The time has come to leave outdoor living spaces and ride out winter’s cold indoors. But before you batten down the barbecue and stow the patio cushions, don’t forget to take care of wooden structures – like decks, and pergolas that must bear the elements.
Routine maintenance of these structures can ensure they weather the winter well and are ready for you to enjoy come spring. Plus, beautiful, well-kept outdoor structures enhance curb appeal and your home’s resale value.
Here are some ideas for winterizing your wooden outdoor structures:
Inspect and Repair
Start with a thorough inspection of your structure. Look for any signs of damage such as splintered wood, loose nails, or rotting boards. Make necessary repairs to ensure the structure is safe and stable.
While removing leaves, dirt, and pine needles from between the boards is essential, consider a deeper cleaning. Use a mildew-resistant cleaner and a soft brush or pressure washer on a low setting to avoid damaging the wood. This not only improves airflow but also prevents the buildup of harmful substances that can degrade the wood over time.
Apply a Protective Sealant
After cleaning, applying a water-repellent sealant is crucial. This step provides an extra layer of protection against moisture, which is especially important in winter when snow and ice can lead to water damage.
Check for Proper Drainage
Ensure that the area around your wooden structure has proper drainage. Water should not pool around the base as this can lead to wood rot and structural damage. If necessary, regrade the soil or install additional drainage solutions.
Trim Surrounding Vegetation
Overhanging branches or close-growing plants can transfer moisture to your wooden structure and provide a haven for pests. Trim back any vegetation to maintain a clear perimeter around your structure.
Utilize Pot Feet or Stands
If you cannot remove large planters or pots, use pot feet or stands to elevate them. This allows air to circulate underneath, preventing moisture buildup and wood stains. These stands can be decorative, adding an aesthetic touch to your deck while serving a practical purpose.
Install Built-In Planters
As suggested, built-in planter boxes can be a great permanent solution. These can be designed with proper drainage and materials that match or complement your deck. They also add to the aesthetic appeal and can be used to create natural borders or privacy screens.
Waterproof Under-Deck Storage
Consider creating waterproof storage under your deck for items like garden tools, outdoor cushions, or even those flower pots during the winter months. This not only helps in organizing your outdoor space but also protects items from the weather.
Take Care with Pressure Washing
Be careful about pressure washing. It can mar the surface of your deck. If you absolutely must pressure wash, keep the washer set below 800 pounds per square inch. You may also consider calling a pressure washing company to handle it for you.
Take Care of Pollen and Mold in the Summer
Winterizing is a year-round job! Water, pollen and mold tend to collect and sit on horizontal surfaces throughout the summer. Left over the winter, they become a harmful cocktail that can speed the deterioration of otherwise healthy lumber.
Winterizing outdoor structures is simple and quick – and ensures your outdoor living space will be in great shape, and ready for you to enjoy, once warm weather returns.