We show you how to care for outdoor wooden surfaces

Up-to-the-minute advice on maintaining timber fences, window-frames, decking and cladding 
We show you how to care for outdoor wooden surfaces

Applied with a paintbrush, a gelatinous revived will moisturise and clean decking; Sadolin decking and stain preserver, pictured.  

OUTDOORS, we are all confident with masonry prep and paint. Even having a go at metal — with the new ranges of no-primer products, we’re straight out there rollers twirling. However, introduce the prospect of refinishing a wood surface? Smiles fade and paintbrushes droop at the idea of winkling off flaking, failing, bubbling skins of our last, loved colour, never mind slapping on new enlivening protection.

Wood moves, it swells, it shrinks, it develops cracks and can absorb water. This natural reactivity — well, it freaks us out a bit. You have to love it back. Anything biodegradable seems destined to decay but keep in mind there are original Georgian windows and exterior doors still in service all over Ireland. Before refreshing any paint or stain, check your wood for rot and cracking and tighten up joints and screws where needed. Follow our easy tips to put the heart back in your wood finishes in long-lasting, beautiful results. People, I know you’re proud, but please always read the tin — it’s all there.

ON THE FENCE

After a sand to remove imperfections (give it a hose and soft brush down if it’s truly filthy and stain the next day) apply a pump/spray product at 5l per six standard 1.83m (closed) fence panels. We love the Precision Finish Fence Sprayer from Ronseal, with its versatile two-speed settings for fiddly bits. Half an hour’s work in ragged clothes for a long run of fencing, it’s so deeply satisfying. €25 for the sprayer, 9l of pigment-rich Fencelife Plus for sheds and fencing from €22, from all good DIY outlets. Fence paint really can be sloshed on — lose the fear.

WINDOW WISE

 If you can depress the timber of a window-frame or surround easily call in a pro who may be able to harden rotten frames, and fill and replace sections. Satisfied that there’s no warping or failure in the seals, fill any cracks and choose a paint or stain product intended for exterior treatment with a ten-year guarantee. Wash the frames with a sugar soap solution, allow to dry and then mask glass and hardware with painter’s tape. Sand to create a smooth, flake-free key, wiping away the dust. Mind that mouse sander around the glazing. Apply primer (if needed) and two-three coats of finish. Working in the right direction, grain should be invisible. The team at Dulux advises: "When painting the rails, aim to leave a very thin overlap of paint between the glass and frame. This creates a seal to prevent any putty or filling material from drying out." 

My choice for windows and traditional wood doors? Colourtrend’s gorgeous Weather Wood Coat or water-based Alkyd gloss, €1.70 for sample sheet, patmcdonnellspaint. Hardwood window frames are naturally dense and oily and can potentially be finished with linseed and linseed based paint. The results can be uneven; take advice.

PRIMER TIME

Primer offers a perfect surface for decorative topcoats, nourishing and protecting the timber without physically sealing it like old-fashioned oil paint. Timber products flex and that allow water to settle on the wood and evaporate off without getting trapped under an immovable coat are far more durable, offering a decade of performance. When dealing with your exterior doors, there may be a very strong colour to mask, and for that reason, I would recommend Ronseal yet again for their Superflexible Wood Primer & Undercoat. Use white before applying a pale colour and grey before going dark. The primer will not only fill smaller imperfections but will conceal those very determined shades and any staining to the wood. It’s also ideal for windows and trim. €16 for 75ml. For a quick lick of self-priming colour on furniture Sadolin Superdec provides superb coverage for cheering up both cladding to sheds and on outdoor furnishings and joinery, €51.38 for 2.5l, crowndecoratingcentres.ie

ON THE DECKS

Real wood decking boards can gather rubbish during the autumn and winter, holding water, coaxing moss and mildew, and eventually rotting. Little wonder, many of us are surrendering to recycled plastic pretenders. Dirty neglected decks look dire and there’s no excuse as they are a synch to put right before cumulative damage occurs. First, scrub off the old surface that’s been worn through by footfall and degrading by weather completely with a stiff brush, a pressure washer and if need a fungicidal deck cleaner. Karcher power washers include patio and deck-cleaning heads with rotating pads, bristles for from about €69, screwfix.ie.

Applied with a paintbrush, a gelatinous reviver will moisturise and clean soft and hardwood delivering a brighter colour in about 15-20 minutes. Ensure you rinse it off thoroughly with a hose and soft brush. 10sq m-15sq m covered per litre — Ronseal Cleaner/Reviver, €25 for 5L. Oil or stain: The choice is yours at €10-€12 per litre, but save time with a pad and pole application. If your deck is over-hung give Cuprinol’s Anti-Slip Decking Stain in a lovely Silver Birch consideration. It contains an algaecide to help protect the film surface from green algae and mould growth.2.5l, €38, Woodies DIY.

CLADDING 

Sadolin Superdec provides superb coverage for cheering up both cladding to sheds and on outdoor furnishings and joinery. Shown in Conifer, Candied Grapefruit, Pendle Hill. Ä51.38 for 2.5l, crowndecoratingcentres.ie
Sadolin Superdec provides superb coverage for cheering up both cladding to sheds and on outdoor furnishings and joinery. Shown in Conifer, Candied Grapefruit, Pendle Hill. Ä51.38 for 2.5l, crowndecoratingcentres.ie

 

Choose from translucent colour, solid stains or actual timber paints — but check their promised performance (and saw off a year or two). There are also a number or wood preservatives that act as primers for (non-joinery) cladding and outbuildings covering 5m2 per litre with a couple of coats – €6 per litre including Cuprinol or Lumberjack. They come clear or as a solvent-based opaque colour. Rougher, sawn timber with a preservative product pulled down into the surface tends to keep its face longer than silky, architectural surfacing. Sleek, factory-applied finishes just don’t ever look the same after that first year without professional devotion. Why do they still look great on public buildings and corporate fortressing? There’s a comforting little maintenance contract.

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