Wooden decks create a hardscaping area in your yard that is perfect for entertaining guests and expanding the usable space of your property. Furthermore, wood creates a natural and luxurious aesthetic that other types of materials simply cannot replicate. However, wood is particularly susceptible to moisture damage, which means that the winter can wreak havoc on the condition of your decking boards. Taking the proper steps to prepare your decking for the winter season can help prevent future damage from occurring.
Replace Damaged Boards
The most important thing that you can do to ensure that your deck is not damaged by the winter weather and the moisture that will arise in the spring is to replace any boards that have physically warped, broken, or otherwise become structurally compromised. These boards are likely not able to withstand cold temperatures and the added weight of snow, and if they have chipped or broken in places, moisture can soak directly into the boards and cause further damage. Replacing them entirely is the best path forward.
Reseal the Deck
Beyond replacing damaged sections of your deck, you may also want to apply a fresh coat of stain over the boards themselves depending on how worn the existing coat is looking. The stain will keep water and moisture out of your decking, saving them from warping and other forms of moisture damage. You'll have to sand down the entirety of the surface of your decking boards, which can be done relatively quickly if you rent an electric sander from a hardware store, and then you can use a paint roller or sponge to apply stain to the newly exposed wood. Applying two thin coats is usually the best bet, but for particularly intense climates, you may want to do three.
Shoveling Ice and Snow
Of course, the best thing that you can do to reduce the amount of stress and wear that your deck experiences is by physically removing the snow from it over the course of the season. Snow that is allowed to melt on the wood of your deck will quickly wear away the waterproofing stain, increasing the risk of rot, mold, and warping occurring. Be sure to shovel using a plastic shovel, which will not scratch the surface of your deck like a metal shovel would. Further, avoid using ice and de-icing chemicals to melt hard patches on your wood—this can concentrate the water in a specific area and further weaken the stain. It is better to let a small amount of ice melt naturally instead.