‘Tis the season for many parts of the country to battle snowfall and frigid temperatures. If the fluffy white stuff is in your region’s winter forecast, be sure to check out these snow removal and clean up tips for composite decks. Being prepared before the storm hits will help prevent damage and maintain the integrity of your outdoor space, keeping in mind that safety is the top priority. Assuming that your deck is structurally sound, it should be able to handle the weight of approximately three feet of snow. However, even if you’re not anticipating foot traffic on your deck, clearing a pathway free from ice and snow is important to ensure that you have a separate exit path in case of emergency.
Best Practices for Snow Removal
If there is only a light dusting of snow, one of the easiest ways to clear your deck is with a leaf blower. Never use metal shovels or sharp-edge tools when removing snow or ice from your composite deck. Even the most resilient boards could be scratched or gouged. Plastic shovels or plastic/nylon bristled deck brooms should be used to easily remove snow from the deck and will limit the risk of scratches to the deck surface.
When clearing snow, always shovel in a path parallel to the deck boards, not perpendicular. Removing snow crossways greatly increases the potential that you will catch the edge of a composite board and cause damage. An ice chipper — even a plastic one — should never be used on your deck, at the risk of permanent damage.
Discover the Safest Option for Ice Melt
When deciding the best means for making your deck less slippery, choose calcium chloride-based “ice melt” or rock salt to remove snow and ice from your composite decking. Ice melt is the ideal choice, since sand is naturally abrasive and could easily damage the surface of the deck boards. Look for the phrases “safe for concrete,” “safe for flagstone,” and “will not kill grass” in the ice melt product description. If you have children or pets that frequent your deck in the winter, ensure your chosen product will be safe for them as well. Also, avoid ice melt with added colorant as these dyes can stain composite decking.
Cleaning up Ice Melt Debris Quickly and Easily
When the threat of inclement weather has passed, use a broom to sweep up any existing granular pieces and discard the ice melt. This will prevent people and pets from unintentionally tracking in ice melt that could damage indoor flooring. If there is any remaining buildup of ice melt, it can be removed with water and a light scrubbing using a non-metal deck brush. When warmer temperatures return it’s advised to rinse your deck with a garden hose to get rid of any stubborn, leftover debris.
Following these tips is the best way to keep your deck in top shape year after year. For more suggestions on how to maintain your composite decking, check out our complete care and maintenance guide.
Blog post from Fiberon Composite Decking’s Blog. Editor’s Note: This post was originally published 12/09/2009 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.