It is important to coat any deck with a suitable material to protect it from the elements. Wood is susceptible to damage from water, where moisture can make it twist or warp, from ultraviolet radiation from the sunlight, causing discoloration, and from fungal infections. Even woods which contain a high oil content, such as cedar, will deteriorate rapidly without suitable coating. Large, horizontal surfaces, like decks, need particular care. Paints and coatings which form a ‘film’ are unsuitable for these environments: proper epoxy coatings or stains should be used instead.
Choosing the right kind of deck coating is dependent on the anticipated use of the area. If it is an area where there is a high level of traffic, the properties of the coating need to be such that it will not be affected by the weight of cars and the heat generated by their tires. The best quality vehicular traffic coatings are epoxy based, but the difference between these and general epoxy floor coatings is their additional strength and ability to withstand harsher treatment. In addition to providing waterproofing and protection from UV damage, a quality vehicular coating will be able to resist the many chemicals present in vehicular environments, from petrol residues to de-icing agents. ‘Hot tire lifting’ or ‘pick up’ is a process of damaging the coating, caused by the heat of the vehicle’s tire coming into contact with the epoxy floor covering, reactivating the curing process and forcing the epoxy to return to its liquid state. It then becomes stuck to the tires, leaving areas of damage on the floor itself. Epoxy floor coatings are ideal in numerous environments, but where there is likelihood of motorized movement a specialist vehicular traffic coating should be used. To apply an epoxy coating, the floor must first be thoroughly cleaned and prepared, including scrubbing it to remove any loose material or debris. Treat any holes or cracks, being sure to allow filler to properly dry before continuing with the coating process. Following the instructions given by the manufacturer of the particular epoxy being used, mix the components together to create the solution. It is crucially important to try and judge the required quantity of solution as once the floor coating has started it would be inconvenient to run out of epoxy mixture. Using a trowel on decking floors, carefully apply the epoxy into an even layer. The surface will generally need to cure for at least 48 hours, during which time it must not be walked over or disturbed. It is best to always hire a professional who knows how to apply deck coatings.