About Timber Decks

The photo to the left is a cut piece of wood viewed through a microscope. It appears as a honeycomb comprised of many microscopically small cells. Whenever a honey comb is cut the entire surface has open cells regardless of how carefully it is cut. Likewise, wherever a board is cut, the surface will have cells which are exposed like little “catch-basins.” Imagine for a moment, a red table covered with red bowls. At a distance the table appears solid red. Now, imagine Cheerios poured into the empty bowls. As the bowls become full, the dominant color changes from red to the color of the Cheerios. On an actual wood surface, the exposed cells are similar to our hypothetical cereal bowls.

On all exterior surfaces the following three substances naturally collect:

Microscopic particles (dust).
Emissions (air pollution).
Pollens (present everywhere).

Particles larger than the cells will be blown away by wind or washed off by rain. Smaller particles will fall into the cavity and become trapped by gravity, just as the “Cheerios” fell to the bottom of the bowls. Air pollution has become another contributing factor by creating an oily film on the surface, and by adding natural occurring pollens to the equation, creates an environment for constant maintenance. As a result, when the open cells are filled the color changes to grey, which is the color of the combined dust, emissions and pollens.

Why Does Wood Turn Grey?

The natural weathering process of wood is a combination of chemical, mechanical, biological and light-induced changes, all of which occur simultaneously and affect each other.  For instance, as air moves over the surface of a wood deck, dust, pollen, dirt, and air pollutants replace the exposed colored cells of the wood. This slow transformation is also made possible through the exposure of the sun’s ultraviolet rays, or salt particles in coastal areas. Depending on the species of wood, these changes can occur anywhere between a few months to years.

Deck finishes fall into two categories: Sealers and Stains

Sealers are clear finishes while stains are available in different “tones” or colours. Both sealers and stains penetrate the wood, stand up to foot traffic and protect from the elements. Paint, an opaque finish, forms a surface film on the deck and eventually shows wear from foot traffic, which is tricky to fix when reapplying the finish.

What Type of Finish Are You After

With so many deck finishes available, making the right choice may seem daunting. We take into consideration the location of your deck (does it get sun all day or shade?), what type of wood it is and how you want the finished, treated deck to look. Paint, clear finish, semi-transparent or opaque stain are all possible finishes.