As you are spending the next couple of months outside enjoying your deck, you might want to start thinking about and planning your winterization for your deck. Everyone talks about removing your outside hoses from the hose bibs, closing your crawl space vents, covering your grill and outdoor furniture. One thing you don’t hear much about is your decks. The winter months of snow, ice, and cold temperature can be rough on a poorly maintained deck. We have put together a few things to think about as you shut down your outside oasis for the winter.
First and foremost a good inspection of your deck should be done annually. If your deck is attached to your home it should be attached by a ledger board. Inspect your ledger board to make sure it is securely fastened against the house. There was a deck earlier this year in Springfield, Missouri that collapsed due to a poorly fastened ledger board and joists (we will get to joists and joist hangers in a minute). Make sure that the ledger board is tight against the outside wall of your home. Your ledger board should have a minimum of a ½ lag bolt with washers spaced 16 inches on center staggering high and low on the ledger board about 2 inches from the top and bottom of the board. Make sure the fasteners are not countersunk as this will greatly impact the load strength of the ledger board.
Next, you want to check your support posts and joints and make sure they are in good structural shape. Joists should be attached to the framing of the deck and the ledger with joist hangers that are designed to strengthen the load capability of your deck. If your joist is not fastened with joist hangers and the hangers secured with 16d galvanized nails you should consider adding joist hangers. If your joist hangers are attached with galvanized deck screws or drywall screws, we recommend replacing them with 16d galvanized nails that are rated for treated wood. Screws do not have the required shank sized and strength to support your deck safely. If your deck already has joist hangers and galvanized nails you will want to re-set any nails that might have work themselves loose. Lastly, check your handrails and steps to make sure they are secure. You may need them to be sturdy during the winter months when decks can be slick from snow and ice.
You should perform some housekeeping on your deck. Remove plants and bring them indoors. If possible store deck furniture and planters off the deck as this will preserve your deck’s life span. Make sure all the leaves that have fallen from the trees have been swept off your deck. The rotting leaves left on a deck over the winter can cause deck surface damage and stains. You should clean your deck with mild soap and water. Use a garden hose or a low-pressure power washer to clean your deck’s surface. Be careful as high-pressure power washers can damage your deck’s wood. If your deck is painted and the paint is peeling this would be a good time to scrape away the loose finish and prep your deck for a new coat of paint or stain.
After your deck has been cleaned and ready for winter, you will want to seal your deck if that has not been done in the last year. If your deck is really dirty you can purchase a more powerful deck cleaner from your friendly associates at Tanco Lumber. Stop in and they can guide you to the perfect cleaners, stains, paints, and sealants for your deck.
Happy fall, keep us in mind at Tanco Lumber and Hardware for all your home improvement needs. We have two convenient locations in Forsyth and Branson West.