1) The myth about decking ridges on boards
Argued for hours on end and with great passion is the age-old question:
What is the correct way to lay decking?
Any decking board manufacturer or professional will tell you:
“The proper way to install a decking board is ridge side down.”
The ridges are designed to allow for airflow, to stop moisture sitting in the ridge, and allow for a stronger structure. These lead to a less slippery deck as the moisture can drain better, and it can air dry.
2) What are the ridges for on a decking board?
Decking timber has ridges that run along the length of the board, also called ‘grooves’ or ‘reeds’. Incorrectly installed, the ridges will be face up as people thinks it’s aesthetic and functional. The reeded side of the timber boards makes for interesting patterns that look sleek and pleasing, thus many opting to beg the builders to install them face up.
They should be installed facing down, the orientation recommended by manufacturers as the correct way to install them.
3) Why do people install decking the wrong way up?
If you thought that was the only reason why people install their decking the wrong way up, you’d be wrong. People also lay the decking board groove side up because they think that the ridges help increase traction and make the deck less slippery. This is simply untrue; wood is slippery no matter what.
Some people also preach the therapeutic benefits of the ridges on the feet, but the same effect can be achieved by rolling out your feet on a stick, or massage ball. If you want to feel wood on your feet, a walk in the forest will be a much more natural way to achieve this.
4) The truth about laying decking grooves correctly
So, contrary to popular belief, the ridges are not there to keep you from slipping and sliding around your deck. Nor are they intended to make your deck look nice.
They are actually there as a structural feature to improve its longevity.
When you think about it, with the ridges facing up, you realize the boards tend to collect moisture between the grooves; a situation that can spiral dangerously downward when mould starts to multiply or when the timber starts to rot.
While a flat side up of the decking board may seem like it’s going to be slippy, there’s something you can do to prevent slipping. Install GripClad GRP Non-Slip Decking Strips. Some people may rave about chicken wire, grit coatings, these all don’t work, as we have seen many times.
The short-term fixes people often try out to prevent slipping
We have seen many methods being used to enhance the traction on decking, but these methods are often very short-lived and cost a lot to replace regularly. The methods that fail include:
- Grit and anti-slip coatings. They don’t last long enough and require curing.
- Non-slip tape. This doesn’t last outdoors and will probably cause more damage than good.
- Chicken wire. If loose, it will cut feet and cause people to trip.
- Rubber mats. These hold dirt and slip around if not secured.
1. Anti-slip coatings with grit
The coating used has to be thick enough to hold the grit, and it will soon wear down and fade thus losing its slip resistance. It also doesn’t look the nicest and often coats the decking so entirely that you lose the appearance of the deck. All kinds of attempts have been made to stop slipping by using a sand and paint solution.
- Any coating and grit method will require a primer coat thick enough to hold a size 16 grit granule and then a 12-hour wait to cure off followed by a further 12 hours for a second coat to seal it.
- You need to ensure it is not applied too thickly otherwise you will lose the gritted surface.
- Eventually, after a few months, the grit tends to be kicked out and wear down very quickly. So it’s not a very reliable long-term solution.
2. Non-slip tape – doesn’t last
Sticking down non-slip tape outside won’t last five minutes, it is simply not suitable for exterior applications.
3. Chicken Wire – the cutting corners method
Believe it or not, this is the cheapest solution that we still see being used. It’s another ‘cutting corners’ and pointless method which not only is a trip hazard, but it breaks up easily ready to slash and cut ankles. Chicken wire really is the worst solution, just stick to fencing in the chickens with this.
4. Rubber Matts – more hazardous than they’re worth
When wet they can be slippery, and if they are not secured down, the mats themselves even slip. We have even seen unsightly old conveyor belt-covered decking, and when that gets wet it’s like an ice rink.
Many of these cheap and nasty attempted methods are not only short-lived but they’re totally impractical and actually contribute to the slip hazard that you are trying to solve.
Timber and decking require specialist solutions that fulfill health and safety requirements and that last a long time.
How do you actually avoid slipping on timber decking?
So, what are the real long-term answers? Well…quite simply it is GripClad’s GRP Anti-slip 4.0mm Sheets and Decking Strips. Most decking boards are supplied to 145mm so we can cut our cleats to that size or less.
GripClad composite anti-slip products have proven to be the ultimate slip resistance solutions for decking boards. It is the most hardwearing long-term solution on all walking surfaces.
We have many customers who have had our product down on boards for 10 years and they look as new as the day they were installed. No sign of any wear or tear!
You can cover the whole or part of decking, or even in a staggered fashion – either way, using this product WILL reduce slip accidents dramatically and permanently.
To find out more about our retrofit solution which is extremely durable, lighter, stronger, longer-lasting, and easier to fit, click here. For more information on the variety of decking strip products we provide, give us a call on 02380 406796.
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