Q: With the recent good weather we have been out on our small garden deck most evenings. I have noticed that it is beginning to show signs of wear and tear – with some rotten planks and discoloured areas appearing. Can you give me some advice on how to maintain decking and to prevent this in the future? Thanks, Chris, Galway.
A: As I write from the confines of my office on the warmest day of the year so far, I am filled with envy at the thought of you out relaxing outdoors on your sunny garden deck! No doubt many families across the country are realising the very same benefits that decking provides at the moment – and long may it continue!
However, as relaxing as it may be right now, it is important to keep up to date with the maintenance of your decking to ensure that it lasts the course and doesn’t need to be replaced before its time. As with all natural wood products, decking will naturally wear over the years from the elements – with the addition of heavy garden furniture, BBQ’s and footfall this greatly accelerating its decline.
For this reason it is important to check and maintain your decking at least once a year. The following provides some pointers on how to check the ‘health’ of your garden decking and address the most common issues that occur with it:
Check for loose fixings
Most decks are held in place using screws, bolts or nails
– or a combination of all three. A quick survey will reveal which fixings are coming loose, which if left unattended, could result in widespread damage to your deck. In order to prevent this, hammer in loose nails and replace loose screws. For replacement screws, consider using a slightly wider screw to improve purchase.
Check and replace decking boards
The boards of your deck are essentially wooden planks and are prone to warping, splitting, rot and other types of stress if not maintained properly. Every year you need to check each board for these issues and replace any affected boards without quibble. If you are not up to the task please hire a qualified carpenter to do this on www.onlinetradesmen.ie
To replace a board, simply measure its dimensions and hike down to your local builders providers to buy as close a replacement as possible. If it is untreated wood, you will likely need to stain
it to match the existing decking colour, but more on that later. Pop on a pair of protective gloves and remove the affected board using a nail puller (if nailed on) or a screwdriver – you can buy all these tools and the relevant fixings in your local hardware store or online at www.handyhardware.ie. Using a saw, cut the replacement board and fit it into the space. If you are happy with the fit and look of the replacement board, screw the board into place. Screws are always preferable for decking as they are more forgiving for the inevitable movement that will occur on the decking over time.
Check your decking supports
Strong foundations are vital to the longevity of your deck. These supports allow your decking to ‘float’ over the ground – but also create a great haven for insects and small animals that can damage your decking. For this reason it is important to look underneath your deck with a good torch and check for signs of damage such as chewing, infestation etc. Depending on what you find you may need to replace some of the supports or take preventative measures to prevent the culprits from re-offending.
Keep it clean
Inevitably over time your deck will accumulate quite a collection of mud, mould and mildew. While doing nothing for your deck aesthetically, these invaders also have the potential to damage your deck. For this reason you should wash your deck frequently. A pressure washer is best for this job – with Nilfisk and Karcher pressure washers providing purpose built decking accessories. Both are available online on www.handyhardware.ie
Keep it sealed.
Although it doesn’t feel like it now, the Irish climate can be particularly harsh on decking. To negate the results of the Irish weather it is important that you reseal or retain your deck every 12 months. A number of decking treatment manufacturers such as Cuprinol
provide easily applied stains and varnishes for exactly this purpose. To apply these treatments, make sure you have cleaned your deck as above, then follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter – including removing existing treatments, sanding back the deck and applying multiple coats to the entire decking area. If this all seems too much like hard work, get the experts in.
If you follow all of the above, I have no doubt that you will be enjoying evenings out on your deck long after the current heat wave has ended!
For more information on this please contact us on www.onlinetradesmen.ie or email propertypro[email protected]
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