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Save The Salt For Cooking: How To Clear Snow and Ice From Your Deck Without Damaging It

With the weather turning colder, you’ll likely see snow and ice in your area, which can affect your deck. Clearing snow and ice from your deck is essential for safety and maintaining its integrity. 

If you’re unsure where to start with clearing snow and ice from your deck throughout winter, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do it easily and without damaging your deck. 

7 Tips for Clearing Snow and Ice From Your Deck

1. Use the Right Tools

Using the correct tools is one of the most important things to do when clearing snow and ice from your deck. If you use tools that aren’t made for decking, you risk damaging the surface. The best thing to use to clear snow is a plastic snow shovel. Ideally, choose one that has a flat blade to avoid scratching the surface of the deck.

If there is just a light amount of snow on the deck, you could also use a soft bristle snow broom to sweep it away. In clearing even small layers of snow, you’ll make it less likely that ice will form. A snowblower should be suitable to use on decking as well and will not cause damage if used correctly. 

2. Prepare Your Deck

Along with ensuring you have the right toolkit for decking snow and ice removal, you may want to prepare your deck for winter. In doing this, you lower the chance of the decking sustaining damage from snow or ice and can reduce winter maintenance time.

Some ways to prepare your deck for winter include applying a deck sealer, adding a deck cover or protective tarp, and regularly removing leaves and debris before snowfall. 

3. Remove Any Snow

Once it snows and you want to remove snow from your deck, there are a few things to keep in mind to make removal easy and avoid damage to your deck. One top tip is to begin removing snow from your deck as soon as possible after it has settled to prevent it from accumulating and turning into ice. 

As mentioned above, you’ll also want to use removal tools that don’t damage the decking, like plastic shovels and soft bristle brooms. Metal shovels can scrape and gouge decking, so always avoid these for snow removal. Remember to shovel parallel to the deck board grain in order to reduce the chance of damage occurring. Also, use gentle pressure and avoid aggressive scraping. 

You could consider using a snow rake with a long handle as well to remove snow from the roof above your deck. Doing this reduces the risk of icicles and excess snow falling onto your deck. One other thing to do when clearing snow and ice from your deck is to work in small sections. Remove the snow, or ice, from your deck in layers as opposed to lifting heavy loads. 

4. Use a Snow Blower  

If your deck covers a large area or is frequently covered in snow (or both), you may want to consider investing in a snow blower. As long as you use the snow blower at an angle, avoiding direct contact with the decking, it won’t cause any damage to the deck surface. Also, ensure that you use the snow blower from a decent height above the surface, again, avoiding direct contact. 

5. Tackle Ice

As with snow removal, there are a few things to keep in mind when clearing ice from your deck. A top way to avoid ice developing is to remove snow as soon as possible. However, there are still ways that ice can form on your deck, and when it does, removing the ice safely with no damage to the decking is crucial. 

For thin ice, use a plastic ice scraper to gently break up ice, being careful not to scrape the deck surface aggressively. If ice build-up is thicker, you’ll probably want to opt for a deck-friendly ice melt or rock salt. Avoid opting for a standard rock salt because this will likely damage the decking. 

Calcium chloride is a popular option for wood decking. For composite or PVC decking, going for an ice melt made for those kinds of decking is generally optimal. In all cases, follow manufacturer guidelines and suggestions for safe-to-use ice melts. 

When removing ice from your deck using ice melt, always be cautious of how much you apply. Don’t overuse ice melt on your decking, both in terms of quantity and frequency. 

6. Protect Your Deck

Now that you have some tips on safely and efficiently clearing snow and ice from your deck, you’ll want to think about how to prevent your deck between snow and ice removal. An excellent way to protect your decking during the winter is by using a protective cover over the decking when not in use.

You could also consider using deck heating cables or mats which can melt snow and ice as they fall. Always check your decking manufacturer’s guidelines before using these and follow all safety directions to avoid overheating and fire risk. 

If you have a wooden deck, you’ll want to invest in more protection. This is because water damage from ice and snow is more likely to cause damage than if you have another kind of decking, like composite decking or PVC decking. Ensure your wooden deck has been well sealed before the beginning of winter and cover it with a tarp or other deck cover if you don’t plan to use the deck much or at all during the colder season.

Those with other kinds of decking can find a few additional ways to protect their decking. For example, adding the Clubhouse Dexerdry Weather Diverting System to your Clubhouse PVC Decking will prevent water from ice or snow melt getting below your decking. 

Prevent Icicles

If your deck has gutters, another way to protect your deck is by ensuring they are clear to prevent icicles from forming and potentially damaging your deck or posing a safety hazard. 

7. Stay on Top of Regular Maintenance

Along with following these tips for removing snow and ice from your deck, it’s important to stay on top of other deck maintenance throughout the winter. This is especially true if you have a wood deck as wood decks are more prone to issues throughout the winter season like water damage.

Things to inspect your decking for throughout winter includes:

  • Water damage
  • Warping
  • Rotting

If you notice any issues with your deck throughout winter, it’s important to fix these problems as soon as possible. As noted, winter damage problems are more likely to occur with wooden decking than with more durable materials, like composite or PVC decking. However, no matter what type of deck you have, doing regular maintenance and inspections for problems is important.   

Other Things To Keep In Mind When Clearing Snow and Ice From Your Deck

1. Consider Snow Load Limits

It may not be practical to remove snow every time it lands on your deck. However, you do need to be aware of your deck’s weight-bearing capacity, removing excessive snow if it nears your deck’s snow load limit. 

If snow accumulates to very high levels, it can cause structural damage. Additionally, the longer snow sits, the more likely it will turn to ice.

2. Safety First

When clearing snow and ice from your deck, you always need to keep your own safety in mind. To safely remove snow and ice, ensure you are wearing appropriate winter footwear and be cautious when walking on icy decking or decking that’s covered with slippery, wet snow.

You could also consider putting down sand or non-slip strips to improve traction when walking across the deck while removing snow and ice. You’ll likely also want to wear gloves to protect from cold temperatures, especially if you plan to remove any snow or ice build-up with your hands. 

3. Monitor Weather Conditions

Monitoring weather conditions makes it easier to prepare for when you’ll need to remove snow and ice from your deck. You’ll be prepared to clear snow or ice once a cold snap has been or can remove current build-up before excessive snowfall, which could damage your deck if your deck’s snow load level is exceeded. 

It’s generally easier to remove snow and ice when there is a lower level of accumulation. If you expect a cold period where ice build-up is likely, you can also put down salt or ice melt. Covering your decking before very cold periods is also a good idea if it is generally exposed during the winter. 

4. Protect Plants and Wildlife

Thinking about plants around your decking and wildlife in the area is especially important if you plan to use ice melt or salt. Opt for environmentally friendly products or cover your decking to avoid the need for such products. Covering plants that surround your decking to protect them from cold weather is also a good idea. 

In Conclusion

Clearing snow and ice from your deck doesn’t need to be challenging or result in damage to the decking. As you should have seen from these ice and snow removal tips, keeping your deck clear and in good condition throughout winter just takes some know-how and proactivity, preparing for snowfall and ice build-up and removing snow and ice as soon as possible. 

By following these steps throughout the colder months, you can maintain the safety of your deck and increase its longevity, reducing the chance of weather-related damage. Remember to always be cautious when dealing with snowy and icy conditions, and prioritize safety above all else.