The winter weather is well and truly here, and that means you need to think about how you’re going to protect your deck.
It gave you a lot of enjoyment over the summer months, but now the weather’s turned colder you need to protect your deck. Here’s how to prepare your deck for winter, and why you need to.
Why Do You Need to Protect Your Deck in Winter?
Over the winter months, your deck is going to experience bad weather. It could be wet weather, high winds, or freezing temperatures. These will all work together to damage your deck, leading to sizeable deck repair work in the spring.
If you leave the deck to the elements during the winter, you’ll see that all kinds of damage can happen.
- If water gets into the wood, then it will buckle or warp. That’s going to ruin the look of the deck, and necessitate you changing out boards in the spring.
- Wet weather will also lead to mold and wood rot if you’re not paying attention. These can do untold damage to wood if left unchecked. In some cases, you’ll even see that the deck will suffer structural issues if you leave it for too long.
You don’t want to be spending money on repairs in the spring, just because you hadn’t prepared properly in the winter. Use these tips to properly prepare and protect your deck now, so you’ll maintain a beautiful deck once the warm weather returns.
Wash Your Deck Down
The first thing to do is to wash your deck down thoroughly. Remove any furniture or other items off it, and hose it down to remove any dirt that’s accumulated. Make sure you pay attention to any cracks or crevices, to ensure that everything is clean.
You’ll want to then scrub the deck with a specialist deck cleaning solution, available from hardware stores. This will ensure your deck is totally clean, ready to be protected over the winter.
Fill In Any Holes Or Cracks
Next, inspect your deck carefully. There may be cracks and holes that need to be filled. These should be done now, because they can easily get worse over the winter. Rain water pools in them and freezes, pushing them open and making them wider. Filling them now will save you a large job in the spring.
Again, you’ll find the appropriate wood filler in the hardware store. When the deck is clean and dry, apply the hole filler until the gaps are fully sealed. Let the filler dry and harden fully before moving onto the next step.
Coat Your Deck
If you’ve not coated your deck yet, now is the perfect time to do it. Coating the deck will seal the wood away from any moisture, so you won’t have to worry about mold or rot. It will also give it an excellent finish. When the summer comes, the best coats will even protect the wood from discoloration thanks to the sun’s UV rays.
There are multiple different kinds of coatings you can buy. These usually fall into the category of clear or opaque coatings. A clear stain is usually the best coating to use if you want the color of the wood to shine through. An opaque coating, on the other hand, will totally obscure the wood. If the wood is discolored or otherwise not attractive, that’s the option you may want to use.
If you’re not sure which one to use, or how to do it, you can talk to a painting company who will come and do the job for you. This is often a good idea, as a sealant needs to be covering every surface in order to work as it should. If there are any gaps, this will weaken your deck’s defense.
Cover Your Deck
Now the deck has been cleaned, filled and sealed, you’ll need to cover it up for the winter. Doing this will help you keep the deck clean and tidy over the colder months. Use a tarp to cover up as much of the deck as possible. Don’t worry if there are parts you can’t cover, such as railings, as this will be taken care of in the next step.
With a tarp on your deck, you’ll stop debris falling onto your deck and staining the wood. If any debris falls onto the tarp, it’s still a good idea to remove it as soon as possible. Debris such as dead leaves can lead to mold growth, which will cause problems. Having the tarp down means you’ll avoid this happening directly on the deck.
Brush Off Snow
Once the weather really start getting cold, you’ll see the snow start to fall. When this happens, you’ll need to brush the snow off your deck as soon as possible. If you have a tarp down you’ll have a little more time to get the job done, but you will need to remove the snow as soon as you can. This is fairly simple to do on any exposed parts, such as railings, as you can simply brush the snow off with a gloved hand.
The best way to do this is with an outdoor brush, so you can sweep away snow without damaging the boards. Using a metal shovel can chip at boards and damage them. Using chemicals is usually inadvisable for similar reasons. If you do need to melt the ice, use pet safe chemicals as they will be the least aggressive.
If you do need to use a shovel, be sure to shovel parallel to the boards, rather than across them. When shoveling across, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll catch a board and chip it.
If you’re prepared for the winter, you will protect your deck and it will come out unscathed and look fantastic next summer. Clean it down, fill in any holes, and reseal the wood if you haven’t already.
Cover it up with a tarp, and remove any debris over the winter. When summer comes again, your deck will be ready.