The leaves are changing, the temperatures are dropping, and that can only mean one thing: winter is coming. For many of us, that also means the arrival of snow and ice. One part of our homes that often suffers during the winter months is our deck. Wood is a natural material that is prone to damage and rot when exposed to the elements and the harsh winter weather . To ensure that your deck can withstand the cold, there are a few steps you should take to prepare it for winter.
To make sure your wooden deck stays looking great through the winter months, you should take some time to prepare it for the cold weather. Here are a few tips for getting your deck ready for winter:
What is Composite Decking?
Before we dive into how to prepare your deck for winter, it’s important to understand what composite decking is. Composite decking is a material made of wood and plastic that looks like natural wood but is more durable and can withstand extreme weather conditions. It’s also easier to maintain than traditional wood decks, so it’s a great option for those looking to keep their deck in tip-top shape all year round.
Tips for Keeping Your Deck Surface Safe and Well-Maintained During Winter
1. Clean Your Deck's Surface
The first step in preparing your wooden deck for winter is to give it a good cleaning. Shovel snow and debris off the surface and use a power washer to remove dirt, algae, and other buildup. This will help reduce damage from water accumulation or freezing temperatures.
Start by sweeping off any leaves and debris that may have collected on the surface. Then, use a pressure washer to thoroughly clean the entire deck. This will help remove dirt and grime that has built up over the summer months. Shovel snow away from your deck as soon as it falls to reduce the amount of moisture that accumulates and prevent it from freezing.
Once it is dry, inspect the surface of your deck for any signs of damage such as splintering or cracking. If you find any, you will need to repair it before continuing.
2. Inspect Your Deck for Wood Rot & Insects
Wood is vulnerable to rot and insect infestation, especially when exposed to the elements. Therefore, it's important to inspect your deck for signs of mold, mildew, and algae growth. Additionally, if you notice any holes or cracks, these are signs of wood-boring insects. If you find evidence of either of these, it's important to take care of them right away before the winter weather sets in.
Apart from wood rot and insect infestation, check for other potential damage and stains . If there are any, clean them as soon as possible. Look for areas that are soft or discolored as these could be signs of wet rot. You should also check for termite tunnels or other types of insect damage. If you find any, you'll need to repair or replace the affected boards before winter comes.
3. Trim Back Nearby Plants
Plants and shrubs can easily grow up against your deck over the summer months. Before winter arrives, make sure to trim any plants that are growing too close to your deck. This will help prevent moisture from getting trapped between the deck boards and the foliage, which could lead to rot or other damage.
Additionally, if you have any trees or tall shrubs near your deck, consider trimming back the branches. This will help reduce the amount of snow and ice that accumulates on top of your deck during winter storms.
4. Seal Your Deck with a Wood Preservative
Once your deck is clean and dry, it's time to seal it with a wood preservative. This will help protect the wood from moisture, rot and other types of damage that could be caused by winter weather. Choose a preservative that is specifically designed for outdoor wood surfaces, and follow the manufacturer's instructions for application.
5. Protect Your Deck with a Clear Sealant
Once your deck is clean and any repairs have been completed, the next step is to protect it by applying a clear sealant. This will help create an invisible barrier that will protect your deck from moisture and wear and tear over the winter months. Go for a water-repellant sealant that is specifically designed for outdoor wood surfaces. These types of products have been designed to stand up against the elements, so they will help keep your deck looking great in the long run.
Guidelines for Using Your Wood Deck During Winter
Many homeowners are wary of using their decks during the winter months, but there are some deck maintenance tips you can take to prepare your deck to make sure it stays safe and in top shape all throughout the winter season.
1. Stay Off When The Temperature Falls Below Zero
Extremely cold temperatures can cause serious damage to your deck. Make sure to avoid walking or placing furniture on it when the temperature falls below zero degrees.
2. Shovel Snow Regularly
Snow accumulation can increase the chances of moisture getting trapped between boards, which could lead to rot or other types of damage. Therefore, it's important to shovel snow off your deck on a regular basis. Additionally, clearing away snow regularly will also help keep your deck looking better for longer.
3. Avoid Using Salt or De-Icers
Salt and de-icers can be harmful to wood because it tends to draw out moisture and cause the wood to dry out. Therefore, it's best to avoid using these products on your deck during winter months. Instead, opt for sand or wood chips when trying to create traction and prevent slipping.
4. Keep An Eye Out For Ice
Ice can be a major hazard on decks in the wintertime. Make sure you keep an eye out for any large accumulations of ice that could form on your deck. If you do find any, remove it as soon as possible to prevent slips and falls. Letting ice to accumulate can damage your deck boards, so make sure to take action quickly.
5. Regularly Check For Damage
Although you may not be able to use your deck during winter, that doesn't mean you should ignore it. Perform a general inspection of both your wood surface and your deck furniture. Pay attention to any signs of damage such as broken boards, loose screws or nails, and other forms of wear and tear. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, take action quickly before the problem worsens.
6. Re-Seal Your Deck Every Year
Finally, make sure to re-seal your entire deck every year. This will help keep your deck looking great and ensure that it is properly protected against moisture and other wintertime hazards. When spring rolls around and it's time to start using your deck again, make sure to take the necessary steps to keep it in great condition all year round.
7. Clean, Cover, and Secure Your Deck Furniture, Hot Tub, and Potted Plants.
Cleaning your outdoor furniture will help get rid of dirt and debris, while covering them with weather-resistant covers will protect them from the elements. Don't forget to bring in any planters or potted plants you have on your deck, particularly if they are made from ceramic as these can crack during colder winter temperatures. Moisture build-up beneath the pots and planters can also cause extensive discolouration, decay, and even mildew growth over the course of winter so be sure to take them inside!
Securing your deck and patio furniture, hot tub and BBQ griller is also essential during winter. This can be done by using deck furniture tie-downs or even just simply tying the items to the railing of your deck. Doing this will prevent any wind from blowing them away and help keep them secure throughout winter.
8. Ensure Regular Maintenance of Your Wood Deck During Cold Months
Finally, regular maintenance is a must for any wood deck. This includes cleaning, sanding and resealing your deck each year to keep it looking its best. Set a time mid-way through the winter season to inspect your deck for any signs of damage and repair it as soon as possible. After the snow melts, do a final check up to make sure everything is in order before you start using your deck for the summer season.
Your patio is a great outdoor space to enjoy during warmer months, but it's important to remember that decks are more susceptible once fall and winter starts to roll in. Therefore, taking proactive steps such as clearing snow, avoiding salt and de-icers, and regularly inspecting for signs of damage is essential if you want your deck to remain in good condition throughout winter.
By following these deck maintenance tips can help keep your wood deck in great condition during the winter season. Just make sure to take action quickly, be mindful of any temperature drops and snow accumulation, and perform regular maintenance checks to ensure your deck is always ready for the next season!