As the winter months approach us, we dread what we must do to prepare ourselves and our homes. We stock our refrigerators and pack on the layers of clothing, like a new ice age approaches. But, as a deck owner, are we preparing our decks properly for the onslaught of freezing temperature?
Before we start to see those flakes falling from the sky there are some steps to take, in order to protect your outdoor living space. With falling leaves laying on your deck, in your yard, and floating down from tree branches, its hard not to enjoy those beautiful fall colors. Winter is coming, though, so clearing those leaves from your deck becomes an important first step. Wet leaves sitting on deck boards can cause staining to the surface and build up between the boarding. Also, removing the debris between your deck boarding will create a better circulation. With increased circulation between the boards, your deck will be better prepared for that melting snow and avoid pooling puddles of slush and rain. You also want to remove your outdoor furniture from your outdoor living space. Lets face it, the furniture may look nice, but that unused furniture can cause more issues sitting on the deck surface. Planters and furniture, on your deck, can cause water pooling. This pooling can lead to stains, mildew, and rot. Metal furniture and grills may also cause rust staining, so to avoid seeing these spots in the spring time, you’ll want to move these objects. Next you’ll want to inspect your deck for overall stability. Loose railings, nails, and dry rot are some things to look out for. Overall, decks are meant to hold heavy snow and ice if they are built to code, so no need to fret over the idea of your joists handling the weight. You just want to screw down any loose screws, so when it comes to shoveling you won’t find yourself caught up on protrusion. Also, remember to tighten up your railings because with snow comes ice. You won’t regret a sturdy railing when you’re easing down those icy steps, in the morning.
Now that you’ve taken the necessary steps to prepare for winter, you may kick back and enjoy some cocoa. During snowfalls, don’t break your back trying to heave snow piles from your deck; a 3 foot wide path is sufficient. It’s not necessary to clear the whole feature, but if you want a good workout or some young entrepreneurs are willing to do the job, have at it. The best method to clear your deck is to use a broom with stiff bristles. When the job gets too tough and the snow too high, break out your plastic shovels. With care, plastic shovels won’t gouge or harm your deck. Just remember to shovel in the direction of the boards. Going perpendicular to the boards can gouge and scrape the boards. When the ice starts to arrive and your deck gets too slick to trust, there are plenty of salting materials to melt the ice and create traction. Rock salt and calcium chloride are usual suspects for this job, but there are products for those who are environmentally conscious or have pets; SafePaws, Pet Guard Ice, and Earth Friendly Ice Melt are a few suggested products. Although these materials may cause some discoloration come spring time, this is easily taken care of with a hose wash down to break down the salt build up. With these steps, not only will you ease your winter work, but protect your outdoor living space.