Aussies love a back timber deck. It’s the perfect place to entertain, spend time with the family and enjoy the outdoors. A well maintained decking can help you make the most of your outdoor space and create a seamless transition from your indoor to outdoor area.
While nothing beats the look and feel of real timber, it does require a little love and care to keep it looking its best and to make sure it lasts. A timber deck can be a costly investment and you want to ensure you get the most out of that investment. And that means decking maintenance.
Thoroughly cleaning and oiling your deck every 12 months or so will help prevent damage. It will stop the timber from warping, splintering and fading and help protect it from insects and damage from wood rot and mould.
So, here’s what you need to know to keep that deck in pristine condition.
Repair Visible Damage
Before cleaning and oiling or staining your deck, you should deal with any visible damage. The most common damage to your deck will typically be damage to the boards and problems with the fasteners.
Cracked, splintered or rotting boards can be serious safety hazards. Fortunately, individual boards can be easily replaced. If the boards are nailed down, they can simply be pried up. If they’re secured with screws, you will need to unscrew the boards. Replace the damaged boards with boards of equal length. Make sure you use the same kind of timber so they match the rest of your deck.
Besides damaged boards, loose fasteners can also be easily fixed. Older decks tend to use nails to secure the boards. Over time, these nails can start to come loose. Using a pry bar, lift the decking boards and remove the nails. Replace these nails with heavy gauge timber screws. These screws will secure the boards to the joists and will not come loose like nails will.
Clean the Deck
Once you’ve made any necessary repairs, you will need to thoroughly clean the deck before oiling or staining the timber. It’s important to remove any dust, dirt, debris, oils or grease from the deck before you apply an oil or stain.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Remove items from the deck area
First you need to remove any furniture or other items from the deck. That includes tables, chairs, barbecues and so on. Any items that can’t be removed should be covered to protect them from the cleaning and staining process.
- Sweep the deck
Using a soft-bristled broom, sweep off any loose debris like dust, dirt and leaves. You may need a harder bristled broom for denser debris like bird droppings, moss or moist leaf matter.
- Pressure clean the deck
Go over the entire deck with a high-pressure cleaner. This will remove more of the tougher debris and stains before you get to the actual cleaning process. Be careful with the pressure cleaner, as high-pressure water can damage older decking.
You could also scrub the deck with a hard-bristled brush, but that will take much longer and require more elbow grease.
- Select and mix your deck cleaner
When selecting a deck cleaning product, you can either mix one yourself from household detergents and water or use a specialist deck cleaning product from a hardware store. For best results, it’s recommended that you use a cleaning product designed for timber decks.
Dilute the cleaner according to the label instructions. Make sure you also check the safety instructions as these cleaners can be toxic to people, animals and plants.
- Apply the deck cleaner
Using a hard-bristled broom (or a specialist deck scrubbing broom), thoroughly scrub the deck using the deck cleaning mixture. Make sure you get every part of the deck to ensure a consistent clean. Leave the cleaning mixture to sit on the deck for 10 to 20 minutes (or check the label for sitting times).
- Pressure clean the deck
After the 10 to 20 minutes, use your pressure cleaner to rinse the cleaner from the deck. Leave the deck to dry.
Stain or Oil the Deck
Once the deck is clean, it’s time to apply the deck oil or solvent-based stain. Staining or oiling will preserve the timber and keep it looking fresh. It’s up to you whether you decide to go for a timber stain or a decking oil. Both will protect the timber. However, a decking oil will enhance the natural look of the timber, while a stain will change the timber colour.
Once you’ve decided on your type of decking finish, you will also need timber brushes, a lambswool applicator, a painting tray and masking tape.
- Tape the edges
Protect any surfaces you don’t want stained by using masking tape to cover the edges. Surfaces may include skirting boards and walls, balustrades or any furniture that’s fixed to the deck.
- Stain the edges and corners
Using a timber paint brush, apply the stain around any of the taped off areas including edges and corners, as well as between all the boards. Once you’ve finished with the edges and corners, remove the masking tape before the stain dries.
- Stain the main decking area
With the edges, corners, areas between the boards and any tight spots done, you can now prepare the lambswool applicator. Wash the applicator to remove any loose fibres and allow it to dry completely.
Prepare the stain or oil in a paint tray. Dip the applicator in the tray and use long even strokes along the wood grain to apply the stain. Make sure you don’t paint yourself into a corner.
Allow the first coat to dry, following the drying time instructions on the label. Apply a second and third coat as necessary.
Enjoy your deck
With your deck repaired, cleaned and stained or oiled, you are ready to kick back, relax and enjoy your deck for another 12 months.