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It’s likely that your decking area is a particular point of pride, as it is for many of our customers. After all, it takes a fair amount of effort and planning to install, so you’ll always want to keep it looking nice. By it’s very nature though, it’s often exposed to a lot of issues, so we’ve compiled some handy hints and tips to help you keep softwood decking looking its best.
Of course, prevention is always better than cure, and in order to prevent the problems with your decking it’s useful to understand the causes. As your decking is constantly exposed to the elements, there are a couple of different issues that can develop with it, and some may require different approaches than others. For example, atmospheric dust particles can cause it to become grey or dirty – especially during or shortly after winter – and moss or algae can develop on its surface, especially under shaded areas. Growths like algae can even make your decking unsafe, as it becomes a slipping hazard. Overhanging trees can also deposit debris on it (as can passing birds!). There’s little you can do about the birds, but trimming the overhead hedges or trees, sweeping your deck regularly and hosing it down when dirt accumulates are good measures to take. They won’t prevent every issue, but they can certainly slow down the developments. A good note here: if you’re using a jet wash, make sure that it’s not too heavy duty. Anything more powerful than a wide jet on 1500 psi stands a decent chance of destroying the wood fibres, degrading the quality and aesthetics of your decking.
If sweeping and hosing aren’t quite doing the job, or they’ve reached their limits as appropriate measures, there are slightly more stringent steps you can take. A weak solution of TSP (trisodium phosphate) is great for the next step up, and can be further strengthened with a conservative dash of washing up liquid. Take a moment to try it out on a discreet corner first, though, before you liberally apply it to the whole of your decking. Definitely don’t use chlorine based bleach – it can clear mildew and algae fine, but it’s equally capable of breaking down the lining in the deck timber, which is not something you want!
Remember, softwood decking is basically made up of a massive honeycomb of minute cells. The spaces in these cells can be filled up with equally minute particles such as dust, and because the boards in your decking are horizontal, dust particles can’t be as easily washed off as they can on upright structures like fencing. Once the deck is clean, though, you can apply a few coats of decking oil. It’s a special treatment and preserver that basically works by filling this honeycomb network with other particles instead, preventing dust from penetrating it so easily and preserving the colour of your decking for longer. Ideally, decking oil should be applied in two coats with a soft-haired paintbrush; a gentle touch is always the key when dealing with softwood decking.
There are more drastic measures you can take, but if you follow these basic steps and tackle problems as soon as they arise, you shouldn’t have too much difficulty keeping your decking clean and vibrant. If you need any help or advice, feel free to pop into one of our local stores. We’ve got sites in Preston, Wigan and Blackpool, and our staff are always on hand to help!
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