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Prepare a deck for winter

Mon, Sep 12th, 2011
Posted in Home & Garden

As the weather cools, many homeowners already have a system in place to help prepare their home's exterior for the looming winter season.

Making sure outdoor furniture is stored away and bushes and young trees are wrapped in burlap are just a few common tasks many homeowners automatically check off. However, many are unaware that exterior wood surfaces, like decks or fences, also require special protection from winter's elements.

Ultra-violet rays of winter sun can do as much damage to unprotected wood as can the summer sun by causing it to crack, blister, flake, and peel. Homeowners can guard against winter damage by staining or re-staining wood surfaces to keep them protected and looking new. However, homeowners should keep in mind that improper preparation can prevent the stain from bonding with the wood- resulting in cracking and peeling.

"In their zest to prepare gardens and landscaping for the winter freeze, many homeowners neglect their outdoor wood surfaces," said Gary Finseth, of The Flood Company, manufacturer of wood care products. "Many homeowners are surprised to learn that fall is actually the ideal time to stain or re-stain the deck. But before beginning, keep in mind that new decks, old unfinished decks and old finished decks all have to be treated differently."

Finseth recommended wood cleaners that are specially designed for unfinished decks to remove dirt and natural contaminants. This cleaning process not only prepares the surface for staining, but also brightens it.

For a deck that is already stained, first remove the old finish so the new one can properly adhere to the wood. Choose products that will rejuvenate the look of an old deck while offering optimal protection. The best results are achieved by using the right prep product in combination with the right finish product.

Once the deck is prepared, homeowners also will want to make sure that other exterior areas receive proper care and attention. Vinyl furniture will need to be washed and stored indoors. Inspect wood furniture for damage and do any necessary repairs before it is covered or stored for winter. Wooden fencing should be handled simlarily to the deck.

For printable guides on exterior home maintenance and tips, visit

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