Your deck has treated you well during the warmer months, so it’s time to return the favor. Heavy use, sun, and incidental damage can all take a toll on a residential deck during the summer, and as summer turns to fall and fall to winter, a new set of problems may arise. How do we protect decks from the elements?
“Before winter weather sets in, fall is an opportune time to give your deck some preventative TLC,” said Scott Cline, owner of J&B Construction. “Protecting your deck from the elements can prevent costly repairs, keep it looking good, and ensure it will be ready for action when warm weather returns.” So, is your deck ready for winter? Consider these tips for helping your deck weather the harsh season ahead.
The first step to winterizing your deck is to properly store outdoor furniture. “You’ll want to wash outdoor tables and chairs and store them indoors, if possible, to avoid leaving marks on the decking from inconsistent weathering,” Scott said.
Next, remove any planters, pots, or storage containers, as moisture trapped between the deck and plastic, wood, or ceramic containers can encourage mildew, discoloration, or decay.
After these steps are completed, inspect the deck for damage. “Once everything is off the deck, take a close look at the decking boards, railings, and supports,” said Scott. “Make sure to make any necessary repairs before cold and wet conditions worsen any existing problems.”
Following the damage inspection, thoroughly clean the deck using products recommended for the job. “Power washing can restore the beauty of a well-used deck, but it should be done with care,” he said. “For instance, if the pressure is set too high, it can remove finishes or even scar wood.”
Subsequently, you’ll want to consider using water repellents. If the deck has lost its finish from years of use, it may be time to refinish. “If the luster is beyond rescue, paints designed for deck use have significantly improved in recent years and may be the best solution to extend the life of older decks. “In many cases, re-staining and the application of a water repellent will bring back your deck’s beauty and keep it protected from the elements for a few more years,” Scott said.
Finally, you will want to be prepared for snow removal when the time comes. Sweep leaves from your deck regularly in the fall and routinely clear snow to minimize damage and fading from prolonged contact with snow and ice. A blower is preferred, but when shoveling, push snow with the boards instead of against them to avoid scarring wood with an aggressive shoveling technique.
“With these few simple steps, you can winterize your deck so it survives the onslaught of ice, snow, sleet, and moisture that can cause serious damage during the coming months,” he said.