Experts want you to remember these 3 tips when designing your deck

From planning to maintaining – these secrets will keep your decking in optimal condition throughout the seasons

decked patio with integral seating and painted wall
(Image credit: Little Greene)

Decks play host to the most memorable summer moments – whether you're lounging in the sun or enjoying an al fresco party. So, it's important that this space looks its best throughout the season – while ensuring it's protected from the elements in cooler months. And while there are a host of deck ideas to bring out the best in this garden staple, these tips will protect and elevate your decking to keep it in top condition for longer. 

Whether you're working with a large exterior or small deck ideas – their three secrets remain the same. Here's what you need to know when designing and maintaining a deck that will stand the test of time.  

3 deck tips to remember – according to experts

deck with garden sofas and fire pit

(Image credit: John Lewis)

1. Don't forget sealant

'Many people consider the stain put on by the wood manufacturing plant to be enough, but it is certainly not. On top of that, you can do much more to maintain your deck and help it last (and look good for) longer,' explains Laurence Mann, the Managing Director & product expert at Wood Finishes

To ensure this, Laurence urges you not to forger sealant – the finishing step in the project. And even if you're unsure how to build a deck (and you hired someone else to complete the job), the expert suggests this step is one of the easiest.

'[Anyone] can step in and do the job of staining the deck. Find the product for you, then find rollers and brushes, and do the job right,' he adds. 'After applying the correct stain or sealant, you can officially say that you are doing whatever you can to care for your deck properly.'

And he is not alone in his suggestion. Adrian Martinez of Painting Contractors of San Bernardino adds that when you build or renovate a deck, you should invest in quality painting or staining solutions. 'These will protect your wooden deck and shall prolong its life for more years,' he says. 

2. Only use gentle cleansers

Cottage patio ideas

(Image credit: Little Greene)

When looking for outdoor cleaning tips, it may feel natural to reach for a powerful pressure washer and bleach. However, using a pressure washer too often is one of the biggest decking design mistakes you can make as it is likely to stip your paint and damage your wood. Instead, it is better to pressure wash only once a year. 

Expert Andrew Porwol, the Owner of Garden Centre Shopping, advises against using harsh chemicals and bleach as they can 'strip your deck of its protective coating' and cause discoloration.

'If in doubt, check the label to make sure it's not listed as hazardous to children or pets,' he adds. 

3. Consider plant placement

decked area with lighting panels and garden furniture

(Image credit: Franchie Cristogatin/Future)

Plants are the heart of all garden ideas, but they mustn't harm your decking in the process. 'Take care what you place on your deck,' Andrew warns. 'Plants that drain directly onto your deck will ultimately lead to damage and grilling on the deck is certainly a fire hazard.'

It is also good to ensure anything on the deck can easily be moved for cleaning – but plants should be at the top of the list. 'Remember if cleaning is a difficult process you'll soon get out of the habit which can lead to costly repairs,' the expert warns. So, when considering plants on your decking, it may be best to steer away from large plants that will make the cleaning process notoriously tricky. 

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.