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How to clean and repair garden decking

Damaged decking? We have some decking installers to hand, but you can also find out how to clean and maintain it yourself with advice from The Green Team's Bill Shannon.

Cleaning and treating decking

Give the area a thorough clean using some quality decking and patio cleaner. You can buy specially formulated products at most DIY or gardening stores – Which? has reviewed patio and decking cleaning solutions – see this magazine article for our recommended Best Buys.

Check the Which? pressure washer reviews, if you’d like to invest in a more high-tech cleaning solution.

Once the decking area is clean, treat it with decking stain to nourish the wood. It's worth doing this once a year to extend the life of your decking.

Always start in the furthest corner of the decking and work your way back to ensure you don’t paint yourself in to a corner. In the same way as painting a wall or a ceiling, you should work from one end to the other, leaving a wet edge to avoid overlap marks.

Ensure you follow the specific product instructions before staining your decking and keep all children and animals away from the area, until it is dry.

If you’d like a professional landscape gardener to deal with your decking, you can find a Which? endorsed landscape specialist in your area with Which? Trusted Traders.

Replacing damaged decking boards

You can always replace individual boards, although it is likely to create an uneven look as it’s difficult to match the colour exactly. If the damaged boards are in a central area, try to replace these with existing boards from the edges of your deck, or in a less prominent area, and use the new boards in a less visible area.

If your decking is secured with screws, simply use a screwdriver to release the screws on each board. Unfortunately, decking secured with nails is more difficult to remove. Always replace nails with decking screws when possible.

Once you have removed the damaged boards, ask your local wood merchant to provide replacements to match the original. Once refitted, treat the whole decking area with a good quality stain.

Plant pots and hanging baskets

Decking is often damaged by dripping water from hanging baskets or plant containers. Clean these areas regularly or consider moving the planters elsewhere.

Ivy and shrubs can also cause damage if not controlled.

Damp leaves can cause timber boards to rot or create marks on your decking. Keep your decking clear by sweeping it regularly. And don’t forget to clear out any leaves or twigs that fall into the expansion gaps.

Keep surfaces smooth – if any nails start to stick out, replace them with decking screws which are less likely to work loose over time. That way you can keep enjoying your decking for longer.

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