If wood is allowed to weather naturally, maintenance will simply consist of a quick clean twice a year. Cleaning is essential to prevent any mould developing on your decking that, among other things, will make it slippery. Clean your decking using a brush with very firm bristles and water. If you want to use a high-pressure cleaner, leave at least a 50 cm gap between the jet and the wood, with a reduced pressure setting to prevent the wood from pulping.
If you would like your wood to keep its colour, an additional treatment is required: you must open the pores of the wood to remove the grey from the uppermost layer to be able to apply a saturator. Ideal for lightening, cleaning, regenerating and removing grey shades from outside woods, this treatment completely removes mosses, algae, fungi and other growths.
Once a year, at the end of winter and after cleaning your decking, apply two coats of this treatment. It offers long-lasting protection with preventive action against the appearance of blue shades and mould. It acts like an umbrella: water beads together and runs off, leaving the surface of the base dry. The wood can breathe, thanks to its open pores, and retain its natural appearance. Patches of darkness and moisture on the surface are strongly reduced, leaving the surface with a uniform shade.
Precautions to take
Before looking for a product that can protect your outside wood, you must firstly respect certain basic rules to ensure it remains in good condition for a long time.
In the first instance, make sure no water is left standing after contact. With decking, for example, you should include a gentle slope (3%) to allow water to run off. Secondly, wood in direct contact with the ground is naturally more exposed, so the variety, and thus the resistance, of the wood must be chosen accordingly.
Maintaining the wood depends for the most part on its variety.
As an example, woods like oak or chestnut owe their resistance to their high tannin content. Rain gradually washes away this natural protection, so these varieties still require protection on their surface: a mix made from linseed oil and a little turpentine also prevents water from penetrating the surface, slowing down the speed at which the wood greys.
The frequency of maintenance and the service life of your decking are, for the most part, linked to the resistance of the wood used and the initial treatments it undergoes. For the boards, rot-proof (class 4) woods are generally chosen, whether they are rot-proof naturally, as with exotic woods (Teak, Ipe, Cumaru, etc) and some composite woods, or by treatment, such as European woods like Pine.
If you want to prevent your wood from becoming grey, you should apply protection to your decking (with a linseed oil base, among others), but be aware that woods take on a more or less pronounced grey hue according to the chosen wood species. This is due to the alternation of UV rays and rain. You must apply protection as soon as the wood is laid (one or two layers), then, depending on the variety, more or less regularly (once or twice a year is sufficient in most cases).
Some maintenance products are tinted, allowing you to achieve a relatively light wood.
If the “damage” has already been done, so-called “brighteners” are available to restore the original colour to your wood. A simpler, 100% environmentally-friendly solution to brighten decking is to use sodium percarbonate: a natural brightener made from soda and oxygenated water (ensure you use protection during application). Simply mix one part percarbonate (generally available as a powder) with ten parts warm water, and apply the mixture on the decking with a scrubbing brush. After leaving for around 15 minutes, simply rinse thoroughly with cold water.
Finally, to strengthen a brightener’s performance, a saturator can also be applied to bring out the pigments of the wood. Please be aware that these solutions are only temporary, and you will have to repeat the maintenance regularly to preserve the original colour of your decking.
Cleaning wooden decking
For outdoor woods, we recommend meticulously cleaning your wood once or twice a year to prevent slipperiness caused by mould growth, fungi and other deposits from pollution.
You can carry out cleaning manually (using a scrubbing brush), or possibly with a pressure cleaner, which are not recommended, however, because they can damage the wood and undermine its natural resistance. Nevertheless, should you so choose, reduce the machine’s pressure and keep the jet at least 80cm away from the wood. If the wood begins to splinter, remove the damaged fibres and sand the surface down. As for the spaces between the deck planks, use a spatula or a metal blade to make sure that water can run through and does not stand in the grooves.
Maintaining decking in composite wood is even easier. Simply wash with soap and warm water to give your deck its shine back. You should still clean in the direction of the planks.