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The deck that winter left behind

With the snow gone and the warm weather on its way, it’s time to get your deck ready for those summer get-togethers. Deck expert Paul Lafrance, owner of Paul Lafrance Design and HGTV Canada celebrity contractor, says you can never be sure what might be lurking in your backyard oasis once the snow disappears. Tree branches, litter, debris. Your deck needs a little TLC.

“It’s the ugliest time of the year – snow is melting and everything underneath is dead and brown and mud and yuck,” says Lafrance.

And though you may be craving your first margarita of the season, you’ll need to grab a pail and soapy water instead.

Why? Canadian winters are harsh on decks. Luckily for you, a good scrub will clear away most of the unsightly mess left by winter, he says. Whereas wooden deck floors require a new coat of stain every year, composite decks are good to go after a cleaning. A deck and patio contractor can share their expertise on which material is best for your backyard.

Will a pressure washer do the trick?

A pressure washer is a good piece of equipment to have when it comes to spring cleaning outdoors. They work well on composite products like Trex, but Lafrance cautions against using them on wood surfaces.

“I’ve seen so many people take their pressure washer to a cedar deck floor and then look back and say, ‘Wow! It looks like a game of snakes and ladders … I’ve just added a very cool artistic pattern to the entire deck surface,’” he says.


What kind of damage can I expect to see?

You can expect to find some components [of your deck] that require minor repairs due to the expansion and contraction that comes with the freeze-thaw cycle. “A good builder should be taking into account the expansion factor. There’s no way to be able to truly control what happens in Canada” where you go from 40 degrees with humidity in summer to minus 40 degrees with wind chill in winter, he says.

Common repairs include the following:

  • Loose railings
  • Fascia boards
  • Skirting

Lighting systems should also be tested to ensure no burrowing, hibernating animals have chewed through wires over winter. If a deck is elevated, be sure to inspect footings for erosion.

Just like a new house, a new deck needs time to settle and many contractors will work with homeowners to remedy issues within the first year, he adds.landscaping design2

Whether you’re in the market for a new deck or looking to improve your outdoor living space, take a few minutes to watch this video. Paul Lafrance talks outdoor living trends:

Ready to improve your outdoor space? We have a directory of deck and patio builders who can get your current deck in tiptop shape, or work with you to rebuild one.

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