There is already a crispness in the air and you can feel that the cold, dark and probably wet months are already making an appearance. This is a good opportunity to start thinking about that general outdoor tidy up and preparing your garden decking for those long winter nights. Decking can become rather slippery and will start to rot over time if it’s not properly cared for so preparing and protecting it now will ensure the longevity of your outdoor living space.

Clear & Clean

Maintenance is key and cleaning your decking is vital in order to extend its life. Firstly you should look to sweep away any fallen leaves and debris. They often hold moisture which can, over time, penetrate into the timber and cause it to rot. Moss and algae are common inhibitors and can lead to the growth of mould, which loves damp environments.

You should use a stiff brush (but not one with metal bristles) to scrub away any residue that may be on your decking. This includes any grease or grime that may have been spilt during the summer BBQ season. You can use an external cleaning product to get deep down and remove any stubborn stains. Finally, hose your decking off with clean water to remove any contaminants that may be lingering. Allow your decking to dry thoroughly for 2 days before using it again or treating it. This cleaning routine should be carried out at least twice a year in order to maintain your decking.

Repair Any Damage

Restoring any damages that may have occurred is vital.  Minor damage doesn't mean that your decking has to be disposed of and can usually be easily repaired.  Any cracks or breaks in the timber that are left over winter, could result in further damage to the rest of your decking.  The rain could get in and cause the wood to break, bend and become weak.  The best thing to do is replace any vulnerable deck boards or supports with new ones.

Apply Protection

Using a restorer is a great way to offer extra protection if your decking is suffering from rot. This can be applied using a brush to the affected areas and should be used prior to any decking stains or varnishes. Sealing and protecting is the best way to protect your decking from the elements. A protective finish will prevent moisture damage and protect your deck from splitting, cracking and warping. Remember, wood treatments will only work if the timber is clean and dry.

Additional Tips

  • Remove pots and planters from your decking over winter to prevent water stains caused by the rain.
  • Treatments can become worn and break down after a certain amount of time.  In this instance, sand it off and reapply as necessary.
  • Check the drying times of the products you apply, they often require a set amount of time in between applications.
  • All wood stains and protectors will require replenishing.  Check the directions on the label to see how often this needs to be carried out.  Remember they will need adequate time to dry out before bad weather.

Taking steps to boost your decking's defence against the elements is a long term commitment and takes time.  When carried out correctly, the results are rewarding and will ensure the longevity of your deck.  Always keep an eye out for potential problems and try to correct them as soon as possible to prevent any long term and irreversible damage.