The idea of snow and ice settling on decking makes lots of people uneasy, and it’s not difficult to see why. Quite apart from the risk of slipping and falling, there’s the fear for many people that it can damage the wood. To what extent this is true can often depend on exactly what type of wood you use for your decking, but we understand the urge to get out there and clear all that chilly stuff away, just in case.
Before you go, though, you should know all the ins and outs of how to do it properly, so you can avoid doing any damage to your deck. On this week’s blog, we’ve compiled the most major dos and don’ts!
The golden rule for this task is the same as the golden rule for basically any other: always prioritise your own safety. In other words, don’t go out onto your deck if you think there’s a chance you might injure yourself doing it – not unless the alternative is even more unsafe (for example, if there are unstable icicles hanging over a pathway that sees a lot of traffic). A good rule of thumb is that if you can see there’s only a thin layer of snow and ice, it’s best to wait until it melts on its own. After all, often it only takes as long as an afternoon!
We would suggest, however, clearing snow if it blocks a second exit route from your home. All homes should have at least two ways out, in case there’s a fire or similar immediate risk to health. And if your only other way out is a decking that’s covered in snow or ice, then it’s wise to get that clear as soon as you can. Speaking of which, when you’re clearing snow it’s always advisable to shovel parallel to your deck boards, not across them. Otherwise, you might catch your shovel on the edge of a board, and let’s face it, nobody likes any kind of scuff on their decking, even if it’s only a small one! For light snow (in other words, the kind we usually get here in Blighty), it might be best to go for the soft touch by using a leaf blower or broom.
We see this time and time again here at Savoy Timber – people using metal shovels to clear their garden decking. But you run into the same problem; you can very easily scratch your deck! Instead, use a plastic or rubber blade shovel if you’ve got one to hand, as they’re a lot easier. If you’ve only got a metal shovel available, you might want to consider leaving a thin layer of snow on top, which stops the shovel from making direct contact.
Under no circumstances should you hit your ice with a shovel to crack it. Trust us, your decking is the one that suffers the damage! Plus, definitely exercise a bit of caution with any ice melting products you have to hand. Salts dry out the natural moisture of the wood, which can leave your decking vulnerable to corroding more quickly. On top of that (yes, there’s more!) any ice-melting products can seep through cracks in your boards, comprehensively exterminating any plant life and small animals underneath. If that sounds like a bonus, you may not have had the pleasure of trying to extract a small rotting animal from underneath decking boards. Save yourself the hassle!
In case you’re thinking “well if I can’t crack the ice, what can I do to clear it?” then don’t worry! We’re coming to the rescue at Savoy Timber. Our non-slip decking strips are perfect for adding a bit of grip to your decking, taking the edge off the worst that snow and ice can do. If you’re still after a bit of advice or something more to secure your safety, by all means come and chat to our friendly members of staff in any of our DIY stores in Blackpool, Wigan or Preston, and we’ll be happy to help in any way we can.