Caring for Your Deck
Care and maintenance of your deck is essential to protect it from the damaging effects of moisture and the sun. Regular cleaning and oiling will help protect the timber from the damage done by ultraviolet light, protect it from the weather, remove mold and bacteria, and it will also stop the timber prematurely cracking and ageing.
Sweeping and cleaning your deck regularly will help reduce the build up of dirt and grime. Also, oiling your deck every few months will protect your deck from the elements and keep it looking vibrant. You’ll know that it’s time to oil the deck as it will be losing the lustre it had after the last oil as well as generally looking a bit tired.
Before treating your deck, it should be thoroughly cleaned of dirt and grime. You can use a stiff broom and bucket with sugar soap, which is free of chlorine or bleach(in strong concentrations, bleach can prematurely damage wood). If your deck has a lot of stains that sugar soap won’t remove, a few things can be done:
- Try pressure washing the deck with a small to medium sized pressure washer.(Do a patch test first but sure it’s gentle or it will damage the wood fibers.)
- You can also try lightly sanding the affected area with a medium grade sandpaper. (A light sandpaper will prevent the oil soaking in to the timber.)
- Alternatively, you can use a deck cleaning products that use Oxalic acid to strip back the aging timber and return then wood to its former glory.
Note: Using a pressure washer or a deck cleaning product is usually a lot less time consuming than sanding the entire deck, but sanding works well for smaller areas and deep stains.
Another step in the process if using hardwoods like Merbau is removing the tannins from the timber. With out proper removal a lot of timber protection products wont adhere to the timber. Its been common practice to let your deck weather for a month or so but I’m not really an advocate of letting you deck weather. There are a host of timber stripping products out there but I have found Nappi san (Sodium percarbonate) does a pretty good job.
Mix up a bucket with warm water, ad the Nappi san and with a stiff brush apply to the deck. Let it sit for about 10 minutes then remove with a pressure washer. It might require a few applications to completely remove all the tannins
Once clean and tannins removed, wait for your deck to completely dry before applying any timber protection product.
The next thing to do is to decide what sort of timber protection product you will use. There are 2 basic types. oil based or Water based. Oil based products tend to enhance the look of the timber of the but tend to give it small window of protection. Avoid cheap decking oils as it will require regular applications to retain its protection
I like to use water based products like Spa and deck or intergrain. I have found that although it might not enhance the look of timber quite as nice as an oil based product I have found there is greater protection and less frequent reapplications.
When staining or oiling your deck, be careful not to apply too much product – you don’t want to get surface film on the wood when what you’re really going for is penetration. It’s best to apply the product along the length of each board keeping a wet edge so as to avoid overlapping.
Using an application pad with a handle makes application of the product much easier, but a paint brush or roller can also be used. Usually, 2-3 applications are required.
Remember to apply the stain or oil in the proper weather conditions. Avoid applying it in direct sunlight, windy weather or in 30 degree or more temperatures, and be sure there is no chance of rain for the next 24 hours.
Always follow manufacture’s instructions as listed on the product label and in any accompanying literature.