Outdoor Maintenance 101
How much did it cost you to have your wooden deck made?
Quality decking is not cheap. In fact, it can cost from about $4000 to $10,000. Obviously, it can be a lot more expensive too, depending on the size and materials.
If you have beautiful wood decking, you are wise to try to keep it looking new. It is an investment and it will add value to your property. Not only that, a wooden deck is a social area in the home that you will want to use year after year.
Just because it is made from wood does not mean it is bound to deteriorate and that you must accept that. Wood is hard wearing and long lasting if it is well maintained.
So, the real question is, what must you do to keep your wooden decking looking brand new? It is not that difficult but you must know what you are doing. Find out here.
Science of Rot
There are a lot of misunderstandings about wood and how it rots. You will benefit from learning the basic science of what causes wood to break down and decay.
There are 4 things that wood needs in order to decay. They are:
- Food (wood)
- Temperature (40F-105F)
If one of the conditions above is missing, then the wood will not decay. To illustrate, wood can be too waterlogged to rot. If wood becomes completely saturated or submerged in water it may not allow a place for oxygen to enter the wood.
Fungi that grow and feed on the wood need oxygen to survive. If there is no oxygen then that process cannot occur. No oxygen, no rot.
You may hear some people talk about dry rot. There is no such thing. Water is always required for decay as described above.
It is more likely that moisture has been present and led to decay but by the time it is discovered the moisture has evaporated. This means the source of moisture was intermittent or only temporary.
Science of Maintenance
It is clear if you know the conditions needed to promote wood breakdown and decay, the science of maintenance is aimed at removing one or all of the contributing conditions.
Keep Moisture Out
One of the most effective things you can do is to protect your wood from moisture right at the start. So when your decking is being installed, you need to make sure the wood is sealed using a high-quality sealant. This will stop the wood from absorbing moisture.
An easy way to test whether the sealant is still working well is to spray some water and watch whether the water appears to absorb into the decking or if it beads up. If you can see beading the sealant is still doing its job. If not you will need to re-seal your decking.
Allow Your Deck to Breathe
Ironically, once your deck is sealed one of the best ways to protect the wood is to make sure there is good airflow underneath the deck. Without any fungi on the wood, the increased airflow will not feed decay, instead, it will help keep the wood dry.
Once again, it is important to get this right from the start. That said, it is easy to forget and start planting or putting large pots around the deck area. This is ok, as long as you remember the principle of airflow.
If you block the flow of air under the deck you will increase the likelihood of promoting damp areas. Over time this will affect the sealant in certain places and may lead to moisture getting into the wood.
Keep It Clean
One of the most basic principles of maintenance for almost everything is to keep it clean. This is true for your patio pavers and wooden deck as well. The decking can attract dead leaves and twigs and anything else that is blowing around your garden.
You can also end up with mud and dirt being trodden into the deck. If the deck is not regularly swept or cleaned it can lead to unsightly stains on the wood and discoloration. Occasionally it is good to power wash your deck to make sure it is free from dirt and then re-seal.
Crack Out the Wood Filler
Depending on where you live and the extremes of weather that your deck is exposed to the wood will naturally expand and contract accordingly. This can sometimes lead to cracks.
Cracks can start small and get bigger. Yet, the real issue is that those cracks become an open door to moisture and the elements to get into the wood and cause decay. Don’t let that happen.
Make sure you inspect your decking regularly and where you see cracks fill them in using a wood filler and then seal again. Do not delay. This is a job you want to get onto straight away.
Get Your Wooden Deck Ready for Winter
Depending on where you live, winter will bring lots of snow. Before the winter starts, make sure your deck is clean and that there is nothing hindering good drainage from the wooden deck.
If you have a heavy snowfall try to remove as much snow as is practical from the deck so that it does not warp under the pressure and weight.
In this article, you have read about some basic but essential maintenance activities to keep your wooden deck looking like new. When the season comes and you want to be out on your deck, you will know it was worth all the effort to maintain it.
That said, it is a busy life and sometimes making time for everything seems impossible. Do you need help with cleaning your deck? Check out our services here.