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1. Eliminate the slip-and-slide.
The debris that forms on your deck throughout the year can pose a safety problem during the fall and winter. This debris can include caked-on dirt, moss, algae, mold, fungus, mildew and fallen leaves. When this layer of grime gets wet, it becomes slippery and unsafe. The best way to prevent this safety hazard is to clean your deck in the fall – the first step to winterizing the structure.
You can purchase a deck cleaner formulated specifically for wood, or make your own by combining a quart of ammonia-free dishwashing detergent for dishwashers (not dishwashing soap), a quart of oxygen bleach and 3 quarts of water. Apply the homemade solution to the deck and let it sit for 10 minutes. Then use a scrub broom to gently loosen the debris, and rinse the deck with water.
2. Moisture is wood’s enemy.
Wood is made up of porous cellulose fibers that absorb water. Non-living wood (cut from a tree) that’s air-dried retains 8 to 16 percent of the water within in its cell walls. Treated wood that’s dried using other means still retains moisture, which is natural. When wood comes in contact with moisture, it becomes more flexible. Prolonged exposure to moisture, however, can cause a wood deck to warp, split or rot, which can compromise its structural integrity. Wet winter weather can also lead to dry rot in un-winterized decks. Dry rot is a type of fungus that can begin to grow when there’s excessive moisture. If a deck falls victim to dry rot, the fungus eats away at the parts of the wood that give it stiffness and strength, eventually causing the wood to become so brittle that it turns to powder.
When you winterize your deck by cleaning it, you help it air dry on its own better. Then, by removing old or fading finish and replacing it with a fresh coat, you help the wood defend itself against the cold weather conditions. Add an extra layer of protection to your deck with a high-quality water-repelling sealant, which acts like a rain jacket.
3. Save money.
While winterizing your deck in the fall can cost you a weekend, the payoff will last you for years. Failure to prepare your deck for winter weather can result in frequent costly repairs and a higher risk of having to completely replace the structure. Furthermore, the expenses can really add up if someone slips and falls on the grime that’s built up on your deck. Caring for a wood deck is like looking after your own health – a little prevention goes a long way.
A deck is a major investment in your home, so it makes sense to maintain its durability and protect it against water absorption. Plus, when the winter has passed and the weather is more agreeable, a winterized deck will be immediately ready for your spring and summer outdoor activities.
This post is brought to you by Rick’s Fencing, which provides materials, design, service and installation of wood decks in the North West.