Getting your Deck Ready for Cold Weather

These tips can help you prep your deck for winter and maintain it correctly. This ensures that your deck will be in tip top shape for next summer!

Start with the Design

When you’re looking to create a deck design that will last throughout all of the seasons, it really start with the design choices you make at the beginning. From material choices to design features, there are things you can implement at create a low maintenance deck. Preventative maintenance is one of the best ways to make your deck’s transition into colder weather a breeze. This will mainly come into play with your material choices. Durable materials will help your deck and all of its attached features to stand the test of time in your backyard. There are three major materials for outdoor use that are made to last through the winter season: composite decking material, aluminum, and galvanized steel. While pressure treated lumber is a popular choice for deck structures, you’ll run into problems trying to maintain it through harsh weather conditions. Low maintenance deck ideas are going to manifest themselves in the material choices. Deck Structure Designs Composite decking material is made from a mixture of wood particles and plastic. This makes a maintenance free material that gives off the appearance of wood. This is ideal for decks in climates that experience heavy snowfall in the winter. Whether you choose composite decking material or the traditional pressure treated lumber, you should use galvanized steel hardware in the structure of your deck. Galvanized steel is weather proof and will not corrode over time. This ensures that your deck is structurally sound no matter what weather conditions it is exposed to.
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Photo by: Angie’s List

Prep Your Deck

No matter how many preventative measure you take in the design phase of your deck, you’re going to have to do some prep work for your deck going into cold weather seasons. The perfect time to start prepping your deck for winter is mid to late fall. Get as much outdoor entertainment time as you can out of your space! Clear the Deck The first step to prepping your deck is always going to be clear it of any items that could be damaged or cause damage in the winter. You can leave metal furniture outdoors during winter, but it will take so extra precautions. If you have aluminum furniture, it’s most likely powder coated and simply needs a coat of automotive wax as another layer of protection. Iron furniture can be left outdoors, but will rust. If you decide to leave them outdoors, you will need to remove rust at the end of the season and coat with the proper paint. Plastic furniture should come indoors during the winter months. When it freezes, it will become very brittle. You will also want to remove anything that may catch and hold water on the decks surface, such as planters or pots that have drainage holes in the bottom. With standing water comes the potential of rotting wood at the end of the season. If you’re looking for a place to store your deck furnishings during the winter, storage sheds are a great solution. They don’t take away from other space in your home, such as the garage or basement, and allows you to keep all of your furniture together close to the deck. One popular location for these sheds is underneath your deck. An under deck storage shed helps you to maximize the space in your backyard, while still providing a usable space.
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Photo by: Tom Saint Painting
Restore the Deck After you’ve cleared the deck, you’re going to want to go through the three step deck restoration process. By restoring your deck at the beginning of winter, you’re saving yourself some grief in the spring. Fixing any hazards now will keep the problems from getting worse during in the off season. You fist want to clean your deck and remove any mold or mildew that may be living on the surface of your deck and in between the boards. While a power washer is probably the first tool that comes to mind, this can often do more harm than good. A scrub brush and deck cleaning solution will be so much better for your deck boards. Once the deck is clean, you’ll want to repair any damaged boards on your structure. This is particularly important if your area gets a lot of snowfall. The extra weight can cause further damage and compromise the structural integrity of your deck. You will also want to replace any board that show signs of rotting. This will only get worse during the winter months. The last step to this pre winter restoration process is going to be finishing your deck. The key is to reduce the chance of water absorption. This is what’s going to break down the deck boards and compromise the structure. Applying a sealant to your newly restored deck will help to keep excess moisture out of your deck boards. For extra protection, some homeowners simply secure a tarp over their deck. This is definitely one way to keep snow from sitting directly on your deck. Be sure there are no places that water may leak through on the edges. Because it won’t be exposed to the sun, it won’t dry out and will increase the risk of mold and mildew in your deck boards.
Optimized-maintaining the deck
Photo by: Design Builders MD

Maintaining in the Winter

There will be some work that needs to be done during the winter months. This will help to minimize the work at the end of the season when you’re getting ready for a new outdoor entertaining season. One of the biggest ways that homeowners damage their decks in the winter is by over shoveling their deck. If there’s a particularly heavy snowfall, this poses no more of a higher risk than a regular amount of precipitation. Over shoveling doesn’t benefit your deck any more, but rather gives more chances to damage your deck. The first way to avoid damaging your deck while clearing snow is to use a broom rather than a shovel. If the precipitation is light enough, you can easily sweep the snow from your deck’s surface. This will cut down on any extra scraping that may occur while you’re shoveling. If you decide that a shovel is the best tool to clear your deck, you’ll want to choose a plastic shovel rather than a metal one. Plastic shovels are more likely have more give and not scrape against the wood. Metal shovels will scrape the wood open up the wood’s pore to absorb more moisture. You still have to take a few precautions when shoveling your deck. The first is to shovel parallel to your deck boards. This significantly lowers the chance that your shovel will catch the edge of your deck board and cause extra scratches and marks. The last snow removal tip for your deck is to never try and chip ice off of your deck. Use salt or family friendly chemicals. Chipping at the ice will almost guarantee extra damage to your deck. These tips are here to help with your deck being at its best going into winter! If a low maintenance spiral stair is the right addition for your deck, call one of our consultative designers today. They can help you find the right maintenance free stair option for your backyard.

5 Tips for Designing Your Own Tiny House

 

Table of Contents Tiny House Plans Tiny House Renovations Tiny House Lofts Tiny House Storage Eco Friendly Tiny Houses

tiny house plans
Photo by: Green Living Ideas

Tiny House Plans

As tiny houses have become more popular, the online community has grown with it. This includes tiny home designer and builders who are looking to help other homeowners that want to move toward tiny living. Many of these sites include catalogs of premade tiny house plans that you can buy and download for personal use. These plans are particularly helpful if you’re not sure where to start when designing your own tiny house. They are typically complete designs that you can build as is, but you can always customize a tiny house plan to cater to your lifestyle. If you decide to take the tiny house plan as your final plan, you can either hire a builder or decide to build a complete DIY tiny house. Depending how your dream tiny house, there are a few different materials you can use for the structure of your tiny house. The purchased tiny house plan may include the materials that would best work with your design. However, depending on different lifestyle considerations, such as eco-consciousness, you may find that other materials work just as well. The plan doesn’t have to dictate your tiny house design, but just be a guiding hand. When looking at a predetermined tiny house plan, don’t be afraid to adjust the proportions of different areas of the home. When you downsize your floor plan, you can’t have the full size separate rooms that you would have if you were living in a traditional home. Think of your lifestyle and where you will be spending the most time when making adjustments to the house plan. For instance, if you enjoy cooking and spending time in your kitchen, you may want to take a little bit more square footage for full kitchen appliances and have a more strategic smaller seating area.

tiny house renovations
Photo by: Tiny House Talk

Tiny House Renovations

If you love the idea of designing your own tiny house, but are intimidated by the thought of having to go through a building process, consider a renovation. With the focus on the interior, you can put all of your energy into maximizing space instead of stressing out about building materials. A tiny house renovation can range from replacing your tiny house stairs to completely gutting your home and starting from scratch. Whether the case may be, there are plenty of tiny homes that are looking for a new design! While a tiny home itself may seem untraditional, there are plenty of designs that are simply a traditional home in a smaller scale. These traditional type tiny homes usually come in the form of cottages or trailer frame houses. They have the standard pitched roof and can be described as quaint. The trailer frame homes are the most recognized tiny home type. They are a popular option for prefabricated houses because they can be hitched to a truck and moved with the homeowner. Another more traditional option is to take an old RV and completely revamp the interior for full time living. There are just as many if not more unconventional housing options for your tiny house designs as well. For a modified RV design, you can buy an old school bus and completely strip the inside to create a one of a kind home. If you want to buy the blank canvas and work from there, a shipping container is a great option. you will have to do some more work on the interior With the nontraditional tiny homes, including your floors and insulation. Your tiny house’s interior design should always be focused around your lifestyle. This is no different designing a traditional home. You want to be comfortable and love your living space no matter what size it is. Depending upon what type of tiny house you have, it may lend itself to specific interior design styles. A popular interior design style for tiny homes is a cozy rustic home design. Because so many tiny homes feature wood paneling and organic materials, they are the perfect space for a rustic home design. If you want a more updated tiny hey ouse, modern and minimalist home décor styles are perfect for small spaces. They both utilize open spaces and light colors which can help your tiny house to feel bigger.

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Tiny House Lofts

When you’re designing your own tiny house and look for inspiration, you’re probably going to find that most tiny house designs have a loft of some kind incorporated into their home plans. A loft is the perfect solution to needing more space, but not wanting to build a larger home. By creating a usable loft, you can create square footage in your home. Some tiny homes choose to use two lofts instead of the standard single loft to create even more living space. Depending on how you choose to use your lofts, you can connect the two with a small platform running above the common living areas below. The most common function of a tiny house loft is a bedroom loft. It may seem like a job for a contractor, but turning a loft into a bedroom can be an easy DIY tiny house project. The biggest part of your loft bedroom design is to ensure that you have enough head room to comfortably use your loft on a regular basis. The right furniture can give you extra storage space in your bedroom loft as well. There are plenty of bed storage options that range from simple drawers in the frame to hydraulics that life the entire mattress for storage space. Loft stairs are another important aspect of your tiny house design. Because staircases typically take up a large amount of space, tiny house stairs need to keep the space constraints in mind. Tiny homeowners want a stair design that is both compact and safe. Because many people are starting to look to tiny homes as a retirement option, a tiny house stair should have a universal usability. With all of these things in mind, the first stair design that you think of is probably a traditional straight stair. Homeowners know that this stair design is safe and stable. However, traditional stairs have a very large footprint and will take up all of the space that you created by installing a loft. While ladders have a small footprint, they’re not practical for older family members or pets. A spiral staircase gives you a small footprint with the stability and safety of a large traditional stair. The spiral design keeps your stair’s footprint to a small circle in your tiny home. The smallest diameter available is a 3’6” which keeps the footprint to 42”x42”. If you’re concerned about how much space it will take up in your tiny house, tape off the area for a few days. Once you’ve lived without the space, you can adjust your spiral staircase design accordingly. A call to one of our consultative designers can also help you to find the best size and design for your space. You can easily find a spiral stair that fits in your home décor style. A Classic Steel spiral stair has the flexibility to fit in just about any floor plan. The all steel frame can fit into an industrial space, while the addition of wood steps makes it a more rustic design. The Forged Iron spiral stairs fit seamlessly into a Victorian or Traditional style tiny house. The spindles have ornate scroll designs and compliment the solid wood handrail and steps. For a simple rustic design, you can also install a Solid Wood spiral stair. The installation is another easy DIY tiny house project. Salter Spiral Stair ships your staircase to you broken down into kit form for easy transportation. Once it’s delivered, your spiral stair goes together like a large erector set. It can be installed over the course of a day with the help of a spouse, friend, or neighbor.

tiny house storage
Photo by: Tiny House Talk

Tiny House Storage

Every homeowner is always looking for more storage space in their home. Most people decide to use their basement or an attic. However, if you’re designing your own tiny house, you’ll have to be a little more creative. With square footage at a premium, you don’t want to take up any more floor space than you need to. One of the best ways to maximize the space in your tiny house is to avoid clutter. Because your home is already small, clutter can quickly overwhelm the space and make it feel even smaller. Organization and effective storage can help your home feel larger and calmer. You can keep the storage simple without any major renovations. The key is to keep your space feeling open. Open shelving is a trendy storage solution that keeps the flow of air and light even throughout your tiny house. To maximize your floor space, you can build the shelves into the wall. By keep the shelves in shallow alcoves, there is nothing impeding movement around your living space. If you want to keep your items out of the way, there are plenty of hidden storage ideas. The first, and most popular, is to use multifunctional furniture. Storage furniture is a popular way to use your storage spaces as functional parts of your home. Storage ottomans are one of the most common ways to incorporate these designs. Not only do they provide extra seating and storage when needed, but they are also small enough to be tucked out of the way when they’re not in use. Another hidden storage idea is to use a trap door storage technique. This is done by building small compartments into the floor of your tiny house. It keeps your storage out of sight and keeps the actual living space open. You can take your storage out of your living area completely by installing a storage loft. While bedroom lofts are the most common design, storage lofts are a close second. It solves the problem of finding extra square footage for storage by creating a new room in your tiny house.

eco friendly tiny house
Photo by: Draw Homei

Eco Friendly Tiny Houses

One of the biggest reasons that people decide on a tiny home is for the eco friendly benefits. Many traditional homeowners have also started to incorporate eco friendly home designs in their houses as well. Not only do these designs reduce waste, but they also have proven to be cost effective in the long run. If you’re designing your own tiny house, you can incorporate different building materials and home structures to support your eco friendly homes. Tiny cob homes are made from a combination of clay, sand, and straw. Not only is it durable, but it can also act as a natural insulator. The most common way that people incorporate eco friendly ideas into their homes is through their choice of utilities. While large windows and good insulators do a large portion of your heating and cooling, programmable thermostats can help you to regulate your tiny house’s temperature effectively. One of the easiest utilities to manage is an eco friendly rain water harvesting system. You can’t use this harvested water for drinking purposes, but you can use it for many other things that tend to take up a large portion of your water bill, such as a laundry. Designing and building your own home can be intimidating, no matter what size it is. This guide helps you to design your own tiny house with your most important considerations at the forefront. Whether you want to maximize your interior space with a loft and spiral stair or you want to have a completely eco friendly home, you can find the solution here!

Three Steps to Deck Restoration

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Step One: Prepare Your Deck for Restoration

Bring Your Deck Up to Structural Standards When you decide to restore your deck, you need to make sure the wood is prepared properly to ensure the best finish. Start by locating and replacing any rotting sections. These are typically found in areas that don’t get a lot of direct sunlight or are typically damp, like under a planter. A cost effective way to fix your deck is to only replace the rotted section of the board, rather than the entire piece. To remove the specified section, use a jigsaw to cut a piece that is at least two joint spaces long. This means that the hole will span across two meeting points with a support beam. Cut a new board the same length and size to fill the hole. For a tighter fit, you can cut each board on an angle. This creates a smoother transition between the old and new wood. Another structural aspect to look for are any loose nails. Remove these and replace them with a nail that is one size larger. This larger nail will create a new hole that allows for a better grip. Clean the Wood on Your Deck After you have structurally updated your deck, you must clean the wood. Depending upon the state of your wood, you can either use a deck cleaner or a deck stain stripper. The first option is for wood that has gotten dirty over time. The second is for decks that were previously stained and need to be stripped. No matter which product you use, you need to first pre wet the deck in order to activate your cleaner or stain stripper. After you’ve let it sit on your deck for about 30 minutes, you can use a scrub brush to lift any stains and dirt from the wood. A power washer can speed up this process drastically. After it has been properly cleaned, you can sand the sections that you plan to paint or stain. This may not seem like a necessary step, but it gives a better surface for the product to adhere to. This also helps to open up the pores of the wood to soak up the product. Prime the Wood on Your Deck There are many options available so be sure to use a wood specific primer for the best results. If you want to help prevent any future rotting in your deck, there are some products that contain mildewcides. While it’s not a guarantee, it does hinder the growth of mildew, algae, and mold. Once you find the right product for your deck, it should be applied in at least two even coats with either a roller or brush. This ensures that the primer can soak into the wood and provide the base that you are looking for. The deck should be allowed to completely dry between coats to ensure the best results. These are general instructions and they may vary slightly depending upon your specific product.

Step Two: Paint or Stain Your Deck

Painting Your Deck There a few different ways to restore beauty to your wooden deck. Between paints and stains, your deck restoration will have beautiful results no matter what you choose. Painting your deck can give you the custom designs that you’re looking for! There are two different types of exterior paint that both have pros and cons: oil-based and acrylic-based. Oil-Based Deck Paint Oil-based exterior paints seem like a solid choice because of its durable base. It dries into a sturdy surface, which seems like exactly what you would want for your exterior surfaces. However, this solid base works against the deck in some cases. Because it is so hard, there is little flexibility to an oil-based paint. As wood expands and contracts with different weather conditions, the oil-based paint cannot change with it. Wood’s movement isn’t only limited to weather changes. Wood naturally changes shape over time. The oil-based paint will crack as it moves. The color of an oil-based paint can also dull over time.
painted outdoor rug
Photo by: Flickr
Acrylic Based Deck Paint Acrylic based paints give you the benefits that you won’t find with oil. The biggest advantage to an acrylic based paint is that it is flexible. The paint will grow and contract with your wooden deck. It also retains its color for long periods of time. This makes acrylic paints a popular option for those restore their exterior surfaces. It should be noted that no matter which base you pick, your primer should have the same base. An oil-based paint will not adhere properly to an acrylic based primer and vice versa. All of the same preparation steps should be taken for both types of exterior paint. The beauty of painting your deck is the flexibility and creativity you with the products! There is essentially an unlimited number of color options. These different colors can be used in a number of ways. The most basic deck design is to paint your deck a solid color. You can accent a solid color deck with different color railings or steps. If you want to be more creative with your deck, consider a custom paint job on the floor. Outdoor rugs are a recent trend in deck decorating. If you want a permanent option, you can paint an outdoor rug design directly on the wood. The beauty of a painted rug is that you can create the exact design that you envisioned for your deck. If you don’t want to limit your design to a small space, create a geometric pattern across your deck. Staining Your Deck Staining your deck gives you a more natural look than paint by highlighting the natural warm tones in the wood. Much like paint, there are two different base options: water and oil. Water based stains are typically the better option as they are easier to clean and are kinder to the vegetation around your deck. There are a few different categories of stains once you’ve chosen your base.
stain layout
Photo by: A-1 Fence
Transparent Clear stains are completely transparent and allow the natural beauty of your wood to show through. However, because of its lack of pigment, it doesn’t hold up well to UV rays well. The pigment in a colored stain is what provides the UV protection for your deck. Your wood will grey after a few months. Semi Transparent The next stain on the spectrum is a semi-transparent stain. This type of stain has a tint for added UV protection, but still allows the wood grain to show through. You are simply adding a richer color to the natural lumber. A semi-transparent stain is maintained through simple cleaning and a reapplication every few years. Because it’s not solid, like a paint, you don’t need to strip the wood before reapplication. These benefits make the semi-transparent stain the best option for most homeowners. Solid Stain The last common stain type is a solid stain. As can be assumed from the name, this stain completely covers the wood. This stain works best in spots that have little to no direct UV light. This means it can be a great option for wooden siding, but maybe not for a heavily used deck. Over time, a solid stain peels and fades like paint. This means that when you want to reapply the stain, you must go through the same cleaning process explained above with scraping and power washing. If you want the decorative nature of paint or a solid stain, but want the low maintenance of a semi-transparent stain, consider two tone stains. By using two different tints of semi-transparent stains, you can create a custom design on your deck. The natural tones of a stain are more subtle than the solid colors of paint and will last longer.

Step Three: Protect Your Deck

Using a Sealant vs. Staining If you want more of a protective coat between your deck and the elements, consider a sealant instead of a stain. It is important to note that you should not apply a sealant over your stain. They are both products that are made to penetrate the wood grain and they will not adhere to each other well. Some sealants will have a tint to them, creating a stain-sealer hybrid product. When looking for a sealant, as is to be expected with deck products, there are two different bases: water and oil. They have their own benefits depending upon your climate. When applying an oil-based sealant, your deck must be completely dry. It will penetrate the wood deeper than a water base, but only if the wood is completely dry. A water-base sealer is more easily absorbed into a damp deck. It is also easier to clean afterwards. However, because it doesn’t penetrate the wood as deeply as an oil-based, it will not last as long. durable-decking-materialsChoose Weather Resistant Materials If you want to really create a deck that will last, consider metal accents. Most outdoor deck materials are made to withstand the elements without too much maintenance. Metal railings are a popular option to update a deck. If your deck’s original wooden railings are starting to rot or have seen too much sun damage, consider switching them out for a modern metal railing! If you don’t want to interrupt your view with heavy metal bars, cable railing is the perfect solution. The thin stainless steel cables provide the safety measures that are needed with a deck railing, but don’t overpower the beauty of your backyard. If you have a multilevel deck, you know that wooden deck stairs are easily worn down with heavy use. Consider metal stairs as an alternative. A metal straight stair may seem clunky and out of place in your backyard, but a spiral has the perfect balance of utility and design. The spiral design keeps it from looking like a warehouse stair, while the materials used give you a maintenance free stair. The Aluminum Powder Coated spiral stair can be custom colored to fit seamlessly into your home design. The powder coating finish also creates a weatherproof barrier on the stair. Exterior Galvanized spiral stairs have a modern metallic finish that stands up to all of the elements. The steel is coated in a zinc alloy, creating a protective barrier on your stair. These metal options will surely stand up to the elements much better than a traditional wooden stair. Restoring your deck doesn’t have to be a complicated process. These three easy steps can help your deck look brand new and stand up to elements. Weather proof pieces on your deck may seem like something that’s too good to be true, but a Galvanized Steel or Powder Coated Aluminum stair could be the perfect addition to your backyard. Give one our of consultative designers a call to get pricing on your project in five minutes or less!