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Time to maintain your deck

Winter (if it's dry) is the perfect time to get outdoors and restore your deck for the year ahead.


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I installed a small deck in my garden about 10 years ago. Originally, it was a great idea and added so much to my outdoor space. However, the amount of time I spend maintaining and restoring the deck really makes me wonder whether it's worth it.

The amount of time and money that goes into owning a finished deck is quite substantial when you look at the price of the products you need every year to complete the task, and I'm thinking of stripping back the finish and letting my deck age naturally. If you're in the same frame of mind, let's take a look at how to care for and maintain a deck.





Stripping back

First and foremost you will need to strip the deck of any finish and restore any areas where there are signs of wear or rot. You might even find that some of the wood planks need to be replaced - and I have quite a few that have split in certain spots and have to be removed.

On my deck, the sides of the deck planks have started to raise due to moisture being absorbed along the slots used for mounting the deck. It is necessary to sand this flat to remove the 'wavy' surface.

If your deck planks are still smooth, then it's just a matter of removing the finish to reveal the natural wood below. Start off with an 80- or 120-grit sandpaper, depending on how many layers of sealer there are on the surface. There shouldn't be more than 3 coats and this can be removed with 120-grit.

GOOD TO KNOW: You don't want to sand too aggressively and remove too much surface wood, as this will reduce the thickness and weaken the deck planks. This is important if you are going to be sanding using a belt sander, which removes a lot of surface wood very quickly.

Cleaning a deck

If your deck is unfinished and just looks dirty or grubby, you can use a power washer to clean off the grime. Use a fan attachment on the end of your power washer, as this will provide enough power to wash away grime without damaging the wood fibres.

GOOD TO KNOW: Don't hold the power washer too close to the surface of the wood, as this will raise the wood fibres and damage the surface.

If there are signs of rot or stains on your deck, there are several brands of wood reviver that you can buy at your local Builders store to fix this problem. These products remove stains and restore the wood, but where extensive rot has taken hold it's far better to remove and replace.

With the finish removed, my deck can now age naturally and I can spend more time relaxing in the garden - on the deck - during the summer.



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