Some of my favorite decks are found amidst the tall pines in the moist and cool forests of the Pacific Northwest. I’ve worked in few more relaxing and serene settings. However, the same benign climate that produces this serenity very often gives decking a hard time! I’ve been on some decks that were just about as slippery as an ice rink due to the buildup of mold and moss. Taking a few painful tumbles reinforced for me the importance of keeping a deck free of excess moisture. While there are certainly steps that can be taken to keep a wooden deck in good shape, I’ve found that a change in decking material can be an even better move. For decking that doesn’t mold, new, high-quality composite is your best bet.
How to Get Mold Off a Wood Deck
When a wooden deck begins to absorb water, all sorts of problems manifest, including mold, mildew, and moss buildup wherever there is opportunity for it. Not only are these growths unsightly, but when the buildup is particularly intense, it can even increase the speed at which your wooden deck decays, by trapping moisture against the deck. But don’t lose hope–there are a few things that help in keeping a deck clear of mold and moss.
- Regular Sealing and Staining: With wooden decks, the sealer is the agent that keeps water from penetrating the board, which goes a long way in keeping the deck free of mold and other growth.
- Sweeping and Washing: Even when water is kept at bay, bits of soil and detritus will sit on top of your deck boards, which can lead to a mossy, slick surface. Thus, regular washing is extremely helpful–doing this is essentially just getting rid of anything that might make your deck attractive to moss, lichen, or mold. I have found that it’s especially important to keep the deck’s surface clear of leaves, as the underside of wet leaves provides a moist, shady environment for mold and moss to develop.
Composite Decking Is Easy to Maintain
Unfortunately, even if you conscientiously seal, sweep, and rinse your deck, a cool, moist, and shady area can still cause mold and moss to grow. In the past couple of years, I’ve found that switching over to fully capped bamboo composite decking delivers a safe and mold-free deck with a lot less effort. I would never recommend the first generations of composite decking for this purpose, because without a protective capping material these composites absorbed water, making them prone to mold and mildew. However, the last few years have seen some stunning advancement in composite materials–these new composites are even being used as dock and pool deck materials. The following is what I look for in a composite decking material and why.
- A Full Cap: This might be the most important development in composite decking. As I mentioned earlier, the first generation of composite decking had no protective cap, meaning the combination of plant fiber and plastic that made up the board was exposed to the elements. This made them extremely prone to taking in moisture. The second generation of decking added a rigid, non-porous cap, but this cap didn’t always extend to the sides and underside of the board, leaving water to condense on the bottom of the board and attract mold, mildew, and lichen growth. A full cap solves this problem, protecting all sides of a deck board.
- Enhanced Durability: The material the cap is made of is also important, as it is important for the cap not to tear or scratch easily, as these scratches and gouges then become access points for moisture. Some manufacturers use capping technology borrowed from the tire industry, which creates a rubbery resin cap that’s tough and that delivers great traction.
- Bamboo-Based Boards: Most composite decking boards combine plastic with sawdust. However, sawdust tends to clump together in the production process, giving water the ability to collect in little patches inside the board. And wherever moisture collects, mold and moss will very often follow. The addition of bamboo flour to composite decking reduces this problem as it doesn’t clump in the manufacturing process, creating a board that’s an even mixture of bamboo fiber and water-resistant plastic.
If you live in a moist climate like I do, you’re probably no stranger to moss, mold, and lichen. And while I find mushrooms sprouting from a deck a beautiful sight, I also know that rotting boards don’t make for the best stair treads. Conscientious effort can keep a wooden deck beautiful for a long time in a cool and moist climate, but fully capped bamboo composite decking can offer increased protection with far less maintenance work. One of the best composite decking materials on the market is Infinity decking, produced by Fortress Deck. It’s built to last, no matter what climate you live in, and it’s designed to look just like beautiful hardwood, in your choice of textures. If you’re looking for other innovative and high-quality building materials, take a look at Fortress Building Products’ full catalog of products.