We may have reached the end of summer barbeques and cold lemonade, but your deck should continue to be a fixture in your backyard. Luckily, fall weather brings much more comfortable temperatures for working in your yard. Once winter rolls around, this will cease to be true, so now is the best time to take care of your deck chores! With these fall deck cleanup tips in mind, you’ll be on your way to enjoying autumn in your backyard.
Is this fall the time for a completely new deck?
You should always continually inspect your deck so that you can spot damage before it becomes a bigger problem. However, at a certain point, your deck will reach the end of its days. If it was not properly installed with high quality materials from the beginning, this day may come sooner.
Wood decking is at risk of a variety of problems including rotting due to moisture or insect damage—especially if your deck is made of soft wood that is not pressure treated. If your deck feels soft and spongy to walk on or screws will not hold onto boards, this is a good sign that you have rot. Other signs of irreparable damage are railings that shake when you grab them and ledger boards that are not securely attached to your house.
When replacing your deck, you may want to opt for vinyl, composite, pressure-treated wood because these are longer-lasting material. Fall is the ideal time for installing a brand new deck that will be better equipped for handling winter. However, provided you are not in need of a new deck, you should follow these tips for fall cleanup and maintenance with your existing deck.
Getting Your Deck Ready for Fall
1. If you have a wood deck, make sure it’s waterproof.
Wood decks are susceptible to a lot of damage from moisture. That’s why frequent sealing is a major part of maintaining wood decking. When water collects on your deck, it should bead above the surface instead of absorbing into the wood. If your deck is absorbing water, it’s time for another coat of waterproof sealant. Check with a contractor if you’re unsure what type of sealant is appropriate for the wood you have. Always clean your deck (depending on the recommended method for your wood) prior to sealing, painting, or staining.
2. If you have a vinyl deck, hose it off!
If you have a vinyl or composite deck, you don’t have to worry about sealing, painting, or staining, but you do need to wash it down with a hose once a year. Fall is a great time to take care of this task if you haven’t already! Grease stains from your summer barbeques will become permanent if you allow them to sit too long.
3. Don’t let leaves sit on your deck.
Chances are, the telltale signs of fall have already been piling up on your deck. We’re talking about falling leaves, acorns, and pine needles. If you haven’t already started the cleanup process, it’s time to break out the rake! Be aware that bits of plant matter can get stuck between deck boards and decay over time.
4. Be mindful with your fall decorations.
You should absolutely take advantage of the opportunity to deck out your deck for Halloween. Carving pumpkins is a fun fall activity for kids and everyone, and the finished project makes a great fixture for your deck. However, be careful not to sit pumpkins and gourds directly on the deck’s surface. As pumpkins rot, the moisture can harm your deck and contribute to the rotting of wood.
5. Make sure the branches above your deck are steady.
Trees surrounding your deck are wonderful for shade, but branches falling onto your deck will create a mess. As winter approaches, snowfall will come, and the weight of snow can bring down a steady branch. Add “checking branches above the deck” to your list of chores while the weather is still mild. If any are at risk of falling, it’s a good idea to cut them now.
These tips will not only help you maintain your deck throughout the fall, but you’ll also be in a better position when winter comes! In the meantime, the weather is perfect for more than yardwork—it’s also still great for hanging out on your deck. Consider adding a fire pit to add some warmth for the chillier nights, and keep entertaining or relaxing with your family as long as the weather allows. It may take some work to maintain your deck, but doing so will keep it standing and bring you enjoyment for seasons to come.