So, you've done some garden DIY and made a beautiful deck where you plan to enjoy many a barbecue and sunny afternoon. Now it might be time to consider doing some deck maintenance before the hot sun does any damage.
One question to consider is whether you want to paint or stain the wood. Here is a list of the pros and cons of each option. Remember that it all comes down to your individual needs.
Painting a deck
Deck paint often has a satin sheen or you can opt for a paint with a semi-gloss. The process of painting is fairly straightforward, however.
First, you need to make sure the deck is thoroughly cleaned.
In order to accomplish this you may want to hire a pressure cleaner and give the wood a good sanding. Once you've done this, remove all the loose nails you spot and replace them with ones a size up.
Fill all holes with high grade putty and make sure you remove the excess so you reduce the amount of sanding you will need to do.
Then apply polyurethane caulk to all the joints and prime all bare areas and puttied spots with an oil-based primer.
Finally, finish the decks with an oil-based finish and the handrails with an acrylic paint.
Paint in high-use areas may wear quicker than oil and will need to be reapplied more often. Perhaps every second year, depending on how many people walk over it.
Staining a deck
The first steps will be the same. It is important to clean the deck and remove any protruding nails.
You may also wish to test the colour of the stain on an inconspicuous piece of deck to determine whether it is the right colour.
Once you are happy with the stain, start with the vertical sections like the rails and posts so that any excess won't drip onto areas you have already stained.
It is important to only do two or three boards at a time and not to stop halfway through a board or else you may develop "lap marks" where you can see the spots you have taken a break.
Stain is absorbed directly into the wood, but it might be best to do several coats, and include areas not directly exposed to the sun as well as those that are.
No matter what you decide, it is best for the wood to have some protection against the elements as without this layer, moisture will be absorbed which can make the wood warp, crack or twist as it expands and contracts.
In the summer, there is a higher level of UV (ultraviolet) radiation from the sun and this can discolour the wood and cause its fibres to break down.