How to look after your timber decking
Caravan or garden deckings have gained popularity in recent years. It adds to your outdoor space and can look great if looked after properly. Since timber is by far the most popular decking material we have a few pointers that can help you ensure its longevity and good looks.
As with any timber surface, your decking can lose colour due to the exposure to sunlight and the elements. Especially after the winter months it can turn into a grey-green, slippery and unappealing surface.
Using a stiff brush remove larger accumulations of dirt, moss or algae.
Prepare the cleaner. You can find ready prepared cleaners in good DIY stores or you can prepare one yourself by using a weakened solution of trisodium phosphate (to be obtained from paint shops) with addition of household washing-up liquid. It’s always a good idea to try it on a small area first.
Warning – do not use chlorine based bleach – it breaks down the lignin in the timber and can cause the deck to fall apart.
You can also use a non-commercial jet washer (below 1500psi).
Apply the cleaner using a brush or watering can and scrub the surface immediately with a stiff brush. Leave it to stand for about 15 minutes and then rinse thoroughly with clean water from a hose. Your decking has to be fully dry before you can apply any protective coat.
Since wood is made up of tiny cells that are essentially empty, it will soak in anything it gets in contact with. This is why applying a protective coat is very important. The rule of thumb is to use a decking cleaner twice a year and apply a protective coat once a year.
Depending on the desired finish there are three types of protective coat:
- Decking protector will water-proof your decking and since it’s translucent it won’t change the appearance of the wood
- Decking stains come in a variety of colours so not only will they water-proof your decking but also give it a semi-opaque finish
- Decking oils are a great choice if you want to water-proof your decking and enhance its natural appearance by replacing the natural oils of the timber.
The protective coat should be applied evenly with a soft brush and in good weather conditions the first layer should be dry within one hour. To thoroughly protect the timber a second coat is necessary, so if you have opted for a tinted oil make sure it’s not too dark since the second layer will darken the colour even further.
Following these steps will help you preserve your timber decking for years to come.