Throughout the spring and summer months, the backyard deck has served you and your family well. But as autumn is about to turn to winter, there are some protective measures required to stem the effects of the elements to keep costly replacement or exorbitant repairs at bay. Here are some tender loving care tips to maintain your backyard deck as the year’s harsh season rolls in:
Clear up the visible surface of the deck. Precipitation on a wooden backyard deck can cause water damage and microbial activity, eventually leading to the wood warping, cracking, splitting, and rotting. The wood can also degrade because of radiation from the sun, wear-and-tear from foot traffic, as well as patio furniture scuffing. To prevent any decay to the backyard deck’s wood surface, first weatherize it with a thorough clean before the cold months set in. Remove leaves from the deck to avoid any decaying process that might affect the backyard deck’s materials, color, or condition.
Clean between the boards and under the boards. After sweeping the surface of the deck, clear the cracks and crevices. Any debris, dirt, and fallen leaves found in the spaces between the boards must be cleared, for those can pool water and create prime breeding grounds for mold, fungus, or termites to feed off the wood. Dislodging debris wedged between boards allows maximum air circulation for moisture to evaporate quickly. Of course, be mindful that any power washing is not too strong in velocity or intensity; otherwise, that could remove your backyard deck’s finishes or leave the wood scarred. If needed, consult a professional who can do the job for you.
Store furniture during cold season. You wouldn’t want discoloration or some form of inconsistent coloring on your backyard deck. Hence, pack up the outdoor tables and chairs for storage in your shed, garage, or even indoors.
Remove planters. Just as furniture is stored away to minimize deck discoloration, so, too, can planters and pots be transferred to storage. Besides the disadvantages of uneven hues and weathered appearances to areas of the deck, planters also have the added risks of encouraging mildew and decay on your deck. Small planters can thus be moved indoors. Larger ones can be moved to storage, especially in a controlled greenhouse for the winter.
Inspect for any damage. When the backyard deck is cleaned up as well as cleared of any furniture or planters, it is the best time to have a thorough look at the railings, supports, and surfaces to check their stability. Where the deck touches the ground, have a barrier to keep moisture from seeping into the wood from underneath the deck. Moisture leads to mold, mildew, and dry rot – all of which deteriorate the wood. Once dry rot has established itself, termites can move in and imperil the rest of your home’s wooden structures. Therefore, regularly inspecting your backyard deck is highly advisable, so that all necessary repairs can be made before the wet, cold conditions of the autumn and winter seasons.
Utilize water repellents. If the backyard deck has lost some of its finish, re-finish it. Re-stain it and re-apply water repellent or protective sealant once more to combat any threats to your backyard deck. Doing so extends the life of the backyard deck, protecting it from inclement weather’s elements. Again, consult an expert about sealing your deck, for the process is very involved. Different types of sealants combat different types of elements. While one sealant, for instance, can protect from wetness and moisture, a different one would protect against ultraviolet exposure that would bleach the wood. Then, too, treating the wood deck once more might necessitate the removal of old treatments by sanding away certain spots to reveal a fresh layer of wood to absorb the new sealant. A professional would have the more seasoned eye on knowing how best to administer the optimal protection and the ideal finish for your backyard deck.
Remember to exercise good maintenance of your backyard deck. Poor deck maintenance is costly. Remove leaves and twigs regularly. Keep sprinklers and gutters from splashing water on the deck. As for the deck’s natural drainage, ensure water does not accumulate in areas on or around the deck. Replace any splintered, rotten, loose, sinking, or damaged boards. Hammer in any loose or protruding nails. Tighten the bolts that hold and attach the deck to the house. Similarly, check the undersides of the deck, its joists, even its beams. If you inherited the deck from a previous owner who had installed it, make sure the ground beneath the deck slopes away so that the water drains away from the bottom of the deck. The deck’s wooden foundation should not be resting on the dirt, but be upon a concrete base or apron that extends at least 6 inches above the grade so that burrowing termites do not find their way to the deck’s wood. Finally, always have an expert inspect the deck at least twice a year to ensure its sustainability and durability despite the changes that seasons bring. Take the time to winterize your backyard deck, for it is part of your home.