With a great deck comes great responsibility — or at the very least, a little TLC every now and then. We recommend spending some time every fall prepping your deck for winter. Not only will this help protect your deck during one of the harshest seasons, it will also take the hard work out of your spring cleaning.
Follow this step-by-step guide for preparing your deck for winter and keep your deck safe and looking great all year long.
How winter weather can affect your deck
Winter is coming. You’ll likely see a lot of rain, freezing temps, and probably some snow, too. Throw a couple of gorgeous sunny days in the mix and you have the recipe for a typical Pacific Northwest winter.
Quality decks are built to withstand the changing seasons, but winter is a tough enemy. Temperature changes, moisture, mildew, ice, and heavy snow can cause damage like:
- Peeling paint
- Cracks, chips, scratches, and breaks
- Pest infestations
- Structural damage
Right around the first frost of the year is a good time to get started on your deck prep tasks. Go ahead and reminisce on all the moments you and your family enjoyed out on the deck this last year. Maybe indulge in one last dinner on the patio, complete with blankets and hot drinks.
Now, let’s get to work.
Store or protect all deck furniture
You’ll definitely want to protect your patio furniture during winter. We recommend storing as much as possible in an enclosed garage or storage unit.
First, gather up any furniture cushions or fabric pieces and clean them as instructed on the label. This includes rugs, umbrellas, and pillows. Next, give your furniture some quick cleaning and maintenance before you place in storage.
- Plastic furniture — Clean with a dish soap and water mixture, rinse and air dry before storing
- Metal and aluminum furniture — Clean with water and detergent and hose off. If needed, touch-up the finish with spray paint and apply a thin coat of car wax for an added layer of protection.
- Wicker furniture — Get rid of any mildew using a bleach-and-water solution. Gently rinse and let dry. If applicable, consider repainting the wicker with spray paint. Finally, apply moisture repellant on the feet and legs.
- Wood furniture — Scrub clean with a mixture of ammonia, vinegar, baking soda, and water. Apply a protective sealant. Let the furniture completely dry before storing it.
If you don’t have a place to store your outdoor furniture, the next best thing you can do is protect them with a furniture cover or tarp.
Pots and planters
Since there are drain holes in the base of potted plants, leaving planters and pots directly on your deck’s surface may cause staining and water damage. Moisture that runs off will never have a chance to evaporate between the deck and the planter.
We recommend removing planters from your deck or moving them around on a regular basis to decrease the effects.
Get your deck inspected and make repairs
You probably don’t need a deck inspection every year, but it can’t hurt! At the very least, have someone come out to take a look once every few years or whenever you notice anything problematic.
Catching problems early on is the best way to avoid expensive or irreversible damage.
If your inspector does recommend repairs, consider doing them immediately. The damage will only grow worse with the wear and tear of another winter. Waiting until spring could cost you more.
Clean your deck
Leaves, debris, dirt, and snow are imminent. Even so, we recommend starting off the winter season with a clean slate. Starting off the season with a clean surface will help provide proper ventilation prevent moisture build up. Plus, it will make that much less work for you come spring.
You don’t have to spend too much time on this. Here’s what we suggest:
- Sweep away all leaves, pine needles, and branches.
- Look for any large overhanging branches or bushes around your deck and consider cutting them back.
- Use a hose to rinse between boards or crevices.
- Wipe down railing surfaces.
Waterproof the surface
When was the last time you put a waterproof sealant on your deck?
Whether your deck is made from wood, tile, or concrete, waterproofing the surface is important. In fact, it’s absolutely essential. Waterproofing protects your surface from deteriorating or other issues caused by water and moisture — especially during the winter. This protection comes in the form of sealers, membranes, and/or specialized coatings.
It sounds simple enough and many people try to take a DIY approach. However, waterproofing is labor intensive and to do it right requires a wide range of expensive equipment and materials. You also need the right technique to ensure the result is not only a waterproofed deck, but that it looks good too.
When done by a professional using quality materials and methods, waterproofing is highly effective and can last for up to a decade!
There are a variety of waterproofing options available for your deck, based on your needs and tastes:
- Ceramic or stone over a waterproof base — Very durable and requires no ongoing maintenance.
- Heat-welded PVC — Perfect for floating wood decks and doesn’t require long-term maintenance.
- Acrylic base with cosmetic finish — A cost-effective option for balconies, decks, and patios available in many finishes and textures.
- Basic urethane waterproof coating — Good for concrete decks or patios and less expensive up-front. However, does require a new coating every 5 years or so.
Questions about waterproofing your deck? Start here.
Bonus: Maintaining your deck during the winter
Once the rainy season is in full swing and winter sets in, the only thing you’ll want to keep an eye on is snow build up. Additionally, watch out for large amounts of snow falling off your roof and onto your deck.
If you want to clear off the snow and ice from your deck, take care not to damage the surface:
- Sweep or push the snow off with a large push broom, to start.
- Don’t sprinkle salt or ice removing products on your deck, they can damage the surface.
- Never use a metal shovel.
- If you have a wood deck, shovel parallel to your deck boards.
- Remove icicles hanging over your deck.
Learn more about Rock Solid Waterproofing
The Rock Solid Waterproofing team knows a thing or two about maintaining your deck. We offer the full spectrum of professional waterproofing options for decks, patios, and balconies. Plus, as a fully licensed General Contractor, we have the skills and experience needed to perform any needed repairs or structural alterations to your deck or balcony.
We’re here for you, so let us know how we can help prep your deck for winter.