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Your deck takes a beating from both the summer heat and cold and precipitation of winter. Fortunately, there are things you can do to mitigate the effect of the elements. Read on for crowdsourced tips for preparing your deck to survive winter unscathed.

Gavin Kane

Gavin Kane

Gavin Kane, Director at Hunter Coast Painting. He has worked in painting, including exterior projects like deck staining and deck refurbishment, for over a decade.


Taking care of your deck in winter starts during the warmer months, long before winter arrives, because the best care tip for your deck in winter is preparation. If you prepare your deck properly, it will survive the harsh winter months.

First, make sure your deck has been properly sealed. Sealing or staining your deck is part of the maintenance of having a wooden deck, which will prevent moisture from seeping into the lumber. Moisture is the most common cause of warping, cracking, splintering, and rot. Once these issues begin, pests can get in and cause even more damage. Make sure your deck is fully sealed.

Second, before winter hits, check for mildew or other signs of damage. If you see anything, even a small bit of damage – fix it. While the damage you’ve found might seem like nothing to worry about now, it’ll be a big problem once winter is gone. Little problems grow into big problems, especially when those problems are left to the mercy of frost, rain, hail, and snow.

Third, keep it clean. This is a simple thing, and when it’s done regularly, you can really extend the life of your deck by preventing build-up and rot. Keeping it clean means removing dirt and debris and cleaning out gaps and cracks, or any other places that can collect debris and make a hidey-hole for creepy-crawlies.

Lastly, get covered! Winter and the colder months can bring with them some really harsh weather – heavy rains, hail, or snowfall. For more intense weather days, when you won’t be able to use your deck anyway, make sure you have some protection for your deck and any items that live out there, such as decking furniture or BBQs.

Before Winter

  1. Remove all leaves and debris.
  2. Clean the deck with a pressure washer. If you don’t have a pressure washer handy use a hose and brush off any dirt that is stuck with a broom.
  3. Seal the deck before it gets too cold outside; use a water seal wood protector sealant.

During Winter

  1. Shovel snow off the deck with a plastic shovel and shovel lightly—do not use a metal shovel as it can scratch the wood.
  2. Use a salt-free de-icing agent to melt the ice on the deck. Do not use salt as it can damage the wood.
  3. Do not cover the deck because moisture can seep through and cause Condensation, which can sit for a long period of time and will damage the wood and create the perfect breeding ground for mold growth.
Diana Rodriguez-Zaba

Diana Rodriguez-Zaba

Diana Rodriguez-Zaba, President of ServiceMaster of Lake Shore.
Melanie Musson

Melanie Musson

Melanie Musson is a home insurance expert for USInsuranceAgents.com.

Before winter, sweep your deck.

Piles of leaves retain moisture and start to rot. That moisture rotting process will harm your deck and contribute to your deck rotting.

After you clean your deck, apply a sealant to keep moisture out. Moisture and wooden decks don’t mix. The sealant will keep the water from soaking into the wood. Just as the freezing and thawing cycle creates potholes and roadway cracks, it can also weaken your deck if it penetrates the wood.

When it snows, don’t use a metal shovel because the metal can gouge your deck surface, which is not only unsightly but also creates a weakness in the deck where water can settle.

Re-treat your deck as needed

You need to make sure you treat your deck for the winter. Anything that prevents moisture from seeping into the wood is going to help. It’s not foolproof, though. No chemical solution will get you off the hook for performing basic maintenance on your deck. You need to monitor it and look for signs of water damage, bowing, rusted screws/nails, and any other issues that could be caused by the winter weather.

The biggest problem I see is when a deck freezes and then thaws, the wood contracts as it gets cold, then expands as it warms up. This can cause cracking, splitting, and other issues that will take a toll on the integrity of your wood. To counteract this, make sure you’re shoveling any accumulated snow away, re-treat your deck as needed, and replace warped boards as soon as possible.

Dan Bailey

Dan Bailey

Dan Bailey, President, WikiLawn.
Bill Samuel

Bill Samuel

Bill Samuel, Full time residential real estate developer (since 2013) who specializes in rehabbing houses and renting/selling them in the Chicago area. Find him at blueladderdevelopment.com

Few tips to consider during the winter

First, put away any furniture or items you have on your deck.

Second, give your deck a good cleaning with a power washer or cleaning solution recommended for your deck material type.

Third, when the snow does start falling try to avoid salting the deck as it may cause damage, and, if possible, use a broom to clear away the snow to avoid scarring the deck.

Clear it off

By this, I mean, clear off all the clutter and junk before winter arrives. Try to get rid of everything you don’t need, including barbeques, lawn chairs, planters, and more. Objects left on the porch over the winter will pool liquid, which will cause wood discoloration or (even worse) soggy wood.

Store these things in your garage, on the lawn, or even on the pavement somewhere. Failing to do so will quicken the life span of your deck and make it look worn down.

Also, you should try your best to clean the snow and ice off your deck as needed. It will keep your deck looking good and will lengthen the life span of your deck.

Brandi Andrews

Brandi Andrews is the Founder & CEO at National Air Warehouse, an online website where businesses and homeowners can shop online for their air conditioning equipment.

This is a crowdsourced article. Contributors are not necessarily affiliated with this website and their statements do not necessarily reflect the opinion of this website, other people, businesses, or other contributors.