Decks are great additions to almost any home, especially if you have a gorgeous backyard or swimming pool to stare at while you enjoy the outdoors. I added a deck to our house the first year after buying the property, and it was one of the best decisions I ever made. However, building that deck was only the beginning. Every autumn, I also need to do some deck maintenance in order to get my deck ready for winter.
Deck Maintenance: Cleaning
An important part of deck maintenance year round is keeping it clean, but before winter that’s even more important. During autumn, debris has a tendency to build up on your deck. You’ve probably seen plenty of leaves, branches, and other items on there. If they stick around too long, then you could end up creating an environment perfect for standing water (definitely bad for your deck) because it can’t drain through properly.
Always make sure to sweep your deck clear of leaves, branches, dirt, and anything else that finds its way there. I always suggest renting a pressure washer (or buying one) and thoroughly washing it down before the winter comes. This is a good way to get out the dirt that might be hiding in the cracks and crevices.
Other Deck Maintenance Tips
If you haven’t done so already, this is a good time to buy some deck stain and apply it. The stain will help protect the wood during the winter months. You should also check your deck for any cracks. If water gets into those cracks and freezes during the winter, then they will be much bigger come spring and that’s definitely not what you want so make sure you fix any cracks you do find.
My family also keeps potted plants on our deck, but if you leave those plants in place during winter they end up leaving unsightly marks on your wood. A good idea is to either take the plants inside if you have room for them, set aside part of your garage for the plants, or leave them on the deck but place a piece of cedar wood between them and your deck to prevent the staining.
By the way, when you’re looking for those cracks to fix keep an eye out for mildew. It’s a common problem with decks, but if you don’t do anything about it you can end up damaging your deck significantly. While you can buy products to get rid of mildew, applying a mixture of 3 quarts water, 1 quart bleach, and ¼ cut of liquid dishwasher detergent, letting it sit for fifteen minutes, then rinsing it off can usually do the trick. You do want to get rid of that mildew before winter comes though because it will keep spreading even when temperatures are cold.
Finally, once winter does come you want to be careful about removing the snow from your deck. You definitely don’t want to let it pile up because snow can be heavy and can damage your deck, but some shovels can scratch your wood and salt can change the wood’s color. I try to use a plastic shovel and shovel along the boards instead of across them – it seems to decrease the risk of marking up the deck.