How to Winterize Your Decks and Patios

A deck in the winter.

Before the short, cold, wet days of winter arrive, be sure to give your porch or deck a little winterizing attention. With a few preventative measures, your patio will be ready to greet the spring sunshine undamaged from the seasonal assault. Here are some steps you can take to winterize your deck or patio before winter has a chance to deliver her wrath.

Step 1 - Clear

A patio covered in snow.

Begin your winter preparation by clearing off your deck or patio. Some outdoor furniture such as synthetic wicker and aluminum furniture can stay, but clean it well, stack it, and cover it off to one side. Any place where the furniture pieces come into contact with the deck can cause damage to the wood. Instead, try elevating them on small blocks or disks. Clean and store all flower pots and fountains indoors. Also pack up the grill and any summer toys, chemicals, and plant foods you won’t be using.

Step 2 - Clean

A deck covered in snow.

Clean the surface of your deck or patio. Start by using a leaf blower or broom to remove loose debris. Then use a brush for tougher spots. You can also use a pressure washer to handle this task.

Fall is a great time to use a natural or chemical cleaner on your cement or wood surface too. This prevents any mildew or mold from further forming during the wet months ahead and allows you to remove stains from summer barbeques.

Step 3 - Make Repairs

A deck with tables covered in snow.

Cold and wet environments are very hard on wood surfaces. Make sure that you make repairs to your wood deck to help it survive the elements. Replace any rotting boards. Sand down areas that are peeling. Tighten screws, make sure railings are secure, and re-level stairs before the oversaturated ground shifts things further. For patios, patch up chips, replace broken stones, and fill in cracks.

Step 4 - Seal

A deck covered in snow.

Once the surface is clean, protect your porch or patio with a layer of stain or sealer. Apply wood stain or cement sealer while the weather is still favorable and allow it ample time to dry and cure before temperatures drop and the storms roll in.

Step 5 - Enclose the Porch

A deck covered in snow.

For partially-enclosed porches, consider sealing it off for the winter. You can use clear vinyl curtains to repel the rain and keep the leaves out. Panels can be added to screened porches to retain heat and reduce damage to the screening materials.

The climate in the area you live in affects the amount of effort you need to put into winterizing so pay attention to what your local professionals are up to. For example, in areas that receive heavy rainfall, make sure your gutters and drain pipes are cleaned out so they don’t overflow onto your deck. For those with heavy snowfall, make sure snow can slide off and that your deck and any structures such as a pergola can handle the weight. If you have mild winters, make decisions such as whether to maintain a firepit on your patio and whether you prefer your screened-in porch remains open rather than sealed.