A beautiful, well-maintained timber deck can enhance the look and feel of your outdoor space, creating a comfortable area for relaxation and entertainment. However, with exposure to the elements and foot traffic, your deck requires regular care to maintain its beauty and durability. If you're unsure about how to properly maintain your timber decking, don't worry! In this guide, we'll walk you through the essential steps to keep your deck in top shape for years to come.
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One of the simplest yet most important steps in maintaining your timber deck is keeping it clean. Sweeping away dirt, leaves, and debris prevents the buildup of trapped moisture, which can lead to wood deterioration over time. But more importantly prevents the risk of slipping over when the boards are wet. It's best to sweep your deck at least once a week, or more often if you live in a particularly leafy area.
Slippery Deck surface
Slippery wooden decks is a phrase banded about by plastic /composite deck companies that are only interested in pushing their own products. The undisputed facts remain that every horizontal surface, no matter what the material is, will become slippery in the UK climate if it is not cleaned periodically, and that also includes concrete slabs.
The biggest culprit to this dates back to Alan Titmarsh Ground-force TV programme days in the 70’/80’s when timber decking was first introduced to the UK market. The marketing around having heavy grooved boards was that the rain would run off the surface into the grooves and so keep the contact surface dryer. The reality is the complete opposite. The dirt also washed into these grooves, preventing the water from draining away and, because the boards were softwood, it absorbed all the moisture. The grooves were difficult to keep clean and the boards quickly deteriorated and became slippery. The assumption made that all timber decks were slippery. A smooth deck surface drains water away between each board and dries quicker and is far easier to clean and maintain. Therefore, your maintenance regime is far less frequent and a lot easier and your deck will last substantially longer in a quality softwood or hardwood.
For a deeper clean, use a wood cleaner specifically designed for timber decks. These options can be seen in our shop:
These can be sprayed over the surface using a conventional garden sprayer, agitating the more stubborn areas with a brush, before carefully jet washing off thoroughly. Once the deck is dry, you then have the option to Oil the surface with a UV resistant deck oil to condition and protect the surface from premature aging and making subsequent cleaning a lot easier.
Protecting your deck from the elements is crucial to maintaining its appearance and longevity. Applying a high-quality wood oil will not only enhance the natural beauty of the timber but also shield it from moisture, sun damage, and wear and tear. The ideal time to protect your deck is during a dry, mild weather period, typically in the spring or autumn.
Before applying any products, thoroughly clean your deck and allow it to dry completely. Then, choose a stain color that complements your home's exterior and follow the manufacturer's instructions for application. You should only apply a coloured stain or paint to a surface that is stable and not prone to expanding and contracting because otherwise if the stain or paint does not have the same flexibility it will simply crack and peel off giving you more maintenance than is necessary.
Check for Damage
Regularly inspect your deck for signs of wear and tear through use. This is particularly important on elevated decks, making sure bolts and joins have not worked loose or corroded and broken. Addressing these issues early on can prevent more severe problems and costly repairs down the road. If you notice any damage or unusual movement in the structure, then have it looked at by someone qualified that can carry out any remedial works.
All fixings need to be either stainless or galvanised for exterior use and nails should not be used in the structure or the fixing down of deck boards. This is because they do not have the same holding performance that screws and bolts have, and can easily work loose through timber movement over time. Nails used internally are fine because they are not subjected to the same climatic challenges.
Excess moisture is the enemy of any wooden structure, and your timber deck is no exception. Ensure proper drainage by keeping gutters and downspouts clear, and avoid placing potted plants directly on the deck's surface, as they can trap moisture underneath. Use plant stands or trays to elevate your pots and allow for air circulation.
Protect from Furniture Scratches
Outdoor furniture can cause scratches and dents on your deck's surface. To prevent this, use furniture pads or glides underneath the legs of chairs, tables, and other items. When rearranging your furniture, be sure to lift it rather than drag it across the deck.
Light it Up
Installing deck lighting not only adds ambiance to your outdoor space, but also helps prevent accidents by illuminating potential tripping hazards. Choose from a variety of lighting options, such as solar-powered lights or low-voltage LED fixtures, to create a warm and inviting atmosphere while keeping your deck safe.
To conclude, with a properly constructed deck with proper care and maintenance, your timber deck can remain beautiful, functional, and safe for many years. By following these simple steps, regular cleaning, oiling or staining, checking for damage, managing moisture traps, protecting from furniture scratches, and adding lighting, you'll be well on your way to preserving and adding real value to your investment. So by looking after it as you would your car and not neglecting it, you will find it will pay for itself many times over.