How to get your deck ready for spring after a harsh winter
Deck owners rejoice! After a long Maryland winter full of ice, snow, cold, and freezing rain, decks everywhere are primed to be reclaimed from mother nature. While there was little that could be done to help our outdoor living spaces in recent months, rising temperatures and increasingly-present sunshine are ready to join your quest to reverse the havoc caused by foregone seasonal elements.
So how exactly do you recover a deck from winter? And, what kind of deck cleaning and deck maintenance work should you do during the springtime? Here’s a list to get you started:
- Clear it off. If you attempted to clear off the ice and snow that accumulated on your deck over the winter, you've done well. However, if there is dirt or other residue lingering on the surface, now is the time to clear it off. The best way to keep a deck healthy and to prevent mold and mildew from building up is to allow any moisture present to drain down through the cracks between the boards. You can do a simple clearing with a rake or broom to remove things like leaves, water, and other unwelcome "decorations".
- Power wash. Clean a deck with a power washer to blast all of the harmful stuff off your deck, but only if you are properly trained. While improper power washing can damage your deck, it can also leave your deck smooth and clean. We would advise talking to an expert before trying it on your own. Those with synthetic decks can clean their decking by choosing from proprietary brand-related products or by using water with some dish detergent and a soft bristle brush. However, to reiterate, only use a power washer on a wood deck if you know what you're doing.
- Repair loose deck boards. Spring is a great time to check for loose or missing boards. Where the cold, dry weather causes boards to contract, in the springtime, they tend to expand. Be on the lookout for screws that might have popped out or nails that have come loose.
- Check for mold. Winter tends to allow mold to build up on decks, so this is the perfect time of year to use an oxygen bleach solution to get rid of it. Simply add the solution to a garden spray bottle and get spraying. In most cases, letting the solution sit for 10-15 minutes is enough time to be effective before hosing it off.
For more serious stains, it will be necessary to scrub away the mold. Please note that composite decking should be approached with a brush with soft bristles to avoid scratching its surface. Use a roller to apply a liquid mold barrier to prevent mold from growing in the future once the deck is completely dry.
- Clean off pollen. With spring comes pollen. You’ll quickly discover that you’re getting a buildup on both your screen and porch and definitely want to hose it off. We recommend hosing from your screened porch's interior outwards to avoid pollen buildup in a screened porch.
- Clean your gutters. Autumn and winter in Maryland mean falling leaves – tons of falling leaves – and if you neglected your gutters during the winter months, you better clean them out before they cause drainage issues around your home. If you live in a wooded area, you should also consider installing gutter guards.
- Add a sealant. We’ve written about this in greater detail before, but late spring and early summer (when it’s really starting to get warm) are ideal times to add a new coat of sealant or staining, because the warmer temperatures will help it to dry better and faster. Sealing and staining your deck helps to protect it from harsh weather conditions and keep it looking newer longer.