Adding a timber decking area to your holiday home can bring many benefits to your guests; the perfect setting to make the most of long summer nights, increased space and freedom, and the ideal spot to read a book or enjoy an alfresco meal. These are just a few of the reasons decking areas have become increasingly popular, and equally common for holiday homes across the UK in recent years.
Whilst a decking may seem the ideal place to relax, they can pose a number of potential risks to your guests, and none more so than the potential for guests to slip. We take a look at the steps you can take to minimise the risk of your decking becoming unsafe and ensure your guests are able to safely enjoy your outdoor areas.
Many people will at some time have tried pressure washing their decking, which given that timber can be susceptible to a build up of algae and fungi, may on first thought seem like a sensible solution. However, pressure washing of this nature is not ideal for wood as it can destroy the surface of the timber, allowing more water to penetrate and lead to premature rotting. If you do use a pressure washer it’s advised not to hold the nozzle too close to the surface and spray in the direction of the grain whilst keeping the jet moving so as not to expose the timber to excessive wear.
In terms of preventing and managing algae, fungus, moss and lichen growth as we move toward the wetter winter months, consider investing in a spray that will treat potential growth. These can be purchased at any number of local DIY stores and it’s advisable to apply them twice a year to prevent unwanted build up of slippery growth. You may be tempted to use a chlorine based bleach, although this is neither friendly to the plants and animals in your garden or to your own health.
If like many of us you are looking for a more environmentally friendly alternative, consider using Oxygen bleach (Sodium Percarbonate). This free flowing powder, common name solid hydrogen peroxide is an environmentally safe bleaching agent which breaks down into oxygen, water and sodium carbonate upon decomposition. When added to warm water it can be used as an effective treatment to kill fungus and algae. This method combined with regular brushing with a stiff broom will keep the unwanted growth at bay.
Whilst sprays will eradicate potential algae growth, the inclement British weather means your decking could quickly resemble more of a slippery ice rink than a place for you to enjoy the summer evenings with your family as soon as the temperature dips and heavens open.
The grooving in many decking systems is also conducive to the build up of ice during the coldest months of the year, meaning your decking can quickly become treacherous. So, how do you ensure guests aren’t slipping and sliding dangerously as soon as they venture outside, particularly if they’re staying with you this autumn or winter?
Decking strips, whilst affecting the visual ascetic of your decking, are the most effective way of ensuring your decking doesn’t become slippery. They’re able to be fitted in a number of different widths, and will reduce the regularity with which your decking will need to be treated, and cleaned. Indeed new decking timbers are now available with non-slip surfaces set in to the topside of the timber, a serious consideration if you’re thinking of replacing tired decking or installing a new one.
If you’re adverse to the visual of a decking strip there are non-slip paints which can be applied to your decking to increase the level of friction between the decking and the person walking on it. If you do use these sprays, ensure you have procedures in place to regularly inspect, and re-spray as necessary.
If you have decking outside your holiday home, the chances are that it will be in a raised position. If you don’t already, consider if the addition of a balustrade or railing would be suitable. Seek advice from your installer and or local authority on regulations surrounding decking installation to ensure that you comply with all planning laws and building regulations.
Consider your safety and that of your guests in your risk assessment procedures. Implement a maintenance plan to reduce the risks of slips, trips and falls on your decking as far as possible. Include guidance for the use of the decking in your welcome information folder and continue to monitor the risk.
A quality holiday home insurance policy such as that offered by Boshers for UK holiday lets will include employers and public liability cover to indemnify you against your legal liability to pay damages and legal costs arising out of bodily injury to employees or accidental injury to guests or other visitors to your holiday let. However limiting the risk of slips and trips in your holiday home through prevention is always better than cure! We trust you have found these tips on essential decking maintenance for holiday lets of benefit.
You may also find the following post on preventing slips and trips of interest:
Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. For more information on how a specialist insurer can help and support your holiday home business, please give us a call on 01237 429444.