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Winter Maintenance Guide for Your Wooden Deck

Winter weather exposes your deck to cold temperatures and excess moisture, which can prove hazardous to the wood. Taking the proper seasonal steps will ensure that it stays beautiful year-round. Whether your deck is exposed to the relatively mild winters of Orange County, California, or the more severe hazards of snow, ice, and freezing temperatures, it’s essential to give your recreational spot mindful attention in every season so you can focus on manageable maintenance tasks and avoid major repairs.

Understanding Winter’s Impact on Wooden Decks

Moisture is the enemy of any wooden deck. In winter, water can become especially problematic because falling temperatures will cause cracks in the planks to open up. As the timber contracts, it’ll expose any small openings, inviting moisture, mold, mildew, and bugs to enter. If your climate gets cold enough for snow and ice, this will expose your deck to near-constant moisture while the snow or ice sits on it and then gradually melts into the wood.

Moisture and cold can spell disaster for a deck, regardless of the temperature. As moisture sinks into the wood, it expands and warps. Longstanding moisture will cause it to rot. Rotting timber is particularly common on pressure-treated weathered decks. If the boards stay moist for a prolonged period, this creates a welcoming environment for mold and mildew. Without proper care, winter can present some serious hazards for your wooden deck.

Pre-Winter Preparation

Before winter weather sets in, you should make a point of sealing or staining your deck. This will help create a barrier to stop moisture from sinking into the planks. A quality wood stain can also protect your deck from UV rays, which are still a hazard in winter, particularly in Los Angeles, Newport Beach, San Clemente, and the greater Orange County area. Late autumn is a great time for a deck inspection as well. A professional inspector can assess its current condition and make personalized recommendations for the proper care and maintenance of your outdoor space.

Check screws and bolts throughout your deck and tighten these to make sure everything is secure. Screws and bolts will slowly loosen as temperatures change, so you should perform this simple maintenance task at least once a year.

As a general rule of thumb, you should inspect your deck carefully every four to 10 months for maintenance needs. When you stay familiar with how your deck looks and feels, you’ll find it easier to spot developing problems early. This makes it possible to schedule maintenance and repairs promptly. You can perform general cleaning yourself, and you can even do spot sanding on noticeable scratches, stains, or signs of weathering. But you should consult a professional for a more in-depth restoration project.

Snow and Ice Management on Your Deck

You should always work to keep snow and ice off of your deck. Examine your property to see where water flows when it’s raining or when snow is melting. Water should always drain away from the foundation of your deck and home. A French drain or gutter system can accomplish this task efficiently. These systems should deposit water at least two feet away from the foundation and send it flowing away from your house.

Scrape snow off the deck as often as possible using a plastic shovel or stiff broom. Avoid metal tools, as these can damage your wood, and work with the grain of the timber and not against it. Be careful about using deicing products on your deck, as rock salt or any product that contains calcium chloride or potassium chloride will damage the wood.

Importance of Deck Ventilation and Airflow

Wood contracts and expands as the surrounding temperatures change. The boards will expand when they’re wet and shrink when the sun dries them out. It’s crucial for the decking to have proper ventilation to provide adequate airflow above, beneath, and around the planks. You should have at least 18 inches under your deck so the wood can dry sufficiently. If you don’t have enough ventilation, the boards will stay damp, which leads to mold, mildew, and eventual rotting.

Winter Safety Precautions

If you’re expecting unpleasant winter weather and won’t be using your deck for a while, you can take some simple precautions to help your outdoor space stay in good condition. Remove furniture and planters from the deck so you have a clear, open surface with plenty of room for the wood to breathe.

Thoroughly clean up any mold or mildew that’s on the deck so it doesn’t worsen during the winter season. If you haven’t sealed the wood recently, consider adding a water repellant sealant as another seasonal precaution.

When you’re expecting extreme winter weather, you can put down a tarp to keep snow, ice, or excess moisture from soaking the wood. This protective barrier can help prevent cracks and warping. Anything that keeps the deck dry longer will help prevent damage.

Post-Winter Care

You can restore and rejuvenate your deck in the spring with a thorough cleaning. Sweep away any leaves, pine needles, dead grass, or other debris that’s gathered around the deck. Rinse the surface off with a hose on a sunny day with low humidity so you can wash away dirt and allow the deck to dry thoroughly in the sun. Spring is a good time to reseal the wood if you didn’t tackle this job in the winter.

Once your deck has been thoroughly cleaned and resealed, you can replace any planters or furniture you removed for the winter, bringing your space back to its full glory.

Schedule Professional Refinishing or Restoration

Proper winter maintenance will prolong the life and beauty of your wood deck. With preparation and thoughtful care, you can enjoy your outdoor space for many winters to come. Contact Teak Master for a professional deck inspection, beautiful refinishing, or thorough restoration. We’ll help you keep your deck in outstanding condition year after year, no matter what the winter brings.

Bring Life Back to Your Wood Investment