Decks have become increasingly popular of late as a cost-effective, attractive way of expanding your living area to make more of the outdoors, which could last for years and even increase the value of your property (learn more about the benefits of adding Decking to your property here). However, like anything left outside into the elements 24/7 365 days a year, your Decking may become worn, stained, discoloured, with possible algae or moss growth. Regular maintenance of your Deck can elongate it's life expectancy and ensure your garden will continue to look great for years to come.
How can you ensure your Deck will continue to look great every summer? In this article, we will outline the key stages of how to maintain Decking. Find out how to look after Decking and the best way to treat it below.
Step 1: How to Clean Your Decking
The first step to do with anything to keep the product looking attractive and appealing is to ensure your Deck Boards are clean. Before you can think about treating or trying to restore your Deck, the area is clear of any debris, and any surface dirt is washed away.
You may need or wish to have the following tools available when cleaning Decking Boards
- Decking Cleaner
- Dish Soap (instead of Decking Cleaner if preferred)
- Decking Stripper - Not necessary for Composite Boards
- Broom (preferably stiff-bristled)
- Sander - Not essential for Composite Boards
- Scrubbing Brush / Washcloth / Sponge
- Pressure Washer / Garden Hose
- Decking attachments for Pressure Washer
- Appropriate footwear and clothing - something you don't mind getting wet or dirty
- Safety Goggles
- Knee Pads
- Dust Mask (if sanding)
Steps to clean your Decking
1) Clear your Deck of any furniture, plant pots or accessories
2) Using your broom, sweep the Deck clear of any leaves or debris, use a stiff-bristled broom to ensure your Deck is getting a thorough clean. While sweeping, it is a good time to check your Deck for any splinters or loose screws.
3) Apply your chosen Decking Cleaner or dish soap. If using Decking Cleaner, be sure to follow the instructions provided. With dish soap, add water. Once sufficient cleaner has been added, scrub your Deck further using the stiff-bristled broom. This may remove any mould and algae or persistent stains.
4) You may want to use a putty knife or other utensil to clean the debris and dirt out from between the Decking Boards, which the cleaner has been unable to reach.
5) Once you have thoroughly cleaned and scrubbed your Decking, wash off any cleaner or dish soap using either a garden hose or use a pressure washer on the lowest setting. Using a pressure washer will speed up the process and push the dirt away from your Deck.
5) Allow the Deck Boards to dry for 24 hours, and take care when walking across them as the Deck surface could be slippery.
For some Decking Materials, this may be all you need to do. Composite Decks and PVC Decking Boards do not require the level of deck care that Timber Decks demands. Hardwood Timber and Softwood Timber Decking need to be regularly maintained to maintain an attractive natural appearance while also offering the Boards protection from mould, rot, and stains. Timber Deck maintenance demands further sanding, coating, varnishing, and painting to protect your garden decking.
Learn more about planning your Composite Decking Project and the best places to buy Composite Decking here. Calculate the cost and number of Boards and Fixings you may need using the Cladco Composite Decking Calculator.
Step 2: How to Treat Decking
Decking Treatment is an option for those who want to ensure their Deck keeps its naturally attractive appearance and stays stable for many years to come. The Decking oils used in the treating process seeps into the wood pores and penetrates the grain, protecting the Boards from the inside out from rotting, splintering, or weathering. Decking Stains, however, create a surface layer covering the Boards from rotting, cracking, or weathering. Treating your Deck with Decking oil or Decking stain will enhance the wood's natural properties and help keep your Deck stay healthier for longer.
When it comes to treating your Decking, you have two options Decking Oil or Decking Stain.
Decking Oil properties
- Natural colours or clear
- Enhances The Decks natural properties
- Durable and easy to maintain
- Adds extra protection against rain and sunshine for a less weathered look
- It cannot be stained or painted over
- Decking oils cannot be used on certain Deck types such as Hardwood, Teak or Balu wood as the timber has natural oils.
Decking Stain properties
- Similar to varnish, available in a range of colours
- Additional maintenance steps are required - you must strip off the previous layer before applying the newest layer of Decking Stain.
- Adds extra protection against rain and sunshine for a less weathered look
- Protection against high-level footfall
- More likely to peel and flake compared to other Decking treatment options
- Can cover up the natural woodgrain appearance on the surface of the Boards.
Most Timber Decking Boards have already received treatment before selling and shouldn't require further protection or coat of protector in its first year. If your new Decking has a green or brown tinge near the surface, or the ends of the boards have are different shades, it is most likely your Boards have been treated. Most timber decking requires annual maintenance.
How to Paint Decking
A downside of using natural timber decking is it the Boards only being available in natural colours and shades. Timber Decking Boards can be painted. However, they can be painted to your desired style and colour. Paint is available in a range of additional colours, which Timber Decking Boards will not naturally be in already. Adding paint to your garden Deck will give it a new lease of life while also giving the Boards some added protection against rain from soaking into the Boards, causing them to rot or split, and UV-rays, which may cause your wood to turn grey over time.
To paint your Deck, you may need the following tools
- Decking Paint Brush
- Decking Brush
- Wood Cleaner
- Desired paint
How to paint your Deck in simple steps
1) Follow the steps mentioned above in how to clean your Deck. If your Deck has previously been painted, the remaining paint will need to be sanded off to ensure the new coat is clean, clear, and free of any bumps.
2) Once your Decking is dry and the weather is not cold or damp, paint the first layer of your chosen colour and paint it onto your Boards. Ensure when you apply your paint that you brush with the grain, with complete strokes, from edge to edge, in only one direction where possible.
3) Wait for your first coat of paint to dry completely before repeating the process with a second coat, following the same process as above with the second coat.
How to Stain Your Decking
Adding Decking Stain to your hardwood or softwood Decking is a great way to protect your Deck from moisture entering the boards causing rot, and encouraging mould growth. Not only will the Decking Stain create a protective barrier on the wooden surface, but it can also enhance or change the colour of the Boards.
It is advised to allow a brand new, unsealed wooden deck to weather for around 2-3 months before coating the Boards in sealants. This allows the wood to rest before adding a stain to it.
Seal your Deck with these steps
1) Ensure your Deck is cleaned and any previous stain, varnish, or paint has been sanded and removed. Wait till the Deck is completely dry before moving on to step two.
2) Check to see if your Deck requires sealing with the water droplet test. Drop a few drops of water onto a dry area of your Deck. If the water is absorbed into the wood, then treatment is required. If the water settles on the surface, no further action is necessary.
3) Cover the surrounding plants with protective clothes or layers, and add masking tape around the edges of the Deck, preventing products from staining walls and boundaries.
4) Stir the Decking Stain solution thoroughly before applying a decent amount to a brush
5) Using a Deck Stain brush apply the exterior wood stain to the Boards, with long, even brush strokes, going with the grain of the wood, ensuring to get between the grooves of the Boards for a thorough seal. It is recommended to stain the Boards four at a time to prevent overlaps.
6) Once the first coat has dried, apply a second coat following the same rules as before.
How to Treat Decking With Oil
Decking treatment can be done with either Deck Oil or Decking Stainer. While stain protects the board from the surface, oils penetrate the wood and protects it from the inside out. Oil often comes in natural or clear coloured solutions and offers durable, weather-resistant properties when applied to your garden decking project.
Oil your Decking with these following steps:
1) Following the above steps, ensure your Deck is clean, with any previous leftover solutions and treatments have been removed, and the Deck is dry and therefore not slippery before moving on to applying the Decking oil treatment.
2) Test to see if your Deck has recently been treated. If it has, you will not have to reapply for Decking oil. Place a small amount of water to a dry area of your Deck. If the water absorbs, then your Deck requires treating. If the water remains on the surface, the Decking oils are still active within the wood, and no further action needs to be taken.
3) Cover the surrounding plants and edges of the wood Decking, protecting them against being covered in oils.
4) Apply a generous amount of oil to your brush, and paint the boards, following the direction of the grain. It is best to apply to four Decking Boards at once for an even coverage.
5) Once complete, leave to dry and add the second coat once the first coat of oil has been absorbed.
Using a Decking Protector
A deck with a Decking protector applied has similar properties to oil decking or stained Decking, protecting the Boards from moisture penetration, rotting, and the elements. While the oil is absorbed into the wood, both stain and Decking protector create a layer on the board's surface. The Decking protector has a slightly wax-like texture, protects the board, and enhances the wood's colour and appearance.
Protect your Decking with the following steps:
1) Following the above steps, ensure your Deck is clean, with any previous leftover solutions and treatments have been removed, and the Deck is dry before moving on to applying the Decking Protector Solution.
2) Test to see if your Deck has been recently treated. If it has been treated, you will not have to reapply the Decking protector. Place a small amount of water to a dry area of your Deck. If the water absorbs, then your Deck requires treating. If the water remains on the surface, no further action needs to be taken.
3) Cover the surrounding plants and edges of the wood Decking, protecting them against being covered in the solution.
4) Apply a generous amount of protector to your brush, and paint the boards, following the direction of the grain. It is best to apply to four Decking Boards at once for an even coverage.
5) Once complete, leave to dry and add the second coat once the first coat has been absorbed.
Take care when treating your Deck, as the boards will become slippery when wet.
Step 3: How to Restore a Deck
Unlike Composite Decking, Natural Wooden Decking requires regular maintaining and suffers from wear and tear.
Your Decking has suffered through the season, the wind, rain, hail, snow, and sun and it may be time to give your garden decking the tender love and care it deserves. Restore your hardwood or softwood decking and get it ready for the summer months.
Restore your Decking by following these steps
1) First, inspect your Decking for any loose, split, or damaged Boards, replace any Board which needs replacing. Ensure all nails are secure and remove any debris, furniture, and plants from the Deck.
2) Clean the Deck following the steps mentioned above, with a scrubbing brush, your Decking Cleaner of choice, and a pressure washer, ensuring all the mould, stains, and algae are cleaned as much as possible.
3) Then, using a Decking treatment restorer, either oil, stain, or Decking protector applies across the Boards, ensuring even coverage throughout.
4) Once the Decking Protection treatment has been applied, you may want to deck varnish or paint for a clean, sleek and sophisticated look.
5) Apply varnish with a decking brush in straight, sweeping strokes following the grain of the wood until the Deck is covered.
To prevent your Timber Decking from becoming weathered or grey, following these essential maintenance steps as regularly as necessary is critical. Treating the boards by applying stains, oils, restorer, varnish, and paint will help prevent mould and algae growth, weathering, stains, and rot and dirt build-up.
Now you have cleaned and maintained your Decking. Cladco Composite Decking Boards do not need regular maintenance and come in a range of eight colours including, Stone Grey, Light Grey, Charcoal, Redwood, Olive Green, Teak, Ivory, and Coffee, meaning Boards do not have to be painted to your desired colour.