Protecting Your Wooden Deck
Wooden decks are a popular addition to gardens, creating a low-maintenance space for you to sit and relax or entertain on. Here in the UK it's rare to get hot sunny days for any length of time but decks are also perfect for a spot of sunbathing! Once you've had your deck installed, the next step is to protect it to ensure it's longevity. In this post we'll look at the various options and their benefits, and give you tips on how to do it yourself.
Why should I protect it?
Untreated deck is susceptible to damage - the sun can dry it out further and cause cracking and warping, and too much excess moisture can create the perfect conditions for mould and algae. Using a product to treat it acts as a barrier to maintain the wood.
What should I use?
Always research the types of decking protection you can get and what benefits they would have on your particular deck. There are four main products you can use:
- Oil, which soaks into the wood and nourishes it but only gives a low level of protection and doesn't change the colour too much.
- Clear protector, which gives a basic waterproofing and prevents the wood from going grey but relies on the natural colour changing as the deck ages.
- Stain, which gives a nice rich colour to the wood as well as protecting against sun and rot, but can quickly wear as you use it regularly.
- Paint, which is thicker than stain and acts as a new surface rather than showcasing the natural grain of the wood.
There are so many options out there; the most popular being Ronseal, Cuprinol and DIY store own-brands. At the Handyman we regularly use Ronseal, but all of them will serve the requirements of your deck.
If you are choosing to stain or paint, always test it on an offcut of timber to ensure it's the colour and consistency you want. You don't want to choose that lovely green or dark brown only to find it's not quite to your liking when covering the entirety of your deck!
What should I know before I start?
- If your deck is brand new, it's best to leave it for a while before treating and allow it to settle and dry thoroughly for a few months.
- Always check the weather! The ideal conditions are warm but slightly overcast, as cold and rain could undo all your hard work and prevent the treatment from drying properly, and direct sunlight will dry the product too quickly before it has a chance to soak into the wood.
- Invest in the right tool. Brushes are useful for getting between the gaps but don't cover a large area quickly. Rollers are better but can spray the product to the sides if you're not careful. Long-handled paint pads can help ease the pressure on your back but don't always get into the nooks and crannies.
- Don't forget to wear old comfy clothes you don't mind getting dirty!
How do I treat my deck?
- Before you apply anything you need to clean the surface. Preparation is key - the deck may need to be sanded down first and then cleaned thoroughly using a cleaner (or stripper if necessary on older decks already stained or painted). If you need to wash it down afterwards allow a couple of days for it to dry properly.
- Start with the balustrade or rails if there are any - working from the top down will mean that you won't get any drips forming over areas you've already covered.
- Move in the direction of the woodgrain and apply a thin coat. This will prevent the product from forming small puddles along the deck which won't soak in as well and can end up lifting and peeling. To ensure you have a uniform finish and haven't missed any spots, apply at least two coats. Start from one end of the deck and work to the other, ensuring you have a way to 'escape' without walking over the freshly done area!
- If you do choose a pad or roller, keep a brush handy to get into the corners, fiddly areas, and down between the slats, as well as the ends of the timber.
- Although there are lots of 'quick-drying' products out there, it's best to allow it to properly dry for a couple of days before using.
Decking should be protected every couple of years to maintain it's longevity. And if it all seems like too much hard work, get The Handyman to do it for you!