Winter can be a tough time for all of us (especially after the madness that was 2020), so it stands to reason that once the chill winds are gone this year, you’ll want to have your decking in tip top shape so that you can enjoy some sunshine on it. But before you can do that, it has to endure rain, sleet, snow and ice that can all quickly start to take their toll, especially if you’ve got timber decking rather than composite decking boards. So if you’re wondering how best to tackle all that, we’ve got a couple of top tips for you right here.
As with any DIY task, you’ll need to start out by making sure that you’ve got the right tools for the job at hand. Don’t make the mistake of using a metal shovel if you can avoid it – while it’s the first thing that many people reach for, it’s also the most likely to cause damage to your decking. Instead, it’s far better to use a plastic or rubber shovel, as this can do the job just as efficiently without the risk of damage to your decking.
Alternatively you can go for an even lighter touch, such as a common broom – or even a leaf blower if it’s particularly light snow. If you’re using a shovel though, make sure to shovel parallel to your boards rather than across them. This reduces the risk of you catching your shovel on the edges of your decking boards, which can easily cause permanent damage in the form of unsightly scuffs. And whatever you do, don’t use your shovel to hit the ice on your decking with the intention of cracking it. It’s your decking that will take the brunt of the damage!
Hot water has long been an effective, low cost measure to deal with a buildup of ice, but when it comes to your decking we’d recommend steering clear of using boiling water. While it’ll certainly do an excellent job of melting the ice, the extreme temperature change will wreak havoc on the integrity of your decking boards, and that’s to say nothing of the dangers of crossing your icy decking with a pot of boiling water in hand. So we’d recommend warm water instead – the results might not be as rapid, but they’ll be just as effective.
Most importantly, it’ll be a lot safer and less risky than chemical de-icing solutions. These typically contain salts and chemicals that can easily dry out the natural moisture of the wood, making it more vulnerable to corrosion and weakening its structural integrity – arguably more dangerous than ice forming on your decking in the first place!
Plus, there’s another risk with chemical solutions; namely that they can seep through the cracks in your boards, killing the plant life and animals making their home underneath. If that doesn’t sound too bad to you, there’s a good chance you’ve not been faced with the nasty task of extracting a small rotting animal (or several) from under your decking boards.
While you’re out there and cleaning, it’s a good plan to give your decking a quick inspection to prevent potentially even more serious problems from developing. Moss or algae are particularly notable issues to watch out for, as they can pose serious slipping hazards on your deck. Thankfully, they’re easy enough to deal with using specialised products, providing they’re caught early enough. Also, you’ll want to keep a wary eye out for any cracks in your boards – if water starts to seep into these and freezes later on, it can start to force them apart.
When it comes to safety out on your decking, it’s all about balancing risk. After periods of heavy snow or rainfall, you might look out onto your decking and reasonably conclude that it would be riskier to go out out there and try and solve it than it would be to just wait for a little while and see if the day does that for you. Even thick layers of snow and ice can start to melt surprisingly quickly once the midday sun gets high enough in the sky, which can save you from the hassle and danger of having to move about on exceptionally slippery decking.
However, if you think that there’s a decent chance that someone will need to venture out onto your decking before the weather gets a chance to do your job for you, then it might be time to get those boots on and get cracking.
Decking boards generally have a decent lifespan, but as more and more years pass, you might find that eventually the harsh winters can start to take their toll. If that’s the case, it’s a good idea to think about when you’re going to replace your decking boards – not just for aesthetic reasons, but for safety too!
Happily, that’s exactly where we can help here at Savoy Timber. We have a huge range of composite decking and timber decking products, making us your one-stop shop for decking. If you fancy browsing our products for yourself, feel free to pay a visit to our DIY stores in Blackpool, Preston or Wigan. We’re dedicated to helping you to shop safely during the ongoing Covid-19 situation, so don’t forget to check our latest Covid-19 service update before you visit!