Composite Decking Snow and Ice Removal Tips
Your home’s outdoor deck serves as a warm weather sanctuary during spring, summer and early autumn. Unfortunately, in many parts of the country, living a life outdoors also requires preparing to withstand the harsh conditions of winter. Just because you’ve moved indoors doesn’t mean that you should completely ignore what’s happening outside. Homeowners can protect their deck and avoid potential problems with a little planning and preparation before and during the winter months ahead.
Clear Loose Debris Off Your Deck
To help ensure that moisture can find its way off of a composite deck, homeowners should be diligent about clearing the deck of any loose debris, such as leaves, pine needles and twigs, during fall. This keeps any cracks and crevices free from potential blockages. Many homeowners have deck areas that serve as entry points to the house. If this is the case with your home, there will come a time when it will be necessary to clear away ice and snow in order to make it safe for people to walk across.
How Much Snow Can Your Composite Deck Hold?
When built correctly, according to the building codes of the location, most structurally sound composite decks can safely ‘hold’ the weight of up to 3 feet of snow. Fortunately, in many parts of the United States, it’s unlikely that more than 36 inches of snow will accumulate at any one time. More often, a winter storm will drop several inches of snow at a time, followed by some amount of melting, before the next storm arrives. If this is generally the case where you live, the best thing to do is let nature run its course.
Composite decking, especially brands made with a tough, co-extruded polypropylene outer shell, is designed specifically to allow moisture to drain right off it. Unlike traditional lumber that can absorb moisture over time, causing rot and mildew, composite decking will reemerge completely dry once the snow melts away. For example, DuraLife™ unique polypropylene and hardwood composite decking is designed to provide superior strength, outperforming many other types of composite and PVC decking products.
Composite Decking Snow Removal
However, if you use the deck as an entryway to your home, a safe and easy way to quickly remove light snow is by using a leaf blower. Especially in regions where light, fluffy snow is the norm, a good sized electric leaf blower can effectively clear a few inches away in a short amount of time. While storms that dump a foot or more of snow may require homeowners to make several passes (clearly a few accumulating inches as they fall) this method can greatly reduce the chance of injuring yourself by lifting large amounts of snow, and the possibility of damaging your composite deck in the process.
Shovel with Care
When heavier snow arrives, or when the snow mixes with rain, ice or sleet, clearing an access path will require removing snow with a shovel. While most composite decking has the resiliency to withstand daily use and most weather conditions, homeowners should still keep in mind that it is a material that is much softer than metal.
Should shoveling snow from your composite deck become necessary, never use a shovel that’s either completely metal or has a metal edge. Doing so can cause unsightly scratches on the deck surface and could also cause potentially hazardous gouges along the edges as well. Instead, use a plastic shovel to remove snow, taking care to shovel WITH the grain of the deck boards to avoid the blade catching on the decking.
Avoid the Sand, Man
Homeowners should avoid using sand on a composite deck as the foot traffic travelling over it can scratch the deck surfaces unnecessarily.
A sturdy plastic shovel and/or a plastic/nylon bristled deck broom is the best way to remove snow from the deck, while limiting the risk of damaging the deck surface. When clearing away snow, always follow the grain of the boards. By first pushing snow away from the furthest point and working backwards to the entrance of the home, you will help minimize the amount of snow weight that’s moved during each pass. To remove a build-up of ice and snow, homeowners should use a calcium-chloride based product clear a path and create a more stable environment for walking. Look for ice-melt products that use phrases such as “safe for concrete,” “safe for flagstone,” or “safe for children and pets” on its packaging.
Once the weather warms up enough, make a point to rinse away any remaining residue with warm water or with a garden hose if needed. Made with a combination of polypropylene plastic and hardwood fibers, composite decking is not only longer-lasting and becoming easier to install than PT lumber decking, they’ll also hold up better to harsh winter weather conditions too.
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This article is made possible by DuraLife.DuraLife’s unique polypropylene and hardwood composite decking materials simply outperform all other wood and composite decking products.More solid and safe under foot, DuraLife decking is backed by a 25-year warranty. It is stain and fade resistant, mold and mildew resistant, and is available in the colors and deck railing options you want. Get Samples, try our Composite Deck & Railing Visualizer, or contact DuraLife now to learn more.