Wooden Decking specialists - what you need to know
Wood decking can transform your outdoor space – providing a smart, durable and easy-to-maintain surface to enjoy those (hopefully) long summer months. On the face of it, building and installing a deck might look straightforward, but it can be an involved and demanding job. To ensure your deck is fitted securely (and looks great), there’s a tried and tested approach that you’d expect an experienced professional to follow.
Your deck can be laid on an existing patio or another solid base (like tarmac or concrete). If you want to build your deck where there’s turf or soil, you’ll need to add a layer of gravel or aggregate to provide a firm base and lay paving stones on top to help provide additional support for your joists. Decks that need to run alongside a house or wall will need a plate (essentially a piece of timber designed to take the weight of the deck when it meets brickwork). Your wall plate should allow for expansion too.
The next step is the main part of this job – fixing internal joists to create the structure your deck will sit on. Formed using treated timber, internal joists provide the support for your deck and are usually spaced around 400mm apart. Once the joists are laid and a complete frame has been created, deck boards can be fitted. An experienced professional will ensure this is done without the wood splitting, and with the neat finish of countersunk holes to hide screws. Deck boards will usually be spaced around 5mm-8mm apart.
Cost of wood decking
Wood decking jobs are usually priced per square metre (sqm). Unless you’re looking for a specialist decking board (plastic or composites are available, which require less maintenance than standard timber), you can expect to pay:
- £15-£20 per sqm for budget decking
- £40-£60 per sqm for medium-quality decking
- £90-£100 per sqm for premium-quality decking
How to clean wood decking
There are a number of ways to clean your wood decking, and the method you select will depend on whether you want to simply tidy up a grubby surface or prepare it to be stained and treated.
If you have access to a pressure washer, this will be the quickest and easiest way to clean your wood deck. Take care not to use too much pressure on the wood – jet washing can actually chip away and damage it. Either adjust the power, hold the nozzle far enough away from the deck, or use a dedicated decking and paving cleaning head. The latter is usually an additional accessory that clips onto your pressure washer and allows you to apply the correct pressure while cleaning a larger surface area.
Most DIY stores will also stock deck cleaner, a solution which can be painted on to wood to remove dirt, grease and stains.
Finally, the most drastic (and labour intensive) option is sanding the deck. This can be done manually or with a belt sander, but whatever you use make sure you select the right grade of paper. You may need a coarser sand paper for hand sanding and a finer paper if you plan to use a machine. The drawback of sanding is that it won’t be easy to get into the grooves of the deck board. You may be able to use a steel wire brush to clean out those hard-to-access areas.
How to maintain your wood decking
Cleaning and regularly treating your wood deck isn’t only important to help preserve the board. It keeps your deck looking pristine and (most importantly) makes it safe – free from moss and mildew that can cause it to become slippery.
Your main options when it comes to maintaining your decking are oil, stain and paint. Before applying any of these finishes, your deck must be thoroughly cleaned, and any leaves or surface dirt swept away.
Decking oils are easy to apply and offer durable weather protection. Unlike stain and paint, oils won’t crack or peel. If you’d like to retain the natural colour of your deck board, clear oils are available. It’s worth remembering that even clear oils will colour your wood slightly – the same effect as if the wood were wet.
Deck stains and paint provide a tough finish. Besides the broader range of colours and shades you can achieve, both stains and paints offer one main advantage over oils – they are available with a non-slip finish. This slightly textured or gritty effect will keep your deck safe during the wet winter months.
The qualifications your wood decking specialist needs
Your wood decking professional shouldn’t need any specific qualifications. Apprenticeships or City & Guilds qualifications are useful, but experience is the most important criteria to seek out. If your deck is to feature any electrical, heating or plumbing elements (for example, if a shed or log cabin is to sit on or near your deck), you may require your professional to hold NICEIC or Gas Safe registration.
Provided your wood deck is ground level (and not part of a balcony or elevated extension), planning permission won’t be required.
Insurance for wood decking installation
Public liability insurance will be your main ask of a professional – ensuring both you and your property are protected from any damage caused by the work. Your tradesperson may also offer a warranty on their work – it’s worth asking whether this is available.
Questions you should ask your wood decking professional
- Can they show you examples of decking they have installed previously?
- What type of timber would they use for your deck?
- Would they recommend plastic or composite deck board instead?
- Can they also treat the deck with oil, stain or paint as part of their service?