Most wooden decks are constructed with treated lumber that is able to withstand the harsh effects of weather. While this type of lumber is very durable, it can become damaged if it is not properly maintained. Because moisture and mildew growth can quickly cause your deck boards to split and warp, it is important to repair any damage caused by winter weather as soon as possible. You can avoid these problems by properly cleaning and protecting your deck after the winter months. If you take good care of your deck, you will be able to enjoy it for many years to come.
Remove Snow and Ice
As the winter weather comes to a close, temperatures grow warmer but there may be some residual snow and ice lingering on your deck. It’s important to clear your deck as soon as possible to prevent your boards from becoming warped or split. A plastic shovel is the best tool for this type of job as it will not cause damage in your attempt to force the remaining ice and snow off the deck. Be sure to push your shovel along the length of the boards. Pick up the snow and pile it in a spot away from your deck. Stay away from applying a salt or chemical product onto your deck because these materials can cause your wood to discolor and weaken the protective coating on your lumber.
Control Moisture and Mildew
It is possible for mildew to grow during the winter months, especially when there is an excessive amount of snowfall. If your deck has developed mildew stains over the winter, it is vital to remove the problem areas as soon as possible to avoid further damage to your deck. You can make your own mildew removal solution with bleach and liquid soap, outlined below:
Mildew Removal Solution for Wood Decks
- Pour 3 cups of water into a large bowl.
- Put on a pair of rubber gloves to protect your skin from the solution.
- Add a cup of oxygen bleach and 3 squirts of liquid soap to the water. Stir the mixture until it is well combined.
- Use a funnel to pour the solution into a clean, empty spray bottle. Be sure to label the bottle with a marker.
- Spray the solution onto the mildew spots on your deck and allow it to sit for about 20 minutes.
- Rinse the area with water and repeat the process if necessary. For stubborn areas, use a small cleaning brush to scrub the mildew off of the deck.
Apply a Protective Sealant
Applying a sealant to your deck will rejuvenate the boards and protect them from any further damage. Visit your local hardware store and speak with a professional about your plans to protect your deck. Read the instructions provided by the manufacturer of your selected sealant before you begin the application process. Also, be sure to check the weather forecast and choose a day for applying your sealant when precipitation or moisture in the air will not be a problem. Then, follow these steps:
- Clear your deck of any debris or furniture. This means sweeping and cleaning off any accumulated dirt. Skipping this step will only result in sealing the dirt onto the wood.
- Block off the entrance to the deck to prevent small children and pets from coming into contact with the sealant.
- Pour the sealant into a paint roller tray.
- Use a roller attached to a long handle to apply the sealant in long strokes along the length of the boards. Start in the area the furthest away from the entrance to the deck so you don't paint yourself into a corner.
- Move backward toward the entrance until the entire space is covered.
- Allow enough time for the sealant to dry completely before returning any furniture to the deck and making the space accessible.