4 min read

Is my timber decking alive and breathing?

Posted in: Ideas and Advice
18 August 2022

Warm Summer evenings and spending more time outdoors may mean you see/hear more noises than usual – is it a Fox, an Owl or other night time creature, or is your timber decking the culprit?!

Sometimes your decking appears to have have a life of it’s own and creaks and groans, but, could it be actually breathing?

Is my timber decking alive?

A bit of science for you – your timber decking isn’t actually alive (that started the minute it was chopped down) , but It is breathing, just not as we know it.

It’s actually changes in the water level in the wood that cause it to expand and contract, depending on the weather and heat – think of it as a sponge.

The water is either absorbed when it rains or as water evaporates from the ground below the decking. Then, when there’s plenty of sunshine, that water evaporates. That means if there’s a lot of humidity quickly followed by hot sun, you can rapidly see your decking change in size throughout the day.

Is it okay that decking breathes or should you be worried?

Although the thought of sitting outdoors at dusk with ‘breathing’ timber decking, it’s actually not a bad thing. When it’s getting beaten by the elements all day, every day, it’s expected that your wood is going to move. However, what could be a problem is when your decking boards start to change shape and an issue called “decking cupping” happens.

Rather than having a flat surface, your boards will start to take on a U shape, with the middle slightly sagging. This doesn’t always happen with decking that’s breathing, but it can lead to severe damage if it does. So, is there any way we can prevent it?

How can you prevent breathing from ruining your decking?

We’ve advised that timber decking breathing is normal, but there are a few ways you can prevent it from causing damage.

The first is probably the most obvious – you’ll need to make sure there’s enough space between the boards when you’re installing it. If you’re not 100% confident on the job, it can help to get some help from an expert, who will ensure there’s plenty of room for the wood to expand and shrink.

You also want to try and minimise the amount of moisture below the decking. You can do this by building your decking as high up from the ground as possible and making sure there’s proper drainage beneath the decking. If you still think there will be a problem, you can add a layer of landscape fabric to the ground to prevent the moisture from rising up.

Happily, it’s not that hard to keep your decking in tip-top condition. You just need to know a little bit about preventing warping and cupping, and you’ll have a beautiful place to relax outdoors for many years to come. If you’re thinking of having decking installed in your garden, be sure to check out our range of timber decking along with our wide range of decking add-ons. You can shop online or visit one of our depots.

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