Allow us to set the scene for you. You’re lying safe in bed on a winter’s eve, all snuggled up against the cold outside. But then you’re woken by a sound – an eerie creaking, like the weight of someone’s footsteps out on your deck boards outside. You stumble out of bed and rush to the window as the noise rises to a fever pitch. Just as you get there, there’s a loud crack which makes you jump, and the creaking stops. You stare, seeing nobody. Your decking is empty, and only the darkness stares back.
Sound familiar? It does to a lot of decking owners, especially now we’re in the spooky season, and the chilliest of winter nights draw in. Now, as the experts here at Savoy Timber, we can say with confidence that there are a couple of possible explanations for this sort of occurrence. The first, obviously, is that it’s a ghost. But if you’ll bear with us, we’d argue that the second is rather more likely.
Now, it’s common knowledge that things tend to shrink in the cold. There’s a fair bit of science behind it, to do with molecules and stuff, but we won’t get into all that. The important bit is that the same is true for the materials in your decking, especially if you’ve got wooden decking boards.
Wood tends to contract and expand according to the temperature. When this happens, it doesn’t always do so in sync with the nails or screws that hold it together. So when you’ve got some materials in your deck moving, and others staying static, that tends to build up friction and pressure between them. This can result in a loud creaking, and ultimately a crack, or ‘pop’. (This creaking noise can also be produced if your decking boards are expanding and rubbing up against one another.)
Trapped moisture can also be a major cause, especially in freezing weather not long after it’s been raining. Basically, what can happen is that rainwater seeps into your deck, freezes, and expands, which can again result in a loud cracking sound when it shatters. If you’ve ever accidentally left a beer bottle to chill too long in the freezer, you’ll already be familiar with the general principle!
The more dramatic the temperature shift, the more severe the effect, so if you experience something like this then it’s likely to be in snowy or otherwise freezing temperatures.
It’s unlikely to be doing it any favours, as such, but don’t worry. While unsettling, it’s probably not going to result in permanent damage to your decking. Composite decking boards and their timber counterparts are designed to stand up to this kind of occurrence, so you shouldn’t need to worry about them being damaged.
However, if it’s something that’s still unnerving you a bit, it can help to make a quick once-over of your decking, and see if there are any visual signs of damage. And to keep your decking safe throughout winter and beyond, don’t forget to look after it throughout the rainy, chillier months too! Lots of deck owners can understandably neglect care of their deck during winter as it’s rarely in use, but in fact this is the time when it needs the most care and attention. Otherwise, things like moss or rot can start to affect your decking boards, which can make them slippery or unstable.
We’ve previously talked about how to stop decking from becoming slippery, so don’t hesitate to check it out if you need some pointers. And if you’re looking for replacement decking boards, you’re in exactly the right place. Here at Savoy Timber we stock a huge range of timber decking and composite decking products, making us your one-stop shop for everything you need to keep your decking shipshape. If you fancy browsing our products for yourself, feel free to pay a visit to our DIY stores in Blackpool, Preston or Wigan, and if you’ve got any questions or need any advice then one of our friendly members of staff will be only too happy to assist!