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A new deck is an attractive feature and an exciting extension of your home. Not only does it make your outside space more useable and appealing, but it also enhances the view from your indoor living space.  Whether it is an extension of your lounge, kitchen or a feature at the end of the garden you probably look at it every day, even if you do not venture outdoors, therefore it is really important to keep it looking good. Regular maintenance of your deck will also increase it’s lifespan.

The weather

New decking timber is usually pressure treated to protect the wood, making it resistant to harsh weather. However, your decking will be exposed all year round meaning it will require treatment to protect it from the elements. In an open, sunny position the wood gradually fades, becomes grey and bleached due to UV rays, and small cracks develop in dry weather; these let in water when it rains.

In shaded situations water may lay on the deck for long periods, especially in winter. This prolonged damp promotes the growth of algae, the timber then becomes green, slimy and slippery. Left untreated; the water penetrates further into the wood and cannot escape, as a result the wood may deteriorate and rot. Green algae can form in wet conditions on any deck in those areas which never really dry out: under pots, heavy furniture and barbecues. This retains water on the surface of the wood for long periods.

Wear and tear

All decking areas get a lot of foot traffic. Attached to the house a deck may be a main thoroughfare to the garden. Whether you have a table and chairs or a couple of sun loungers, furniture gets dragged around on the decking timbers. Pots and containers get watered and moved around. The barbecue may get wheeled out on occasions. All gradually wear the surface of the wood taking off any layer of protection.

Does your deck need treating?

A really good test is to sprinkle a little water or your deck and to see what happens.

Wickes tip The best way to check whether you need to treat your deck is to drip a small amount of water onto it. If the water sits in beads on the decking boards, it does not need treating, but if it soaks into the wood and spreads into the timber as it disappears, your deck does need to be treated.

Keep it looking good

You may not have to maintain your deck every year, but do it regularly and you will keep it looking good. You may wish to preserve the natural colour of the wood, stain it a different colour, or change it to a completely different shade. Non-wood colours can look good, but make sure you choose one that you want to live with for the longer term and one that is appropriate to the surroundings. A deck is a big expanse of colour and looks best when it is in-keeping with its surroundings. Water based wood colours, such as Cuprinol Garden Shades are not suitable for deck treatment. You could use them on rails and balustrades, but not on deck boards. They give inadequate protection and will wear off easily.

Choosing the right treatment

There are various deck treatments to choose from; these have different effects on the colour and finish you will achieve. Decking oil and decking protector are light, oil-like treatments designed to soak into the wood, protect and preserve the original colour. Ronseal Decking Protector is a clear treatment for new decking or decking that is in a good condition and has been well prepared. It is dry within 1.5 hours and gives excellent waterproofing protection. It will enhance the natural colour of the wood but does not change it or colour it.

Some oils have added colour which will not coat the wood but will lightly stain it. For example Ronseal Decking Oil is perfect to apply to maintain the beauty of new decking. It nourishes and protects by penetrating the wood and gives a lightly tinted finish. It gives lasting UV protection and by replenishing the natural oils it prevents water from soaking into the wood causing deterioration. Applied with a brush it dries in 4-6 hours. Decking oil can be used on decking that has been regularly maintained and on any deck that has been stripped and repaired if the timber is good quality and in a good state of repair.

Decking stains are more paint-like and will change the colour of your deck to whatever natural wood shade you desire. If the wood is stripped and cleaned thoroughly you should get good results with any colour. If deck timber is dark from previous treatments a light shade will not be successful in changing the colour. Ronseal Decking Stain colours, protects and waterproofs decking in one application. It is rainproof in just 90 minutes and dry in 4 hours. A range of natural wood colours are available from rustic pine to dark mahogany; all give excellent wear resistance to foot traffic and a scuff resistant finish. No blistering, flaking or peeling means your deck will stay looking good for longer.

Ronseal Decking Rescue Paint is a clever deck treatment, perfect for grey, weathered decking that has lost all of its natural oils. An application smooths down the rough surface and small splinters, fills cracks and gives a new deck finish. Applied with a brush it dries in just 1.5 hours and gives excellent foot traffic and weather protection. It comes in both natural wood shades and some exciting colours including bramble which looks great against grey paving.

Choosing the right colour

Choosing the right colour for your decking can be challenging. However resistant and hard wearing the finish, some colours show dirt and therefore look worn more quickly than others. Dark colours may seem like the best choice, but they often show up footprints more obviously than light colours. They also show scuffs and scratches because the wood beneath is lighter in colour. If in doubt, go for a mid-tone that is not too bright and not too dark.