There is no doubt about it - wood decks make great outdoor living spaces. Decks are versatile – they can be a stylish entertainment space, a safe surface upon which children can play, and create an attractive focal point in any garden. Despite the many advantages of wood decks, some people are put off the idea because they think the wood will become a slippery surface when it's wet. No-one wants a dangerous and unusable space on their doorstep.
It's time to dispel this myth - wood decking won't become slippery when wet unless mould, algae or moss is present on the surface. The good news is that it's easy to prevent this from happening, and its easily fixable if it does.
Non-coated decking will absorb more moisture and retain it for longer. Wood staying wet for long periods can facilitate mould, algae and moss growth. Moisture retention is a particular problem for decks that don't get much sun, for example, if they are shaded by trees or in north-facing gardens.
Seal out excess moisture by applying a coating. When it rains, the water will run off, draining down the gaps between the deck boards, and the surface will dry relatively quickly. Note that you don't want to seal out moisture entirely - the wood needs to breathe and adapt to the humidity in the surrounding air.
Ideally, deck boards should be coated on all sides before installation, as moisture will be absorbed from underneath too. Factory coating is the best option as the application is undertaken in a controlled environment with the correct amount of coating applied. It is also advantageous for the coating to be applied before the wood is exposed to the weather.
Coatings can also prevent dirt from becoming ingrained in the wood. A coated deck surface is easy to sweep free of debris, hose down, and even mop if necessary.
Wood deck surfaces, and indeed other outdoor surfaces such as stone flags, become slippery due to the combination of moisture and decaying organic matter. By sweeping debris like fallen leaves and dirt off your deck, you'll significantly reduce surface growth.
Water runs off coated decking far quicker than non-coated, and because it dries quickly, you can be back enjoying your outside space sooner.
Don't neglect your deck - give a clean occasionally. Use a specialist deck cleaning product such as Sansin Multi-Wash. This biodegradable cleaner can be diluted up to 12:1 and will remove mildew, mould, algae, dirt, and other contaminants. Brush it on, leave it to do its work for a few minutes, then rinse it off with a hose or pressure washer and watch your deck come clean.
You can use a pressure washer, but you need to be careful not to damage the wood surface. Only use on low pressure (maximum 500psi). Direct the pressure washer wand with the grain of the wood, don't get too close, and don't stop the wand on the wood as this may mark the surface. Keep it continually moving in a broad sweeping action.
We would recommend that you avoid grooved decking. It is often sold as "anti-slip," and some say the grooves are there to channel water away. This is nonsensical – all the grooves serve to do is trap dirt, organic matter, and water, which facilitates mould, algae, and moss growth. There are other reasons to avoid grooved decking too – it is more challenging to maintain, and it's not as pleasant to walk, sit or play on as smooth decking. It is also less aesthetically appealing.
You may wish to remove snow from your deck. If it's light snow, you can brush it off, but you'll need a shovel to remove heavier snow. Always use a plastic snow shovel, as you can damage the wood with a metal one. Shovel parallel to the deck boards and remove ice with a natural, non-corrosive ice melt product. Check it is suitable for wood decks and don't use rock salt on a wood deck.