Renew Crew

Outdoor Surface Cleaning Blog

It's more than clean, it's Renew Crew Clean

New Products and Services by Renew Crew for Chesterfield, VA

It’s a new year and we are extremely excited to announce new products and new services. Renew Crew is continually working to improve both our products and services in response to customer feedback. Time and time again, we have heard from our customers in Chesterfield, Midlothian, Powhatan and Richmond that they would like to see additional color choices and an easy maintenance program. We can now announce we’ve expanded the color choices of wood stains, concrete tints, stains and coatings and have an industry changing maintenance program. We are ready to go having attended training sessions and seminars to ensure we have the knowledge and the right tools to properly provide additional services. So For now, I’ll introduce you to our new stain colors, stain products & Everclean.

The expanded colors include transparent and semi-transparent color options. In the past, we only offered transparent Natural, Cedar & Brown. These colors are still available and sure to still be just as popular for new projects as well as for Re-Seals or repeat service appointments. New in the transparent line is Hickory – a slightly darker shade than our cedar with an undertone of brown. Never before offered by Renew Crew is the semi-transparent color options. Semi-transparent stains are often needed when covering existing stains, damaged wood or a combination of old and new wood. In the past, we would seek out a competing product line to address these issues, but, no more. We can offer our own Renew Crew line with the same quality guarantee as our transparent stains. Additionally, semi-transparent stains contain more pigment and will last even longer between treatments. We think you will love the new stain color options as much as we do. The new colors include Chestnut Brown, Terra Cotta, Natural Cedar, Doeskin & Natural Oak. We have sample boards available and we will gladly show them to you on our first meeting and again after the cleaning process has been completed. The sample boards show the stain colors on both new wood and on aged wood.

Now to the much teased, industry changing Everclean maintenance program. First time clients will now enjoy 2 visits per year. The initial Transformation and then a Refresh later in the year. Welcome to Everclean – our exclusive ongoing maintenance program. With Everclean your surfaces are continually clean extending the life of our sealers & minimizing the impact of seasonal weathering.

Two visits a year ensures:

  • Removal of dirt, debris & leaves

  • Easier to keep clean between visits

  • Prolongs the life of the protectant

  • Maintains beauty longer

  • Retains color longer

For more information on the Everclean program Please call us at (804) 561-6777 We always provide FREE estimates.

The $199 Any Size House Power Washer

We’ve all seen the trucks and the crude handwritten yard signs. It sounds like a deal right? Some do a great job, we would never discount another legitimate company or business owner, but, there are some out there, that you should stay as far away from them as possible. You might ask yourself what could go wrong? We are here to tell you PLENTY! Here are a few horror stories that we have been told:

One homeowner called us looking to have their vinyl siding cleaned and when we got to talking they told us about their neighbor that made a terrible mistake in hiring their landscaper to power wash their house. They said their neighbor didn’t want to pay a higher cost so they offered to pay their landscaper a $100 to do the work. In the end, the bargain cost them thousands in damage. The cleaning solution used by their landscaper was bleach and water. The bleach was not diluted or perhaps they used the wrong type of bleach and it left their siding blotchy and streaked and paint was peeled off of wood railings and trim. Even their patio furniture cushions were bleached as they were not moved safely away from the spray. Finally, their beautifully landscaped yard was ruined. The landscaper never returned and the homeowner was left to fix the damage.

Another homeowner told us about their own past experience. They used an individual who again used bleach to clean their siding. The siding looked good – no more green mold and mildew, but, once they stepped into their bedroom, the experience turned sour. Apparently a window was left slightly open and the person did not notice or perhaps cared enough to say anything or avoid that area. The homeowner found their curtains, duvet, carpet and a side chair were wet and the bleach had damaged everything. Needless to say, their first question to us was “Do you use bleach or any cleaning agent that will damage my home?” Of course, we do not!

Others have shown us scarred and splintered wood decks. Again, hiring someone that has not been properly trained to use a pressure washer is asking for trouble. There are techniques and proper settings that must be followed to avoid damaging wood surfaces. That expensive deck can easily be ruined if the wrong person “cleans” it. In addition, stain – well we have seen it everywhere but on the deck. We’ve seen it speckled all over siding, streaks all over the place, and even bricks saturated with oil based stain. Sometimes, you get stain where it doesn’t belong, but, clean it up immediately and then there’s no issue.

If you don’t choose Renew Crew for your outdoor cleaning and sealing projects, Please take our advice, make sure the company or individual you hire carries the proper liability insurance, always ask for and check references and ask lots of questions. Furthermore, go with your gut; if it sounds too good, it just might be.

Stamped Concrete Revitalization

Over the past 3+ years, we have expanded our product offerings and services for the Richmond area. This is exciting from a business owners perspective first, but, secondly offering new products and services is a great learning opportunity. We thought that it might be worth discussing the challenges with concrete sealing.

We recently completed a concrete driveway project that entailed cleaning and sealing standard broom finished concrete with a decorative stamped concrete border and apron. When we began discussing with the homeowner why they called us to help them with their concrete driveway, we discovered that the stamped concrete was sealed just one year ago and the stamped concrete was supposed to be a shade of brown. In the photo to the right you see the stamped concrete appeared to be gray. There was little contrast between the broomed concrete and the stamped concrete.

We were at a loss at first as to what happened to the color. As a franchise, luckily, we have access to industry experts and our chemists. We conducted a few tests to determine if the concrete was sealed incorrectly or if the concrete was sealed with a color additive and perhaps the color had simply faded. We came to the conclusion the concrete had simply been cleaned and subsequently sealed incorrectly or with an inferior product. We felt terrible for the homeowner, but, reassured them that we could fix it.

Again, with the help of our franchise experts, we cleaned the driveway with the appropriate cleaners and immediately we saw some improvement in the color. The broomed concrete also appeared brand new with a few exceptions. We found once the broomed concrete was cleaned, some stains appeared. These stains were caused by leaves that were left damp on the driveway. We found that this is one of the toughest stains to remove. We spot treated and scrubbed the areas about 5 times to get these deep set stains out as best as possible.

These issues are quite common but they can be prevented by blowing the leaves off of your concrete surfaces or spraying your concrete off immediately if leaves have accumulated and were allowed to get wet. We certainly took leaf staining for granted and have learned over the years, it’s not a simple task to remove the stains. Should we see these stains during our consultation, we will be sure to let you know that we will do our best to remove the staining but we might not be able to remove it completely.

Here’s the finished project. It’s hard to believe that, that color was hiding under the previous sealer! All we applied was a paver solvent based sealer. This deepened the concrete’s color and gave it a glossy finish. As for the broomed surface, we applied a penetrating sealer that is not seen but will repel and protect the concrete from weather damage. You will see some water beading if it is wet.

We feel very fortunate that the homeowners trusted us to bring their stamped concrete back to life. They were very pleased with the end result and we learned a lot in the process. Concrete sealing is just not about applying a product. There are many factors that only a properly trained technician can identify and create a solution. If you have any questions about your concrete or paver surfaces, please give us a call today at (804) 561-6777 or feel free to email us at [email protected]

Warming up the Outdoors

After several years of wanting to have a fire pit we finally took an afternoon and built one. It was so simple to do, I wish we would have built this sooner! Now we want to make this fire pit the highlight of a new patio, seating wall and even a pergola one day.

We can’t take credit for the design, we found the paver pattern in a Pavestone brochure. Having the design already worked out, we just went to the home improvement store and picked up the exact number of pavers that we needed so we had no waste or extras. In addition, the size worked perfectly with the premade metal fire ring that we also purchased at the home improvement store. All-in-all, the project cost about $275.00. Not too bad for the value that it added to our home. Do you care to learn how to build this yourself? If so, here’s a few photos and how-to’s.

The first step was to choose the best spot in the yard for the fire pit. We took into account where the smoke would go so that it would not interfere with our neighbors outdoor enjoyment. The last thing you want to do is smoke up your neighbors’ deck, patio or their windows and doors. We settled on an area in our front yard off to the side that was fairly level and the ground was good and compacted. It was our preference to do less digging and leveling to save time and our backs.

Next, we placed the metal fire ring on the ground to use as a template to get the circle right. With fire ring on the ground, I used a hoe and removed the grass all the way around the ring that was wide enough to account for the pavers. Then we removed the ring and dug out the center of the circle. You do not have to remove the grass in the center but we needed some loose soil to level with. We then raked out the area and checked for level.

Next we started laying down the pavers to see just how level we were with the pavers. This step is the most important as you want your base level to be level so that each layer of the pavers line up properly and so that the fire pit does not lean. We were out of level about a half inch so as we went around the circle, we added dirt as needed. Each block was checked for level front to back, side to side and against the others.

Once the foundation row was completely level, we started on the next level. We staggered the joints just as you would do if building a wall. This adds strength and more design interest. We added the entire layer and once again checked for level. When all looked right, we added concrete adhesive to the bottom of each block to lock the layer in place. We repeated the same steps for each layer as it was placed.

The final step was to add river rock inside the fire pit and place the fire ring on the pavers. Also, (not shown here) we added a ring of river rock around the outside base of the fire pit to finish off the look. The river rock hides the exposed dirt and is a good transition from the pit to the grass.

Our final tip, if you find it challenging to get your fire started, if you have some pine straw or even pine cones, they light very easily and will get the wood kindling started. Just be careful-dry pine burns very quickly!

We encourage you to build your own fire pit, it’s provided hours of enjoyment to us already in just one week’s time and honestly, it is the easiest DIY project that we have completed together. You might even become very popular in the neighborhood as who can resist toasted marshmallows and smores?

Autumn Appeal

We’ve been busy here at the Renew Crew Richmond office working on our Autumn curb appeal. This year we took some time out to clean the porch and siding to remove all the dirt that accumulated over the spring and summer. We even added a nice gloss sealer to the stamped concrete walkway. After the hard work was done, I got to do the fun stuff- adding the fall decor. After all was set, I thought it looked so pretty that I thought I would share my home decor ideas with my favorite audience.

In the photo above, we created Pine Cone Garland using wired twine which perfectly blends with pine cones so it is not seen. The pine cones are attached using fine floral wire. If you choose to make these garlands, it’s good idea to wear gloves as the pine cones are sharp. In addition, if you want to gather pine cones and use indoors, it is a good idea to sanitize them. You can do this first soaking in bath of water and vinegar and then baking the pine cones in your oven at 200 degrees for about 30 minutes on a foil lined cookie sheet. Allow the pine cones to continue to dry for 2-3 days and they will open up. Waiting 2-3 days is the most difficult part, at least for me, as I am way too impatient. To hang the garland, we used 2 cup holder hooks that we screwed into the door trim at the top. Create loops on each end of your garland and loop it on the hooks and you are good to go. You can also attach at the bottom if your entry gets a lot of wind.

The next thing we did was hang a wreath that is adorned with goards, silk leaves, assorted berries, and my favorite-peacock feathers.

On the porch floor we added some grapevine pumpkins with twinkle lights and of course fresh pumpkins. We also added some more pumpkins on the steps. We love our pumpkins!

We also added some more pumpkins on our bistro set with a few more pine cones.

Last for Halloween, we had to add a small garden flag. A little nod to our sweet Isabella kitty.

Landscaping for a Small Lot

Small yards in Chesterfield and Richmond can make it challenging to chose the proper sized landscaping. How many homes have you seen that have been swallowed by the trees and bushes that were planted when the house was built or how many homes do not have any landscaping to speak of. Landscaping should add value to your home and not take away from its beauty. You don’t have to be fearful to plant a tree or bush for fear of the upkeep. There are plenty of good choices that are low maintenance and small enough that they won’t take over your small lot. Here’s a list of small decorative trees that you can plant this fall that will be sure to beautify your Chesterfield home.

Japanese Maple – These compact trees are a popular choice based as they come in may shapes, sizes and colors. They can be trained and pruned to look sculptural if that’s your desire. We recently cleaned and stained a multi-level deck and prominently featured was a Japanese Maple. The homeowner was concerned about harsh chemicals coming in contact with the tree and loved that our cleaning products would do no harm to his beloved tree and surrounding landscape.

Dogwoods – Dogwoods are native to Virginia and again are popular due to their small size and numerous varieties. Dogwoods are wonderful as they bloom in early spring signaling that Spring has come. We planted several varieties in our yard. We have white, yellow, pink, variegated and dwarf varieties. They line our driveway and are in our flower beds. They are so versatile!

Plum – This wonder is great to add interest as it is red in color and produces pink blooms in the spring. It will grow larger than the previous two types, however, it stays compact and is great in the full sun. You can buy flowering varieties or fruit producing varieties.

Saucer Magnolia – One of my favorites! It offers some of the most beautiful flowers of any tree. It produces large blooms in shades of white, pink, and purple in mid- to late spring. This one grows up to 20 feet.

Mountain Stewartia – This one is not common in our parts yet I found it should be. It is a small tree with white and orange flowers. It blooms in midsummer and in the fall the foliage changes to a beautiful orange / red.

Backyard Deck and Patio Privacy Ideas

If you live in a development in Midlothian, Chesterfield, Richmond or the surrounding areas, you know that the lot sizes are adequate yet lack privacy. Privacy fences are one option to define your space and provide privacy but there are also many creative ways to provide additional privacy on a budget.

The Renew Crew Chesterfield team is lucky to tour many backyards and in turn we get tons of ideas for privacy screens. We see pergolas, arbors, creatively designed landscaping and any combination of the three. Here’s some photos that you can take inspiration from. Enjoy!

New Wood Deck or Fence?

It is a common misconception that you cannot stain or seal a new wood deck, fence, pergola or even outdoor furniture for 6 months to a year. When we had our new deck built, our contractor told us just that – to wait a year before we sealed it. We learned the hard way that this was not the right advice. Our deck boards warped, cracked, peeled, splintered and even became soft in some areas. We had essentially taken years off of the lifespan of our new wood deck. To avoid our mistake, we highly recommend that you clean, seal & protect your new deck and fence. It will save you lots of money and time in the long run.

Most wood used in the construction of wood structures is pressure treated (green), cedar, or kiln dried. All are great to prevent rot and insect damage. With pressure treated lumber, it comes from the mill with a certain degree of water repellency as it has been dipped and treated. Once the wood is installed, if you put water on the deck it will more than likely bead up. Cedar or kiln dried lumber will do the same as they have a condition called mill glaze. Because the wood is repelling water, many recommend letting the structure sit for 6 months to a year and tell you that if you seal or stain it, it won’t take the sealer. This is true if you do not clean it first. In fact, mill glaze if left on the wood and exposed to sunlight will actually get worse as the mill glaze further hardens. You need to use a chemical cleaner (we use environmentally friendly cleaners) to remove the mill glaze and the film on pressure treated lumber as soon as possible as within 2 weeks, wood will begin to grey and damage from the elements will start. Many of our Renew Crew clients have reluctantly (at first) asked us if we could do anything with their new deck, fence, etc. They thought they also had to wait and that we, Renew Crew Richmond did not provide any service for new wood decks or wood structures. We absolutely can and do clean and seal all types of new wood decks, pergolas, fences and even furniture. We highly recommend sealing your wood structures as soon as the project is finished. Protecting your wood deck immediately will preserve its natural beauty, prevent the wood from splitting, warping and most importantly rot due to moisture penetration, mold and mildew.

Brand New Deck following our 3-Step process. We applied our Renew Crew Natural Protectant. You can expect this look to last for 2 years or so. The UV protectant that is in our stain will prevent graying from occurring.

Give us a call today at (804) 561-6777 or if you have questions feel free to email us a [email protected] We can recommend a preventative maintenance plan to protect your new deck or fence that will keep it looking as good as new for years to come.

Why Not to Use Chlorine Bleach Outdoors

We firmly believe that we have a responsibility to protect our clients’ properties by using appropriate non-toxic cleaners for the job. It is our desire to leave the property looking beautiful and protected for years to come. We take great care not to damage the landscaping or any structure.

Renew Crew uses environmentally friendly cleaning products to clean siding, decks, concrete, pavers, etc. We are often asked what we use, we unfortunately, won’t tell you as it is proprietary – no offense. We do not use chlorine bleach as many of our competitors unwittingly do.

Why should you care if chlorine bleach is used on your wood deck? Chlorine bleach works well to kills germs, however, it is destructive to wood. Chlorine bleach destroys wood lignin (the woods’ fiber), is drying and removes woods’ natural colors. Additionally, chlorine bleach can corrode hardware and will destroy and kill vegetation.

Our proprietary foam (above) is very effective yet gentle. It brings the dirt and grime to the surface without damaging the wood fibers or bleaching the wood. As an added bonus the cleaner does most of the work allowing us to use low pressure to rinse off the dirt and grime. Following some drying time, we can seal the deck with our Natural, Cedar or Brown protectant. This last step will keep your deck looking great for years to come.

Chesterfield Fall Cleaning & Maintenance - Decks, Fences, Patios and Siding

Fall will be here in just a few days, officially. Here in Chesterfield, Fall brings cooler, more comfortable temperatures that are perfect for enjoying your outdoor spaces. We have beautiful fall colors courtesy of a variety of native trees and plants. We want you to get the most out of the fall season so here are a few fall cleanup suggestions to spruce up and protect your home, deck or patio.

The fall is typically drier and that creates a great time to clean and seal your deck, fence or patio. Deck cleaning by Renew Crew Richmond-South of the James will remove the dirt, debris, mold and mildew that has accumulated over time. Our 3-step Process is not only effective but also environmentally friendly perfect for new decks and fences or 20 year old decks and fences. We never use chlorine bleach which is terrible for wood or any outdoor surface and you won’t have to worry about your landscaping or pets. After we apply our exclusive foam cleaner, we use low pressure to rinse off the dirt and debris that was brought to the surface. Low pressure is important when cleaning a soft surface like wood as there is no damage to the wood. You won’t see any “cuts” in the wood, all you will see is clean wood. Finally, to protect your wood deck, we offer three specially formulated stains or protectants (as we refer to them) to seal your deck. We offer Natural, a golden honey color, Cedar, a very realistic Cedar shade, and Brown that compliments just about any home’s main color. All protectants are Semi-Transparent that enhances the beauty of the wood grain. Our protectants offer UV protection and polymers that form a bond with the wood to prevent water penetration. Once we have applied the stain, you will find that when it rains your deck will have water beading on the surface. This shows your deck is protected. You can expect the stain to continue to repel water and offer UV protection for several years to come, the length of time it lasts is dependent on the color you choose and the amount of sun and exposure that your deck receives.

How about your concrete or paver patio? Do you have a fire pit that is covered in soot? We offer both patio cleaning and patio sealing services, too. We can remove the dirt, mold and even moss from your hardscapes again without using harmful cleaners. Sealing is an important step to prevent water penetration which in the freeze and thaw cycle, can lead to unsightly cracks. Any hard surface you can think of we have the expertise to clean and seal – driveways, walkways, fire pits, patios, pizza ovens, retaining walls.

If your home’s siding is looking green or black caused by Virginia Pines or other trees, you can also count on Renew Crew to get it clean. We are not like other house and siding cleaners; we use ladders and scrub brushes to get the dirt off. Again, we use a specially formulated foam cleaner that clings to vinyl siding or hardiplank siding to deep clean. If the foam needs a little help we will scrub the siding using soft bristle brushes that simply agitates the cleaner to remove the built-up dirt. We then rinse with low pressure and follow up with lemon-scented sealer that will help to repel dirt, mold and mildew longer.

If you have some projects in the Chesterfield, Midlothian, Richmond and surrounding areas, give us a call (804) 561-6777 and we can provide you with an estimate. We will go through the many options with you in a consultation and allow you to ask all the questions you may have. You won’t find a more customer oriented power washing provider in the area, that’s our guarantee.