A properly built, properly maintained deck should be strong enough to hold quite a snowfall. Building codes require residential cedar decking to hold plenty of weight. Not until the white stuff is piled higher than the 3-foot railings do you need to be concerned about the possibility of collapse.
Likewise, rot is highly unlikely. Here in the Pacific Northwest, most homeowners opt for cedar decking, since cedar trees are naturally rot resistant. These giant conifers evolved to thrive in our region’s sopping wet winters. Assuming you consistently resurface and reseal your deck, it will survive snow without rotting.
However, there are practical reasons to clear a cedar deck of snow. First, many people enjoy using their decks on a clear, snowy day. Others like to grill outdoors year-round. However you like to use your deck in the winter, safety requires you to remove snow and ice first. Otherwise, you’re just asking for a nasty fall.
Another safety concern: Every home needs two exit paths. Building codes require this in case a fire or other emergency cuts off the main entrance. So even those who prefer to stay cozy inside during the winter may need to clear a pathway on their cedar decking.
The Best Way to Clear Snow from Cedar Decking
You may be surprised to learn that a stiff-bristled broom is the best way to remove snow from cedar deck. This tool will not scratch or damage your decking, as a metal snow shovel could. A plastic snow shovel will suffice, assuming you shovel with, not against, the wood grain. Don’t chip ice away from your cedar decking, as this can cause damage. Likewise, avoid applying rock salt or chemical de-icers to your cedar deck. If you need to melt some ice, pour hot water over it and sweep away extra water with your broom.
Skip Out on Clearing the Deck – Add a Patio Cover
In the effort to maintain a usable outdoor living area, you can’t beat patio covers. Portland homeowners can enjoy using their decking all year round with protective patio covers in place to protect against the drizzle. And residents can also avoid the need to clear decks by adding patio covers. Salem sees an average of 8 inches of snow per year, for instance. In this climate, a patio cover would almost certainly eliminate the need to remove snow from your cedar decking.