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How to get your outdoor deck through the winter

November 19, 2022

As the weather cools in the fall, many people begin to prepare for the cold winter months. Planting bulbs, laying mulch, mowing, and doing other yard maintenance tasks. This to-do list should also include your outdoor deck.

Preparing for cold weather is equally important, especially if your outdoor deck is made of natural wood or if you live in a place with harsh winters. In the long run, this will extend the life of your deck and save you time, money, and energy. It will also allow you to use your deck better in the spring and summer.

Steps to protect your outdoor deck for the winter

Now we know how important it is to protect your outdoor deck through the winter. So, how exactly should we do it?

winter Composite decking

Remove dirt, leaves, and other debris

Outdoor decks often retain dirt, leaves, or other debris, even though it may not seem like a big deal. But over time, dirt, leaves, and other debris can build up on your deck and in the gaps. In the winter, this debris makes it easier for snow and ice to build up and lock in moisture, which can further damage your deck. This is because it causes wood rot and other damage to its structure and components. Make sure your deck is clear of anything before winter arrives.

Get rid of mold and clean your deck

It’s a good idea to clean your deck of mold and mildew before winter arrives. If you don’t take any action, thick mold builds up and becomes slippery when it rains.

To remove mold, you can purchase a cleaner or make a simple solution with common household cleaners. A homemade recipe requires three quarts of hot water, six dry ounces of certified organic oxygen bleach powder, and a quarter cup of ammonia-free liquid dishwashing detergent. Stir the powdered oxygen bleach until it dissolves.

Use a hand-powered garden sprayer to spray a generous amount of the solution onto the surface of the deck. Let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes, then scrub gently. Scrubbing with a stiff-bristled brush works well. After scrubbing, rinse off immediately. Do not use chlorine bleach or anything else that contains sodium hypochlorite. If you use chlorine bleach, all the plants and trees in the area will die. On top of that, it can cause deck fasteners and any other metal structural connectors to rust faster.

Check your deck

Before you put your deck away for the winter, you should give it a thorough inspection. Check the top and bottom to find areas where water may have gotten in and made the surface vulnerable. Use an old ice pick or a very thin flathead screwdriver to detect any wet spots on the wood. If the wood has rotted, an ice pick or screwdriver will go right through it.

In addition to deck boards and deck posts, you should also check deck railings and foundations for looseness and tighten any hardware that might make your deck unsafe in the winter.

Seal and maintain your outdoor deck

You should never forget to seal and maintain your deck, this is one of the best ways to protect it and get it ready for the winter. Sealing or staining a wood deck should be done at least once every two to three years to protect the wood from rain, snow, and ice.

Moisture can get into an unsealed wood deck, which can cause it to warp, crack, splinter, and most likely rot. And we all know that you don’t want your deck to rot. Deck rot can damage the structure and strength of your deck and make it more likely that pests will enter.

If you decide to seal, make sure you use certified organic oxygen bleach to clean it, as described above. Follow the instructions on the sealer label and pay close attention to any instructions on how to use it in cold temperatures.

Removing snow and ice from your deck

Now that you know how to get your deck ready for winter, what do you do when it’s cold outside? Protecting your deck in the winter is not the same as getting it ready for winter. Can snow hurt a deck? Can you salt your deck? How do you remove snow from your deck? Again, there are many questions about how to protect your deck in the winter.

How to remove snow from your deck

You don’t need a snow shovel to remove small amounts of snow. You can clear it with a simple broom. If there is more snow, you can use a shovel. But be careful when using a shovel, because some materials can scratch or wear your deck.

But if you live in an area with a lot of snow and need to use a shovel, it is important to shovel along the length of the deck boards (with the grain). Do not shovel across the width of the boards. This can scratch the deck and ruin the stain or paint. Do not use metal spatulas either. Although they are more durable than their plastic counterparts, they are harder on your deck and can cause scratches and dents.

Be careful when salting your deck

When preparing for winter, one of the first things you probably think about doing is salting your driveway, sidewalk, and deck. Whether you should use rock salt on your deck depends on what it is made of.

Most composite decking can be done with calcium chloride or rock salt to remove snow and ice. Calcium chloride or rock salt can be used on old composite decking, but they should be rinsed off as soon as possible. But if your deck is made of wood, you may not want to salt it. Some deck finishes can be damaged by salt and ice melt, so you’ll need to repaint the deck in the spring to repair any discoloration.

More things to consider before winter

Winter can be tough on decks due to cold winds, patches of ice, and dirty, hard-to-melt snow mountains, so there are a few other things to consider.

Cover your deck with a tarp for the winter

Some homeowners may find it easiest to cover their deck and deck furniture with a tarp. However, this only works if they don’t plan to use their deck in the winter. Obviously, this is not a good option for those who use their outdoor deck in the winter and have a hot tub, grill, or outdoor fireplace.

If you can’t cover your entire deck, you should at least cover it when you’re not using the furniture. Better yet, if you have space in your shed or garage, you can move the furniture there, which will be safe.

The wind is a big problem when you’re using a tarp. To prevent the wind from blowing the tarp away, you need to tie it down. Another problem with tarps is that they can hold water. Once there is less chance of snow and ice, take the tarp off.

Use Composite Decking to Reduce Maintenance

Composite decking is more durable than wood and works well in cold weather. It lasts longer and requires less maintenance than wood decking, so you can spend more time enjoying your outdoor space. Even if you don’t use your deck in the winter, your composite decking will be ready when the weather warms up again.

author avatar
Galen Content Writer
Galen is a content creator and decorator with five years of experience designing home decor. In his daily life, Galen is constantly on the lookout for the latest, great examples of house design and further optimizes his solutions. Additionally, he writes articles related to outdoor design, interior design, and architectural decorating materials to help brands build more engaging relationships with their audiences.
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