. Prevention

To prevent future sap-related headaches, consider covering your deck during the times of the year when trees are most likely to release sap. You can use a tarp or specialized deck cover to protect your decking material. Trimming any overhanging branches that drop sap onto the deck is also a good idea. Regular inspections and prompt removal of fresh sap stains will help keep your decking looking its best. Remember, prevention is always better than cure when it comes to dealing with sap!

Step 6. Consider Deck Material

The type of material your deck is made of could also influence the method of sap removal. If you have a composite or vinyl deck, the care instructions could differ from traditional wood decks. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions before applying any cleaning solution or technique.

Some materials may not react well to certain solvents or require special treatment to avoid damage. Understanding your deck’s material is vital to effectively combat sap without causing unintentional harm to your deck.

Step 7. Use Commercial Sap Removers

If home remedies aren’t enough to tackle those stubborn sap stains, consider using a commercial sap remover. These products are designed to break down and remove sap from various surfaces, including decking. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully, as these products can be potent.

As with any new product, testing it on a small, inconspicuous area first is recommended to ensure it doesn’t discolor or damage your decking. After application, let the remover sit for the suggested time, then scrub gently and rinse thoroughly. Remember to wear gloves and protective eyewear to protect yourself from harmful chemicals.

Step 8. Use Heat

Another effective way to remove sap is by using heat. You can use a hairdryer or a heat gun on a low setting to warm up the sap and make it easier to scrape off. Once the sap is soft enough, gently remove it from the surface with a plastic scraper or cloth. If using heat, avoid overheating or damaging your deck’s surface.

You Can Use a Hairdryer

Step 9. Use White Vinegar

White vinegar is another effective and inexpensive solution for removing sap from decking. Mix equal parts of white vinegar and warm water, then apply the mixture to the affected area with a soft cloth or sponge. Let it sit briefly before scrubbing gently and rinsing with clean water. This method may require multiple applications for tougher sap stains.

Step 10. Dish Soap Method

If you don’t have white vinegar, dish soap can also do the trick. Mix a small amount of dish soap with warm water and apply it to the affected area using a cloth or sponge. Let it sit briefly before scrubbing gently and rinsing with clean water. This method may be more effective for smaller sap stains or as a follow-up to other methods.

With these steps and precautions, you can effectively remove sap from your decking without causing damage.

5 Additional Tips and Tricks

  1. Freeze the Sap: A simple yet effective tip to remove sap from decking is freezing it. Using an ice pack or a bag of frozen peas, apply to the sap until it hardens. This makes it easier to remove with a blunt knife or plastic scraper.
  2. Use Citrus-Based Solvents: Citrus-based solvents are natural and safe for most decking materials and effectively break down the sap. Apply the solvent, let it sit for a few minutes, then scrub gently.
  3. Baking Soda and Water Paste: Make a paste using baking soda and water. Apply this to the sap and allow it to dry before scraping it off. This method is also environmentally friendly and gentle on your deck.
  4. Pressure Washing: For persistent sap stains, consider pressure washing your deck. However, always be careful with this method, as too much pressure can damage the deck itself.
  5. Don’t Procrastinate: The longer sap remains on your deck, the harder it will be to remove. So don’t procrastinate when it comes to eliminating sap. As soon as you notice it, try one of these methods and save yourself from unnecessary frustration later on. Remember, prevention is always better than cure.

With these additional tips and tricks, you can easily remove sap from your decking and keep it looking clean and new.

5 Things You Should Avoid

  1. Avoid Using Harsh Chemicals: Harsh chemicals may seem like an efficient way to remove sap, but they can cause significant damage to your deck’s material and color. Always opt for gentle, eco-friendly options first.
  2. Don’t Scratch with Sharp Objects: While using a sharp object to scrape off the sap may be tempting, doing so can scratch your deck and cause permanent damage. Use a plastic scraper or blunt knife instead.
  3. Avoid Using Hot Water on Frozen Sap: Do not pour hot water on it if you’ve used the freezing method to harden the sap. The sudden temperature change can crack your decking.
  4. Avoid Sanding Immediately: Sanding seems like a quick fix, but sap can gum up sandpaper and potentially worsen the problem. Only consider sanding once all other methods have been tried.
  5. Don’t Ignore Small Spots: Even small spots of sap can attract dirt and dust, making your deck look dirty and worn. Take notice of small sap spots, thinking they won’t make a difference.
Use a Plastic Scraper

By being mindful of these don’ts, you can avoid causing unintentional damage to your deck while removing sap.


The importance of how to remove sap from decking cannot be underestimated. Not only can it look unsightly, but it can also eventually damage the surface of the decking if left unattended.

Thankfully, with simple steps and everyday materials, homeowners can effectively remove sap without using abrasive chemicals. In only minutes, they can restore their decking to its original beauty and lengthen its life for years. A regular maintenance routine will help maintain the best condition for your outdoor space.

So don’t forget – clean off sap as soon as you see it before long-term damage can settle in. Now go outside, keep your decks looking beautiful, and prepare for this summer’s BBQs!

Photo of author

Adrian Green

Adrian has been interested in woodworking since he was a child. His father had a woodworking shop, and Adrian would help him out and learn from him. He gained basic carpentry knowledge as well as an understanding of how to work hard and take care of business. He enjoys woodworking as a hobby. He loves the feeling of creating something with his own hands, and the satisfaction that comes from seeing his finished products used by others. So he started this blog to spread his passion and knowledge to those interested in DIY wood-working projects. He knows that with a little guidance and practice, anyone can create beautiful pieces of furniture or décor from scratch.

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