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a homeowner completing decking maintenance on their wooden deck

Garden decking serves many purposes. It’s your suntrap where you relax in the sun, enjoy meals with the family, or host barbecues with friends. Regardless of how you enjoy your decking, you’ll want it to stay in good condition for as long as possible.

It’s also much cheaper to maintain, rather than replace garden decking —makes decking maintenance a priority for sensible owners.

This guide to decking maintenance explains how to care for all types of garden decking. We’ll cover how to care for timber decking and how to keep composite deck boards clean. A few hours of maintenance is all that’s required to keep your garden decking looking its best for years to come.

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  • Cleaning timber decking
  • How to care for composite decking

How to look after garden decking

Our article comparing wood and composite decking found that both types of decking require some level of ongoing care.

Composite decking is more durable and the maintenance mainly revolves around keeping it free of standing water, ice and snow. Wood decking, on the other hand, requires more ongoing care to maintain its condition. We recommend you clean and inspect your wood decking at least once a year.

Wood decking boards have a natural, rustic feel that is difficult for faux materials to compete with. All of our timber decking is made from pressure-treated tanalised timber which is extra resistant to insects and rot. Although tanalised timber decking is durable, just like any other material that is left outdoors, it will deteriorate over time.

As well as the expected wear and tear from repeated use, wood decking is affected by the elements. Warm weather, sunlight, rain, snow and frost can take a toll. As can walking over the same areas and using furniture. The combination of heavy use and changing weather conditions can cause timber deck boards to gradually fade over time.

Treat timber decking with a wood stain or oil

The best way to maintain wood decking and prevent it from fading is to treat it with a wood stain or oil.

We recommend using these types of treatments at least once a year. Keep in mind that the level of protection offered and the directions for use will vary between products. Always read the label and follow specific directions for use.

If you’ve noticed a fungal growth on your timber, you can use a general-purpose garden fungicide to remove it.

It increases the effectiveness of the treatment to give your decking a thorough clean before applying any oil, stain or fungicide.

how to look after decking with a broom

Cleaning timber decking

Timber garden decking can be affected by patches of algae and mildew. Without cleaning, the moisture in algae and moss can damage your decking and affect its appearance.

Removing algae

Algae can build up on damp areas that don’t receive much sunlight. A common place for algae to form is underneath plant pots or shady areas that get wet. To get rid of algae, add a small amount of bleach to a full watering can and then pour over any areas where algae forms. Use a brush to scrub the solution into the affected area. Be sure to rinse away any bleach solution left over with fresh water.

Never use a chlorine-based bleach on timber decking as this will break down the lining, which holds the wood together.

Removing rust stains

Rust marks can appear on timber decking where the wood has been in contact with metal surfaces. This usually occurs when garden furniture, tools or displays are left in contact with decking. A simple commercial rust remover should do the trick – simply scrub the area and then rinse away.

Another option is to paint the underside of any metal furniture, which can prevent rust marks appearing in the first place.

Cleaning a brand-new timber decking

Instead of using multiple solutions, a garden cleaner and reviver can be used to prepare new wooden decking boards in advance of using a decking stain or oil. This cleaner can be used before applying a decking stain or oil, and after applying a stain or oil. This means it is both a cleaning and reviving product that is effective for removing rust stains and spots of algae.

A pressure washer can be used to clean and rinse your decking, but care should be taken to avoid causing damage. Don’t bring the nozzle close to the deck boards, as high pressures can damage wood fibres.

how to care for composite decking

How to care for composite decking

Composite decking is made of a combination of natural wood pulp, resins and recycled fibres. Compared to traditional timber decking boards, composite decking is resistant to insects, rot and warping. Although it requires much less ongoing maintenance, composite decking can deteriorate if it’s not kept free of standing water.

Composite decking maintenance

Although composite decking requires much less ongoing maintenance than timber decking, it does still require some care. Composite decking can fade and the surface can deteriorate when up against the elements.

In the winter months, we advise removing any sitting ice or snow from your decking before it can do any damage. To do this, use a combination of warm water and light de-icing salt or calcium chloride to melt patches of ice. To prevent white marks from appearing where you have used salt or calcium chloride, rinse the decking with a mild washing up liquid and water.

If you do have areas where the colour of your composite deck boards has faded, you can use a touch-up coating. This composite decking paint is also perfect for blending in cut ends and covering marks and other areas of minor damage.

How to clean composite decking

When it comes to cleaning your composite decking, a simple solution of warm water and a mild washing up liquid will remove most dirt. Environmentally-friendly solutions are usually available from DIY stores for those who would prefer them although water and washing up liquid is the cheaper option of the two.

Unlike wood decking where more care needs to be taken, you can safely use a pressure washer to clean composite decking. Avoid going against the grain and clean lengthwise for best results.

More decking tips and advice

Explore our wide range of garden decking, including our range of timber and composite deck boards. You’ll find more decking advice and garden DIY tips on our blog.

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