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.
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.
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.
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.