In this note, The Deck Contractor will try to clarify some common doubts regarding the maintenance that should be lavished on a wooden deck floor.
We invite you to read it with special attention.
This particular topic is certainly complex to explain, but we will try to expose some key concepts for your understanding.
Initially, it must be clear that like all organic material, the wood undergoes degradation and changes over time and much more when it is installed outdoors.
For the construction of a wooden deck floor we can use two different types of species:
Softwoods such as Insigne pine, impregnated pine, and Eucalyptus in any of its variants, Pink, White, Grandis.
All these species are inexpensive, short-lived, and very easy-to-install woods that require intense maintenance to extend their durability somewhat.
Hardwoods: such as Lapacho, Ebony, Incense, Grapia, Blackberry, Red Gum Amazonico, Guayubira.
These species have particular characteristics of durability and beauty, they are more difficult to install due to their hardness and they DO NOT need special protection to be exposed to the elements.
For this reason, the use of hard and high-density woods is recommended for the construction of deck floors.
Otherwise, in a short time, the results can be as illustrated below:
Beyond our long experience in the placement of wooden decks, we support our criteria in the Technical Reports made by the INTI (National Institute of Industrial Technology) for the different species of wood in general and for the wood that we work in particular.
For this reason, when we send our quotes, we do so with an immediate link to the Technical Report of each of the budgeted woods.
In general, the INTI has a separate paragraph for the “durability” of wood, such as:
“It is a wood whose natural durability outside and in contact with the ground is estimated to be over 30 years.”
But it is also important to note that for some woods that it considers naturally “not very durable” when buried in the ground (5 to 10 years) or moderately durable (10 to 20 years), it modifies its condition and establishes that in the case of being “in the open but not in contact with the ground is durable .”
For this reason, for the specific case of the deck support structure, it is also essential to use hardwoods, despite which it is extremely important to take two particular precautions:
Separate them from the floor, using a high-quality, one-component, polyurethane adhesive that guarantees excellent performance.
Dirt all the parts used, as an additional measure of protection.
On the other hand, in the case of the species usually used to make the structure, there is a direct relationship between the price and the durability of the wood.
With regard to deck wood, the criterion is similar, the higher the price, the greater the durability.
Therefore, unlike what can happen in the choice of wood for floors or interior furniture, we recommend that the choice of wood for the deck floor is made primarily based on durability and not on its appearance.
To customize the appearance of the deck to the taste of each person, the wood can be “stained”, being able to obtain different tones for the same species.
This can be seen in the following image: all deck built-in Lapacho but they have been analyzed according to the user’s taste.
As all these woods are considered hard and of high density, although to different degrees, they are mostly impenetrable or poorly penetrated by lacquers, varnishes, stains, or impregnation fluids, for which reason they are mostly “unpregnant”.
So there is no efficient means to extend its useful life significantly and it is not necessary, given its natural durability.
Therefore, the greatest need for maintenance is to preserve its appearance and not its durability.
When you decide to have a wooden deck, you have to know that the two best aesthetic options for its maintenance are:
Let it take its natural color, which is commonly called “naturally aged color” or renew the material that has been chosen to cover it each time it loses its initial appearance.
The periodicity of this maintenance will depend exclusively on the quality of the product used and the skill with which it has been applied.
What is not recommended as a valid option (although it is the one adopted in most cases), is to let the coating age to such a point that the wood begins to lose its color and then try to recover its original tonality.
Once this point is reached, the only thing left to do is to polish the entire deck floor to recover its natural color and only then to coat it again.
Arduous and very expensive task.
Finally, despite what is believed, it is easier to aesthetically maintain a wooden deck than a synthetic or “ecological” deck because when these lose color, a product that is easy to apply and that returns its original appearance, as they also lose their texture.
Proper maintenance of a wooden deck can be achieved, for example, using water-based lacquers with high protection from Ultra Violet rays, which can be applied without sanding and which offers durability greater than three years.