Composite decking is one of our most popular products, and one of the main reasons for this (other than its durability) is that it’s incredibly low maintenance. Unlike real wood decking, composite products do not need regularly treating with paint, stain, or anti-mildew products. Low maintenance, however, doesn’t mean no maintenance, and your new composite decking will need some care to ensure it looks great for a long time!
What is composite decking?
You might have heard us mention composite decking several times, but if you’re still not 100% sure what it is and why we love it, head to our blog post about it here. Put simply, composite decking is a product that looks just like wood decking, but it is made up of several different materials that make it stronger, and easier to maintain. It comes in multiple finishes, and it’s a great choice for those who want the appearance of real wood, without the maintenance and cost of upkeep.
Top tips for maintaining your composite decking
The best way to keep your boards clean is pretty simple – sweep away debris and dirt daily, or weekly, depending on how often you spend time on them. Most spills or one-off messes can be handled with a wet cloth or a sweeping brush. Doing regular spot checks will mean that dirt is less likely to accumulate and stick to the surface.
Composite decking is highly resistant to the elements, so you don’t need to clean away leaves or dirt as soon as they hit the deck, but leaving piles of leaves for weeks or months during the rainy season could cause permanent damage to your decking.
Give it a regular, simple wash
Every three to six months, it’s recommended that you clean your decking of any soil, or dirt that can build up over time. In the UK, there’s a good chance the excessive rain will do this for you. If it doesn't, a simple mix of warm water and general household soap (ammonia-free) can be applied to the boards and you can use a soft bristled brush to clean them. Please do keep in mind the area surrounding your decking, as soap could be damaging to natural materials such as turf, or flowerbeds. A non-toxic soap could alleviate this problem, but if in doubt just warm water and the brush itself should clear away most of the day-to-day dirt that accumulates.
If you’ve been a bit lax with your boards and they need a deeper clean, a jet wash with a fan attachment should clean the boards entirely. It’s important to ensure that the PSI on your brush isn’t too strong -most experts agree that you shouldn’t exceed 1500 - but manufacturers can differ when it comes to the maximum PSI strength their boards can take, so check with the manufacturer of the boards you’ve chosen to ensure you don’t void your warranty. They should also have a list of approved cleaning products that won't damage your deck either, which is great for more stubborn stains (as rare as they may be on composite decking).
To pressure wash your composite decking - use a fan tip, and keep the washer at least 6” from the surface, following the grain of the deck as you wash. If you’re unsure about how to do this, please ask one of our team when your deck is being installed – they’ll be happy to give you some tips!
Stain and spot treatment
The great news is that composite decking is loved for its resistance to stains, so even a red-wine spill won’t have any lasting damage if you clean it up straight away. Food and drinks spills can be cleaned with a simple dry or wet cloth as they happen (or the following morning if you’re just having too much fun).
If you cook or grill on your composite decking, there is a chance that oil, grease, or fat could make its way onto the boards – these types of spills should be taken care of within a day or two, as they could potentially leave a permanent stain if left untreated. Because composite decking is so resistant to moisture though, a simple soapy cloth should remove the oil with no lasting damage.
Mildew and mould
Some people assume that because well-made composite decking is advertised as completely resistant to mildew and mould, they won’t have to deal with it, but this is somewhat untrue. Mildew and mould can still make an appearance on the surface of composite decking if it is not cleaned regularly, which could leave a stain on the deck if left untreated. Thankfully, they cannot permeate the surface of the decking, and will not affect or damage the structural integrity of your space. A simple wash like the one described above with soap and water should clean both away without a problem.
Top tips for maintaining your composite decking without damaging it
DON’T use chemical cleaners – some will damage your composite decking irreversibly. Check with your manufacturer if you have a stubborn stain.
Never exceed 1500 PSI when pressure washing your deck, unless the manufacturer states otherwise.
To clean heavy snow or ice from your deck, always use a shovel with a plastic or rubber edge, as metal could damage or mark the decking.
Don’t use rock salt or sand on your decking unless the manufacturer states otherwise – try and melt any ice, or simply wait for it to melt itself if you’re able to avoid walking on it. The decking won’t absorb the ice as it melts.
If you’d like to know more about whether composite decking would be right for your garden, be sure to ask one of our team in your initial consultation! You can find out more about when our consultation slots will next be available here.