With a beautiful forest surrounding our deck, it seemed a shame to give up on outdoor entertaining all winter long. Instead, I fitted my deck with a cover, created comfortable outdoor seating areas and added a propane heater. Now that my deck is prepared for winter entertainment, I spend my evenings reading outside by candlelight, even when it rains, and host an outdoor dinner party on weekends.
Staining the Deck
To prepare my weathered deck for winter entertainment, I first had to stain it. I began by taking a picture of the wood surface in several locations on the deck and showed it to the paint expert at my home improvement store. He recommended pressure cleaning the deck to remove all mold and dirt, and then staining the deck with semi-transparent paint instead of a fully transparent one. The reason for this was two-fold: 1. Semi-transparent paint was used previously on the deck. 2. I didn’t want to have to strip the old paint off, especially as it was mostly worn away already.
I pressure washed the deck, and then I waited four sunny days for it to dry fully.
I began staining my deck by hand, using an oil paint brush. I painted the rail on the first day, then the top surface of the floor on the second day. Finally, on the third day, I decided to use a paint sprayer to stain the bottom of the deck and the support beams. This saved me time and paint, as the stain would trickle down my brush as I tried to work against gravity. In all, I used up five gallons of stain.
Tip: It’s best to paint when the temperature outside hovers around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. On warmer days, the wood gets too hot. Not only did it scald me, but it also drank up a lot more paint. Once the project was complete, I waited three hours before gingerly walking on the deck; though I tried to avoid it as much as possible for three days, during which the stain fully cured.
Building a Deck Cover
Since I live in the State of Washington, where it rains 10 months out of the year, preparing my deck for winter entertainment had to include a deck cover. I hired a contractor to build a framework atop my deck. He attached pressure-treated beams to the existing beams of the deck rail. He also attached a cross-beam to the house. Then he finished building a frame above.
At first, the frame was built to be 70 inches above the deck at its lowest slant. This created a “tunnel-effect” and we ended up raising the deck cover to 98 inches at its lowest point.
The plastic cover placed atop the deck is clear like glass but has grooves inside, intended to strengthen the plastic. Consequently, you cannot see through the cover, though light will penetrate freely. Though this limited the upward view, it helps disguise leaves and debris that fall on the deck cover.
Graveling Around the Deck
Part of preparing my deck for winter entertainment involved preparing the yard below it. Because it rains so frequently where I live, the yard would often become soggy. Muddy footprints would then spoil the look of the deck. I decided to gravel a path along the deck, and especially before the stairs leading up to it. I first spread weed tarp, then spread the gravel over it. I found it cheaper to order gravel in bulk from a local quarry, which delivered the gravel to my driveway.
Preparing Comfortable Seating Areas
To prepare my deck for winter entertainment, I capitalized on all the outdoor furniture I owned, no matter how old. I spray painted my rusty table and chairs and my old wicker chairs. Then I bought outdoor cushions at an online discount store. Finally, I added a mosquito trap to eliminate flies, mosquitoes and other unpleasant insects.
My deck is now prepared for winter entertainment. For my first party, I ordered an outdoor propane heater. Now we can sit outside, rain or shine.