Winter is in the air, with homeowners from the east coast to west experiencing sub-freezing temperatures. When the mercury drops below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, though, water turns to ice — and this ice can prove downright dangerous when it forms on your patio and deck. So, how do you prevent your deck from freezing?
Cleaning a wooden deck isn’t going to necessarily prevent it from freezing, but it can certainly help by discouraging mold and mildew, which can make your deck more slippery if left unchecked. Mold and mildew need organic matter to thrive. So things like dust, pine straw, leaves and other organic debris provide ideal breeding grounds. You can discourage mold and mildew from forming on your wooden deck, however, by cleaning it on a regular basis.
Even after removing the debris from your wooden deck, you should still apply a proper deck-cleaning product. Available at most home improvement stores, these products contain special chemicals to further eliminate microbial growth without harming the deck’s wooden structure. Some homeowner prefer to make their own deck-cleaning solution — and that’s okay. Just remember to avoid using products ammonia AND bleach, as this creates a dangerous and toxic chemical when mixed together.
After applying deck-cleaning product and allowing it to set, you should apply a water-repellent stain. These stains are specifically designs to repel water, and without water settling on your deck, it shouldn’t freeze. While steps for applying a water-repellent stain vary depending on the product, most require brushing or rolling the stain onto the wooden boards, preferably on a day with minimal sunlight (sunlight causes the product to evaporate and oxidize more quickly. Wait at least 48 hours for the stain to settle, at which point your wooden deck should be protected from moisture and ice.
If you live in a region that receives particularly cold winters, you may want to install some self-adhesive non-slip strips to your deck. This isn’t going to prevent it from freezing. Rather, it improves traction while preventing slip-and-fall accidents. You can buy them for less than $10 bucks, which is a small price to pay for the added safety they offer. Place them in high-traffic areas such as steps and in front of doors.
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