Unless you’re a die-hard grill enthusiast and don’t let feet of snow get in the way of a good barbecue, it’s probably be
en a few months since your deck has seen any action. Before grill season is in full swing and you’re out there every night, take some time now to get it ready to rock.
A lot can happen over the winter in Wisconsin. Week long blizzards, ice storms, polar vortexes, and the inevitable thaw-refreeze limbo that happens near the end can really put a beating on your home, and your deck is no exception. Even an incredibly well sealed deck can see some strain over a harsh winter like we just had. So first things first, start by giving your deck a good once over to check for any damage.
The most obvious signs will be in the boards themselves, and if it looks like some of them have started to warp, rot, or even crack, then it’s time to replace the damaged ones. Also, make sure to check for any protruding or exposed nails or screws sticking out of the boards. After the boards, work your way around checking the railings and stairs to make sure they are in good shape as well.
After you’ve made sure that everything is structurally sound, then it’s time for some spring cleaning. It’s pretty much a guarantee that your deck has a nice layer of gunk all over it after the snow has receded. Not only is it unsightly – this mixture of dead leaves, dirt, and who knows what else is perfect for holding in moisture that can seep into the wood and warp it. Usually warm, soapy water and a light scrubbing will take care of the grime. However, sometimes you’ll run into some tougher stuff. You might be tempted to bring out the power washer to get the job done, but you should reconsider. Power washers can be too strong for softer woods like cedar, and you can end up doing damage to your deck’s boards. To get rid of strong mildew you can clean your deck with oxygen bleach, a non-toxic alternative to chlorine bleach that will clean up your deck nice without damaging it.
Lastly, you’ll want to restain and seal your deck if it needs it. UV rays can be just as damaging to the wood as moisture can – so don’t forget it!