Timber decking is exposed to the elements throughout the year – heavy downpour, scorching sun, and high and low temperatures. This makes the wood expand and contract, which can cause it to deteriorate.
To help extend the life of a deck, regular maintenance is important as it helps the timber handle extreme conditions while revitalising its appearance.
It is fast and easy to make an old deck look brand new, starting with a nice finish. There are several finishes you can choose from to achieve the look you’re looking for.
Whichever finish you choose, regular maintenance is important to make your deck look great and last for a long time.
The Best Timber for Decks
There are many types of timber available. Selecting the same type of timber for both floor and decking can make the feel and look of indoor and outdoor spaces harmonious while giving a visual connection to the surrounding vistas and grabbing the attention of people who love nature.
One of the popular choices is lighter-blind timbers, like blackbutt, tallowwood or white mahogany offer a clean, neutral backdrop for outdoor design plans and landscaping. To make small spaces look big, choose lighter-coloured timber boards.
Some types, including blackbutt and spotted gum, are more ideal for locations that are susceptible to bushfires. Also, blackbutt is also resistant to termites, which is the right quality for Australian conditions.
No-Maintenance Decking Boards
Composite decking is suitable for you if you will not be able to keep up with regular maintenance. This type combines 95 per cent recycled timber and plastic, needs no upkeep except for random washing with soap and water, and is available in various colours and textures.
Because it is termite-resistant, composite decking won’t decay, warp or break. It is also resistant to fading, stain, scratch and mould, making it suitable for high foot traffic and uninterrupted summer of entertaining.
Signs That Your Deck Needs Refinishing
Dripping some water directly onto the boards is the fastest way to determine whether your deck needs work. If the timber absorbs the water, then it’s time to re-coat it. If the beads of water remain on t
he board, then no work is required yet.
Tips for Refinishing Decking Boards
Preparation is key to a great result from refinishing your deck.
If you have a new deck or your deck has been stained or oiled previously, use a stiff scrubbing brush to apply deck cleaner to get rid of tannins and oils from the timber. These products are good alternatives for algae or moss for eliminating dirt.
Because some cleaners can be detrimental to plants, protect the surrounding shrubs and trees by using plastic to protect the soil around them.
Let the deck cleaner be absorbed by the timber for 15 minutes before hosing it off and let the timber dry for a minimum of one hour before applying the finish.
If you use oil, mix it thoroughly before applying two or three coats with a lambswool applicator. To avoid a blotchy finish, apply the finish in long strokes the entire length of the board. The ends of the board should also be coated because they also need to be protected from the elements.
Read the manufacturer’s recommendations to learn the different varying times and techniques of applications of the stain, oil, paint or varnish you’re using.
Finish: Water-Based Vs Oil-Based
The choice between water or oil-based finishes often depends on the ease of use and longevity.
With water-based decking oils, you can re-coat your deck faster, and they normally last longer than the usual oil-based decking oils. The tools you’ve used can simply be washed off with water.
Oil-based decking oils usually take longer to dry than water-based coatings. You will also smell a strong odour while it dries. To clean your equipment, you need to use mineral turpentine.
Sanding a Worn or Painted Deck
For splintered, previously painted or severely damaged decks, sand the surface back to raw timber to revive its look. Make sure all nails and screws are countersunk to prevent the sandpaper from tearing while you work the deck.
Use a belt sander and coarse-grade belt to sand the surface, making sure that you move in the direction of the grain of the timber. To have a smooth finish, continue sanding with finer-grade belts.
For the hard-to-reach areas and edges, a finishing sander can do the job, but start with coarse-grade sandpaper and then a finer grade.
When you’re done with sanding the surface, then you can begin applying the finish.
How to Maintain Your Deck
To prolong the life of your deck finish, sweeping it or hosing it regularly avoids build-up of dirt and other moisture-retaining residue on the timber.
If your deck has potted plants, place a saucer underneath them to catch any excess water and prevent water from sitting under the pot as this can result in rot.