Handyman Help: Prepare your Deck for Winter

Snow covered deckPreparing your deck for winter is important, to preserve the quality of the space. Investing a small amount of time before the weather worsens can make a big difference in the look of the deck come next spring.

First, sweep away leaves, debris, and dirt from the surface. Doing so will increase airflow between the boards and reduce the likelihood of mold, mildew, or fungus forming. If you notice mildew while sweeping, use a commercial mildew remover to get rid of the grime. Mildew left untreated during winter can cause additional damage in the future.

Remove pots and planters from the deck, even if they are just decorative. The moisture collected underneath pots and planters can leave stains on the deck. If you do not have a place indoors to store the plants, raise them off the deck to help prevent staining. When it comes to deck furniture, store items indoors until they need to be used for an outdoor event. This rule also goes for items such as a patio heater, which can radiate heat over a wide 15’ area. If you entertain often on the deck during winter, you may opt to use a weather resistant cover to protect a patio heater from rain and snow.

Once the deck has been swept and cleared, wash it with mild soap and water. If dirt remains, consider getting it pressure washed, to remove the smallest particles.

When it comes to shoveling snow off the deck, run the shovel lengthwise across the boards to minimize scratches and cuts on the wood or tiles. You can also opt for a plastic shovel, but avoid using salt and other ice-melting substances on the deck, as those substances can damage or discolor the finish.

An alternative option to shoveling snow is to put a cover on the deck to protect it from rain and other debris. This may be a bit risky however because if the sealing of the covering allows for condensation or water infiltration, the deck will be exposed to sitting water for a long period of time.