Winterizing Exterior Wood
Mother Nature can do a lot of damage to your exterior wood in just one winter season. Rain, snow, and even dew soak into the wood on an unprotected deck. When temperatures dip below freezing, the moisture that has soaked into the wood freezes and expands, leading to cracking and warping.
If your deck is already protected, keep the leaves swept off to help prevent staining as the leaves rot. Doing so will also prevent moisture from getting trapped on the wood surface. Trapped moisture creates mold and mildew.
Fall is an excellent time to get your wood protected. An added bonus is being ready the first day of spring to put your furniture on your deck and enjoy!
Tips on Cleaning and Protecting Exterior Wood
Power washing and protecting exterior wood is a big undertaking, but if you feel you’re up to the task, the following tips will be helpful.
Cleaning Exterior Wood
For best results, a cleaner should be applied to the wood and then rinsed off with a power washer. A power washer alone will damage the wood because too much pressure is required. The cleaner softens the dead wood fibers, allowing the power washer to rinse them away. Stay away from chlorine bleach-based “deck cleaners.” Bleach will kill mold and mildew, but it will not clean the wood; it merely bleaches it out.
Protecting Exterior Wood
Many products for protecting exterior wood are on the market. Pick a product that penetrates into the wood, protecting from the inside, versus a film-forming product that protects by leaving a film or wax on the surface. Film forming products are more susceptible to wear and tear and tend to break down sooner. Choose a product that contains water repellent as well as UV protection.
- Clear Products contain little or no UV protection, so the product will breakdown sooner than products that contain a tint or toner.
- Solid Color Stains cover the wood grain so you lose the natural wood look; they also have a tendency to peel over time making upkeep more difficult.
- Semi-Transparent Toners provide UV protection and highlight the grain of the wood giving it a very natural look.