Once the temperatures start dropping along with all the leaves on the trees, it can be tempting to close the door to the outside and hibernate until spring. Before you bundle up for the season, it’s important to take some time to tidy up your deck to not only give it a longer life, but also to make sure it’s ready to go in the spring without a lot of extra work.
Fixtures and Furnishings
Many of the decorations and furniture on your deck are probably made to withstand a variety of weather conditions, including freezing winters. Still, most of these items will also benefit from being kept out of the harshest conditions so consider packing most of it up into a shed and covering larger pieces with a weather-resistant tarp.
More delicate items such as ceramic planters, glass lighting, and other ornamental features are not likely to make it through the winter without cracks, chips, and other damage. These should all be collected and stored where temperatures remain above freezing.
Tackle the Vegetation
Damp leaves and debris should be removed from your deck surfaces, making sure to pay particular attention to corners and tight spaces where mold and mildew love to grow. Trim back shrubs surrounding the deck and clean out any permanent planters with annuals still trying to cling to life as these will only continue to deteriorate and create a winter-long eyesore.
It’s also important to check around the deck, railings, and between the deck boards for any debris or volunteer plants trying to grow in or around your deck. Not only can they cause damage, but the space between deck and railing boards should be clear to help drain water and snowmelt.
A Good Cleaning
All surfaces should be thoroughly washed using the right tools and detergents. Check with the manufacturer of your decking to find out which products are recommended for your materials. Keep in mind that power washing isn’t always a good idea, especially for natural wood surfaces as it could lead to damage. Washing by hand with a bristled brush is usually a better option, and cleaning solutions will vary depending on the type of wood, stone, or cement that you have.
As you’re scrubbing the surfaces, be sure to check the entire deck for damage or areas that need repair. Railings and stairs should be inspected to ensure they are safe and secure. Repairs should be made before the cold sets in as winter elements can further weaken areas of damage and require more work once it warms up.
Unless you need access to your deck area, in most cases it is not necessary to remove snow from your deck or patio. After all, these spaces were constructed to hold the weight of many people so even several inches of snow shouldn’t cause harm. Should snow accumulation start to be measured in feet, then it’s time to remove it.
If you do need access, or if your deck is the only exit from your home other than the front door, then you should remove the snow whenever it has accumulated enough to warrant a shoveling of the sidewalk. It’s essential, however, to choose the right tool for the job as most snow shovels will cause damage to the surface of your deck. In most cases, a push broom is perfect for the job, but if a larger tool is needed, be sure to choose a plastic shovel without a sharp edge.
Use caution when considering ice control products on your deck and never chop at ice on your deck with a shovel! Untreated wood can be seriously damaged from the application of these products, metal fasteners can become corroded, and even treated lumber can be damaged by some products. Check with the manufacturer to find out what’s best for your particular surface.
Ready for Spring
By setting aside an afternoon to winterize your deck, once the snow and ice have cleared and the green returns to the landscape, you’ll be ready to start enjoying the outdoors right away. You’ll also be giving a longer life to your deck, your furnishings, and your decor. To learn more about caring for your deck throughout the year, contact us today!