This time of year we get a lot of questions about ice and snow from our customers. Will it damage my deck if I leave the snow on it? What can I use to get the snow off my deck without damaging the floor boards? I will attempt to answer some of the more common questions for you guys.
First of all, there are 3 basic types of deck boards, and the answer to the question may be different depending on which type you have.
#1. CPVC decking, i.e. Azek, Clubhouse, Timbertech XLM
#2. Composite decking (wood & plastic mixture) i.e. original Trex, Timbertech Twin Finish, Monarch, Fiberon
Is it okay to just leave the snow build up on the deck?
For the most part, yes it is. The concern I have for wood and composite decks is that as the snow melts, the water will absorb into the deck boards. So I would recommend clearing the snow off the deck if possible. For CPVC decks, the water will not absorb into the boards at all, so no danger there. The obvious exception would be the weight of lots of snow piled up on the deck. If you have a new deck, the structure should be beefy enough to handle it. However if you have an older deck that may not have been built up to code, I would be careful with allowing the snow to pile up.
Is it safe to use a snow shovel on my deck?
If you have a CPVC or wood deck, absolutely. I would recommend sticking with shovels that have plastic blades, not metal. Also make sure when you are using a shovel, that you always push the snow along the length of the boards(with the woodgrain). If you go across the boards you run the risk of chipping a corner of the boards. If you have a composite deck, you should still be okay to use a plastic shovel. Just be extra careful. The best methods to remove the snow from any deck, are leaf blowers or stiff bristled brooms. Both of these methods only work on fluffy snow though, so you will probably need a shovel for some of the wet snows we get here in PA.
Can I use ice melt on my deck?
Both Azek and Timbertech allow you to use rock salt or calcium chloride on their CPVC and composite decking. Just make sure you get the kind that is safe for concrete, plants etc. And stay away from the kind that is colored, the dyes may stain the deck. The key to the whole thing is to wash the salt off the deck as soon as it has done its job. Leaving the salt on the deck may result in pitting or white stains. You should never use salt of any kind on wood decks. It can cause cracking and discoloring.
By Ray Ebersol