Extreme weather can severely affect your deck and fencing. Bright sun can fade and discolour wood, excessive rain can cause water damage, and the consistent below-zero temperatures during winter can coat your deck in heavy layers of snow and ice. This winter in Ottawa has been a particularly difficult one, with an above-average level of snowfall and record-breaking temperatures. Many Ottawans are eagerly awaiting spring and the chance to use their outside space once again. Once spring finally rolls around, however, your deck may require a little bit of TLC to get it back to its good-looking self. Here are few tips for spring cleaning your deck:
Remove snow and ice
Shovelling can damage the surface of your deck and should be done with care, if at all. If you do decide to shovel away the snow or ice, make sure to go parallel to the boards so you don’t chip the wood. You should also use a plastic shovel instead of a metal one, which can damage the deck’s surface. Salt will dry out the wood’s natural moisture and discolour it, so it is best to avoid it.
Once the snow and ice has disappeared from your deck, it may be looking a little grimy. For a low-maintenance composite deck, a soapy scrub with a soft bristled brush should do the trick. This will also work for your wood deck, but if it’s looking a little grey and requires a heavier-duty clean, a good power washing or light sanding may be in order.
In regards to power washing a wood deck, you need to be mindful of the jet pressure and tip selection. If the pressure is too strong, you could damage your wood deck, especially if it is a soft wood like cedar or pine. Start with a low pressure and test it out on a small inconspicuous area first. If required, follow up with a light sanding and possibly even a refinish. It is worth doing this before the weather gets too warm as the intense heat of the sun can affect your deck. Make sure you have it in tip-top shape before summer hits!
After winter, your deck may be looking a little weathered with moldy grimy patches and stains left behind by leaves and other debris caught beneath the snow. There are a number of commercial deck cleaners on the market to target these issues. Deck cleaners often contain one of three main ingredients: chlorine bleach, oxygen bleach, and oxalic acid. Deck cleaners with chlorine bleach are great at removing mold and mildew, but can damage your wooden deck surface. Oxygen bleach is not as effective, however it is non-toxic and will remove mildew without destroying the wood. Oxalic acid is a common ingredient in deck brighteners but is toxic and must be handled with care.