Garden decking can be seen in large and small gardens across the UK. If well maintained, this structure can last for many years. In this short guide we will explain how to prepare your decking for the winter months.
Before explaining how to maintain the decked area, let’s examine the two popular types of decking materials because each type will require a different process to prepare the deck. The first type is called composite decking and is made of plastic and wood. It is popular in gardens where the emphasis is on low maintenance. The second type is hardwood or softwood and is made of special timber which can withstand water, dampness and humidity. Only selected numbers of tree species are suitable for decking.
How To Prepare Composite Decking For Winter:
Composite decking requires very little care. However, the following steps will help ensure it is ready for winter. Leading brands estimate 25 years of service life, depending on how well it is maintained.
1. Inspect the deck – Check for splitting, decay, rot and splintering. These should be fixed before winter otherwise come summer you might have to replace several planks.
2. Clean the deck – The deck can become slippery if dirt, mold and mildew are allowed to dry. When coming into contact with water in winter, it will feel like an ice-ring. Clean the area using a composite deck cleaner or combination of soap, hot water and a soft bristle brush.
3. Remove ice and snow carefully – A metal snow shovel can damage the surface. The correct process is to spray salt on the decked area and use a plastic snow shovel.
How To Prepare Hardwood or Softwood Decking For Winter:
Hardwood and softwood are broad biological terms used to describe species of wood. Hardwoods come from broadleaved trees whereas softwood species from coniferous, evergreen trees. Wood decking requires a little more care. When maintaining wood decking more emphasis is given to cleaning the surface. Its service life is estimated at a similar 25 years.
1. Clear the area carefully – When preparing to clean the decking, take care not to drag any objects on its surface.
2. Clean the deck – Using a soft bristle brush, sweep the entire area to remove any dirt or litter. Now jet wash the surface using a jet washer with pressure not exceeding 1500psi. Keep a distance of at least 4″ away from the surface when using a power washer.
3. Remove stubborn stains – Oil, grease and food could prove harder to remove. A simple trick is to use soda crystals together with soap and hot water. Spray soda crystals on the area and allow drying. Wash away using mild soap and hot water.
4. Oil the deck – Wood decking is covered in a protective oily coating that is tasked with protecting the wood. Decking oil acts by sealing the honeycomb of minute (microscopic) cells of the wood. If the cells (also called pores) are left without oil, they will be filled with dirt over time. Decking oil will penetrate the cells and quickly solidifies to offer more protection.
5. Apply the oil carefully – The oil should be applied in two coats using a soft-haired paintbrush. It is important to spread the oil evenly and to avoid puddles of oil. Therefore use two thin applications in the process.
Enjoy your decking!
How To Prepare Your Garden Decking For Winter written for Nancy Rodgers garden design by Wood and Beyond. FSC timber vendor of wood flooring, decking and other timber products such as solid oak worktops.