As autumn sets in, many homeowners will be preparing their garden for the winter months; giving hedges a final trim and flower beds a last weed before the frosts set in. One section of the garden that many people often overlook at this time of year is their garden decking, believing that spring is the right time to pay it some attention and give it a coating of wood stain. However, late summer to early autumn is actually the best time to carry out your decking maintenance and protect it from the harsh elements that it will encounter in the coming months. Here are a few winter tips for protecting and maintaining your decking.
Picking a Decking Maintenance Time
The reason that spring is not the correct time to carry out decking maintenance is due to the fact that the timber is likely to still have high water content due to the rain and snow from the winter months. It is therefore better to apply protective wood stain to the decking at the end of the summer when the timber tends to be drier. But before you rush outside with your paintbrush and pot of stain, there is a little bit of work that you should do first.
Decking Preparation & Cleaning
The first step before you stain your decking should be to give the surface a good clean, starting by giving the surface a sweep with a brush. Then you can clean it properly using a specialist decking cleaner, which will kill any mould, moss or algae that has formed throughout the summer.
This will open up the surface of the timber and allow the protective wood stain to penetrate deeper and increase the positive effects. Be sure to rinse off the decking cleaner once the advised application time has passed, then give it two or three rainless days to dry if possible. Now you can sand the decking using an 80 grade sandpaper to remove any residue that has made its way to the surface.
If your timber deck has been stained in the past then you can strip away the old coating using a wood stain remover. These products tend to be very strong and care should be taken when applying to the decking; it’s best to wear gloves when applying.
It is also worth bearing in mind that wood stain remover can serve to darken the decking timber. If you desire a lighter looking effect in your decking space then you can neutralise the timber using a wood cleaner and brightener.
Applying the Decking Oil or Stain
Whether you wish to use a brush or roller to apply your deck stain is down to personal choice. Whichever option you do go for, be sure to only apply enough stain to the brush or roller to complete a few strokes at a time, as adding too much can result in darker areas on the deck. If you do apply too much to certain areas and create dark spots, then try to remove the excess stain using rags.
Once you have applied an even coat to the decking surface you should leave it to dry for 24 hours. When the stain has fully dried you will be able to see if the shade is correct and decide whether you need to apply a second coat. It may even be that only certain areas of the decking are a little patchy and require some attention.
And that is it; your decking is prepared for the winter months and your hard work will serve to protect the timber from water damage when it is most at risk, which will ultimately extend its lifespan. Another plus being that your decking will be looking great for that first BBQ of the year when we (hopefully) get some unseasonably warm weather in April.
We really hope that you found our decking maintenance tips helpful and that you will benefit from it this winter. However, if you feel that you cannot handle the maintenance your self you can always hire a decking maintenance company.