How To Protect Your Deck This Winter
A deck traditionally functions as another seasonal room for your family and friends to gather during the warmer months of the year. Decks have grown in popularity through the years as trends to add to outdoor living spaces. Decks are worth the initial investment, as they’re continually advantageous to use for relaxation, dining, gatherings, and entertainment. Deck life is a way to live casually, but deck care and maintenance is a matter you should take seriously.
The majority of decks are constructed out of lumber, and it’s common knowledge that wood is a natural material that can deteriorate and wither over time. Due to exposure to seasonal weather conditions, such as rain, snow, humidity, and sun, a typical wooden deck oasis can begin to appear disheveled and shabby. If you’re looking for information on how to protect your deck this winter, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s take a closer look at some methods and approaches to take to keep your deck in tip-top shape.
Debris Removal and Decluttering
Debris is any material on top of your deck you didn’t put there yourself, such as leaves, sticks, or trash. Before winter begins, it’s vital to clean up and declutter the deck area. Clear away any debris with a blower or broom or by simply picking it up. The space should be clear of debris as well any deck furniture or accessories that don’t need to be there during the winter. You can buy covers for your deck furniture, but the best option is to stack up the furniture and stow it away in a garage or shed for the winter season.
Deck Washing 101
After you’ve cleared your deck of objects, decorations, and furniture, it will likely need a strong power-wash. Power-washing will remove any lingering surface debris and go even deeper into the wood to remove dirt and stains. One wash may not be enough to thoroughly remove the filth. Debris and dirt left on the surface will rot into the wood throughout the winter as it gets piled under snow, sleet, and ice. Come spring, you don’t want it all to fade away and leave deteriorated wood underneath.
Deck washing may take you an entire morning, afternoon, or day if you desire to do it right. You need to go the distance—beyond standard sweeping—and get on your hands and knees to scrub the wood. You can find a bleach-free cleaner or an oxygen-based bleach washing solution made specifically for this purpose at the store. You can also make a washing solution yourself with water, OxiClean, and ammonia-free dishwashing detergent. A good deck wash solution will remove mildew and mold as well as dirt and stains. Spray the cleaner on your deck and let it sit before scrubbing and rinsing it off.
Remember that the cracks in between the wood are prime areas for undesired mold growth. When scrubbing your deck, keep an eye out for growth that may be hiding in small spaces or in the tight areas between the boards. You can utilize a smaller brush to reach and remove any mold or mildew. Winter will only be more a heightened time for further growth due to ice and moisture caused by fallen snow.
Staining Your Deck: The Dos and Don’ts
After you’ve cleaned and washed your deck, let it dry for a day or two. Your deck will then be ready to be stained. A stain doesn’t just make your deck look attractive; it also serves as a protective barrier from moisture. Moisture in the winter is the number one factor with the ability to permanently damage your deck. Protective stains are beneficial to seal out moisture to protect the wood.
Preparation before staining the deck is key. Depending on your deck’s condition, you may need to first sand or remove an older finish with a stripper solution and a paint scraper. If you choose to strip the deck, you’ll have a fresher surface to stain. Before staining, check the area for any plants or siding that may need protection.
There’s a wide range of possible stain colors to choose from. Most people go for a standard shade, but you can choose to change it up and freshen your exterior living space or add to its aesthetic appeal. For a natural shine, choose a water-repellent stain to give the wood its best advantage. No matter your choice, a good deck stain will create a neat and vibrant appearance come spring.
After opening the can to begin staining, stir the stain with care to reduce bubbles. When you’re applying the stain, don’t be too hasty. Apply thin stain coats with a paint roller; a paintbrush may be better for corners and smaller areas. Keep these tips in mind to stain your deck most effectively.
Sealing Your Deck: Know the Products
Still wondering how else to protect your deck this winter? For the ultimate protection against winter weather, you may need to go a step further and seal over the stain with a high-quality sealant. A sealant acts as a shield to fill in cracks and coat the surface like armor as protection against winter’s moisture.
Like stains, protective deck seal products are effective, with only one major drawback: they don’t last forever, and not a single one is magical. More expensive sealants may last longer in between applications, but they’ll still lose their ability to protect the wood as time goes on. This is why it’s important to protect your deck regularly with a stain and seal. When you apply a wood sealer on an annual basis in the fall, you’re safeguarding your investment for the future. Staining and sealing your deck is worth the extra work involved.
Spreading a Tarp: Yay or Nay?
Many homeowners choose to protect their decks further with tarps. A tarp will prevent snow and ice from piling up directly on the deck’s surface. This added barrier prevents the wood from warping. Remove fallen snow after a storm with a shovel, as you would on driveways and sidewalks. Remember to shovel in the same direction of the boards to avoid ruining the finish.
Regular Maintenance: Make Repairs Ahead of Time
Keeping your wood clear and clean all year round is the best approach to protect your deck. Steady maintenance and jumping on fixes quickly will keep the wood beautiful and functional. The time and money you’ll spend on repairs will be worth it in the long run.
Your deck adds incredible value to your home. Here at Kona Contractors, we make it our top priority to provide deck installation and repair services to benefit you. We’re one of the best deck companies in the Denver area. Let us help you maximize and protect your precious backyard space.