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Deck Maintenance

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Deck Maintenance

by Megan Macpherson

A timber deck needs regular maintenance, otherwise it risks becoming discoloured and affected by moisture, weathering and disintegration.

Decking can be made from a range of timber, for example cypress pine, treated pine, blackbutt, red or grey ironbark, white mahogany, spotted gum, tallow wood, merbau, and jarrah. The finish your timber will have depends on its colour, and how it has coped with weathering. A hardwood will not absorb a coating as easily as a softwood, therefore will not appear as bold when coated with the same finish.

Decks can be maintained with either a penetrative coating, such as stain or oil, or a film coating such as varnish or paint. Penetrative coatings allow the natural colour, look and feel of the wood to show, and dont trap dirt or moisture. However, they wear more easily than a varnish or paint. The non-penetrative coating has a slick finish, can be cleaned more easily and is resistant to wear.

Decking should be oiled or stained every 6-24 months. Sweep off any dirt and garden refuse, and clean with a deck-cleaning product. Lightly sand the deck, in the direction of the grain. Sanding against the grain may leave sanding marks and scratches in the wood. Use a sanding block or pole sander to make a large job easier. Cover any areas around the deck with drop cloths to protect them from spills. Stir deck oil with a wide stirrer to ensure the colour will be uniform. Wear rubber gloves to protect your hands from the oil, and apply with a brush or pad. Mineral turpentine is an effective way to clean up any spills on other surfaces. Make sure you clean the brushes after use with the turps. Drying times will depend on what kind of oil or stain you use, so be sure to check the tin so you know when you can walk on the deck. A second coat may also need to be applied.

Decking will wear more readily in areas where there is lots of foot traffic, or exposed to the weather, however should be oiled in entirety. Sanding should bring the wood to the same level of wear. If a doorway leads to a deck, placing a mat outside the doorway will help to minimise wear in that high traffic area. Timber furniture and balustrades can also be maintained in the same way as a deck, so consider using a similar stain for all timber surfaces.

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