How to maintain a deck in Australia

How to maintain a deck in Australia

Australia is a great place to live. So many people have come from all over the world and found their own piece of happiness in our gorgeous landscapes and gloriously laid-back culture. Between our accents and the widespread stereotype that we spend all our time surfing and BBQing, it’s the ideal destination for any adventurous traveller.

Most of the world has heard the catchphrase about ‘throwing a shrimp on the barbie’, so it’s no surprise to newcomers that so many Aussie homes are completed with a sturdy timber deck. Whether you lean into the sun-kissed BBQ stereotype or not, you can’t deny there are many benefits to a home that has a good deck. Like any good thing in life, it doesn’t come without work. Decks do require a certain amount of maintenance, but if you follow these simple steps, you’ll always be ready to entertain and impress your guests.

When You’re Building

oiling deck

Maintaining your deck really starts at the very beginning, at installation. Despite how it looks in the movies or online videos, it really isn’t that simple to achieve. It might seem like the perfect bonding activity with your mates or a great way to use up that extra timber you have lying around. In reality, it’s often not so peachy – unless, of course, you or your mates happen to be tradies of some sort.

Your first step is going to be deciding how big you want to make it. This will invariably be influenced by the amount of space you have to work with but also should be considered when thinking of your budget. For example, it might seem like a great idea to have a large, wrap-around deck added to your home, but this can result in your property looking smaller than it is and be impractical for accessing your home.

Then comes the decision on the timber. Contrary to popular belief, not all timber is interchangeable for different construction types. You’re obviously not going to use the leftover black floorboards from your kitchen to do up your deck – no matter how beautiful your kitchen now looks. The word budget will come back into play here. There are a variety of acceptable choices ranging from a basic treated pine to your top-tier hardwoods. At the end of the day, it all comes down to what’s the best fit for you, your home and your budget.

Next up, it’s time to build.

As we mentioned, building a deck is not quite how it looks in the movies. If you want your final product to be functional and aesthetically pleasing, we’d recommend not inviting all your buddies for a round of drinks and a deck-building day. That being said, as long as you follow some sound instructions and are prepared for the amount of labour involved, there are zero reasons why you cannot construct it yourself. If, however, you’re like some people and DIY just isn’t your strong suit, there’s no shame in hiring professionals. This option may be more expensive but will likely see results much quicker and have a cleaner finish with fewer imperfections to contend with in the future.

Ongoing Maintenance

Once you’re finished, or if you’ve moved into a home that has an existing deck, you only have to worry about the maintenance. Like most things in our homes, the level of maintenance your deck requires will largely depend on how often and how it’s being used, as well as the weather it is exposed to and the materials that you’ve used. You should always do your research and tailor your care routine specifically for the deck you have if you want to prolong its life. On average, your deck will need to be swept down at least once a month, deep cleaned between 6 months and a year and treated every 2 to 5 years. 

When cleaning your deck, it’s important to invest in a quality deck cleaner. There are many different options on the market with varieties that complement the many different types of wood that are routinely used for decking. Using these specialised products will not only clean your decking of dirt and grime but will also reduce mould and lightly boost the protection from your clear decking oil or similar product. To optimise the effects of your deep clean, it is best to also use a pressurised water cleaner.

This will not only ensure that all the tougher and more ingrained dirt is removed but will also work best to remove all residual cleaning products. While these deck cleaning products are fantastic to clean, they can be caustic and damaging if not removed properly and completely. It’s always a good idea to follow the directions outlined on the packaging for the best outcomes. And don’t forget to protect surrounding plants and garden additions.

Treating your deck on a regular basis is an absolute must if you want to maintain it and promote its longevity and functionality. You’ll have the big decision between using a decking oil or a stain, but the general purpose of these products is to provide a protective addition to your decking. Both products are varied in the way that they work to achieve this protection.

Oiling deck wood allows for the product to completely penetrate the surface and provides complete waterproofing. It’s great to protect against the damage done by harsh UV rays, and it tends to be more durable/needs touching up less often. Alternatively, if you decide to go with a quality deck stain, this will provide a protective layer over the surface of the wood. It is also water-resistant and easy to apply. The stain will work just as effectively as outlined on the packaging while also allowing you to inject some colour into your decking.

It’s also much easier to change products when you use a decking stain compared with oil – they will need to be allowed time to wear off before any alternative products can be used. All things considered, if the only reason you’re opting for stain is to add colour to the wood, the best decking oil brands will also include products that kill two birds with one stone. 

Having a beautiful deck for your home is a real possibility, and maintaining it under the many different Australian conditions and climate is easy with the right products behind you.