How to maintain your wooden decking area – a comprehensive guide

Making sure your decking area remains structurally sound and looking great, year after year, doesn’t have to be a laborious task. It is however a small task that you should take on at least once a year. With just an hour or two of your time each year you can maintain a healthy wooden decking area that looks great. I’ll also cover ideas for restoring an old worn deck and make it look like new again.

If your decking area is open to the elements then you may need to do these jobs more regularly as water and hot sunlight can quickly deteriorate and rot wood. If your decking is covered or partially covered like mine then once a year should be fine.

Cleaning your wooden decking area

Keeping your wooden decking area clean is an essential part of maintaining a good look and preserving the wood for as long as possible.

Areas of decking that come into contact with excessive water and sunlight will deteriorate quicker than those that are covered. In the picture above you can see my decking area is partially covered. This works well for us as it provides an area to sit out of the sun or rain, whilst the open section provides an area in the sun and allows the plants in the planter to get watered by the rain. It does however mean that the smaller open section does get dirtier quicker and therefore requires a little more attention for maintenance.

I normally clean this section twice a year and re-apply paint once a year to the whole deck.

To clean I firstly brush off any debris with a broom and then use a strong bristle brush to remove any tougher dirt and loose paint. Consider one of these for this job:

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Roughneck ROU52060 Heavy-Duty Scrub Brush Soft-Grip

Secondly I go over the whole deck with a pressure washer. I’ve been using a Karcher K2 Power Home kit as it has two lances with adjustable power settings. This help prevent damage to the decking when set to a medium power setting.

Once the deck is clean you’ll need to let it dry before moving to the next step. Painting and/or staining. Needless to say it’s best to take on this job when the sun is out.

Painting or staining

We’ve painted our decking area with a decking paint which adds a durable layer on top of the wood. Others may have a natural wood deck which has been oiled. Both area great ways to protect your wooden decking areas and help them last many, many years.

wood decking area

Using oil to protect your deck

Oil is a great way to protect the wood as it penetrates the wood grains and soaks right in. This provides a long lasting protection for the wood and leaves a natural look. There are many different decking oils on the market but here are a couple of my preferences:

Osmo Decking Oil Clear - 2.5 Litre
Cuprinol 5122414 Uv Guard Decking Oil Exterior Woodcare, Natural

Osmo oil tends to be a little more expensive but is by far the better product. You don’t have to spend this much to protect your decking but you will find it lasts longer and provides a better finish. Keep reading below for some more in depth decking oil choices and recommendations.

Choosing the correct oil

Making sure you have the correct decking oil for the job will make a difference to the overall finish and longevity of your wooden deck.

If your deck is located in an area that is subject to long periods of direct sunlight then you will be better off with a darker oil stain. The darker the oil stain, the better the UV protection.

Osmo decking oils come in a number of different shades. Here are a few available on Amazon.

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

You can find a complete selection on their website here: https://osmouk.com/product/decking-oils/#overview

Anti slip decking stain is also available as a second coat. This doesn’t provide any further UV protection for your decking but provides a slip resistant and safer decking surface.

Osmo Anti Slip Decking Oil (430) 2.5L

Painting your decking area

If you chose to paint your wooden decking area then consider a few of these top tips and products. Again, I’m going to list a few of my preferred products but fell free to source your own.

To paint our decking area we used Cuprinol Anti-slip decking paint in a urban slate colour. The finish was a perfect match for the rest of our garden and so far seems to be durable and long lasting. I’ve re-painted it once a year for the last two years and so far it’s proving to be a good product.

decking veranda

I also used the same Cuprinol decking paint on our reclaimed wood boardwalk and it’s done quite well. This boardwalk is more open the the elements and I did use reclaimed wood so I wasn’t surprised that I had to re-apply a coat twice during the year.

boardwalk

As mentioned I have been using a Cuprinol product for my projects as it’s cheaper than the Osmo alternatives. I have always been told that Osmo is a superior product so I’ve listed a few below should you wish to try them out. I will be using one of these on my next build. (We are due to move house shortly where I will be building a new veranda and decking area.)

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

For the ultimate protection you may decide to oil your deck and then paint it. This way you get a penetrating oil and a top layer of paint. Double the protection for a long lasting finish.

How to apply oils and paints to your wooden deck

If you are applying oils to your deck the best and easiest way to do this is with a wide paint brush. If you are covering large areas then you can simplify things further with a pad applicator and long handle. Again, I tend to lean towards the Osmo products but similar products are available as per below.

Osmo Applicator Set for applying Osmo Oils
Osmo Floor Brush - 220mm
Decking Oil Applicator Kit that Includes a Decking Pad, Paint Tray and 120cm Multi-Section Metal Handle − 3 in 1 Decking Applicator Set for Fence, Shed, and Wooden Surfaces
Osmo Aluminium Telescopic Handle for Floor Brushes, Soft-Touch Handle
Osmo Hand Pad Holder
Brushmaster Floor Stain and Varnish Applicator Pad Kit

Restoring worn weathered decking area

If your decking is looking a little tired then refurbishing it may be necessary. How far you go with this will depend on the condition of the current wood.

Firstly, you should check there are no rotten pieces of wood. You may also wish to unscrew a couple of boards to visually inspect the frame underneath before you continue. Check the wood for obvious signs of rot and pull at it with your fingers to make sure it is structurally sound. If it crumbles in your fingers then it’s time to replace it. The last thing you want is for yourself or loved ones falling through the deck and injuring themselves.

If the structure of the frame or boards are too far gone then you’ll need to decide if it’s time to start from scratch or repair rotten areas.

If everything is ok, the first job is to clean the whole deck with a pressure washer. Remove as much dirt and grime as possible.

Let the wood dry and then go over the boards with a sander. This will further clean and restore the wooden boards and may reveal any hidden rot. You could use a belt sander for this but I tend to use an orbital sander. It takes a little long but you will get better control.

Replacing rotten sections

If you find that some of the boards or structure of your decking is rotten then it’s important to replace these with like for like timber. You may find sourcing the exact size timber is a little difficult but with a little hunting you should find the right stuff.

If you local B&Q or Wickes doesn’t stock the same size timbers or decking boards then you’ll need to look for other merchants. You can look in your local area or try eBay as this tends to have a massive selection available for delivery.

Please note that timber has gone up in price recently due to Brexit, the pandemic and other shipping issues.

You should always use decking screws to secure decking boards to the frame.

Build your own decking

If you have found that you current decking is too far gone and you need to start from scratch then take a look at my post of building your own decking. I’ve provided step by step guide to building a raised decking area as well as a deck that sits on a solid surface.

Decking build process

Here is another build I completed with a veranda. Both decking areas are re-painted once a year to re-colour and protect the wood.

decking build process

Here is the finished product with our porcelain tile patio.

veranda decking area

Thanks for reading

I hope you found this information useful. Why not take a look at some of my other DIY home and garden projects.

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