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Pointers for prepping your deck to weather winter

Barbecues, family gatherings and quiet mornings with a cup of coffee – your deck probably served you well this summer. You owe it some TLC before winter’s rigors arrive. Besides, prepping your outdoor environment for cold weather will also give you a warm feeling come spring, when your deck is in good condition and ready to be enjoyed again.

Staining your deck is the single most important thing you can do to protect the wood from harsh elements, including the snow, rain and cold associated with winter.

While many people think of staining as a spring chore, it makes just as much sense to do it in fall, especially if you didn’t take care of the task earlier in the year. The job will be easier in fall, when temperatures are cooler; you should only apply stain when the air temperature is between 50 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Plus, you’ll see the bang for your buck immediately when your freshly stained deck stands up to winter weather like a champ.

The experts at Cabot, makers of Cabot Exterior Woodstains, offer some tips for prepping your deck to weather winter:

* Clean and dry all patio furniture and accessories. Remove and store furniture, whenever possible. Or, if storing your patio set isn’t an option, invest in good-quality covers to preserve the finish.

* Remove soil from planters and clean all pots. Clean pots should be stored off wooden decks to prevent potentially harmful moisture from building up under them.

* Give the deck a good cleaning, either with a powerwasher and mold remover or a good wood cleaner to remove debris, mold, mildew and dirt. Once the deck is completely dry, inspect it for damage and repair any problems before you tackle staining. Pay careful attention for insect damage and splintered wood.

* Spritz a little water on the deck and if it absorbs in 10 minutes you are ready to stain. Choose a quality wood stain formulated for decks, like Cabot Exterior Woodstains.

* Don’t apply stain if your weather forecast calls for rain within the next 12 to 24 hours. Consider test staining a small area first and let it dry to determine if you like the look. If you’ll be using multiple gallons to stain a large deck, mix them all together in a single bucket to ensure color consistency.

* Inspect outdoor lighting around the deck, ensuring there are no frayed wires, damaged lights or broken bulbs. Good ground lighting can be even more important in winter when walkways are snow-covered or slick with ice.

You can learn more about deck staining and preparation at www.cabotstain.com.

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