Winter is officially here — and gone are the days of relaxing on the deck in the backyard. But that doesn't mean you should just forget about your backyard entirely. It's time for you to consider your deck maintenance. If you want to enjoy your deck the rest of the year, start your cleaning and maintenance today. Here's everything you need to know about how to winterize a deck.
Clean Up Dirt, Debris, and Branches
Start by cleaning up your deck. While you were using it, it's possible that dirt, debris, and branches built up. It's time to clear that off so you can start cleaning and inspecting your deck. If there are bushes or trees growing around or under your deck, make sure they're cleared up; not only can they introduce wear-and-tear, but they can also introduce pests. If weeds and other plants are growing under your deck, it might be time to lay down landscaping fabric or gravel.
Remove and Store Your Plants
Plants don't fare well during the winter months. It's time to remove and store your plants, as they're likely to go dormant regardless. Some people keep their plants growing year-round by using grow lights in their homes; others have an interior "green house" area that they can use that gives their plants enough light by the windows. Either way, when introducing new plants to your deck, don't forget they'll need a second winter home.
Pressure Wash Your Deck
Pressure washing is one of the best ways to restore your deck to "like new" status. Pressure washing will also reveal any major repair issues for your deck, such as cracks that might not otherwise be visible. You can rent a pressure washer or hire a professional. If you've never used a pressure washer before, hiring a professional is usually advised; pressure washers are very powerful and can be very dangerous.
Inspect, Note, and Repair Damages
Once you've thoroughly cleaned your deck, you can inspect it for damages and repair them. The winter is the perfect time to get these repairs done when you aren't going to be using the deck regardless. Pay special attention to damages that aren't just cosmetic, such as cracks on support beams; those need to be addressed first. But even seemingly cosmetic damages could be signs of larger issues elsewhere.
Seal, Treat, or Stain Your Deck
It's difficult to seal, treat, or stain your deck when it's in use. You might not want to lose your deck to hours of drying time. But during winter, you can do this, you just need to contact the professionals and pay attention to the temperature. Many paints and stains do have different drying times during different temperatures or could be impacted by things like snow, so knowing the weather in advance will help.
Store Furniture and Protect Grills
While you're working on your deck, don't forget to store your furniture and protect your grills. Ideally, you don't want to just leave things untouched on your deck over the winter. Pests may start living inside of furniture and grills and could cause more damage to your deck than you realize. Plus, it's not great for your furniture and grills. Consider bringing all your outdoor accouterments into the garage during the winter season.
Remove Ice and Snow Before It Builds Up
As ice and snow builds up on your deck, start removing it consistently. The trick to making sure your deck isn't badly damaged is to make sure that it's well-maintained. And that can mean dragging yourself out there in the mornings to clear off freshly-fallen snow. Many people don't realize exactly how heavy snow is, especially as it compacts. But a few feet of snow on your deck could easily start to cause structural problems, especially if left for a long time.
A deck can be a year-round project, but it brings a lot of enjoyment with you. It's always a good idea to maintain your deck even during the winter months, so you'll be able to use it once the spring sun re-emerges. If you need to repair, replace, or even expand your deck, it's time to get started — and our experts are here to help.