Even if snow isn’t in the immediate forecast here on Long Island, it can get chilly these days and go below freezing at night. Also, as we locals know, snow can come with very little notice.
Despite the chill, there are a few key activities that make a deck in winter very attractive: if you have some sort of heating source, and, perhaps, a barbecue to cook up something tasty, and if you can soak in a deck-hot tub — you’ll definitely use your deck in winter.
So to get the lowdown on how best to enjoy our decks even when it’s snowy, we spoke to Edie Kello, Director of Marketing Communications at a leading capped-composite decking manufacturer: Fiberon Decking.
First, Remove Any Snow
Kello says the most important aspect to outdoor winter enjoyment is to remove any existing snow.
“Whether you have a wood or capped-composite deck, we recommend not using metal shovels for this, but plastic ones.
If you feel it necessary to use de-icing materials, rock salt is the best choice for any deck surface. Be sure to choose rock salt that is labeled safe for flagstone or concrete and will not kill grass.”
Kello does not recommend using sand to remove ice and snow because that can mar a deck’s surface; if the snow is light, a broom is a good choice or, again, a plastic shovel, Kello recommends sweeping the used rock salt into the trash, then rinsing the deck off to remove any residue. This is especially important if you have pets.
“You can use a pressure washer if you like, but we recommend not going beyond 3,000 PSI (pounds per square inch). Also, keep the nozzle about 10” above the deck. This applies to both wood and composite decking.“
Keeping Warm on Your Deck
Having a heat source, such as a deck heater (or patio heater), permits you to enjoy your winter wonderland and the fresh crisp air longer.
Not to mention you can make s’mores and keep hot cider and hot chocolate warm. Available in building supply stores, they come free standing, fit on a table top, and usually run on propane gas.
“These heaters will throw heat down and around where you are sitting,” says Kello.
“Fire pits and fireplaces are other popular choices. If you are not using a natural gas heat source, we recommend putting a fiber-cement mat (made of a mix of wood pulp and cement) underneath a fire pit to catch any embers.
It is also important to ensure heat doesn’t build up against the wood or composite decking, so keep any heat source up off the deck by at least a foot.”
Trapping Your Heat
Since heat rises, Kello says you probably want some sort of deck covering that will help trap the heat. “It’s great if you can add a roof, but if you have a pergola, you can put a tarp or outdoor fabric over it, or add an awning. These options help keep harsh elements off the deck as well, so there’s less shoveling.
How About a Deck-Barbecue
A barbecue can be used all year long and adds to your enjoyment of your deck even in cold weather.
Now, for the Enjoyment!
If we go through the effort of keeping our decks clear of snow and add a source of warmth, that means we get to use our outdoor grills much longer into the winter season.
Additionally, some people install a hot tub to take full advantage of winter outdoor living — even when there is a massive amount of snow. Just be sure any hot tub is properly supported within the sub-structure of the deck, says Kello.
Like in our feature photo at the top of the page, she also suggests the addition of lights for a cozy winter atmosphere.
“If you don’t have any deck lights built into the railing, just add Christmas/holiday lights, or snowflake lights along the railing, pergola, shrubs/planters, or even on a deck umbrella.”