Taking care of your decking
Installing decking is a great investment for your home. It is the easiest way there is to increase your living space and it provides the perfect surface for enjoying summer parties and barbeques; it is even perfect in the winter as it never gets muddy; it looks great too. But like all things it does need a little maintenance to keep it looking as good as it did when it was installed and to extend its lifetime for decades into the future.
Naturally decking has to deal with all of the elements of our British climate: hot sunshine, rain, snow, hail, ice and wind. They can all take their toll, end even though the wood used to make decking is specially treated, it needs occasional maintenance to ensure that it continues to provide excellent service, especially if the winter months have left it looking a little green with algae and moss.
The first step is to clean your decking thoroughly. Start off by giving it a good brush with a stiff broom and remove any leaves, bird droppings and other debris. If it has turned a little green, then there are many commercial deck cleaning solutions that combine cleaning agents with fungicides and algaecides which will make short work of restoring the beauty of your decking.
These are applied using a spray or a brush and a stiff broom is used to work them into the decking. They are then left for a little while in order to penetrate through the detritus and finally they are then washed away thoroughly with a hose and the decking is allowed to dry out.
If the decking has been neglected for some time, you might need to use a pressure washer, but if you do you will need to take care and not use one with too high a pressure as you could damage the wood. There are several pressure washers that have special attachments designed for cleaning decking and other surfaces. These can be an excellent investment. They are very easy to use and as they cover a fairly large area they are very much quicker than just using a pressure lance. You can combine pressure washing with the kind of chemical cleaning described above.
Once you have cleaned the deck, the next stage is to protect it, and here there are a number of options. If you want to keep it looking natural, then the best solution is to apply good quality clear decking oil. You can either brush it on or spray it and generally it is recommended that you use two coats. The oil soaks into the wood and seals the micro-pores so that the wood repels water rather than absorbing it. It also helps to protect the wood against the damaging UV rays from the sun. Alternatively you could use a wood stain which also protects the timber while colouring it. Decking stains are semi-opaque so that you can still see the wood grain through them. They are available in a large range of shades from natural pine through to charcoal.
As well as cleaning the decking floor, you will also need to clean the rails and posts using the same procedures. Even a large deck can be cleaned in under a day, and doing so is one of the more rewarding of outdoor jobs which will leave your decking looking good and increasing its life.