How to clean timber decking and pavers

Cleaning timber decks and pavers is the first step to creating an outdoor entertaining area.
Cleaning timber decks and pavers is the first step to creating an outdoor entertaining area.

Having an outdoor space is central to alfresco living. With the warm weather firmly entrenched it’s not too late to ready your deck or paved area for entertaining.

Popular surfaces continue to be timber decking and pavers because of their durability and evenness when being installed or laid. But no matter the surface it can get grotty and tired during winter. Boral’s Charlie Condo says a spring/summer clean of paved areas will wash away the remnants of winter and protect pavers during the hotter months.

“Prevention is the best cure when it comes to caring for pavers,” Charlie says. “Regular maintenance will help to keep pavers in tip top condition and protect against damage from summer outdoor activities, such as drips and spills while barbecuing.

A new or existing, a freshly finished deck is a great way to enjoy summer. The key to achieving a professional-looking result is ensuring the timber decking is well seasoned, free from natural extractives (tannin) and clean, says Tim Orbell of Tenaru Timber and Finishes.

For an existing deck, a thorough clean not only rejuvenates old decking by drawing out dirt and grime, but allows the new coating to properly penetrate and adhere to the timber for long lasting protection.

Charlie’s tips for caring for pavers:

  • Sweep with a stiff bristled broom to remove leaves, dust and other debris. Don’t use acid washes or high pressure cleaning apparatus to clean pavers without engaging a professional, as they can cause irreparable surface damage if used incorrectly.
  • To avoid rust stains, make sure metal outdoor furniture and barbecue bases are properly covered and always clean stains before they harden or dry.
  • If laying new pavers, seal them after installation with a penetrating sealer. Reseal concrete pavers as required taking special care in heavy wear areas, such as around pools, and thoroughfares. A reputable sealing company can provide advice.
  • If building or renovating, cover the paved areas during construction to protect against the damaging effects of mortar, oxides and cement.

Tim’s tips for decking:

If your timber decking is new, Tim suggests leaving it to season naturally after installation as this will allow the release of tannins from the timber fibres.

“Many people assume that decking timber does not need to be seasoned because it is kiln dried during the manufacturing process, but this is not the case,” says Tim. “Proper seasoning is particularly important for oily, tannin rich timbers such as Merbau, which have become a popular choice for decking in recent times.

“Coating unseasoned timber results in the premature degeneration of the applied coating and within a short space of time, will leave discolouration and staining under the coated,” Tim says. “It is preferable that homeowners leave hardwood decking timber to season naturally over a period of three to six months after installation.”

However, if time is of the essence and you need to complete the new hardwood deck ASAP, then Tim suggests using a product that will remove the tannin and oil much quicker.

  • Rinse the treated decking boards thoroughly with a high pressure water cleaner or hose. Immediately after rinsing apply a wood cleaner using a soft broom or brush (Tim suggests the new Sikken’s range.).
  • Allow this to sit on the surface of the decking boards for 15 minutes. A scrub with a stiff bristle brush will ensure penetration into the timber fibre before rinsing with water.
  • Allow to completely dry prior to coating.
  • Once your deck is clean and dry, apply a finish. Finishes come in clear, tinted, semi-transparent, and solid colours. The look you choose is mainly a matter of personal taste. Check the manufacturer's recommendations for application but you can generally use a brush, roller, sponge or sprayer.

Once the deck or paving is complete decorate the space with a table, chairs or bench seat, add a few potted plants for colour and enjoy!