Part 1: Preparing and Protecting Decking
With the outdoor leisure season in full swing, it’s time to give your decking a little TLC. South-facing decking can easily dry out and lose its natural colour and decking in an area shaded by bushes or trees often becomes slippery. Fortunately, with a little maintenance, you can keep your decking looking its best and performing to its full potential.
Part 1 of our ‘Beautiful Wooden Floors’ series walks you through the steps for keeping your new or old decking in tip-top condition.
Things you’ll need:
- - Decking cleaner (and restorer – see Step 1 details)
- - Power washer or stiff broom
- - 120 grit sandpaper
- - Dusk mask
- - Personal protective equipment (refer to the product manufacturer’s safety data sheet)
- - Dust sheets
- - Suitable wood treatments
- - Paint brushes/rollers/sprayers
STEP 1: Prepare new wood
New softwood decking
Softwood decking generally comes pre-treated with preservative. If the pressure treated timber has been freshly treated, it should weather for 2-3 months before applying a paint or preservative product. This allows any salts from the treatment process to work their way out of the wood.
If, for whatever reason, your softwood is untreated, you will need to coat all boards and posts with wood preservative before installation. Protecting decking in this way will help to guard against common problems such as insect attack, rot, mould and algae. Make sure you coat all sides, including sawn edges, for full protection.
Once the preservative has dried fully (refer to the manufacturer’s instructions), your decking is ready for oiling, staining or painting. Ideally, you should add your final coat before installation to allow for the best possible protection.
NOTE: Some wood preservatives contain wax which is compatible with an oil top-coat but can prevent paint and stain finishes from adhering. Choose your preservative according to your desired top-coat system.
New hardwood decking
Hardwoods are more resistant to insect attack and wood rot than softwoods but will still benefit from additional protection. Due to the oily nature of most hardwoods, you should:
Allow the wood to season
After installation, leave the wood untreated for six months. This allows the natural oils to erode and the tight surface grain to open up, giving decking treatments and finishes better penetration and adhesion.
Choose the right finish
Some surface coatings will still struggle to penetrate seasoned hardwood. There are, however, specialist treatments such as Osmo Teak Decking Oil, that are designed to work with the properties of hardwood.