If you think you can guess what this article will tell you about ice and snow removal from your deck, keep reading. What we have to say may surprise you.
The Surprisingly Good News
You probably guessed that a decking company would tell you that you must stay on top of ice and snow removal from your deck. Well, we hope we can pleasantly surprise you with the fact that you don’t.
You don’t have to constantly shovel your deck in the winter.
In recent history, Denver-area winters have been dry and mild. Average daily snowfall amounts are typically about two inches. And as one of the sunniest cities in America, snow doesn’t usually hang around long enough to build up and pose problems.
So, the surprisingly good news is that as a homeowner, your care and attention to your deck the rest of the year pays off in the winter when you can sit back and relax. We can’t just leave you with that, though.
What if you didn’t pay careful attention to your deck the rest of the year? What if you didn’t read our many articles about deck care from our Blog section on our website? And how about those randomly heavy snowfalls that can sometimes dump more than the usual amounts of snow?
Let’s deal with those “What ifs.”
As our team of Denver custom deck builders will attest to, early cleaning, inspections, and maintenance can help keep your deck looking newer, longer. More importantly, it can help you spot and fix any problem areas that could worsen over time and weaken your deck.
Repair and replace rusted or corroded fasteners (brackets, screws, nails, etc.). Tighten screws; hammer in popped nails. Your deck is only as good as its weakest parts. Don’t let the small things, like nails and screws, add up to be a big catastrophe if they should fail due to breakage or rust.
In addition, should you need to shovel your deck this winter, a wayward little screw or nail here and there could have big consequences. Your shovel could easily catch one and end up hurting you, breaking your shovel, or severing your deck’s hardware.
All About the Flow
Custom deck installers build decks with airflow in mind. Spacing in between deck boards, around and underneath the structure isn’t there by accident–your deck needs to breathe. Gaps and space allow boards to naturally expand and contract without bumping up against one another. Plus, the best way for your deck to stay as dry as possible is to ensure that air can get to, around, and underneath it. Good airflow prevents the mold, mildew, and decay accompanying wet wood.
Clean Your Deck
Keep your deck free of leaves, needles, and cones that often fall after summer to foster as much airflow as possible. Even the buildup of naturally decomposing elements like these creates favorable conditions for mildew and mold to grow.
Additionally, consider removing furniture, rugs, and planters you won’t be using over the winter months. Having them on your deck reduces airflow, traps moisture, and could rust or stain.
The Denver area’s dry and mild winters mean you hardly need to shovel. A corn whisk broom or leaf blower can easily clear your deck. Alternatively, simply waiting for the snow to melt works just as well, providing that you’ve ensured enough air flow and your deck gets sufficient natural light.
On the rare occasion that our area gets deep snow, you may want to shovel. Most well-kept decks can comfortably hold about three feet of snow and still maintain structural integrity. However, you may need to create a safe walking surface for yourself, your pets, and your family members.
When it’s time to shovel, use plastic instead of metal. Snow sticks to metal shovels, making them heavier and less efficient. More importantly, and in relation to your deck, metal shovels can scar your boards. At the very least, you’ve scarred up some lumber or composite wood (not the cheapest investment), and at the most, you’ve created a new vulnerability in the wood–a place where moisture can seep in and start to weaken your deck over time.
Go with the grain, not against it, as you shovel to further prevent scars and nicks that can expand over time. In other words, shovel parallel to the boards and not perpendicular.
Avoid chopping or picking at ice, as it can damage your deck. Instead, opt for chemical solutions that make deicing much more effortless. Look for deicers containing ammonia sulfate or calcium magnesium acetate, or choose one created to protect your deck boards.
Also, avoid deicers that are dyed. Some brands have coloring (like green) that makes it easy to see where it’s been applied. You can also find brands approved for use around pets and children.
Never use salt, kitty litter, or sand. These can corrode your deck’s hardware, eat away at the wood, or scratch and remove its protective finish.
Wintertime = Easy Deck Care
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! A time when you get to snuggle up indoors and stay warm. There isn’t much to do when it comes to deck care in the winter. Ensure adequate air circulation, clean debris, and wait for the thin layers of snow to melt. Use deicer for ice, use a plastic shovel if you get deep snow, and prepare for that annual deck inspection in spring.
You have a few options when deciding how to keep your deck safe from the elements. One of the most important factors is the amount of snow and ice that will accumulate during the winter. If you live in an area with heavy snowfall or frequent freeze-thaw cycles, choosing materials that won’t be damaged by moisture or repeated cycles of freezing and thawing will be your best bet.