Monday, December 12, 2011

6 Easy Steps to Winterize Your Deck and Outdoor Area

It is getting colder, with winds blowing, temperatures dropping, and winter approaching. If you haven’t already winterized your outdoor living area, including your decks, it might not be too late.

Certain items can be stored in a shed, or brought into the garage. However, decks and other larger items are going to be subjected to the winter elements. So, they should be protected.

Let’s take a look at what can be done to protect it all.

1. Wooden Structures and Furniture

Perhaps you have a nice wooden deck or a pergola for your outdoor living area. These structures are immobile, and are subjected to all the beatings the weather provides. So, do what you can to protect it all from the weather, especially the winter that is quickly approaching.

Picnic tables and wooden play-sets are also items you should winterize, to assure longevity. In our yard, we also have some nice Oxford Garden furniture, and include this in our winterizing maintenance.

Also, beautiful wooden structures enhance your home and curb appeal, increasing your resale value. So, you want to make sure they are kept in optimum condition, especially if you ever decide to sell your home.

These structures are often built with durable wood, but they still need routine maintenance. Read on to see what you can do to make sure your structures are ready to enjoy again in the spring.

2. Leaves, Dirt, and Debris

If you are surrounded by trees, then you probably have a substantial amount of leaves falling on your deck, especially in the fall. Make sure to remove them often as they pile up throughout the fall months. If you haven’t done this, it’s not too late. Just don’t let them sit on the deck through the winter months.

Also, take a large industrial brush to the deck to remove dirt and debris that is left behind once the leaves are removed.

This step will encourage air flow among the boards of the deck, diminishing the chance for mildew and mold to grow. Mold and mildew not only look bad, but it is harmful the life of your deck. It can also be very slippery when wet, as well as wet leaves. I have slipped a couple times, and would not want a guest to fall and get hurt.

3. Remove the Portables

If you have potted plants, flower boxes, or anything else ornamental that rests on the deck, remove them for the winter. We have an outdoor fan that is fairly heavy, but we also remove that during the winter.

The moisture that can gather under these items will likely leave marks on your deck, as well as encourage mold and mildew. It’s best to store these items elsewhere, if possible.

You may have some heavy urns for plants that are either too heavy to move, or to cumbersome to store. If you do, then consider elevating them off the wooden structure. Find something sturdy to rest the urn on, that also will allow air flow.

4. Kill the Mildew and Mold

Chances are, no matter how careful you are with your structures, there might be a little mildew and mold growing in some areas. Even if you don’t see evidence of it, you might consider this next step just as a precaution.

After ridding the structures of dirt and debris, spray the wood with the following mixture:
3 parts water
1 part oxygen bleach
Apply this mixture lightly with a garden sprayer. Even though the bleach mixture is diluted, it can still harm foliage, pets, and children. So, make sure to not spray excessively, and keep the pets and children away from it for a day or two.

After you don’t see any more mildew or mold, rinse the areas with water.

5. Pressure Washing

If you feel the need to pressure wash your structures, do so with caution. Some woods, such as Western Red Cedar, cannot handle the pressure and will suffer as a result.

Be sure to check on what your structures can handle before you pressure wash. If you decide to take this step, it’s recommended that you set the power washer below 800lbs per square inch.

We have taken the small steps throughout the year, and have never had to power wash our deck. However, if we did, I think I would have it professionally done.

6. Storage Benches and Furniture

Wooden furniture and outdoor storage benches also need a little extra care. Keeping them cleaned off from fallen leaves and debris, just as you would the decks and pergolas, will help to keep the wood healthy for years.

If necessary, use the diluted spray bleach mixture on these items, just as you do with the larger structures.

In Closing

Taking these steps in winterizing your outdoor wooden structures and furniture, allows for years of enjoyment in the warmer months. It also means that your outdoor living area will be ready for you to enjoy when the weather warms up again.


Melissa Cameron is a freelance writer, who through her articles, provides valuable tips and advice for her readers, often on how to save money, or ways make our lives easier. Melissa is in her early 30’s, married with 2 young children, living in Austin Texas. She loves to search the internet for new ideas and deals, and just recently discovered Twitter. 

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