The bracing winds of January are blowing in and with them the fresh promise of a new year. But depending on where you live, those same winds can also bring harsh temperatures, snow and ice. While the inside of your home may be protected from the winter elements, the exterior of your home is very much exposed. If your home features a wooden deck, it will need special attention this season. Here are some tips on how to winterize your deck and keep it looking its best year-round.
Clean Your Deck Thoroughly
To prepare your deck for winter, give it a good cleaning with a pressure washer. Doing so will not only remove ingrained dirt and grime, but this also helps you uncover any areas of decay. If you spot portions of wood that remain wet after other parts of the deck have dried, poke them with a screwdriver to test for rot. If the wood does not splinter and feels spongy, it may be compromised. Now is also a good time to look for any damage to your deck caused by insects.
Additionally, consider applying a water-repellant finish to your deck once cleaning is complete. Doing so will help protect against damage caused by damp winter elements, such as ice, snow, sleet and rain.
Repair Loose Boards
Once you give your deck a good once-over, repair any loose boards or damaged wood. According to the North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA), you should check for loose nails and screws, secure any that need tightening and replace any that may have fallen out. Also, your deck should appear even without any sagging and should not sway or move when tested.
Cover Your Deck
One way to prevent the majority of winter elements from settling on your deck and damaging it is to use a deck cover. You have many options when covering a deck. You could hire a contractor to build a permanent roof over your deck. Alternately, for a temporary fix, you can cover the exposed woodwork, using plastic tarps found at your local home improvement or hardware store.
Store And Protect Outdoor Furniture
If your deck is fully outfitted with outdoor furniture, now is the time to protect it. Clean your deck furniture, just as you would your deck itself, using a pressure washer to remove stubborn dirt and grime. Once cleaning is complete, bring any furniture cushions and fabric coverings indoors. NADRA also recommends taking the time to store all deck-related chemicals (including cleaning solutions) away during the winter months.
When inclement weather deposits accumulations of snow or ice on your deck, they can become quite heavy and place an extra burden on the structure itself. If you are able to remove the snow, shovel it in a pattern that’s parallel to deck boards. Also, use a plastic rather than a metal shovel to avoid scratching the wood.
To remove ice, use a melting compound. Several different formulas are available. Choose the one specifically designed for the type of wood or composite material out of which your deck is constructed. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions and safety precautions when using these compounds.
Looking for more ideas on how to enhance and maintain your home's outdoor living features? Be sure to check out the American Home Shield® Home Matters blog.