2BlueTeam | Decking Tips
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Decking Tips

 

WHAT IS DECKING

 

 
              Decks in their simplest term are timber platforms consisting of uprights, bearers, joist and flooring material. Whatever your reason is for creating a deck it is one of the most cost effective and attractive additions to your home.
We view timber decks as outdoor living rooms which not only add value and floor space to your home but add to your lifestyle. With the addition of a pergola or other shade structure your deck can be used for year round entertaining.

DECKS HAVE 3 MAIN BENEFITS

 
1)      Versatility
      Decks can be built almost anywhere making use of that inaccessible area of your yard. They can range from a simple rectangle to a multi level show piece with curved facades. Practically any size or shape is possible to compliment any style of house or yard, the only limitation being your imagination.
 
2)      Lifestyle
     Timber decks have become increasingly popular as they undoubtedly add to your lifestyle, whether they are constructed as a level area for the children to play, or entertaining area for family and friends to enjoy and relax.
 
3)      Landscaping
     Decks are a great way of leveling off your yard without the need for costly retaining walls and land fill and at the same time re-invent your garden space as a reaction to your building. They provide a comfortable walking surface with a high aesthetic appeal which blends in well with nature.

 

DECKING GUIDE: TYPES OF DECKING

 

 
         This guide is intended to help with the minefield that is choosing, installing and maintaining a deck in your garden. You are given a brief of the main types of decking available as well as the main advantages and disadvantages of each.
 

 

PRESSURE-TREATED SOFTWOOD DECKING

 

 
          This is an economical option and about 75% of all new decking projects are completed using this timber. The main benefits of this type of decking are its affordability and ease of availability as well as its ease of use. It is ordinarily made using pine wood which then treated to guard against rot, fungus and wood-boring insects. This timber has the characteristic green tinge and is widely used for decking throughout the world.
 
         The main downside to using pressure-treated softwood decking is its durability – they require more effort in preserving and protecting and are susceptible to splitting, cracking and warping. It will require annual cleaning and preserving to prolong its life but if well looked after can last for 30 years.
 

 

NATURALLY DURABLE SOFTWOODS – REDWOOD & CEDAR

 

 
         Both of these species of softwood naturally contain tannin’s and oils to help prevent rot, decay and attack from insects. They also give a more natural finish As they are not filled with chemicals-and they have a rich and natural look too. They are up to 3 times more expensive than the pressure-treated timber alternative but give a more aesthetic finish and require less maintenance. A redwood or Cedar deck will typically only need to have a protective finish applied for every 3 years or so. 
Another thing to consider when buying softwood decking such as this is the quality of the wood in relation to where is grew on the tree. The wood in the heart of the tree(called the heartwood) contains more tannin’s and oils and as such has and as such has more longevity. The wood towards the outside of the tree (called the sapwood) is softer and contains less of these oils so it is more susceptible to rot and decay. You need to ensure the quality of the wood you are purchasing.
 

 

HARDWOOD DECKING

 

         There are many species of hardwoods which are used to make boards for decking including oak, IPE, iroko and balau. These woods are incredibly hard and strong and are naturally resistant to rot, fungus and insect attack meaning they require considerably less maintenance in order to keep them protected from the elements.
 
         However, as a result of them being so hard they can difficult to work with – especially cutting and drilling! It can be near to impossible to screw into or drive a nail without drilling a pilot hole. Because of this many hardwood decks are installed using hidden clips and fastening which add to the cost.
  Hardwood decking is definitely a more expensive option than pressure-treated timber but it is broadly comparable in price to redwood or cedar. You will also need to protect your deck with a protective finish designed specifically for hardwoods which are more difficult to penetrate.
 

 

COMPOSITE  DECKING

 

         Composite decking is a rapidly expanding market and composite decking is beginning to show itself as a viable alternative to standard wood. It is primarily made from a mixture of wood particles and plastic and this creates a wonderful rain and weather resistant material which won’t split, crack or splinter. Some companies also manufacture pure plastic decking so this could be an alternative for you.
 
         However, it just won’t look like wood – there is no two ways about it – the look is just not as beautiful and natural as that given by a real wood deck. This might not be a problem for you and if not that’s fantastic because a composite deck requires very little maintenance and protection. In fact, all you’ll ever really need to buy is a cleaner and a reviver.
 
        Cleaning your composite deck is still particularly important though as they can be susceptible to mould and mildew, particularly in damp and shady spots.
 
       Composite decking also has the benefit of being available in a variety of colors so no finishing is required. The companies which manufacture it also often manufacture balustrades, moulding and railings to match. One thing to be aware of is that like timber decking composite decking does swell as it gets wet but unlike timber decking it does this along its length as well as its width. This is something to bear in mind if your deck will be slotting in between fixed structures!

 

DECKING OWNERS MAINTENANCE GUIDE

 

 
        Caring for your Timber Decking throughout the year
Whether your timber decking is new or old it requires a certain amount of maintenance and although there are many variations of advice and products available, the effort taken to keeping it looking it’s best for many years, is really worthwhile.

New Wood

       Whether your new wood has been pressure treated or not (pressure treated wood usually has a greenish tint) it should be treated with a deep penetrating treatment (not a stain or cheap oil as this will not penetrate into the wood) specifically designed for new wood, and ideally should be applied as soon as possible after your decking is installed. This helps to expel new moisture or water from getting into the wood.
Sudden changes in weather conditions (one minute rain, the next minute sun etc) causes damp wood and then the sun causes the wood to swell and crack. Some of the more expensive products used for treating wood contain a fungicide that helps prevent the growth of algae, thus, helping to avoid slippery and potentially dangerous wet decking.
On a new deck, plant holders ideally should be placed on waterproof trays and if possible raised off the surface of the deck. This will help prevent stains, and help the wood to breathe.
 

 

Cleaning and Restoring

 

          The first year will bring many changes in the weather and your decking will become faded and grey as well as some dirt and stains. This is when you need to clean it thoroughly, and restore it to it’s original color.
         First, you need to wet the wood thoroughly and apply a cleaning product you can mix with water and apply with a clean sweeping brush, really working the mixture into the wood (if the wood is very dirty or badly stained you may have to repeat this process) – leave it for 10 minutes then with a stiff bristled brush rub down the surface. Once you have done this, leave for 30 minutes then hose down the deck – when it dries it should look pretty much as it did when it was new.
 

 

Protecting Your Wood

 

       Once you have cleaned and restored your deck to it’s original color, it is recommended you leave it for approximately 3 days to thoroughly dry out before applying a protective coat. This next step (advise using rubber gloves) use a deep penetrating clear oil, that soaks into the wood rather than on it. There are products available that provide ready tinted oils.
The first application should be two coats. It is important to go back and apply your second coat immediately after the first coat, which should be approximately half an
hour – this will enable the protection to last longer. After the first year, your decking should only require one coat (depending on the amount of sun exposure). One thing to remember is that if the wood is looking tired and grey, it needs oiling. There are various clear treatments and there are colored treatments. It is worth considering a dark color, as this has more pigment and consequently will last longer.

 

Decking Treated (or Not) by a Previous Owner

 

Before you can effectively restore the wood – you need to distinguish whether the decking has been treated or not by it’s previous owner. You can begin by doing a simple test on parts of the wood. Ideally, you should wait until the wood is completely dry – intersperse a few droplets of water onto the wood surface, if it soaks into the wood after 5 –10 minutes, this can tell you that the wood can be cleaned and treated. If the water droplet stays on the surface, this tells you that there is a previous coating of sorts, which must be properly removed before attempting any other procedure.
      To remove the previous treatment, you will need a very powerful stripper cleaner, most of which should be diluted according to their instructions. However, in severe cases, ie; excessive dirt or heavy stains, you may need to use the stripper undiluted.
              It is advised that you take great care using a stripper cleaner – you should wear rubber gloves and protective clothing, and it is imperative that all wood should be neutralized immediately after using the stripper, and in fact, while the wood is still wet. Once the wood has been neutralized you can give it a final thorough rinsing down with a garden hose, or you could use (low pressure) power washer, but take care to run it with the wood grain and not against it.
              If the wood has never been treated by anyone, it can still be restored to it’s former glory. To do this, follow the steps above for (Cleaning and Restoring) When you are happy that your wood is clean and has fully dried out, apply two coats as above (Protecting your Wood)

Notes: Some woods have milling glaze when they are first laid and need exposure to the weather to break it down for about 6 months. Only a light treatment should be used and then clean the deck and oil etc.