prepare your deck for the winter

Winter Deck Maintenance Tips

The first snowfall of the year is always enchanting. However, when your deck isn’t ‘winterized,’ you’re looking at damage and repairs once springtime comes around. Taking preventative measures is the easiest way to ensure its longevity and prevent costly repairs. Here are five-deck maintenance tips to get ready for springtime.

Remove Debris from Your Deck

Deck cleaning needs to be the first thing on your list. This involves sweeping away any built-up debris like pine needles, leaves, and branches. As you slip from fall to winter, it’s likely the falling leaves have found a home on your deck. You can also trim back nearby branches to help prevent build-up.

When removing debris, another great tip to keep in mind is to watch out for anything that traps moisture, like outdoor furniture or potted plants. Large planter pots, for instance, drain excess water through holes in the bottom that leaks directly onto your deck. The water can get trapped between the pot and the wood, leading to mold, mildew, or rot.

Consider elevating pots with water-resistant wood like cedar or moving the pots periodically. Remember that the wintertime will only create more moisture with the melting snow. This is something to keep in mind as you go through your deck cleaning checklist.

Scrub Away Deck Stains

Next, you want to scrub the surface using an oxygen-based bleach solution and power wash afterward. It will remove stains and mildew, bringing forward a like-new appearance. You can buy a cleaning solution from the store, online, or make it at home.

One popular DIY option includes mixing the following:

• 1 quart of oxygen bleach

• 3 quarts of water

• ¼ cup of ammonia-free liquid dishwashing detergent

After combining these liquids, spray them onto the deck. Let the mixture sit for 20 to 30 minutes before power washing away.

Sealing and Staining Your Deck

Deck sealing and staining are essential for winter deck protection. Without it, the deck can crack or warp if moisture, like melted snow, gets into small cracks. One of the best steps to preserving your deck is with the aid of a water-repellant sealer or stain. If the current seal or stain is in poor condition, you may have to strip the deck first.

Snow Removal

A common belief is that the sheer weight of built-up snow can cause the wood to warp. The answer to this is split. A well-built, structurally sound deck can withstand the weight. However, a metal shovel can also cause damage as you try to clear the snow. If the snowfall is light, or you need a pathway to leave, try sweeping with a broom first. If the snow has piled up, it might be time to break out a shovel. If you have to do this, remember these two tips:

Use a plastic shovel. A plastic shovel will be gentler to the wood than a metal one.

Shovel parallel rather than perpendicular. Will prevent the shovel from catching the planks and gouging them.

Ice Removal

Standard snow prevention methods include throwing down salt or chemicals. These removal methods can discolor and ruin the stain or sealant for a deck. A safer option is to use something pet safe because they tend to be less harsh than other ice removal options.

Chippers are an absolute no-go for deck maintenance in the winter. They can damage the surface and create dents. Chippers can also worsen existing cracks.

The Bottom Line

Maintaining your deck in the winter can ensure it’s enjoyable in the warmer months. By ‘winterizing’ it, you preserve its longevity and avoid making a safety concern right outside your home. Next time you’re preparing for the wintertime, be sure to prioritize things like debris removal, deck sealing, and staining, or power washing your deck.