You have a beautiful composite deck under all that snow and ice, you just need to get that ice off and you can enjoy your deck even in winter.
But running over the deck has packed the snow down, and you can’t use an ice scraper on composite decking. That would void the warranty.
What about salt?
Can you use salt to melt ice off composite decking?
It is safe to use ice salt on most composite decking. If the ice melt is free from colourant and traction additives. The best and safest ice salt for composite decking is Calcium Chloride.
Now that is a little generic.
Most composite decking is safe to use salt on but not every brand. Always check with the brand of composite on your deck if it is safe.
But often with composite decking, the ones with a protective cap are safe to use salt on.
In regards to the type of salt, we will need to sort through the specifics a little more. But generally, salt that does not contain colourant, or traction grit and is safe for use on concrete is safe to use on composite decking.
As an additional precaution, plant safe is also good to look for. Most of our decks are surrounded by plants, which we would hate to kill in the winter, ruining their summer beauty.
Before we get to the salt of the issue lets talk decking.
What Is Composite Decking?
Composite decking is essentially a board made from a combination of wood fibres and plastic.
The plastic used includes polyethylene or polypropylene. Though wood fibres are most common, some composite decking is made from bamboo, fibreglass or minerals. Each with its own distinct advantage. But all are included under the umbrella term composite decking.
Just to complicate it a little bit more. Often PVC (PolyVinyl Chloride) is also included as composite decking despite it not being composite of anything except PVC.
But all of them if cared for correctly will last many years allowing you to enjoy your deck with a lot less work.
Bringing us back to the question of salt and ice on your composite deck.
Ice On Composite Deck
If you live in an area that experiences ice and snow every year, you must be prepared for such weather conditions.
This means knowing how to remove ice and snow from your deck.
When it comes to removing snow or ice from your composite decking.
Please read the labels of any ice salt closely to ensure they are indeed compatible with your decking.
Like I said, most but not all.
Look for phrases, such as “safe for flagstone,” “will not kill grass,” and/or “safe for concrete.”
One thing I like about Green Gobble is it is safe around pets and children. Both often enjoy running outside on the deck to escape the house as much as we do. Always check that your salt is also safe for children and pets.
Salt spread on the ice will speed up the melting time of the ice plus lower its freezing point to give it time to run off the decking. Again, why its important to be safe for plants. Most decks are sloped towards the yard and melted ice will run unto the vegetation around your deck.
This process is known as “freezing point depression.” While the ice is melting, more salt dissolves, thus causing more ice to melt away.
The result? A deck cleared of any ice and snow!
It’s important to note, though, that using salt as an ice removal method on your decking may leave a little residue on the surface.
But, this can be cleaned away easily.
If this happens, follow these steps:
- Prepare the decking – remove any furniture from the decking, as well as any loose debris, such as leaves. Sweep away using a stiff bristle brush.
- Make a soapy solution – fill a bucket with hot water and add a cleaning solution of your choice. We recommend Wash Safe Industries WS-SC-1G Clear Spray and Clean Composite Deck Cleaner.
- Apply the solution – tip the cleaning solution all over your decking and scrub with a stiff brush. Scrub in the direction of the surface’s grain so you don’t mark it.
- Rinse – once you have scrubbed your decking, wash the solution and dirt away with a hose or power washer. Your deck should now be clean and free of ice!
Before you put down any salt on your composite decking, you need to consider how thick the snow is on its surface.
If there is a thick layer or so, we recommend using a shovel to remove the snow first.
In order not to potentially scratch the decking, plastic shovel. Never use a metal shovel or a snow shovel with a metal scraper on it on a composite deck. The metal will easily scratch the composite decking.
What To Avoid
Although salt is considered safe to use on composite decking, there are some factors to consider before using any old ice melt.
Here are some materials and other things to avoid when trying to remove ice and snow from your composite decking:
- Sand – sand may offer traction on slippery surfaces, but the granules can grind away at the decking’s surface. Over time, this can mark and damage your decking.
- Ice melt with a colour additive – certain dyes and ice melts can actually stain your decking. Although convenient, we’d avoid these on composite decking.
- Sharp-edge tools and metal shovels – any sharp-edge tool or metal shovel can easily damage your decking, no matter how robust it is. Use a plastic or wooden shovel for the best results.
After You Use Salt On Your Composite Decking
When the snow and/or ice has melted from your decking’s surface, grab your broom and sweep any additional granular pieces still present.
Doing this will prevent the granules from spreading into other areas, such as being traced into your home.
You may find that calcium chlorine and salt may have built up on your decking after trying to remove ice or snow.
Fortunately, this can be removed pretty easily and quickly with a light scrub of the surface.
If you’ll be using salt regularly, we recommend waiting until the weather turns warmer.
Then you can get your garden hose and rinse the deck of any leftover salt buildup. You can also use a sprinkler and a pressure washer.
However, if you’re using a pressure washer, make sure its pressure is set to under 1,500 psi and you use it at a safe distance from the surface of the decking.
We recommend holding the wand at least 12 inches above the deck. Any closer and you may damage the deck.
The above are general guidelines for pressure washing composite decking, click the link to find out the exact level of water pressure and wand distance for specific brands of composite decking. I was surprised by how much it differs.
But following these tips, you can maintain your deck through the winter months and keep it safe for all.
Is Composite Decking As Slippery As Wood Decking?
Generally speaking, composite decking is the better option when it comes to choosing decking that is less slippery.
Although ice and snow can form on composite decking in the winter, the ice doesn’t tend to be as thick or slippery as when it forms on wooden decking.
The main reason wood decking is more slippery is that it is more porous than composite decking. This basically means it takes on water more quickly.
So, as temperatures start to fall, this water will freeze, turning your deck into an ice rink. Not only can it be dangerous to walk on, but the ice can damage the wood.
Composite decking, on the other hand, is covered by a protective polymer cap. Therefore, the boards do not absorb water.
But again, not all brands of composite decking are the same for traction. Some brands are better for traction than wood, others will leave you slipping.
Yes, some water will gather on the surface, and this can turn into ice, but the composite material will not become damaged by this.
In general, it is safe to use salt and ice melt on composite decking.
However, always read the label of the packaging beforehand to ensure it is compatible and suitable for this material.