If you are a Game of Thrones fan, you know the ominous, oft-repeated warning that winter is coming. That’s fiction, but for a wood or composite deck, it holds true that winter is indeed an ominous force. Winter is harsh on both wood and composite decks, so as a deck owner, you’ll need to take steps to keep your backyard investment protected if you want it to last a long time.
We love installing beautiful custom decks in Colorado, but we always caution our clients that it’s not an investment they can neglect. There are essentially 4 things to do to your deck in the fall before the winter sets in.
Here’s an overview—simply remember the acronym CIRC:
- Cover or Coat
Let’s take a look at each one.
• Clean—Regularly cleaning your deck is important throughout the year, but a thorough cleaning is particularly important right before it gets too cold. Sweeping or blowing leaves and accumulated branches is usually an ongoing process, but in the last cleaning before the weather turns cold, take particular care to remove any piles of leaves and any other debris that has accumulated in corners. Left in place, this matter will trap moisture and begin to rot, which can have an adverse effect on the deck area that it is in contact with.
It’s also important to clean up any spills. Food and beverage spills, pet waste, bird droppings, cigar or cigarette ash should all be removed before securing your deck for the season. These materials not only look bad, but they can have a lasting impact on the deck itself if left unattended.
• Inspect—Once the deck is clean, it’s time for a thorough inspection, the term ‘thorough’ being the operative word here. The best way to do this is start underneath the deck and work up from there.
Under the deck, you want to look at everything: the support structures, the underside of the deck itself, and the connections where the deck is affixed to the house. Because structural soundness is so important, you’re looking for anything that could signify a potential weakening of the deck structure. Crumbling cement, decaying wood beams or posts, rusting nails or erosion around the supports themselves could all become serious problems.If you spot anything at all that indicates your deck might be structurally unsound, you should contact a professional Denver deck installer immediately to evaluate your deck.
If the deck looks okay underneath, next inspect the deck itself. You want to make sure that everything topside is in good shape. Since cracked or seriously damaged deck planking can impact the structural integrity of the deck, these planks should be replaced. You also want to check the railing to ensure that it’s safe and structurally sound as well.
• Repair—As we just discussed, if you spot a structural problem, or if you have significantly damaged planking, the repair is probably best left to a professional deck contractor. However, if your inspection revealed loose or missing fasteners like nails or screws, you can probably tighten or replace those yourself.
The key thing to remember about repairing a deck is the earlier the better. Even small problems, left unattended over a long, harsh winter, can turn into much bigger issues come spring. The takeaway is that the better you maintain your deck in terms of both professional and self-implemented repairs, the longer it will last you.
• Cover—Many people, particularly in climates that see a ton of snow in the winter, take this step literally—they cover the deck with a tarp or fitted deck cover that keeps all of the elements out, particularly in a climate where snow tends to pile up all winter. Of course, this also renders the deck unusable. If you intend to use the deck throughout the winter, this might not work for you.
A less drastic step includes covering your deck with a new coat of stain, waterproofing, or better yet, water repellent stain. This will significantly help to keep the moisture out and to protect the deck over a long winter. Also, when you treat your deck, don’t forget to move your deck furniture to the garage or basement. If you prefer to leave it on the deck, the furniture should be covered as well.
Your deck is an important part of your home and, if properly maintained, will provide you with years of relaxation and good memories. It will also help drive up your home value should you choose to sell.
Most of what we talked about here can be done on your own while giving you an excuse to enjoy a bright, crisp fall day outside. However, if you’re thinking about adding or expanding a deck, or making improvements or repairs to one that’s already in place, call the deck experts at SRI. We provide service you can rely on and deliver unmatched craftsmanship at unbeatable prices.