Prepare your timber deck for summer in 4 easy steps

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Applying protective varnish to a timber deck

Summer can be pretty tough on your timber deck, not just because you’re using it more often, but also because it’s exposed to harsh sunlight for about four extra hours a day. Which means now is the perfect time to get your timber deck prepared for the summer months, and it doesn’t have to be chore if you follow these 4 easy steps.

1. Give your deck a good clean

Before you do anything more extensive, give your deck a thorough clean, as this is an excellent way to find out what else you might need to do in the way of maintenance.

Firstly, clear your deck of furniture and pot plants and give the whole area a sweep, removing the build-up of dirt, cobwebs and leaves. Next, visit your local hardware store and purchase a commercial deck-cleaning product, as these are specifically designed to tackle stains on timber and provide it with some extra protection. If you’re unsure what to use, talk to a staff member, as they’ll be able to recommend the best product for the type of timber and the kinds of stains you’re dealing with.

As with any commercial product, follow the instructions closely when mixing and protect your hands with gloves. Apply the cleaner with a long-handled deck scrub or an outdoor broom, gently scrubbing stained areas. Leave the mixture on for the time specified in the instructions and then rinse with a hose. Allow your deck to dry completely before proceeding with repairs, sanding, oiling or staining.

2. Check for repairs

Once your deck is squeaky clean you’ll be able to see if any repairs are needed. Check for rough patches, raised nails and loose boards, rails or slats. If you’re confident in your abilities as a handy-man, make the necessary repairs yourself. But if you find any serious structural issues, such as rotting boards that need replacing, it’s always best to consult a professional. This might also be the moment you decide that your timber deck needs to be sanded and re-stained.

3. Sand, oil & stain

How regularly you sand, oil or stain your deck very much depends on the type of timber it’s made from, the climactic conditions where you live, and the strength of the timber finish you’re using. Generally, it’s recommended that you oil a new deck every month for six months, then once every six months after that. If using a stain, a new deck should be re-coated every six months for the first two times, then once a year after that, but this schedule can vary if you live in harsh conditions. Before you oil or stain your deck, check with your local hardware store that you’ve got the right product and colour.

As above, always follow the instructions regarding application, and allow your deck to dry completely before walking on it or replacing any furniture. Sanding is usually only necessary if you’ve neglected your maintenance schedule or you’ve inherited an old deck that needs renovating. If you are sanding, use an orbital sander and, when it comes to the finish, always use a good quality oil, stain or sealant that is designed for the type of timber and the conditions your deck is exposed to. If you’re uncertain about what your deck needs to return to its former sheen, consult one of the experts at your local hardware store.

4. Decorate & … relax!

Once your cleaned, oiled and/or stained deck is dry, replace the furniture, pot plants and BBQ. See this as a good chance to freshen up your outdoor space for the festive season. Get rid of those bits and pieces that have seen better days and source some new furniture. This doesn’t have to be expensive, as there is a whole range of websites where you’ll find quality secondhand outdoor furniture, and a lot of the time it’s being offered for free.

You might even want to try your hand at making your own outdoor furniture, which is not as hard as it sounds. Have a look at Seymour’s selection of DIY catalogues for inspiration, particularly this guide on how to make an outdoor table and chairs.

Finally, make a cup of tea or an ice cold drink and sit back and enjoy your deck, relaxing in the knowledge that it will now withstand whatever the summer has to throw at it.

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