Dust down your garden decking

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DECKING CAN look great in many gardens but it can also become grimy and dirty after the winter months.

The surface of timber decking is exposed to the elements such as sunlight, rain and even snow and frost in the case of southern Spain this year.

This exposure will inevitably lead to the deterioration of the colour of the decking, however, with some simple decking maintenance, the colour can be restored.

It is best to follow the three-stage-process; clean, restore and protect. Here, we talk you through the best ways to clean your decking.

There are several preparations available from DIY stores – go for the brand names, or a reputable DIY store’s own brand. Do not attempt to treat your deck or stain it without firstly cleaning it.

An alternative is to use a weakened solution of TSP (trisodium phosphate) which can be obtained from any good paint shop. Add a little washing-up liquid to ensure a deep penetration. Try a small area first and use as directed on the container.

Do not use any chlorine based bleach, for whilst this will clean your decking of algae and mildew it will also break down the lignin in the timber – which holds the wood together!

A weak solution of citric acid will help to ‘brighten up’ old greyed timbers and offers a non-hazardous way of cleaning your decking.

Hydrogen peroxide – which also has other lightening uses – will do wonders for lightening old timbers and is good for the older darker deck timbers. It evaporates away, leaving no residues.

Most fungal growth can be treated with a general garden fungicide. If you use a combined fungicide/ insecticide to clean your decking, then you can also kill off many ‘hidden’ insect pests lurking under the timber. This treatment does nothing to lighten the wood or to clean it of dirt – simply fungi/ mildew and insects. Whether fungal growth will occur will depend on materials used in the decking construction

A jet washer can be used for cleaning decking but it must not be a heavy duty one. Something smaller than 1500 psi with a wide fan jet will be suitable for most decking cleaning jobs. Anything more powerful will leave the timber with a ‘woolly’ finish, as it will destroy the wood fibres. The result will be a deck that is very difficult – if not impossible – to clean or to treat.

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