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  • Writer's picturePulsar Construction

Deck Maintenance In The Winter Season

Homeowners who live in harsh winter climates should know how to clear snow from their decks properly, and maintenance for wood, composite, or PVC decks varies.

Winter maintenance is important for all deck owners to sustain their outdoor living space and its appearance, but removing ice and snow from decking is especially important for wood decks. Otherwise, the freezing moisture inside the wet wood decking boards can cause severe wood deck rot and damage. Cleaning synthetic decks in winter is relatively simple, but guidelines may vary between decking products. So, before cleaning your composite deck, check with your decking product manufacturer and follow their cleaning guidelines.

Deck Maintenance In The Winter
Deck Maintenance In The Winter

1. Prepare Your Deck For Winter In Late Fall.

Don’t wait until the first heavy snowfall to start thinking about your deck. Prepare ahead of time during the final weeks of fall. This will limit moisture buildup and eliminate any pre-existing problems that would otherwise go undetected under a blanket of snow. Here are a few preparation steps you should take:

* Use a light-duty pressure washer (low pressure) or sweep away any dirt or debris before the first snowflakes fall. Make sure you remove any leaves, pine needles, or other organic materials that have accumulated between your decking boards.

* Planters and pots, raise them up or better remove them from the deck. These typically have drainage holes that leave moisture trapped between the pots and the deck’s surface.

* Have your gear ready. Keep shovels, brooms, and snow blowers in a readily accessible area of your home.

Deck Maintenance In Winter
Deck Maintenance In Winter

2. After Light Snowfall. 

For a light snowfall, opt for a broom instead of using a shovel. The soft nylon bristles will remove the snow gently without scratching your deck.

3. After Heavy Snowfall.

When the snow is deeper than four inches, it is time to break out the shovel. Properly built decks can handle around three feet of snowfall before prompting concerns regarding structural integrity because of heavy loads, but the sooner you shovel, the easier it will be on your body.

Use only a plastic shovel with a plastic or rubber blade. Never, never use shovels, or any other tools, with a metal blade/edge that will easily scratch or gouge your deck. Push/shovel the snow in the same direction as your deck’s boards to avoid nicking them.

Be especially gentle shoveling if your decking is made of cedar or pressure-treated wood. They are soft wood and most likely to scratch/damage by shoveling.

4. Ice Melting Chemicals.

If you can't avoid using ice melting chemicals because of ice buildup in some deck areas or stairs and it's becoming a safety hazard, use only manufacturers recommend ice melts.

* Most composite decking manufacturers recommend the use of calcium chloride for melting ice on composite decks. Calcium chloride melts are best for very cold climates and composite decks. For best results, remove snow with a plastic shovel (not metal) and then lay down the ice melt in a thin layer over the surface of your deck.

* Don’t use traditional rock salts, or sodium chloride, on any deck — including wood.

* Don’t use sand on decking either, as it’s coarse and can damage your decking boards.

* Remove hanging ice above the deck. Icicles on your gutters, power lines, and railing can break off and shatter on your deck. These sharp ice pieces can scratch or damage your decking. It’s also a safety hazard for you and your family, so it’s best to remove hanging ice as you notice it.

Deck Maintenance In The Winter Season
Deck Maintenance In The Winter Season

5. Some More Tips.

* We recommend a full-scale cleaning of your composite deck at least twice a year, and when temperatures are above 13°C (55 ℉). Typically, it’s best to clean your deck at the transition of seasons, like from winter to spring and summer to fall. 

* If you wash your deck using a manufacturer-recommended chemical cleaner. Clean your composite decking in the morning or evening to avoid the afternoon sun, which can cause the cleaner to evaporate too quickly. If you can’t avoid the sun, work in small sections and create shade to slow the drying process.

* Keep all of your composite deck cleaning products and tools stored together somewhere easily accessible. This way, you’ll have everything you need handy in case of any spills or accidents.

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