Once again, summer has come to an end and winter is fast approaching. While you've spent your summer sitting outside on the deck and enjoying the nice, warm weather, now is the time to start thinking about how to protect your property from the coming changes in the weather. If you don't act to take care of your deck now, then the weather can do a number on it before next summer rolls around. Here are 8 ways you can prepare the deck of your home for the cold weather:
1. Keep it clean
The first thing you should do to protect your deck from any changes in the weather is simple: keep it clean. A long summer can leave the wood dirty and full of stains, which over time can cause it to deteriorate. To prevent this, give your deck a thorough cleaning at the end of the summer. Sweep away any dirt and leaves; then use a bleach-free cleaning agent to remove any stains. Cleaners should be specially formulated for use on wood and many can be attached directly to your garden hose.
2. Re-Stain the deck
As we've mentioned, the odds are that you will need to reseal the wood to protect the deck from moisture. Stains today can be purchased at any home supply store and come in a variety of colors to suit your personal taste. They usually last for two or three years, so every few winters, you will need to reseal the wood. After you have cleaned, repaired and resealed the deck you are ready for winter! You can rest easy knowing that next summer your deck will be waiting for you, still in great shape because of the care you've given it.
3. Keep it dry
Nothing damages wooden decking like water does. Rain will penetrate into cracks, knots and nail holes and cause the wood to rot from the inside out. While your deck was probably waterproofed when it was built, it will probably need to be resealed every few years. You can tell if your deck needs to be resealed by how the water behaves when it rains. If it beads off, your sealing is in good shape; however, if it soaks into the wood immediately, then it needs to be resealed.
4. Store your outdoor furniture inside
If it's going to be a few months before you plan to make any use of your outdoor furniture, pack it up and store it indoors or under cover, if you have the space. Not only will this protect the furniture itself from the elements, it will prevent marks from forming (and mildew from growing) in the spaces where moisture is trapped. Anything that sits on the deck should be brought inside, including pots, planters, storage containers, and other objects that won't see any use during the winter.
5. Make repairs before it gets cold
Not only does cold weather have a tendency to make you want to stay indoors, it also tends to worsen problems that are already present on your deck. Damaged areas can soak up water, leading to the growth of mold and fungus and exacerbate any issues that may exist. Once the summer ends, in the early autumn, make a thorough inspection for any cracked wood, damaged joists, and early signs of wood rot. Then repair them before they become worse.
6. Keep snow off of it
Accumulated snow is another factor that can damage the deck of your home. Prevent it from building up by regularly removing it as it builds up. It is best to avoid shoveling snow if you can, as the impact of the shovel can dent the wood. You should also avoid using ice melting products such as salt on the deck, as these can discolor or otherwise harm the wood. Your best option is to stick to a snow blower for removing snow as it accumulates.
7. Clean up any mildew
The winter time is a prime season for mildew growth, due to the excessive moisture and more infrequent cleaning. It's a good idea to thoroughly clean and disinfect the wood while it's still relatively hot outside; the quicker the wood dries, the better. You can treat the deck with a mildew cleaner that you purchase at a home supply store; or you can make one yourself with vinegar and dishwasher detergent. Wear gloves and a face mask as you apply these chemicals; let them sit on the wood for about 15 minutes and then rinse them away.