5 Tips for Preventing Slippery Wooden Decking

Wooden decking is notoriously slippery but it doesn't have to be. This articles shows the best ways to keep it non slip
Slippery wooden decking
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Wooden decking is a popular choice for creating outdoor living spaces. Wooden decking can be the perfect way to enjoy your garden in all weathers, but it can also cause some problems if not maintained properly.

Slippery decking surfaces are an accident waiting to happen, so we’ve put together five tips on how you can stop your wooden deck from being slippery and make sure you stay safe.

We have also included a few bonuses you wont here anywhere else which will help you stay safe

Why does wooden decking get slippery?

Before deciding which solution is best for you its a good idea to understand why wooden decking can become slippery.

Wet decking

Wet wooden decking

Although wet decking on its own will not become very slippery moisture combined with other liquids, oils or even salt can create a perfect environment for accidents to happen.

For this reason its best not to use any of these substances on the decking if possible and if you do wash them off as soon as possible after they have spilled.

Icy decking

An obvious cause of slippery decking is ice and snow. Wooden decking can become a serious hazard when its covered in ice or snow as it will be much more difficult to get a grip on the surface.

Icy decking can also become slippery for different reasons, such as if you have not yet had an opportunity to clean the salt off your wooden decking after winter has passed and then suddenly there is rain.

Algae and moss on decking

Probably the most common cause of slippery decking is algae and moss. As they grow on your decking surface, the fibres in the timber become covered with a slimy bio-film which can make it very difficult to get any grip at all on the surface.

This become particularly bad when wet and can also rot the decking more quickly.

Dirty decking

Leaves and algae on decking

Small amounts of dirt from dust, feet and rain can make decking slippery, so it is important to clean the surface regularly. Dirt and organic matter also acts as food for algae, moss and other things which add to the slippery situation.

How to stop decking getting slippery

Now that we have covered the main reasons wooden decking can become slippery its time to look at the solutions. As a word of caution, these tips are primarily for soft wood decking such as pine. If you have a less common type of decking be sure to follow advice for your specific type. Learn more about the types of wooden decking.

1. Apply a coating to keep the moisture out

Applying non slip coating to decking to keep the moisture out

Most of the reasons decking gets slippery can’t happen without it first being wet. Its impossible to keep all water off your decking but you can make sure it is fairly resistant to water through applying coatings.

Decking oil can be very effective and protects it from water and helps keep out algae growth. Make sure to apply decking oil properly for maximum effect.

The right sealants and stains can also do a great job of protecting the timber from moisture ingress. Stains and sealers tend to be the most water resistant.

2.Keep the decking clean

Dirt build up on your decking can cause it to get slippery so its important that you regularly clean it. Specially if you have pets, children who love playing outside or the deck is near a lawn and garden area where there may be fertilisers used.

A regular sweep will ensure all dirt has been removed from the surface as well as any mould which can grow in damp areas.

To speed things up you can clean your decking with a pressure washer.

This will remove any build-up of grime and dirt from your decking, even in the hard to reach areas like under the handrail! Decking cleaning substances are another option for a quick clean as they’re specially designed to penetrate into every nook and cranny on your deck making it look brand new again.

3.Remove snow and Ice

removing snow and ice from decking with snow shovel

This may seem like an unnecessary job but snow and ice can be a slippery hazard on decking. This even applies when it has melted as it will leave any dirt it contained on the surface.

If you have used salt or other substances on the decking then this will need to be washed off before the snow or ice is removed.

Snow and ice can often hide any dirt on your decking, so it’s a good idea to knock back any build-up of this as well in order to prevent slipping incidents from happening.

Get yourself a plastic snow shovel to avoid damaging your decking.

4.Algae and moss killers

Algae and moss can be a real problem on decking. Not only do they make it slippery, but they are also unsightly to look at too!

However with the help of an algae or moss killer you will have your deck looking like new again in no time. It’s recommended that these treatments should be applied at least once a year to keep your deck looking its very best.

Ensure you go for treatment which is suitable for your decking type as some treatments can damage or discolour certain types of wood.

Be sure to read the product instructions thoroughly before applying any treatment, and always follow them correctly to avoid negative results such as staining or damaging the decking.

5. Slip resistant decking and surfaces

The final tip is to alter the surface to make it more slip resistant. This can be done in a variety of ways.

Many decking companies supply anti slip decking boards with a textured surface for this purpose.

Alternatively, you can coat your deck with a clear sealant which contains an abrasive to give the wood a slip resistant coating.

Be sure not to use anything containing silicone or wax and always follow any instructions fully before applying.

Rubber matting placed over the decking can also be a very good option just bare in mind that it may need replacing more frequently than the decking itself.

If you don’t want to buy new decking or cover it with rubber mats you could opt for non slip tape which is available in a variety of widths and lengths. Simply stick the tape down to create a much higher level of grip.

Finally you can use a layer of artificial grass to make your decking safer. The grass will help promote a slip resistant surface and also be easier to maintain than wood decking as it doesn’t require any sand or staining.

Just beware that any surface place over the decking will mean water takes longer to run away and will ultimately shorten the life of your decking.

Is grooved decking less slippery?

Grooved decking

Grooved decking is sometimes thought to be more slip resistant than flat decking but we have seen very little evidence that this is the case.

The grooves can actually cause more of a hazard than help as they may create an uneven surface and so make it less safe to walk on, which is why we don’t recommend them.

In conclusion

Slippery decking can be worse than no decking so its a good idea to do something about it early.

The primary cause of slippery decking is that the water sits on it and soaks into the wood. You can stop this happening by making sure you clean your decking regularly, in particular after rain or snowfall, and dry it off before anyone goes near

You can also make the surface of your decking much less slippery using rubber mats, artificial grass, grip tape and other solutions.

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