Regular maintenance, preferably in the spring and then autumn, is not only recommended but is essential if you want to prevent algae and mould from forming an unsightly and slippery surface, and your decking from losing its colour while developing a tired appearance.
Maintaining decking requires some effort, formerly known a elbow grease, but help is at hand from a variety of treatments that are designed to perform different tasks whether this is to initially protect the timber from deterioration or, at the other end of the scale, restoring the decking to its former glory.
Nowadays most commercially available decking boards from recognized suppliers will be pressure treated with a preservative, so that is one problem solved as this wood will normally carry a 15 year guarantee against rot, fungal decay and insect attack.
But this doesn't mean that the wood can be left for the next decade and a half without attention, and an annual application of water repellent sealer is recommended as, although the timber might be protected against rot, any water ingress could cause warping and other problems.
Additionally, many people will want to paint and stain their decking either to protect it from the long term effects of wear, tear and weathering, or to create a more contemporary appearance.
Preparing newly laid decking for painting, staining or the application of a preservative requires little effort other than ensuring the surface is free from any dirt and debris. However, decking that has been in place for some time will require more effort as algae and mould will no doubt be present and, if the timber has been previously treated, the surface will be flaky with bits of the old paint peeling off.
This might not be a pretty sight but can be rectified fairly easily and a pressure washer will come in particularly handy to remove dirt, algae, flakes of paint and any other detritus that can build up on the decking over a surprisingly short space of time.
If you haven't access to a pressure washer, a stiff brush or sander and a broom will be required, and any paint that is still present may demand the use of paint stripper and a scraper. A decking cleaner is also a reliable ally as this will remove dirt from deep in the wood and some contain fungicide that will help prevent prevent algae from reappearing.
To neutralize any cleaning agent and revive the colour of your wood, a 'reviver' or brightener is needed. This will lower the wood's pH, lighten its appearance as well as opening the pores to allow the subsequent application of stain or preservative to penetrate deeper into the wood.
If the decking is to be painted, you'll find a good choice of quick drying paint in DIY stores from well known brands in various shades. The paint can be applied with a roller, brush, pad or spray after the wood is thoroughly cleaned and prepared.
Regular pressure washing will keep algae at bay, and combined with a cleaner, reviver and preservative will maintain your decking's pristine condition and maximize its life span well into the future.