Lee Roy Jordan Lumber

Winter Deck Care: 101

wood deck with deck furnitureAnyone who’s got a wooden deck knows how critical it is to keep up with weather-related deck care year-round. The fact that we have relatively mild winters here in the North Texas region may actually make it even more important to protect your deck!

Why? Because it’s cold, then it’s warm, then it’s raining, then there’s a freeze, then the sun is back…..And so forth. You know how it is, if you’ve lived here for any time at all. That means that any snow, ice, or freezing rain your deck is exposed to is almost guaranteed to melt fairly quickly.

And what is a common enemy among all wood types? STANDING WATER.

As with most things in life, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Let’s discuss some of the things you can do both before and during winter to keep it protected.

Here are the 3 C’s to the preventing and protecting damage to your deck, both before and during the winter:

  1. Cleaning
  2. Clearing
  3. Covering

Prevention: Cleaning

We all know that, no matter the season, any kind of build-up on your deck or in your yard is bad news. Bacteria, fungus, algae, and insects will happily settle in if you leave a pile of debris sitting long enough. That is much easier to avoid than it is to get rid of.

Diligence with this matter is especially important as winter approaches, due to the increased rain and snow that will soak into organic material and begin the rotting process. Want a permanent stain on your deck? Leave a pile of dead leaves and twigs on it for 4 months. Once you finally shovel it away, don’t be shocked to find a film of bright red algae nestled into the wood grain!

YUCK.

Before the weather gets too cold, do a thorough deck cleaning to save you some nasty messes. Don’t just sweep, but use some elbow grease to get the surface of the deck truly clean. Even minor build-up can keep building if left unattended.

And keep sweeping regularly until it gets too cold to bother. Helpful hint: do NOT use a metal rake to remove large amounts of leaves and stems from your deck. It’s not worth the risk of scratching the surface. There are specialized rakes with plastic teeth for this type of chore.

In the market for a brand new deck and wondering what your options are? Take a look at our full list of Decking Materials.

Prevention and Protection: Clearing

Clear the deck!! ….No, but really. Hear me out!

If at all possible, remove all the deck furniture and decorations before winter sets in, Yep, all of it. Now this will definitely be a case-by-case basis, as some winters remain mild well into November, and people enjoy using their deck all season long with a cozy chimenea or fire pit.

But if you don’t plan to use this outdoor space at all in the cold months, and you’ve got some extra storage space, do your deck a favor and clear it out. Not only does this

wooden pool deck with palm tree

let you do a more thorough cleaning job, it protects your furniture and decor from similar weather-related damage.

We know that large potting containers can be a real pain to move. But if you can, do so. This eliminates the risk of pooling moisture beneath or around them which – again – can damage your deck surface. If you can’t relocate them, we’ll discuss an alternative in just a moment.

Besides, do you realize the healthy verdant soil in those pots in October will not be the same next March? A build-up of stagnant water through the winter, with varying temperatures, will significantly change the pH and overall chemical make-up of that dirt, often rendering it useless come springtime. Let’s avoid that, yeah?

If you’re wondering which wood types are the most water-resistant, you’ll enjoy our article on the various Types of Swimming Pool Deck Surfaces we suggest using.

Finally, perhaps the most important part of clearing your deck in a truly harsh winter is removing any show or ice as quickly as possible. You don’t want it melting into any vulnerable spots in the wood. Water expands as it melts, which can result in warping and rot! As stated before, avoid using metal when clearing your deck of snow, ice, or debris.

As for salt or other ice melting products, avoid the temptation to use them to help clear your deck. They can damage the wood and the surrounding lawn.

Protection: Covering

Late summer is actually the best time to varnish, stain, and/or seal your deck. This is because the hot weather ensures it will dry more quickly. However, if you missed that mark, have no fear. Doing it at all is better than not.

Any diligent deck owner knows that a water repellant seal is your deck’s best line of defense. Even if you’re well into the winter but you know you’re about to get some moderate weather, you can still scurry out and apply a coat. Just make sure you aren’t expecting any precipitation or a hard freeze in the coming days.

Perhaps the simplest way to cover your deck for the winter is to literally cover it. With a tarp. Easy-peasy, so long as you’ve got some bricks, stones, or other weatherproof material to hold it down. If you take this route, be sure to periodically check the tarp to be sure it remains secure and hasn’t blown out of place in a way that exposes your decking.

Speaking of coverings, this is that furniture/decoration solution we mentioned we would discuss a moment ago. If you cannot move the larger items off your deck, you can use large trashbags or plastic sheets to cover them for the winter. Bungee cords to a great job of securing them in place.

This way, you’re protecting the soil in your planters, as well as protecting the metal on your furniture. Additionally, you are decreasing the chance of snow/ice/water build-up beneath and around these objects.

Let’s say you’re already facing some damage from previous seasons, but you don’t want to start over. Learn more about How to Restore a Wood Deck.

Decks are a serious home investment, and a great joy during the months that the weather  is welcoming. Protect your outdoor space the best you can each season, especially during the months when it is most vulnerable to inclement weather.

 

Leave a Comment