As the cold weather continues, do you find yourself staring longingly at your deck, wishing that the days of barbecues and drinks with little umbrellas in them would hurry up already? We thought so. There’s not much we can do about the cold, but there is a lot you can do–even now–to make sure your deck is in prime condition for warm weather which will eventually come back.
A couple (but not all!) of the most important tasks for preserving your deck’s finish and function need to be done ahead of time. If you didn’t get around to these steps this year, put them on your list for next fall.
Wash Your Deck
Whether it’s soot from the grill or ground-in play dough from your kids’ autumn playdates, get it gone! HGTV recommends using a bleach-free wood cleaner to help prevent yellowing. They also note that some cleaners have applicators that can be used with home garden hose.This step should be done at least a few days, and up to a full week, before your next step so that the wood on your deck has ample time to dry.
Use a Protective Sealant
Once your deck is cleaned (and dry), it will be in prime shape for application of a sealant to help protect it from the elements and repel moisture. You can use a clear sealant or a stain, but make sure that it contains the word “waterproofing.” In addition to protecting your deck in the winter, a high quality stain will also offer UV protection–a year-round benefit.
It’s best to avoid doing this work in the midday sun–most companies suggest getting a coat of sealant on in the morning or late afternoon hours. And it’s important not to overcoat your deck. Follow the instructions, and don’t assume that more coats will offer more protection.
*Note: If you missed this step this year, and if you are lucky enough to have a spell of warmer, dry weather on the horizon, you might even consider applying a sealant during the winter. You’ll need about 48 hours of precipitation-free drying time, though.
Winter Deck Maintenance – AKA: Preseason!
Unless your deck is covered in snow right now (and maybe even if it is), there are plenty of things you can do now to protect your investment. You’ve probably got cabin fever anyway, so wait on a 40 degree day and get out there! You’ll thank yourself when the warmer weather arrives.
Clean Up Debris and Patio Furniture
Much of the East Coast experienced a warmer fall this year. As a result, many trees have only now lost all of their leaves as heavy snows have forced them down. Down onto your deck, of course. Take a few minutes to sweep away the leaves and dirt lingering from last season, and trim up any year-round vegetation that is hanging over onto your deck. Remove any toys or outdoor furniture, as these items can harbor moisture where they meet your deck floor and speed up the deconditioning of the wood. The same goes for planters that you may have forgotten to remove!
Deal with Snow Properly
It’s tempting to shovel snow off of your deck, we know. But worry not. Your deck can handle a great deal of snow, so you should only indulge the temptation to clean it up if you need to make a path for walking or if the snow will reach top of your deck rails. When you do, use a broom or a plastic shovel to protect your deck from scrapes and scratches. And this helpful article on Angie’s List offers a valuable tip should you need to remove snow: “If you do choose to shovel, always shovel in a path parallel to the deck boards, not perpendicular. Going crossways practically guarantees you’ll catch the edge of a board and cause damage.”
If you find that winter has been particularly unkind to your deck, or that your deck is simply worse for the wear and needs more TLC than a coat of sealant can provide, we have solutions. Contact us to discuss your needs!