Protect your deck this winter so that your springtime deck prep is less of an ordeal.

By Diane Franklin

As the days get shorter and the temperatures get cooler, it’s time to prepare your deck for the coming winter. The better job you do right now, the easier it will be for you to revive your deck when springtime rolls around again.

Clear the Deck

Remove furnishings, planters, outdoor grills, etc. from the deck. If they’ve gotten dusty or dirty, give them a thorough cleaning. Then store them away for the winter.  If you have outdoor plants that will do fine inside, make sure you check them for pests before finding a place for them in your home.

Inspect for Damage

Take a look at the deck, railings, supports and steps to determine if anything needs to be repaired before winter. Replace or tighten loose screws. If you have some deck boards you need to swap out, you may want to wait until the spring so they don’t have to go through the winter—unless you plan to reseal or restain your deck now. Then it makes sense to swap them out at this time so the coating weathers consistently and the appearance of the deck is uniform.

Clean the Surface

Sweep off debris and then clean the deck using appropriate deck-cleaning products. If mildew is present, use a deck cleaner formulated for mildew removal. If you used your deck extensively over the summer and it looks a little worse for wear, you may want to power-wash. But do so carefully to avoid potential damage to the wood.

Protect the Surface

Assess if the surface has water repellency. If water beads up on the deck, the surface should be okay over the winter. However, if water soaks into the surface, you won’t want the deck to go through an entire winter in which penetration from rain or snow could cause damage to the wood. Coat your deck with a stain or water sealer to protect the surface from whatever severe weather may occur.

Remove Debris and Snow

It’s a good idea to keep an eye on your deck throughout the fall and winter. Sweep off leaves and debris on a regular basis. Use a broom or snow blower to remove snow to keep potential moisture penetration to a minimum. If you don’t have a snow blower, you could shovel the snow. Just be careful that you don’t scrape or damage the deck surface with the shovel.