Chicago area snow and ice storms can really pack a wallop on your home’s outdoor living spaces. And before you know it, your gorgeous porch or deck can lose its luster and begin performing poorly—lowering your enjoyment and dampening your home’s value in the process.
The best way to avoid these issues is to properly care for your outdoor spaces and winterize them before cold weather sets in. Here’s what you need to do to keep your deck or porch in tip-top shape.
Why Winterize Your Deck, Porch or Patio
Unfortunately, a worn-out deck doesn’t just look unattractive. It ends up creating several problems that are annoying and even costly to repair—including wood rot, broken or weak boards, wobbly railing, exposed nails, and more. Family members and guests can end up injured as a result.
Avoid these issues with proper decking care. Right now is the best time to take steps to prepare your deck and porch to make it through winter.
1. Inspect Your Outdoor Spaces
Remove furnishings so you can clearly see every inch of your deck or porch. Then, do an inspection, looking for issues such as broken or cracked boards, signs of mold and mildew, wood rot, missing screws and nails, and rickety railing and steps.
2. Make Needed Repairs
If you notice any issues that need to be addressed, now is the time to make those fixes. If damage is limited to one or two small spots, repairs can likely be made.
But if the outdoor decking features lots of damage throughout, or if the overall structure seems to be weakened, have a deck contractor inspect it and consider investing in a new deck. It’ll be safer, more attractive, and longer-lasting, especially if you use modern composite decking materials that resist weather damage.
3. Do a Thorough Cleaning
After the space is cleared and repairs are made, it’s time to completely clean the deck or porch. Sweep away leaves, dirt and any other loose debris. Use a deck-safe, bleach-free mold and mildew remover where needed. Be sure to clean all surfaces, including railing, to ensure mold and mildew can’t spread.
4. Apply Water-Repellent Sealant
Fresh paint, stain and sealant help you avoid one of the most costly issues you can have with your wood surfaces—the cracks, breaks and warping caused by moisture exposure.
Lightly pressure-wash your porch and deck surfaces, and give them a couple of days to dry. Then, choose a day that is relatively cool but not too cold (between 50-85 degrees) to apply a fresh coat or two of stain, paint, and/or water-repellent sealant. The best time to do this is actually right before winter, when there’s less chance of rain to interfere with your work.
5. Cover the Space with a Tarp
If your outdoor living spaces are out of the way and won’t get any use until spring, it may be worth covering the area with a tarp to keep off snow, ice, sleet, leaves and other debris.
6. Get Rid of Anything You Don’t Need
This period of winterizing and cleaning is also a perfect time to clear away anything you’re no longer using. Outdated decorations, worn pillows, broken furnishings, dead lighting—gather these things and trash them—or if they’re in acceptable condition, sell or donate them.
7. Keep the Deck/Porch Clear of Snow and Ice
Wintry precipitation can do a lot of damage to wooden decking. If you let it sit, it’ll melt and refreeze for days, keeping your wood wet and creating opportunities for rot, mold, and mildew to set in. It can also cause your paint or stain to wear down and fade.
Eliminate the issue by carefully clearing away snow and ice with a plastic snow shovel, a snow blower, or a broom. Don’t use metal tools, salts, or deicers, which can scratch the decking.
8. Don’t Forget Other Outdoor Fixtures
As you take care of your deck, patio or porch, give some attention to other elements of your outdoor décor too.
- Furniture—Treat deck furnishings with weather-resistant sealants if you intend to leave them outside. Or store items safely in a shed or garage.
- Planters—Empty flower pots of dirt; otherwise, the dirt will tend to freeze, thaw, expand—and crack your planters.
- Fences—Treat wooden fencing to prevent moisture and weather damage, and shore up weak spots so the fence won’t collapse during a storm.
Eliminate Annoying Maintenance by Installing Composite Decking
Winterizing your deck and other outdoor spaces becomes an annual task, especially when you’re dealing with materials that wilt under weather exposure. Remember, snow and ice can make natural wood rot, broaden cracks in concrete, and wear away at caulking in brick.
The solution? That’s easy—replace your current deck with gorgeous, long-lasting TimberTech composite decking. After winterizing your existing deck, you’ll appreciate the way TimberTech doesn’t need to be pressure-washed, re-stained or repainted every year. It’s customizable, easy to care for, long-lasting and luxurious, giving you the deck of your dreams.
You can sit back, relax, and watch your composite decking withstand weather and time, and enjoy its 25-year warranty. Talk about low-maintenance, high-end home living!
Imagine Yourself with a New Deck This Year
Get prepared for an outstanding outdoor experience next spring and summer by investing in a new deck, porch or patio now. Winter is a good time to have the project of your dreams completed. Imagine how outdoor living will boost your home lifestyle—and learn more about the ways a new composite deck from Siding and Windows Group can benefit you.