Winter is rapidly approaching, and many Midwesterners are divided on how they feel about the season. While some look forward to it all year, others dread the day the first snowflakes will fall. After all, the weather in Northern Illinois can bring frigid temperatures, ice storms, and piles of snow. For homeowners with custom-built decks, these conditions can add up to more work and maintenance.
In fact, there are a few things that homeowners need to know about how winter will impact their deck maintenance routine. Many people choose composite decking materials over wood and other options because of their weather-resistant qualities. Not only can it withstand sub-zero temperatures, but it can also hold up to moisture from snow and ice without warping or rotting.
What does all of that mean for homeowners?
They don’t have to go to a lot of trouble to keep their composite deck looking nice throughout the winter. Some people even love to look out their windows and see a soft blanket of fresh snow covering their deck. For those who would rather have it clean and clear, however, there is a simple list of care instructions. The following steps will help keep a composite deck looking beautiful throughout the winter season.
Prepping Your Composite Deck Before Winter Arrives
Composite deck winter care starts before the snow arrives in the area. It is important that homeowners prepare their decks in order to make maintenance easier once winter finally hits. Fortunately, the preparation step itself doesn’t require too much work.
First and foremost, all remnants of fall must go. Leaves, sticks, and other debris can quickly accumulate. If they aren’t removed, they make the perfect space for mold and mildew to grow. Not only that, but they can make it harder to remove ice later.
Homeowners should also remove any loose items and small pieces of furniture. This will make it easier to clean without having to move so many things around. Larger pieces of furniture that can’t be removed should be covered to avoid more cleaning in the spring.
Once everything has been removed from the deck, it is recommended that homeowners wash the surface before cold weather arrives. Of course, composite decking care instructions should be followed. The deck should only be gently cleaned with warm soapy water and a soft-bristled bush.
Safely Removing Snow & Ice
It seems like snow in the Midwest can pile up before you know it. Many homeowners find it hard to keep up with snow removal, and decks often get the last priority, as most people aren’t using them in the winter. However, snow should be removed to avoid any slippery situations. To do it properly, these steps need to be followed.
Use the Right Tools
Homeowners must use the right tools when cleaning snow and ice off their composite decks. While the material is weather-resistant, it is still softer than hardwood. That means it can become etched or scratched if a metal shovel is used. For best results, homeowners should use a soft-bristle broom to sweep snow off the deck.
In cases where that might not be enough to get the job done, only plastic shovels should be used. Some plastic shovels may still have metal tips, however. It’s crucial that a shovel is chosen carefully.
Even when the proper tools are used, composite decks should be cleaned gently. While a broom can help remove light dustings, homeowners in Northern Illinois often deal with heavier precipitation in the winter. If there are large piles of snow or ice, homeowners should only use their shovels in the same direction as the boards. Doing so will help to minimize any scratching or damage to the edges of the planks.
Homeowners should also refrain from using their shovels to chip at ice chunks. Even if the shovel is only made of plastic, the force used to chip at the ice could still be enough to cause damage to the composite boards.
Apply Safe Rock Salt
How can you remove ice if you can’t chip at it with a shovel? Rock salt can be a massive help in melting ice when there isn’t a break in the freezing weather. It is recommended that homeowners regularly salt their composite decks as they can become quite slippery in the winter months.
While most calcium chloride or rock salt is generally safe for the composite deck, some are bad for pets. Too much salt can enter their system if they lick it off their paws, and the symptoms are severe. For that reason, pet owners should take their time to select a rock salt that is marked as safe for animals.
Cleaning Your Deck After Winter
When springtime finally rolls around, homeowners should find that their decks are already in great shape if they follow the above steps. To get their decks ready for the new season, all they have to do is give the boards a good wash. As usual, all it should require is a composite cleaner from your local hardware store, a soft-bristle broom brush, and a hose.
Learn More About Caring for Your Composite Deck This Winter
Contact the professionals of Decked Out Builders for more information on how to care for composite decks. The team at Decked Out Builders are custom deck builders serving Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin homeowners for years, so you can trust our expertise.