Timber decking is an easy and inexpensive way to extend living spaces outdoors, adding space and functionality to the home while providing a striking feature for the backyard or garden. Australian hardwoods, such as spotted gum, are becoming an increasingly popular timber choice for outdoor use. These timbers are approved by the Forest Stewardship Council and are an environmentally friendly option. Often sold as mixed Australian hardwoods or river reds, these timbers are naturally very oily, making it essential that the proper care be taken when preparing them for use.
As a general guideline, Australian hardwoods should be weathered for four to six weeks before being cleaned with a specialist deck cleaner. This will ensure the oils within the timber restrict the way the coating absorbs into the timber to give it protection. Treated pine is a timber that is also being commonly used for decking, furniture, fences and other outdoor features. It is a readily available timber that provides a more affordable and more sustainable option for exterior use than timbers such as jarrah and merbau.
Treated pine has a light green colour that can be easily transformed to give outdoor spaces a makeover. Water-based solutions such as Intergrain NaturalStain can be used to change the colour to replicate a more exotic timber species, or to a tone that coordinates with the house and landscape design. It changes the colour of timber without hiding the natural timber features. The result is timber that only the most trained eye will be able to tell is stained… most people will think it’s the natural colour of the timber.
For a dramatic outdoor living and entertainment space, architects, landscape designers and new home builders are favouring monochrome colour palettes – sophisticated blacks, greys and whites – to create interesting and eye-catching exterior features. These timeless colours coordinate with most colour schemes and look fantastic with lush green plantings.
This is a look that is easy to achieve with the wide range of stains available on the market. Stain colours currently being specified by leading architects include Beachhouse Grey, Blackburn, Snow Gum and Charcoal or Driftwood. Cabot’s Brand Manager, Natalie van den Akker, says natural timber colour continues to be a popular colour choice for those who are looking to achieve a modern yet classic look. This is especially true when using hardwood timbers that are naturally rich in colour and features.
“In order to preserve the look and feel of these timbers and extend the life of the outdoor space, consumers can use a high quality coating such as Cabot’s Aquadeck New Natural to provide durable protection from the elements,” she says.
Timber decking continues to grow in popularity as homeowners embrace the outdoor room. Unfortunately, through winter, decks are often left neglected for extended periods of time and the resulting weather damage can leave them looking tired and dull.
Timber staining is a quick and easy solution to breathe new life into the outdoor space in preparation for spring, either to revive weathered timber or achieve a whole new look and feel in time for the entertaining season. Beyond the deck, screening and fencing have becoming more prevalent in landscaping, with timber becoming more and more commonly used by architects and landscapers as a design feature rather than a purely functional material.
As people spend more and more time outside enjoying their decking, there has been an increasing demand for long lasting products that are going to keep the deck looking fresher for longer. Hard wearing protective coatings should be used on all outdoor timber to preserve the look and feel of it for much longer than traditional decking oils.
Indoor floors, furniture & fittings
Increasingly, people are choosing to refresh, revamp or reuse their existing timber features and furniture to achieve contemporary living spaces. Not afraid to be bold and creative with their colour choices, homeowners are looking to stain timber floors before coating with a flooring clear finish to create a striking result and make a statement with their floors.
Feast Watson Brand Manager, Stuart McCausland, says a big colour statement on floors can take design aesthetics to the next level. Dark floors, for instance, can be used to add sophistication, opulence and warmth to rooms while also creating a powerful backdrop for light furniture, cabinetry or stone surfaces.
“Dark floors can be achieved on almost all timber floors, regardless of their starting colour or age, says Stuart. “Feast Watson’s Prooftint stain has exceptional clarity, so it dyes timber with rich colour without disguising its natural features and grain. The effect is floorboards that look to be milled from an exotic dark timber species. There’s no evidence that the colour was added.”
For those wanting to achieve a bright and airy environment, whites and limed floors are a beautiful addition to the home and will lighten the appearance of any room. Liming is like a whitewash, allowing the characteristics and variations of the timber to show through while creating a fresh and clean feel to the space.
Good quality water-based finishes give high clarity and cool tones to timber flooring, whilst providing excellent durability and long-lasting wear. Fast becoming the topcoat of choice for homeowners, water-based finishes are non-yellowing – to help preserve the colour of the timber. Water-based products are very easy to apply and, along with low odour and fast drying results, they allow users to achieve a fresh new look for floorboards with minimal interruption.
It’s becoming easier than ever to use timber in high use areas like the kitchen, with flat pack timber and bamboo kitchen bench tops now readily available, and the emergence of easy to use cleaning and maintenance products to help protect them from everyday wear and tear.
Regular, daily use and exposure to hot steam from dishwashers, stoves or ovens can wear down the protective layers of timber and cause splits and holes to develop. Because these can be difficult to clean, they become a hiding place for bacteria. Therefore, it’s important that the proper care and attention be taken with kitchen timber to keep it looking its best.