Decking has become a really popular way to create a useful outdoor space, and with good reason. Decking looks good, comes in a variety of looks and finishes, and creates a versatile space that everybody in the family can use. Like any home improvement, though, you’ll need to take steps to ensure it stays looking good through the years. Here’s why you should protect your decking, and what you should do to keep it in good condition.
Looking After Your Decking
Your deck is prone to two different types of damage: sun damage and water damage. UV rays from the sun will dry out the wood in your deck, making it more vulnerable to damage. This is where water damage can come into play. The dry decking can absorb and retain water, which leads to splitting, cracking and warping. Of course, this is something that you want to avoid in your deck.
Taking Care Of a Brand New Deck
If you’ve just had a deck installed, then you’ll be thinking about how you can protect it from the elements. However, the best thing you can do in this instance is actually leave it alone. A new deck will need around six months until it’s ready to be treated. This is because it needs this time to weather properly, and any existing treatment on the wood to fully erode. Once this time is up, any new treatment you use should properly adhere to the wood and protect it fully.
Assess The State Of Your Deck
Before you consider treating or protecting your deck, you’ll need to assess the state of the wood. If the wood is untreated and over six months old, then you can start protecting it right away. You may have to clean the wood before you get started, but that’s about it. If your wood has had a previous treatment though, you’ll need to strip the deck back to bare wood before you can get started.
If you’re about to prepare your deck, the best thing to do is use a specialized deck stripper solution to remove all traces of the previous treatment. Then, you will need to clean it. A specialized deck clear will not only remove the dirt, but will also have a good algaecide in it. This will help remove any algae or moss growing on the deck, and keep it from growing back.
Painting Or Oiling A Deck
One option for protecting a deck is to paint, coat or oil it. These are all good options if you’re looking to keep the look of the wood, but also protect it from the elements.
- Paint: If you want to make a bold statement with your deck, then paint is the way to go. It will help you create any look you want, as there is a huge range of colors to choose from. You can have a garden deck that’s on trend, and fits in with your personal style. Paint also locks down splinters, making the deck safe for children and pets to play on
- Coating: There are lots of deck stains to choose from if you want something that lets the natural look of the wood shine through. A semi opaque stain will protect your deck while giving you the original look of the wood that you had it installed for
- Oil: A deck oil can be a great idea if you’re worried about the look of the coating over time. Oiling a deck gives it a subtle coating that will last for years to come. It won’t crack as the wood expands and contracts, so you don’t have to worry about it looking worn later down the line
Adding A Finish To Your Deck
Having a new finish applied to your deck is another way of protecting it, and it can be one of the best ways of doing so. A finish will add a layer to your deck that makes it waterproof, protects the wood, and extends the lifespan of the deck for years to come.
Because of this, many people are choosing to have a finish added to their decks. One of the other benefits that deck owners are taking advantage of is that you can make your deck take on any look you desire. For example, you can have your deck laid with a flagstone, tile, sand, or knockdown style finish. These looks can be a great way of changing up the look of your deck and your yard in general.
General Deck Care Tips
Of course, if you want your deck to last, you’ll need to know how to take care of it. Here are some tips that any deck owner can use to keep their deck looking great:
- Be mindful of the cleaner you use: When cleaning your deck, make sure you’re using the right cleaner. For a wooden deck, you’ll need a regular deck cleaner. If you have a PVC deck, just mild soap and water will do the job. If you use the wrong cleaner, you could actually do some damage to the deck itself.
- Remove debris with a putty knife: Debris can get between the cracks of your deck. A putty knife can get between them and pull it loose
- Check for any rot: Annually, go over your deck and look for signs that rot may be setting in. If you can push a screwdriver a 1/4-inch or more into an area, there’s probably rot. If the area is smaller than a silver dollar, you can cut it out with a chisel and repair it with wood preservative
- Keep debris away from your deck: Debris can speed up rot and mold in your deck, so keep it swept regularly. You should also trim trees and bushes away from the deck, so leaves don’t fall on it
Keeping your deck protected is a sure fire way to keep it in good condition for years to come. Pick your method, and you’ll have a deck that looks good and is sturdy enough to withstand the weather.
Regardless of which method you decide to use, it’s important to follow deck safety guidelines when finishing or upgrading your deck.