As the social hub of your summer universe, your deck is where you go to get away from it all. But it’s more than that. It’s where friends come to kick back, where family comes to bask in your barbecue mastery, and where you go when it’s finally time to relax.
With your deck serving as the nucleus of your summer diversions, it’s imperative that you prepare it for winter correctly. It will need to remain sturdy and attractive, so it can serve as the center of your entertainment operations again next year. Here are five steps to keeping it in tip-top condition even if your winters are harsh:
1. Clean Up the Debris
Sweep away all the leaves that have fallen on your deck. Grime and foliage have a tendency to roost in your deck cracks, which can then create standing water. Keep the deck ventilated to avoid moisture-damaging build-up.
2. Scrub Away Mildew
If you don’t eliminate all the mildew from your deck before winter, it will create unattractive damage. You don’t have to go out and purchase fancy solvents to eliminate this threat from your deck. A simple combination of household bleach and dishwashing fluid will do the trick. Bleach will kill just about anything, and mildew is no exception. Dish detergent will emulsify the menace and make it easy to wipe away. If the mildew is especially fierce on your deck, use brushes to eradicate it.
3. Remove Decorative Items
While pots and planters will add character to your deck in the summer, they may cause staining if left out all winter. The simplest way to avoid this is to remove them completely or just shuffle them about the deck periodically. Or, you can put the planters on cedar slabs. The extra space that the cedar creates will aid in water evaporation. Putting cedar stand offs underneath anything else on the deck–boom box stands, tables, and suchlike–will keep your deck handsome and healthy.
4. Deck Use in Winter
If your deck has a hot tub and you plan to use it during the winter, make sure to keep your deck safe by removing the snow. To avoid damaging the deck with scratches, be sure to use a plastic shovel instead of a metal one. Also, shovel in the direction of the deck boards’ grain to avoid inadvertently generating unseemly blemishes.
5. An Advanced Tip for Deck Enthusiasts
Some folks will also want to put a fancy water-repellant finish on their decks as an added measure of protection from the harsh winter elements. Consult with a professional if you want to take this extra step. Some finishes are designed to stop rain, sleet, snow and ice from penetrating your deck’s wood surface. These products minimize water damage such as splitting or warping. They are also available in various colors and opacity levels, so finding one to fit your deck’s specific character will not be a problem.