Care and Maintenance
It is important to always consider correct care and maintenance of wood in use.
Wood components must have been correctly designed and specified in accordance with best practice for wood protection. Essentials to be considered are how the design sheds water, allows for ventilation, is properly preservative treated (if required) and that any finish such as paint or stain has been correctly applied.
The conditions in service may change with time. The hazard class can change owing to such factors as the rise in ground levels, build up of dirt, deterioration of mastic details and weathering of finishes.
It follows that regular inspection and maintenance are essential for long service life. All too often action is only taken when wood components are showing signs of failure. The inspection may require that moisture content checks are made. For example, if windows and doors sag on their hinges, water will become trapped and absorbed into end grain resulting in failed finishes, decay or delamination of glued components.
For exterior usage, check that the ground levels have not risen or that dirt and moss have not accumulated which can increase the hazard from Class 3 to Class 4.
Inspect components for signs of softening, moulds and staining and determine the causes.
Exterior finishes, with planned maintenance, may only need cleaning and the application of a fresh coat of stain. Paint finishes will need more careful appraisal. The life of exterior finishes may be from 5 to 8 years depending on exposure conditions. If flaking has developed then removal of the coating system will be necessary before reapplication. In this case there is often the opportunity to improve the sytem by rounding all edges since sharp edges thin the paint film and result in flaking. If the paint system has failed, the moisture content of the substrate may well be high and must be allowed to dry before recoating. Consideration should be given to the possible application of wood preservatives to give added protection.
Bare wood surfaces should be sanded shortly before coating since sunlight rapidly degrades the surface to which the paint must adhere..
Water repellent stain systems may only require cleaning and recoating.
Garden furniture may well need precautionary recoating every one or two years.
Wood in the interior environment may become wet and decay as a result of penetrating damp or plumbing failures. Changes in occupation styles and well-intentioned improvements such as insulation and draught proofing have resulted in a big increase in condensation problems with subsequent risks of decay.
"A well designed and executed wooden balcony. The radiused edges prevent the paint film thinning, the end grain has been carefully sealed and the design has no water traps."
Wood under clear finishes will become bleached and faded where exposed to daylight. Window boards and floors often suffer in this way and can only be recovered by careful staining and refinishing. Floors are particularly problematic as when the finish starts to wear through or gets cracked, serious staining and discolouration rapidly develops.