Your new deck is finally finished and it looks great, but before you get the family around to show off your new deck, STOP! You must read this because there are a few things you need to know before you can truly enjoy it!
After months of waiting, planning and construction work, your timber deck is completed and looks amazing. But before you get too excited and celebrate, you need to ensure that you follow timber decking maintenance procedures to the T. Your new entertaining area is far too expensive to treat with such disregard and repair costs could be costly if proper care is not taken. Before using or oiling a new deck, there are a few things you need to know.
Your timber deck is installed, now what?
There are several styles and material that create the perfect entertaining area. Depending on your chosen preference you may have an open air, uncovered or partially covered deck. Each of these look great and suit different people, their style of home and of course, their needs.
There are also several timber options available for new and restored decks so there is a hardwearing timber to suit everyone. The most commonly used ones are discussed here.
1. Choosing the right timber for your deck
Merbau – This was once the most popular choice of timber for decking and its high durability rating of 2 keeps it among the top contenders. Consumers like Merbau because it is less expensive than many other timbers and is also insect and rot resistant.
Jarrah – Jarrah is known for its beautiful colours that range from light browns to very dark reds. It is a popular choice for homeowners who want nothing but the best because that is exactly what Jarrah offers. Jarrah not only looks exquisite, it is a hardwearing, fire-resistant timber with a durability rating of 2, which makes it ideal for fire prone areas.
Ironbark – As the name suggests, Ironbark is high density and heavy which is why it has a durability rating of 1. This timber is known for outlasting other timbers which is another reason it is a popular choice for decking. Unfortunately being so dense also means it can be very difficult to work with.
The striking light brown to deep red colour range, in addition to being fire, rot and termite resistant make Ironbark the perfect option for pool decking.
Treated pine – growing in popularity treated pine is one of the cheapest timber decking options and yet still looks amazing. This timber offers benefits for the budget-conscious which includes taking to stain and paint well. This ultimately allows you to select whatever colour you want your deck to be.
2. Weathering your deck
Knowing whether or not you should weather your deck has become a question many people are confused about, particularly new DIYers. There is a wealth of conflicting information which doesn’t determine one way or another which is best.
So what should you do? Leave your deck to weather or oil it straightaway? The professionals say that you should leave it exposed for three to six months as this will give the timber time for the tannins to leach, which will prevent staining caused by extractive runoff when you oil it. Tropical woods such as Merbau are prone to excessive leaching which is why the weathering process is so important. During these ‘weathering’ months your deck should receive a good mix of sun and rain or water so the tannins can properly leach out of the wood.
Others disagree with the professionals and believe that skipping the weathering process has zero negative effects. They claim they can speed up the process by giving their deck a good clean down with Sodium Percarbonate (found in Napisan and similar laundry products). Before considering this as an option, please speak to your deck installer for their professional opinion on how this could work or affect the specific wood you have used.
3. Cleaning your deck
Your deck has now been weathered and it is time to start cleaning and prepping it to be oiled. Follow the directions on your deck cleaner to ensure your dilution is correct and apply to your deck just as you would if you were ‘wet mopping’ your floors. After you let it sit for the directed amount of time (usually around 15 minutes), pour additional cleaner over the timber and with your stiff-bristled decking brush scrub in smooth motions with the grain. This will bring a lot of dirt, oil and tannins up to the surface.
Hose your deck thoroughly and let it sit for a few days. Once the deck has dried, lightly sand your deck to ensure it is smooth and vacuum or sweep up the additional dust.
4. Choose the right oil
There are two kinds of deck oil, water based and non-water based. Many deck oils are manufactured with UV blockers to assist in minimising damage caused by the sun, most are also resistant to fungus and mould. Speak to your timber specialist on what is the right type of decking oil for your wood.
5. Ensure the weather is perfect
Oiling a new deck requires drying time which means you need to time this task with the perfect weather. You need sun and warmth throughout the drying time as rain or dew could result in the oil and water forming a skin. This is not ideal and will only create additional work for you.
Your deck is a high traffic area that will receive a lot of abuse and while you may just be keen to get in and finish your entertaining area, you need to take your time and do it right. Due to the nature of the outdoor area, your deck will have continued exposure to the weather, which will be evident by the wear and tear if you do not implement these tips. Oiling a new deck doesn’t have to be hard but it does have to be done right!