Wooden balconies are one of the most distinct and remarkable features in the island country of Malta. Balconies have such a great significance in the country that almost every traditional house in Malta features a colorful wooden balcony. Aside from its aesthetic purposes, balconies serve as a relaxation point where one can have a morning coffee or breakfast, a quick glance on the streets and the neighbors, and even drying out the laundry.
Continued exposure to the elements can take a toll on the appearance of these structures. Years of improper care and maintenance will make wooden balconies appear weathered and unattractive. Fortunately, most wooden balcony problems are merely cosmetic and not structural since they are mostly built using hardwoods that are naturally resistant to termites and decays. Using paints and oils can also make the woods more durable, weather-resistant and water-proof. But before using paints, oils and other stains, maintaining, cleaning and inspecting the wooden material must be done first.
Removing old paints and finishes
Before applying any new paints or finishes on wooden balconies, it is imperative that the old paints must be extensively removed first. Applying paint/finish strippers is one of the best ways in doing this. Use strippers that are mild, biodegradable and contains less caustic as this will ensure that the wooden material will not succumb easily to the chemicals and it will be safer to the environment. Use rollers or sprays in applying the stripper and do not leave it longer than the recommended time on the label. Pressure washer can be used in removing and rinsing the stripper after the treatment.
Wood rot inspection
Most wooden materials that are used in constructing wooden balconies are resistant to rot especially if it were treated. But like any wood, it will still rot it stays wet long enough for water to penetrate the surface. Most wood rots occur in places where it is hard to see such as corners, areas in between the boards, inside the areas where nails or screws are driven. Take time to inspect where wood rot is taking place and assess if it would need replacement or repair. If the rot does not exceed ½ inch deep, it is better to just leave them in place and cover them with paints or oils to prevent it from spreading. For more extensive rots, it is better to replace them with new rot-resistant boards. If the nails used in these woods are always popping out, do not pound them back; replace them with new and longer nails to securely fasten them in place.
How to clean wooden balconies
Aside from the usual sweeping of dirt and debris using broom, extensive cleaning of wooden balconies must be done to maintain the beauty of the wooden balconies. To remove mildew, oxidation stains and dirt, purchase commercial wood cleaners that is ideal to be used in any kind of wooden material. Follow the mixing procedure in the labels and be sure to wear gloves and googles.
For a more extensive cleaning, use a pressure washer to blast debris and other hard-to-remove dirt and grime on the wood. Have the nozzle arc in about 25 to 40 degrees to easily cover large areas of the balcony. Make sure not to spray too long on a certain area and not get too close to the wood as this will weaken the wood and slowly erode the material almost immediately. Allow the balcony to dry out for several days before applying paints and other finishes.
Finishing the wooden balconies
After cleaning-up the balconies, thoroughly dry-up them before sealing them with paints and other finishes. Do not wait too long to do this though as the surface might get dirty again. There are certain paints and finishes that are only ideal for wooden materials; it is best to consult a paint expert in this matter. These paints should contain either oil, paraffin or both to keep the moisture from soaking in and damaging the wood. In addition to this, paints and finishes should have UV blockers to protect the color from the harsh heat of the sun.
Aside from paints, you can choose semi-transparent stains, opaque stains and clear sealers if you want to have a more natural wooden look in your balconies. Oil-bases stains and paints are best from water protection, but water-bases paints and stains are easier to apply and clean.