The Spanish climate lends itself to an alfresco lifestyle, facilitated by many external timber constructions. Wood treatment - or tratamiento madera - is essential to its preservation.
When buying wooden garden furniture, installing decking or building wooden residences, it is essential that you prime the wood once assembled. External timber is supplied with a factory base coat - usually water-based - acting solely as a primer. Apply a good quality ‘tratamiento madera', and repaint annually.
Varnish is not recommended; instead there are a variety of preservatives and treatments available in a choice of colours. Use a good quality, preferably spirit-based application, for longer lasting protection.
Water-based treatments can become less effective after a few months of being weathered, especially if applied towards the end of a Spanish summer season.
Preparation is key
Ensure you are wearing old clothing when applying the timber treatment, as it may splash. Additionally, gloves are a good idea, as spirit-based treatments can irritate the skin.
The wood should be clean, dry and free from any type of surface coating, including paint, varnish, etc. Scrape or sand the wood, if necessary, but avoid the inhalation of dust. Clean weathered and dirty wood using a stiff brush, detergent and water. Rinse and allow to dry.
When treating the construction, ensure all surfaces are covered liberally, as moisture can penetrate the smallest of openings, and over time your building will show signs of damp and rot.
Most treatments can be brushed or sprayed on. Shake the tin or stir thoroughly before and during use, to ensure colour consistency. If you splash nearby surfaces, such as glass and brickwork, clean off while still wet. After use, remove as much product as possible from brushes before cleaning with water.
Choosing the best treatment
When choosing timber care, do not be swayed by price. A cheaper product is not necessarily the best deal, as it may need more coats to be applied more often. Some manufacturers produce strong formulations that ensure wood is weather-proofed for five years, so these applications may be a better spend of your time and money.
Active ingredients penetrate into the timber to protect the wood against rot, decay and fungal growth. And water repellent waxes and resins help waterproof the wood against rain penetration. UV filters also help protect against colour fading.
Good-quality treatments can be used on rough sawn or smooth planed garden wood, such as summerhouses, sheds, cladding, fencing and decking. They may also be suitable for bare wood, or wood that has been previously pressure-treated or treated with a wood preservative (providing it has been allowed to weather).
Wet and dry rot
Both wet and dry rot originates where timber gets wet, so check under timber floors, in cellars, attics and lofts, outhouses and garages, and around external door and window frames. Wet and dry rot can be treated, but it is essential to remove the cause of the damp conditions that caused them in the first place.
An infestation of woodworm can lead to a serious weakening of structural timber, and it can also spoil the appearance of decorative wood. An attack by wood-boring insects is distinguished by the distinctive flight holes, which appear on the surface of the timber.
There are a number of penetrative treatments on the market that will not only eradicate woodworm, but also prevent it from returning in future years.
Invest in a good preparation, to ensure effective and long-lasting tratamiento madera , throughout all of the Spanish seasons.