Installing decking in your garden is a great way to keep your property looking up to date and clean. Decking gives you space that’s easier to use and makes your garden look fantastic. If you’ve got decking, or you’re thinking of installing it, then you might be wondering about upkeep. And we’re here today to tell you all you need to know about keeping that decking looking amazing.
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How to Clean Decking
The job that you’ll need to do most often is a good clean. A deck that’s neglected is not only going to look bad, but eventually it will mould and rot, so keeping your decking clean should be a priority. Fortunately, deck cleaning is pretty simple. All you need to do is follow these step by step instructions:
- Clear all furniture off your decking. If you have things stored under your decking, then cover everything below with a waterproof tarp (or move it all if you’re feeling up to it!).
- Using a stiff broom sweep away dust, dead leaves, and surface dirt.
- With your garden hose, wash down your decking.
How easy was that? However, if your decking has been neglected for a while, or if you’ve got a big clean up job to do, then you might need a little more than just a sweep and a hose-down.
If you’ve got stains on your decking, then you can use a stiff brush and a mixture of oxygenated bleach and boiling water to scrub marks away. Mix to a ratio of about five fluid ounces of bleach to one gallon of water.
For Heavy Duty Cleaning
We recommend a serious clean at least once a year. And if your decking looks green (a sign of moss, algae or mould), or silvery (a sign that protective products have not been used on the wood) then you’ll definitely need to do a heavy-duty clean.
If you need an all-over clean then you can always get down on your hands and knees and scrub using a stiff brush and the above-mentioned bleach and water mixture. However, you’re going to find it a lot easier to rent a power washer from your local DIY shop.
Power washing your deck is simple and takes just a few minutes. One thing to be aware of though is that too much pressure could damage the wood. Keep pressure under 1500 pounds per square inch to ensure that your deck gets clean and not damaged!
How to Paint Decking
Painting your decking might seem like a big job, but paint can help protect your decking and your garden will look even better. Yes, it’s going to be time-consuming, but painting isn’t particularly difficult to do:
- Make sure your deck is cleaned using the methods mentioned above. Power washing is recommended before painting. Allow at least two days for decking to dry before continuing.
- Remove any paint that may already be on your deck with a scraper.
- Sand down your deck to get a smooth painting surface, we recommend 80 to 100 grit sandpaper. You don’t need to press too hard, you’re only smoothing the surface. If there are any particularly rough or stubborn spots go over them again with 100 to 210 grit sandpaper.
- Sweep the deck again to get rid of dust, and ensure everything is in good repair. You may need to bang down some nails or fill some cracks with wood putty before continuing.
- Tape off any areas you don’t want to paint, or that will need delicate painting, such as the bottom of railings. You may want to put plastic sheets over the sides of your house if your decking is connected to your home to prevent paint from getting on bricks.
Now you’re actually ready to paint, and again, this process is pretty simple:
- Wait until the decking is in the shade and then apply one or two coats of wood stain. Make sure you choose a stain that is mildew resistant! Allow the stain to dry overnight.
- Paint your decking with water-resistant exterior paint. However, you choose to paint ensure that you’re moving in the direction of the wood grain. How many coats you need will depend on the colour and type of paint you choose. Anywhere from one to three coats may be necessary. You can use a roller for large surfaces, though you’ll also need a brush for hard to reach corners. Ensure that each coat dries before another is added (we recommend letting each coat dry overnight).
- Once you’re satisfied, take off any painter’s tape you added and touch up those delicate areas.
And that’s all you need to do!
General Decking Maintenance
Caring for decking, in general, isn’t difficult to do, but you will need a maintenance schedule. Here are the chores that you should keep in mind:
- Decks should be cleaned regularly, monthly cleaning is a good idea.
- At least once a year decking should be deep-cleaned, either by scrubbing or using a power washer. Spring is the best time to do this.
- Painted decks may need touch-ups over time, so keep a can of paint handy!
- Similarly, if your decking is stained you may need to touch up from time to time, particularly if you’ve had to scrub a tough stain, since this may lift some of the staining as well.
- Twice yearly, once in the spring and once in the autumn, do a full inspection of your deck. You’re looking for nails that may have come loose, cracks in the wood that may need filling, and black or dark spots on the wood that may indicate rot or mould. Be sure that you check under the decking as well if at all possible.
- If you choose to use decking oil (to protect the wood, though this will also darken timber) you’ll need to re-apply this annually.
- Protective products such as anti-mould, anti-mildew, or products with algicide (against algae) should be re-applied every one to two years, depending on how damp your decking gets. Be aware that even if you paint your deck and choose a pre-stain with anti-mildew properties you may still need to reapply this!
- Watch out for sealants. Whilst sealants (which seal off the wood and protect it) sound like a good idea, and are often applied to timber by builders, they do have a tendency to flake off very quickly. You’ll need to re-apply sealant any time you see it flaking off. In general, we’d recommend skipping the sealant and opting for decking oil or protective stains instead.
Having decking in your garden is incredibly popular nowadays. And whilst choosing decking rather than a lawn does mean that you can skip out on lawn-mowing, it doesn’t mean that you get off scot-free. Fortunately, deck maintenance is fairly simple, and your decking should be looking fabulous in no time at all!