Thomas Rathbone has been provided expert finishing solutions for timber decking installations all over the UK, we asked him a few questions and this is what he said.
1. What trade are you and where did you do your education.
I'm not trained in any particular trade that's to say I do not have a City & Guilds or equivalent certificate for a trade. All my education for deck finishing products has come from my working with and for Owatrol and its
agents over the past 14 years, along with trips to the USA and France to trial various types of product. Prior to this I worked for one of the leading paint manufacturers for 15 years so came to have a good understanding of different surfaces and the types of finishes available. This has always been backed by a personal interest in and appreciation of wood and how best to look after it.
2. What made you choose the subjects that you studied
I guess since I didn't have any formal training this isn't relevant. That said, any studying I did was driven by my own desire to know more about wood, the different species that decks are built from and the best way to look after them. Specifically in relation to decking and other exterior wood structures where clear or natural finishes were required.
3. What got you interested in decking.
I watched the growth of the decking market in the UK in the 2000's whilst working for Owatrol in the UK. The more I got to learn about decking, the more I appreciative of what a great product and idea it was and by definition wanted to know more. This eventually led me to being part of a team that presented seminars around the country promoting best practice in deck construction and maintenance and which intensified my interest further.
4. Had you worked for any other decking companies prior to setting up your own?
Whilst building my current business, I also worked for Deckor Timber for a short time constructing decks from Southern Pine. A really enjoyable time and an opportunity to learn a lot about correct deck construction.
5. What is your company called, where is it based and what does it do?
I played around with a number of names before I settled on "Decking Décor". This name seemed to encompass everything to do with decorating - I use the word advisedly - a deck and all the ancillary items linked with it such as garden furniture, pergolas, Jacuzzis, fences etc. The business is based in York but works nationally and specialises in the cleaning, finishing and maintenance including repairs of decks and associated items.
6. What is your favourite timber and why?
While I love all timbers and the different characteristics that each possesses, I think clear and better graded Southern Pine has to be my favourite. I love the grain and structure of the wood and when I look at a deck made entirely of Southern Pine it just seems to be alive.
7. What is the most complex decking project you have been involved with?
This is not an easy question to answer since each project offers its own set of challenges. A memorable deck was a project constructed in Iroko in the centre of London, 5 floors up on the roof and the only way to get equipment up there including the power washer was via stairs on the inside of the building. Not only that but the client had requested that the woods tannins be part of the finish. The final effect was good and gave the deck and planters a sort of rustic look when finished. Of course there is also the one where I had to don a pair of waders and stand in the river Thames so that I could treat the vertical boards that hung down from the boardwalk!! And don't forget the clients, who without them we would not have a business but do occasionally
like to throw the odd curved ball.
8. Where do you see yourself in 5/10 years time?
I'd like to think that I'll still be doing this but may be having a couple of teams on the road as well, with some international work to keep them busy in the winter months. You never know, I may even have made enough to retire; now there's a dream!!
9. Would you like to say anything else?
Umm now you really have me thinking! I don't think there is, other than it is always interesting to hear of others experiences and to exchange ideas, now thanks to the Decking Network, we can. After all, you're never too old to learn.