The myth about Decking ridges
In decking construction there is one question that is sure to ignite passionate argument: Should decking ridges face up or down?
There are debates that just won’t end.
Decking timber usually has ridges that run along the length of the board. Also called “grooves” or “reeds”. These ridges on the board may face up to provide functionality and aesthetics. Or they may be installed facing down, the orientation recommended by manufacturers as the correct way to install them.
The reeded side of the timber boards make for interesting patterns that look sleek and pleasing, thus many opting to beg the builders to install them face up.
But wait…there’s more! People also lay the decking timber ridge side up because they think that the ridges help increase traction and make the deck less slippery. And there are those who appreciate the feel of the textured surface on their bare feet, and harp on the therapeutic effects this provides too.
However, every decking timber manufacturer will tell you:
“the proper way to install a board is ridge side down”
The ridges, they say, were designed to let air circulate underneath the boards. This prevents the build-up of moisture and, consequently, of mould.
The truth about Decking ridges
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 actually think about it, with the ridges facing up, you realise 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.
The short term fixes people often try out…
We have seen many methods being used to enhance the traction on decking, but these methods are often very short lived. The methods that fail include:
Anti-slip coatings with grit
The coating has to be thick enough to hold the grit, and it will soon wear down and fade thus losing its slip resistance.
- 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 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 not a very reliable long term solution.
This being stuck down outside won’t last five minutes, it is simply not suitable for exterior applications.
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.
When wet they can be slippery, and if they are not secured down the mats even slip themselves, and yes, we have even seen unsightly old conveyor belting 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 totally impractical and actually contribute to the slip hazard that you are trying to solve.
How do you really 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 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 retro fit 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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