How to Make an Ice Melt for Your Deck
How to Make an Ice Melt For Your Wooden Deck
A popular addition to many homes has become a wooden deck — they’re the perfect space for entertaining family and friends during the warmer months. However, in the fall and winter months wooden decking can be damaged by moisture and ice.
With the cold winter weather there comes icy conditions causing steps to become slippery. Meaning the access to your garden or outside area suddenly becomes very tricky. You can create an ice melt for your wood deck system to add to your winter routine.
With the help of an ice melt your wood deck can be protected and ice free to create a safer outdoor environment during the winter months. Reach on to learn more about ice melt and how to use it.
What Is Ice Melt?
Ice melt is a specially designed product that you can use on your wood decks to help to clear away dangerous winter freezing. It typically contains sodium chloride, magnesium chloride, and calcium chloride, but can vary depending on the product.
Some of the older methods to thaw out your dock include the use of rock salt and sand, much like how roads are defrosted. However, due to the abrasive nature of these materials can potentially damage the wood of your deck.
As a combination of safe and effective chemicals, ice melt is generally the best option for safely and efficiently thawing your deck.
When Should You Use Ice Melt?
Wood is very porous, due to this wood expands and contracts with temperatures. Wood will fill with moistures, and once the temperature drops, the moisture freezes and expands as ice. Due to the stress this puts on the wood overtime it can cause buckling, splintering, and cracking. It’s worth investing in protection of the material ahead of time to avoid this. To work around the potential of this happening many of the popular building materials include composite wood, pressure treated lumber, and PVC decking. These are all popular alternatives.
If you are caring for a PVC or composite deck, exercise caution in using ice melt. Due to the chemical compounds frequently present in commercial ice melts, they have a chance to damage or stain the materials that make up these kinds of decks.
Your best bet to protect your deck through the winter is to keep it clean of snow. Avoid metal snow shovels, as they can easily gouge and damage the planks, and run the shovel parallel to the direction the boards are laid. For lighter flurries, you can use a nylon-bristled brush to sweep the unmelted snow off your deck.
When maintaining a composite or PVC deck, refer to the manufacturer’s official maintenance guide for chemical compatibility and care.
How Do You Use It?
Using ice melt can be broken down into a simple three-step process. Follow these tips for the best results:
1. Clear Away Snow
If there is snow on your deck, make sure to remove it. You’ll want to apply the ice melt directly onto the boards. It’s best to run your plastic shovel parallel to the deck boards, so you don’t damage them.
2. Buy the Right Ice Melt for Your Deck
Although there are many different ice melt options for your wood, calcium chloride is a popular option because of its efficacy in clearing the decks without causing damage. The deicer isn’t physically abrasive, so it will not scratch the surface below.
3. Apply to Your Wood Decks
This part is as simple as spreading your chosen ice melt across your decking. The ice melt should do the rest! Now you can sit back and relax, enjoying a clear, safe deck.
Other Ways to Protect Your Decking During Winter
While ice melt is a good option, the best protection for your deck is prevention. When icy weather is in the forecast, it’s time to take necessary precautions to protect your deck.
1. Use a Tarp
Laying a tarp over your deck and affixing it to be flush with the wood is a great way to keep moisture off the planks. If secured properly and done with a thick enough tarp, this can be left down during the coldest part of winter, avoiding the issue of a frozen deck altogether.
2. Use a Stain
Staining or oiling your deck can help add a layer of protection. When the wood is lacquered, moisture is less likely to seep into the wood and immediately cause damage. This process should be completed in the warmer months so the stain has time to dry properly.
3. Give Your Decking a Good Clean
Before you pack up your decking for the colder months, it is a good idea to give it a good clean. If you leave debris on top of the decking, moisture is more likely to collect underneath it, damaging your wood. You’ll want to face frozen weather with a clean, dry deck.
Most ice melts only work correctly when the temperature is within a specific range. Most leading ice melts are still effective when used just below freezing temperatures. Because of this, make sure to check the back of the ice melt for instructions and check the weather forecast before deciding which ice melt for wood decks is best to use.
If you need new decking because of sustained water damage over the years, you can sometimes find home repair loans available in a pinch.
When you want to use ice melt for wood decks, make sure you are aware of the secondary effects of the product. For example, calcium chloride may irritate your skin if handled with bare hands, and the chlorine is likely to damage lawns and plants that it touches. Therefore, wear gloves when handling ice melt for wood decks and keep the ice melt contained to your wood decks.
It’s also important to pay attention to how chemical ice melt may interact with the materials in composite or PVC decking. If you are unable to keep your composite deck clean during the winter and want to turn to ice melts, make sure they are safe to use for your type of composite before applying to the deck.
Get Help with Your Deck
Whether you’ve come into caring for a deck or are looking to build one of your own. We are here to help you make sure it will last through many seasons to come. If you’re in need of any materials for building, repairing, or protecting your deck, contact our professional team at The Deck Store today!