Decking clean up

Aug 10, 2016

If I was going to have decking installed now I would select plastic composite boards – no maintenance! Of course, as I don’t have those, periodically (annually) the boards need to be washed and recoated. The decking gets very slippery due I think to algae(?) build up. When frosty earlier in the year, the surface was like an ice rink. There are a vast array of decking cleaning, preserving and staining products. I plumped for Ronseal Decking Restorer which is supposed to convert grey boards to gleaming golden boards. Right.

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I had previously power-washed the decking to try to mechanically remove the green-stuff. I liberally applied the Ronseal and left for 15 minutes then scrubbed with an old-skool bristle broom (I read the instructions!). The chemical seemed to be a mix between a gel and a detergent, lifting the green goo from the surface of the boards. I used about 200 litres of water from one water butt to wash off the gel and the surface crud that has been lifted. The run off all went to the hard core foundation so won’t poison the soil (I hope).

Well, the boards seem cleaner after this scrubbing and the decking oil is to follow. I have given the shed wall boards a quick coat of exterior wood preservative which had quite a VOC wiff about it, so a good thing this was an outdoor job.

I have also given the lounge floor another coat of varnish. The first coat had dulled badly but I hope this was due to fine dust. I brushed the boards then wiped with an old rag dipped in white spirit and so far the finish seems smart. Up close there is a bit of fine dust in the varnish but not enough to be noticeable.

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I am undecided about the merits of “satin” versus “high gloss” finish. From the photo this is “satin” exterior just applied and if it stays like this I will be happy. Most of this will be covered by furniture and rugs (so what was all the work for?) but I want to improve the durability of the fantastically soft pine. I am guessing modern pine is grown so quickly it is incredibly soft – but maybe that is the intrinsic nature of the wood. I chose exterior varnish because it is supposed to be durable and resist cracking. Time will most definitely tell. This varnish had a VOC level at the upper limit of EU standards. Now I know that VOCs are a “bad thing” (they kill otters or something) but I have found any water-based paint or finish is nowhere near as durable, nor applies as evenly, as a material that has been dissolved in some noxious organic solvent. I varnished the floor first thing in the morning and have left the windows wide open during the day – but even my poor sense of smell knows there has been a bit of solvent knocking around downstairs today.

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