Q. What's the point of treating garden timber - surely it takes care of itself?
A. Wood is a beautiful, practical material that gives years of solid service outdoors. But the weather - good and bad - does take its toll, and before winter's rain, wind and frosts set in I recommend giving all your garden timber a simple 'health-check' every year to maintain both looks and safety:
- Check the condition of all panels, posts and pergola rafters. Securing any loose joints and replacing weakened or broken items.
- Treat with a good timber care product to enhance the colour and protect the surface.
Q. Why are my golden fence panels turning grey and what can I do?
A. Most garden timber products are dipped in a dye during the manufacturing process to make the wood grain look consistent, but this colour isn't permanent and gradually fades when exposed to the elements. In time wood that is left untreated becomes silvery grey and rough, like the bark on a tree, as the grain gradually opens and lets in moisture - but wait this long and it may be almost impossible to reverse! Instead, when timber is around one year old, apply an annual coat of good quality wood preservative. This will enrich and revitalise the surface of the wood just like a skin moisturiser. They also contain anti-fungicides that will help prevent rot, mould and lichens.
Q. My fence panels warped last year after treatment. What went wrong?
A. I suspect you applied the treatment in hot weather, causing the wood to bend and rapidly dry out. Here's a good tip to ensure success; choose a dry, mild day, drip a little water onto the panel surface and watch. If the droplets stay on the surface, the wood is too waterlogged and will not absorb what you apply. If the water soaks straight in it is ready for the treatment.
Q. How should I care for my wooden decking?
A. Decking is an investment and proper care will keep the surface texture smooth and attractive. Each autumn give your deck a good wash with a hosepipe or pressure washer to remove any slippery build-up of dirt. If you want to refresh or change the colour of your deck, let it dry thoroughly and apply a decking wood stain that has been specially formulated to withstand wear from foot traffic. Finally, you need to seal the wood with a decking protector, with waxes to help prevent moisture damage, a preservative to keep the surface free from decay, and an algaecide to prevent mould growth. If you have a hardwood deck, you should also consider an annual treatment of revitalising decking oil.
Q. How can I keep my shed and other timber structures in good shape?
A. The same principles apply to sheds and structures, as to fences. Check the condition of the timber, clean and protect with a good quality water-based preservative. If roofing felt has been torn or damaged, replace and ensure it is fully secure. Give all glazing a good clean. Oil hinges and your window fixings. If metalwork shows signs of rust - clean and apply a paint treatment. Check all fixings are tight and then your