Decking has become a very popular feature in our gardens over the last few years, helping us to make the most of our British summer time. What better place is there to soak up the sunshine and enjoy meals outside than in your own garden?
However, as you venture back out to your garden this Spring, you might find that the Winter months have left your decking green, slippery and dirty. If nothing else, the exposure to sunlight, rain, snow and frost may have led to the deterioration of the colour and finish.
Don’t worry, with a little bit of maintenance and protective action you can have it looking great again in no time with a simple cleaning and treatment regime.
How to Clean Decking
A jet washer can be used for cleaning decks but it shouldn’t be a heavy duty one. Something smaller than 1500 psi with a wide fan jet would be suitable for most deck cleaning jobs. Anything more powerful can damage wood fibres, making it very difficult to clean or to treat.
Whilst it can be tempting to use chlorine based bleach to clean your deck of algae and mildew, this will break down the lignin in the deck timber (which holds the wood together!).
A weak solution of Citric Acid is non-hazardous and will help to ‘brighten up’ old greyed timbers. You could also opt for a specialist decking cleaning product which can simply be sprayed on and rinsed off.
It is worth checking your decking over for any fungal growth as this is the perfect time to deal with any infestations, whether it be fungi, mildew or insects. Whilst it will do nothing to alter the colour or appearance of the timber itself, a general garden fungicide or insecticide can clear up any unwanted growth.
How to Protect Decking
Wood is made up of a honeycomb of microscopic cells which, over time, can fill with dirt and dust and alter the brightness, colour and general appearance of your decking. Ordinary deck stain simply colours the surface area of the timber, rather than filling up these cells, so dirt is still able to fill these spaces.
The best way to ‘cap’ these cells is to seal them using Decking Oil, which is applied in liquid form but solidifies when it dries, filling the empty pores.
Not only will the oil give your decking a beautiful finish which won’t dry out or crack, but the oil actually improves the structure of the timber as it solidifies. Some decking oils will also contain UV filters which will help to prevent the greying of the timber in future.
The oil should be applied in two coats using a soft-haired paint brush. The soft-haired option will allow for even spreading of the deck oil and also act as a sponge to mop up any surplus deck oil, which can then be used further along the board.
The oil should be applied thinly and evenly (this is particularly important on grooved deck boards). The first coat will normally be touch dry in an hour in ideal weather conditions. A second coat is then needed to further protect the timber and enhance the colour if you’ve opted for a tinted oil.
This regime is simple and inexpensive and by the end of the day, your decking will be looking fresh and ready for Summer.