Having a wooden deck is one of life’s pleasures, especially in sunny South Africa, where sitting outside, sipping a cocktail and watching the sunset is a popular activity. However, the maintenance of this delightful deck can prove to be not so enjoyable and can be time-consuming and difficult, especially if you are unaware of what the maintenance of a wooden deck can entail.
How to maintain a wooden deck
Wooden decking is beautiful and can last for years if properly maintained. Below are some simple but highly effective tips and tricks to keep your deck in the best condition possible:
Inspect the wood for rot
If your deck was made with treated wood that is specifically for ground contact, then it is usually highly resistant to rot. But, if your wooden decking is untreated, then it is vital to check the wood for rot, as it will be less resistant. Almost every type of wood will be susceptible to rot if it is wet for long enough, but if the rot is less than 1 ½ cm deep, the boards can be left in peace. But any deeper than that and you will need to take action.
Remove stains and discolouration
Over time, wood will incur any number of stains and discolourations, from the UV rays of the sun and from simple wear and tear. Non-chlorine oxygenated bleach is the perfect tool to remove stains and discolourations from your wooden decking and is non-toxic, not harmful to use, biodegradable and environmentally-friendly. This bleach also cleans and brightens the wood, making it look new and fresh.
Clean your deck
Cleaning your deck is vital, especially if you are going to refresh the varnish or apply a finish. You need to remove all moss, algae and mildew before applying any varnishes and finishes. And to do so you will need to find a suitable deck cleaner (such as the one mentioned above) and follow the instructions carefully. Once this is done, you will need to water down or spray down the entire surface to remove the cleaner and any stubborn moss or algae.
Protect your deck
Protecting your deck is one of the most vital steps in wooden decking maintenance as it will prevent stains, discolourations and other such issues. Your deck will also look beautiful throughout the year. To correctly protect your deck, you will have to first clean it, then apply oil on a day with favourable weather. The oil primes the wood so that it will absorb the stain better. Once the oil has dried, you can apply the stain and you will have a properly protected deck that will last for years to come.
Replace or remove screws and nails
If there are any rusted screws or protruding nails on your deck, it is highly important to remove and replace them, as not only are they a safety risk but they will also jeopardise the structure of your deck. When removing a nail with a hammer, use a scrap of wood as a fulcrum for better leverage to avoid damaging the deck. Also, check all railings for any screws or nails that are protruding or rusting.
Avoid trapping dirt in the boards
If your deck is going to be decorated or is already decorated with pot plants, be sure that the bottom of the pots have a trap for the soil or dirt as this dirt and moisture will become trapped in between the boards and will contribute to discolouration and rot over time. One other way to avoid this is to use hanging pot plants because these are less likely to drop soil onto the wood and can be placed over the edge in order for water to go into the garden rather than onto the wood.
Repair split wood
A board that has been split down the middle or at any other point is a weak board and needs to be replaced as soon as possible, for both safety and longevity reasons. You should mark the board next to the leading edge at the first support joist that is past the split. Cut the board, remove the nails and remove the board, then replace the board being sure that all nails and screws are deeply recessed into the wood before sanding it to the desired height and flatness.
Maintaining wooden decking does not have to be a difficult process if you remember to regularly clean stain and repair split boards and protruding screws and nails. A wooden deck can transform your outdoor space into an oasis of calm and will certainly be the best place to spend time on balmy summer evenings. But for it to last for even your grandchildren to use, ensure that you correctly maintain your investment.