Give your deck some tender loving care before the winter sets in. Come summer and barbecue season – you’ll be glad you did.
Heavy snow and ice can damage wooden decks so it is important to winterize this asset before the cold sets in.
- Using your garden hose, spray the foliage around the deck so that any soap or chemical residues do not cling to the leaves and damage them. After you have finished cleaning off your deck, remember to re-spray the foliage to ensure that all the leaves are cleaned off any soap or chemical residues as well.
- Get out the pressure washer and give your deck a good scrub to remove any moss, mold and/or mildew that might have taken root during rainy weather. Pressure washing your deck will also prevent dry rot which is a type of decay caused by a fungus. Make sure you use the spray evenly so that it does not leave gouges in the wood.
First, remove and stash any deck furniture that cannot withstand cold, winter temperatures. Items such as outdoor cushions or rattan furniture should be cleaned and covered up in a shed or garage. Steel and/or tempered glass tables may be left outside.
Next, sweep off any dirt, leaves or other debris, before starting up the pressure washer.
You can also use a stiff, bristle brush to scrub the deck along with some deck soap – trisodium phosphate (TSP) is a good choice. Make sure you rinse it well so there is no soap residue left.
Choose a sunny day so that the deck will dry quickly and thoroughly.
- The next step is to apply a finish or stain to keep the deck water-repellant and to prevent moisture from entering the wood and causing rot, decay and warping. If you have used a pressure washer to clean off the deck, chances are any remaining old paint and stains have been removed as well. Make sure the deck is completely dry before you start this step. If at all possible, leave the deck to dry for a full day before applying the stain.
Take this time to hammer back in any nails that have popped up and replace any boards that have split.
Finishes come in different … well, finishes. They can be clear or tinted, semi-transparent or solidly coloured. The clear and tinted stains will only last for a couple of years if you have cold winters. Semi-transparent and solid coloured stains last between two and four years.
If you have railing on your deck, apply the stain to the railings first with a paintbrush. Use an extension handle on a paint roller to apply the stain you have chosen to the rest of the deck. Roll the stain on a few boards at a time and down the whole length of the deck in order to prevent overlapping marks. Use a paint brush to reach edges that the paint roller is unable to. You can also use a spray kit to apply the finish.
When spring and summer rolls around, you’ll enjoy the benefits of your labor.
By Beverley Burgess Bell