You love your wood deck, especially when you get to use it! In the spring, it provides you a relatively ice-free location to take in the warming air. In the summer, it’s a hub for family gatherings and barbecues with friends. And in fall, you might be out on it now, soaking up the last nice days Minnesota gives you before winter digs in its icy claws.
Now that you have one, you almost couldn’t imagine your life without your deck. The keyword, however, is “almost.” As soon as winter hits, many Minnesotans turn tail and hide inside their homes, forgetting all about their decks until the ground thaws in the spring.
As residents of this cold state ourselves, we get it – nobody wants to even think about what’s going on outside when the wind hurts your face. However, as wood deck contractors, we also know that you should never forget about your wood deck, even if you’re not using it.
If you haven’t prepped that deck for winter, it could be actively falling apart in the cold and the snow—so of course you should be thinking about your deck. You, in that case, should be quite worried about it! Keep reading to learn more about wintertime hazards for your deck and how to protect it until spring comes.
4 Wintertime Hazards for Your Deck
The following wintertime hazards can downright dilapitate your deck:
1. Your Furniture
Yes, your furniture! While it’s perfectly alright to have your furniture on your deck in the warmer months, when left outside over the winter, it can lead to drastic consequences.
Snow on that furniture isn’t good for the furniture itself, of course, but as that snow falls in varying amounts around and beneath it, your deck can experience uneven weathering and some ugly staining revealed after stuff melts.
Without the right winter prep, you risk a nasty springtime surprise that you’ll need to take care of before you can kick back like you deserve and enjoy the warmer days.
Now for the more obvious threat: snow. If you’ve read our blog at all, you know we talk a lot about water damage, and snow is, essentially, water.
While your deck is unlikely to melt what covers it and form ice dams (unlike a poorly maintained asphalt roof) on its own, it still can fade after prolonged exposure to it, especially if your finish has worn thin.
If the sun does melt the snow, which inevitably will happen, the meltwater can seep into your wooden deck and create unattractive warping.
3. Freeze-Thaw Cycles
Temperatures fluctuate in the wintertime—and we live in Minnesota, so we don’t need to tell you how wild this can be! The increased strain that these cycles can put on your deck, should it be poorly protected against moisture, can cause boards to bow, warp, and sometimes even crack.
While hairline cracks can be a normal part of your deck getting older, it’s still nice to protect it from these eyesores as long as you can. Warped boards, on the other hand, are quite undesirable, and can require much finesse to fix.
Ice build up is just as much of an issue as snow build up. And, it’s also a safety risk for you and anyone else using the deck. So, be sure to remove ice build up when it begins to keep your deck free of water damage and to keep your household safe from slip and fall risks.
How to Protect Your Deck in the Winter
As you can see, your deck faces off against countless foes in the winter, even though you’re not using it. Luckily, your deck can remain relatively maintenance-free (aside from periodically sweeping and ridding it of ice) in the winter and come out looking gorgeous come spring if you follow these simple winterization procedures.
Store Your Furniture
If you truly care about your deck (and you’re reading this, so we know you do), you’ll stash away your furniture somewhere warm and dry to help to prevent the aforementioned wearing of the deck’s finish.
Haven’t yet bought furniture for your new wood deck? Folding chairs and the like can be quite the smart investment, as they close up for easy pre-winter putting-aways. Otherwise, you’ll need to plan for quite a bit of room and manpower to prep your deck for the upcoming snow season.
Clean Up and Remove Plants and Planters
Along with removing any furniture, it’s also a good idea to clean up the pots and planters around your wooden deck. For one thing, the deck areas will look cleaner and less cluttered. For another, the pots and planters won’t get blown around the deck during a wind or snow storm.
Scrub It Down
No, not with a toothbrush! The goal here is not to render the area microbe-free, but to remove the buildup of dirt and fall leaves so that, come winter, meltwater can drain through your wood deck. Otherwise, it can build up on top of the aforementioned gunk, spilling over onto your deck and setting the stage for a dangerous freeze-thaw cycle instead of a harmless one.
Redo Your Finish
A dull deck or one that has been stained can be a sign that you need to refinish it, either with a water-repellent overcoat or a paint. Leave a deck unfinished and unprotected over winter and you open that deck up to water damage and warping. Do this before the cold hits and save yourself a spring headache.
Remove Snow When It Builds Up
During intense winter storms in Minnesota, the snowfall can be immense. After a big blizzard, you don’t want to just let snowdrifts or inches of snow sit on your wooden deck, especially not over weeks.
With multiple winter storms, the moisture and pressure on the wooden deck can really add up. So, be sure to remove as much of the snow and ice as you can through regular snow shoveling. And, if it’s only been a bit of snow, try using a broom instead of a shovel, since a broom is less likely to scrape the wood.
Avoid Using Salt De-Icers
While many people like to use salt products meant to get rid of ice, these aren’t very safe to use on your wooden deck. It’s best to avoid these as they can lead to rusting screws and other metal elements of the deck. Instead, try to find a chemical de-icer option that is safe for wooden materials.
Contact Tony’s Lifetime Exteriors for a Brand New Deck Today!
As deck builders and deck installation experts, we’re here to give you a structure that helps to make the most of Minnesota’s remaining warm days.If you need help with your deck, whether a repair or replacement, we are here to help. Give our Sauk Rapids office a call now at 320-252-9086.