A bamboo deck requires frequent maintenance otherwise, it can fall victim to weathering effects such as dis-colouration and deterioration.
Water is one of the main causes of decking damage, especially in high-rainfall areas. The moisture soaks into bamboo decking, causing it to expand and contract, which leads to splitting and cracking.
Sometimes a deck does not live up to user expectations. In most cases this is not the fault of the material but rather as a result of a lack of understanding of the material, improper installation and/ or maintenance. The best preventative measure you can take is to regularly inspect the integrity of your installed coating making sure it is providing total coverage and protection of the bamboo.
How to prevent damage to your bamboo decking
One of the best ways to prevent damage to your bamboo decking is to inspect it regularly for loose nails or screws and rotting, cracked, warped or stained fibre. Make sure your decking is weatherproof and clean it thoroughly on a regular (weekly) basis. Damaged bamboo decking that goes unnoticed inevitably leads to further damage, so be sure to fix any issues with your decking as soon as possible.
How to maintain bamboo decking
Bamboo decking does not need any more maintenance than traditional timber decking to keep the surface in good condition – but it does need some, else serious problems with your decking can arise. Dirt and grease can discolour the wood of your decking, so it is recommended that you clean your bamboo decking at least once a year with a pressure washer. Once it has been sprayed, you should treat it with an ‘off the shelf wood reviver type’ cleaner which will remove any final traces of dirt; this should restore the original look of the bamboo deck.
It is also advisable to regularly (every 12-18 months depending on wear and tear/ exposure to elements) re- coat the deck with a quality water repellent coating system. This will help prevent fading over time and minimise cracks/ checking in the deck caused by water damage and UV degradation. On a weekly basis Yesbamboo strongly recommends that you brush/ sweep your bamboo decking “with a stiff broom” in order to prevent the build-up of surface grime including dirt, dust, pollen and other unsavory elements which can create unwanted problems.
The coating on my deck boards is flaking off
The key thing about applying any coating to deck boards is that the coating that you use is suitable for the purpose. Products that are intended for use on vertical surfaces like cladding, doors and windows have properties that do not lend themselves to flat surfaces that are subject to footfall and particularly the movement of timber as it responds to changes in moisture content throughout the season. This is the primary cause of peeling and lifting.
The type of product you need is one designed specifically for decks in that they penetrate rather than coat the surface and are resistant to scuffing by footfall.
Yesbamboo recommends Intergrain Ultra Deck or Natural Stain acrylic WATER BASED systems where ever possible. Refer to your local paint supplier for product specific requirements and ALWAYS FOLLOW MANUFACTURERS RECOMMENDATIONS when installing any chosen protective finish.
Does Yes Bamboo H3 Treated decking vary in colour from one piece to another?
Freshly treated H3 bamboo will have some variations in colour between one piece and another. This is due to proportions of fibre from different bamboo culms used in each plank as well as the different density between the bamboo node fibre and inter node fibre. For your peace of mind Yesbamboo will arrive at site pre-sealed all four side, requiring additional coatin within twelve months then annually.
Remember, bamboo is a natural product and variations in character are to be expected – Bamboo IS NOT a ceramic tile!
Are decks slippery in wet weather?
The key factor in preventing slipperiness is to ensure that the deck surface is kept clean and surface deposits such as mildew, algae and fine mosses are kept at bay for it is these deposits that cause slipperiness on any surface, even stone flags, in wet weather.
Our recommendation is to give decked surfaces a frequent brush/ sweep with a stiff broom and to give them a thorough wet clean once or twice a year in spring or autumn using either a power spray washer or a proprietary deck cleaning product. To help reduce slipperiness when wet use Intergrain Ultragrit when installing Intergrain Ultradeck or Natural Stain.
Will grooved deck boards perform better than plain ones in preventing slipperiness?
By far the majority of timber decks, boardwalks and piers built around the world are surfaced with plain timber boards. Whilst grooved deck boards are often marketed as “anti-slip” there is no evidence to suggest that they perform any better or worse than plain decking. Yes Bamboo products are ‘grooved’ on one x face but normally it is expected that this face be installed down allowing some airflow between joist and underside of planks.
Where there is a higher than normal requirement to prevent the risk of slipperiness, for example on ramps, stairs, bridges or on public/commercial installations abrasive strips can be used. When using Intergrain Ultradeck or Natural Satin add Intergrain Ultragrit to help reduce slipperiness.
What fixings do you recommend?
Fixings used out of doors should be corrosion resistant to prevent rusting and weakness of the structure in subsequent years.
Galvanised nails or stainless steel screws are best used for fixing. Fastener length should be three times the thickness of boards and they should be positioned not closer than 25mm to edges and countersunk below the surface. All boards should be pre-drilled to prevent splitting. All screw points should be pre-drilled 2mm oversize and countersunk before fixing.
The advantage of screws over nails is that they are more secure than nails and enable boards to be lifted easily to gain access below the deck for maintenance or repair or fixing lights and can be re-tightened if necessary.
How do I keep my deck looking good?
All decks will benefit from regular brushing/ sweeping with a good stiff broom on a frequent basis throughout the year. Once a year, in Spring or Autumn, we recommend giving your deck a more thorough cleaning using a pressure spray or a purpose made Decking Cleaner which is formulated to remove grease and discolouration and restore the look of the bamboo. Keeping the deck surface clean in this way not only keeps it looking like new it also reduces the conditions that cause any surface to be slippery when wet.
Typically the original colour of the bamboo used will fade gradually when exposed to the elements and will fade over time to a pleasant grey. However, using a water repellent coating will help to prevent fading.
Bamboo is a natural product and as your deck weather, small cracks are likely to appear on the surface of the boards. These are caused by the intermittent wetting and drying of the wood and are part of the character of wood and bamboo. They have no structural effect whatsoever. This natural process can be slowed by the regular use of a quality water repellent coating.
Are the treatments used in preserving Yes Bamboo decking in any way harmful?
No. Yes Bamboo decking is entirely safe – even for pets and plants. The strictly controlled process of impregnating the timber means that the preservative substances found in decking are ‘locked’ into the cells of the bamboo – even when in contact with water. What’s more is that Yes Bamboo uses a revolutionary treatment which is water borne and has very low volume uptake of treatment to deliver its safe, warranted outcome.
Un- Coated End Grain and Bottom Side Moisture Intrusion
It is the nature of bamboo like wood to absorb and store moisture through natural design. Capillaries and cells of bamboo are simply nature’s waterways, and when exposed to moisture, dry bamboo will seek and absorb water. Moisture intrusion into bamboo is predominately through saw cuts and exposed end grain.
Unsealed end grain leads to a legacy of costly maintenance, and splitting and cupping of decking. As bamboo dries, it shrinks. Any change in moisture content to various parts of the board will cause expansion and contraction cycles to the bamboo that lead to cracking and splitting. In an effort to minimise such natural degradation of the fibre:-
1. Seal with 3 x coats of selected protective finish all end grain before and during installation.
2. Seal all 4 x sides of all planks prior to construction, as many times, underside is inaccessible after construction.
3. During construction as you make a saw cut, re – seal the exposed end grain.
Bamboo will take up and lose moisture from or to the atmosphere as the environment around it changes on daily or seasonal basis. The bamboo will expand or contract when it takes up or loses moisture. At the time of installation, gaps are provided between the decking boards to allow for expansion in the width of the decking boards during periods of higher humidity.
As a result of taking up and losing moisture, the timber will develop surface checking. The severity of the checking will depend on the maturity of the bamboo fibre, the rate at which the moisture content of the timber changes and how long that moisture content is maintained before it changes again.
The application of a protective coating to the surface will minimise the effects of weathering of any bamboo in an exposed situation. The purpose of the protective coating is to slow down the rate at which the bamboo will take up or lose moisture. By slowing that rate down, the severity of any checking is considerably reduced.
Protective coatings include products which penetrate the surface of the timber and products which provide a film or coating to the surface of the timber.
– Why it Grows, How to Clean it, and How to Prevent it !
What is Mould?
Mould is the common term used to describe a growth on the surface of organic matter, caused by fungi, especially in the presence of dampness. Mould is Mother Nature’s way of recycling organic matter. Every cubic metre of air has thousands of mould spores floating within it. Every surface – natural or man-made, inside or out – has thousands more spores that have settled upon it. A fungus (pl. fungi) may be any of a large number of simple microorganisms that do not need energy from light for growth. The fungi bear microscopic spores that are produced in enormous quantities, are always present in the air, and spread via air currents. They are often water repellent and are resistant to desiccation (drying out).
“Mould” is often used interchangeably with the word mildew. These are the generic terms that describe a variety of microorganisms, including fungi, algae, rusts, yeasts, and bacteria.
Under a microscope, mould has an octopus-like structure. Its legs attach to a surface in a web-like manner. Once a mould has successfully colonized, it turns a dark colour and releases thousands of new spores.
What Makes Mould Grow?
Moulds need three things to grow: food, water, and temperate weather. When the spores are in favourable environment, they will germinate. What constitutes a favourable environment is different for each species. Since the spores settle out of the air, they will be more prevalent on horizontal surfaces and are generally not found below overhangs, under porches or patios, or on the undersides of decks, even in damp areas. The colonies do not migrate, like a rot, but rather establish colonies and release more spores. The reason we recommend regularly sweeping the deck is the colonies are typically invisible; they only change colour after they have released spores and died. Sweeping the deck removes the food source (pollen, dirt) and removes any dormant spores as well. After landing on a host material, a spore must obtain sufficient moisture to find enough food. Without moisture, the spores will lie dormant until favourable conditions occur.
There are many common food sources, such as dust, pollen, and other pollutants. Water is essential for the growth of mould. Greater than 60% humidity, steady dampness, and temperatures between 15 and 37 degrees C, are the factors most conducive to growth. It will stay dormant if the conditions are too dry or too cold, or if there are insufficient food sources.
How to clean it…
It is important that any cleaning procedure fully remove the web-like “legs” of the colonies, penetrate the water-repellent outer surface, and remove the food source. The ideal cleaner is a steam-power sprayer, although normal power washers or combinations of bleach, water, laundry detergent, off the shelf bathroom cleaners are also effective. In all cases, use the correct protective equipment such as safety glasses, dust-mask and gloves. Since mould will die at temperatures above 60 degrees C, we have had great success with a steam-cleaner removing the mould.
If staining is still present, follow with sodium per carbonate powder sprinkled directly on the stains, left damp for 6+ hours, and rinsed to help remove the stains. Bleach, laundry soap and water can also be scrubbed onto the mould to help with the removal of the mould.
As an oxidizing agent, sodium percarbonate is an ingredient in a number of home and laundry cleaning products, including bleach products such as laundry detergent. It contains no phosphorus or nitrogen. Dissolved in water, it yields a mixture of hydrogen peroxide (which eventually decomposes to water and oxygen) and sodium carbonate (“soda ash”).
How to prevent it…
Preventing the growth of mould is as simple as preventing the three factors that it needs to live. Keep the deck as dry as possible, and remove the food source by sweeping or washing. Here is a checklist of mould-preventive steps:
- Gap the decking properly (minimum 3-4mm) for drainage
- Assure that the gutters do not discharge onto the deck
- Check that gutters are not backed up and overflowing onto deck dryer vent does not discharge directly onto or around deck
- Pitch the deck properly away from the house for drainage
- Avoid the use of bark mulch around, on or under the deck (bark mulch is typically heavily laden with mildew spores)
- Avoid the use of lawn or plant fertilizer on the deck (such as overspray from lawn fertilizer or ‘Miracle-Grow’ from potted plants)
- Sweep the deck every week, especially when pollen is heavy (typically spring and late summer)