When the frigid winds that sweep through your home cease, as the rain ends and the snow melts, you finally awaken from your winter hibernation. You look around and your home seems safe, warm. It is time. You clack your sacred barbecue tongs as you step into the outside world, ready to grill, and walk upon your beautiful deck. It is beautiful. Because you followed these tips before the cold came to keep your porch safe.
- Clear it off
If you have storage space, it’s a good idea to put any deck furniture or planters in there. These can cause discolorations in the wood which would need to be fixed, if you want everything looking even. The moisture that gets trapped around these spots can cause this, or even further damage like warping and eventual cracking. If you don’t have the space for these, it is okay to cover them with a tarp.
If you have no intentions of using your porch over winter, you may even want to put a tarp over the entire thing. This can keep any snow or rain off the wood and out of the cracks, thus protecting it. But, if this isn’t an option because you hope to continue using your grill, hot tub or other fun outdoor gear, follow our other advice and clear everything else off.
- Clean it up
Clean anything else off. Leaves? Dirt? Mildew? Get it all off. Otherwise, this organic matter will trap moisture. If that happens, damage is sure to come. They will weaken integrity and cause rot to set in, so eventually boards will do more than just warp, they’ll break.
When cleaning this stuff off, check between the boards and in any cracks. If it gets in there and the moisture gets a chance to freeze, it could cause even more damage like splintering.
- Inspect it
Look for any loose boards, screws or nails. These too can cause structural weakness over winter. If you find them, fix them by tightening or replacing. If you find a board that seems too far gone to be fixed, you may need to replace it. Keep an eye out for areas that are prone to localized damage, such as under potted plants where mildew can grow. Also watch out for areas that may catch drip or sap from surrounding trees.
It’s wise to check underneath the deck, too. Moisture can really get trapped down there and damage where the posts are is very bad. You may need to replace the whole deck if it happens. A trick to prevent water from gathering around the posts is to slant the cement away. The concrete they’re encased in is often flat, so the water has nowhere to drain. To fix this, you could add more cement to give it a tilt-away from the post or jerry-rig a slope.
- Seal it
One of the best and final ways to prepare your custom deck for winter is sealing it. If you put water-resistant sealant on it, this is a sure way to protect it from the moisture that gets stuck in the cracks and grooves. In fact, you should refinish your deck every couple years anyway, so this may be the opportunity you’ve been looking for.
The hard part about this, though, is you may need to remove old layers of stain and polish before you reapply. If you don’t, your deck will look uneven in both coloring and layering.
Just remember, if you don’t seal the deck, it’s likely water will penetrate the wood, causing warping, cracking and rot.
During the winter
If it snows where you’re at, make sure you shovel. Even if you already applied water repellant, it’s a good idea. If you can get it off, it decreases the chance of any moisture getting stuck. Just make sure you shovel with the planks, not against them. If you don’t you’re likely to chip and remove the coats of stain and polish.
Also, metal shovels may be a little nicer and more durable, but again, they can crack the deck’s finish. Their plastic counterparts, on the other hand, are a little gentler.
- Don’t salt
As is common in snowy and icy areas, salting sidewalks is a good idea. It will prevent slipping and makes it harder for ice to form. So, you may get the idea to salt your porch. Don’t! If you put ice melt on your wood decking, you’ll ruin the finish, discoloring it.
Now that you’ve secured your porch to last the winter, and kept it clean and clear, it is safe. You can finally host the annual neighborhood barbecue where you can show off your grilling skills and your beautiful home and yard.
If your deck is old and beyond repair, all the extra care in the world won’t make much of a difference. If it’s simply time to replace your deck, check out our residential deck building company in Colorado. We specialize in beautiful custom decks at reasonable prices and with generous warranties.