Your composite deck is beautiful in summer to enjoy the outdoors, but winter is a little different story. The deck warming in the heat of the day, melting the snow, then freezing on your composite deck. Leaving a dangerous ice patch on your path to the backyard.
On the front sidewalk, you throw down ice melt to get rid of it but will ice melt damage your beautiful composite deck? What kind of ice melt is safe for composite decking?
Ice melt made of calcium chloride with no colourant added is safe for composite and PVC decking. The best kinds are ice melts marked as “safe for concrete” and “will not kill grass.”
Two don’t and two do’s for ice melt on composite decking.
Don’t Use Ice Melts with Traction Grit on Composite Decking
There are many different types of traction products, including sand, sawdust, kitty litter, birdseed, chicken grit, oyster shells, and even ecoTRACTION™. But none of them should be used on a composite deck.
Yes, traction is great to prevent slipping on ice, but it can scratch the decking’s surface.
Only use ice melts that do not include traction grit and do not add any on the deck surface. If you desperately need traction on the deck and cannot wait for the ice to melt. Lay a deck mat over the ice for temporary protection from slipping on the deck, without scratching the decking.
Don’t Use Ice Melts with Colorant on composite Decking
It supposes to help you see where you have spread the ice melt. Handy and easy to see. Helping to prevent waste with fuller coverage of the ice. But don’t use it. The same dye adding colour to the ice melt can do the same to composite decking.
Products like Alaskan ice melt, which I love using on my sidewalk for its effectiveness. The blue crystals are easy to see as I spread on the ice. But that’s exactly the problem. Those blue crystals are blue because of colourant. The colourant can do the same to composite decking. Covering your beautiful brown English Walnut decking with little blue spots. Not good, not good at all.
Use Ice Melts That Are Safe for Concrete and Will Not Kill Grass
Always check the label before using ice melt on composite decking. The label should clearly state that it is safe for concrete and plants.
Even the best will have a disclaimer “when used as directed,” which is fine, but still, you are l looking for a de-icer that is not too harsh on surfaces. Anything that corrodes concrete is not a good idea for composite decking. So, always check.
Of course, your deck does not stand alone in your backyard. Often surrounded by plants in the summer, you will not want to add anything in the winter to destroy the surrounding vegetation. Again, check the label, ensuring it’s safe for the deck and plants around it.
For these reasons, the leading composite decking manufacturers recommend Calcium Chloride for composite decking.
Leading Manufacture’s Recommend Calcium Chloride for Composite Decking.
Trex, the largest producer of composite decking, says this.
“Calcium chloride or rock salt also can be used to melt the snow and ice from the deck surface.”Trex
TimberTech, the second largest supplier of composite decking, says something very similar.
“To prevent your deck from becoming a skating rink this winter, stick to calcium chloride products to melt and remove ice.”TimberTech
Fiberon has the same opinion on what can safely be used to remove ice from their composite decking.
When deciding the best means for making your deck less slippery, choose calcium chloride-based “ice melt” or rock salt to remove snow and ice from your composite decking.Fiberon
There are several reasons why calcium chloride is recommended.
Advantage of Calcium Chloride for Removing Ice from Composite Decking
These are from Occidental Chemical Corporation concerning PELADOW™ Calcium Chloride Pellets, but I think they apply to all calcium chloride ice melts.
These are the advantages of using calcium chloride for melting ice on a composite deck.
- Lowest Effective Temperature for Common Ice Melting Chemicals
- Generates heat as it dissolves
- Superior Melting Speed
- Forms ice-melting brine faster
- High ice melting capability with less volume
As you can see, PELADOW™ Calcium Chloride is a great ice melt. You can check it out on Amazon by the link. But it is not my top pick for composite decking.
A good thing about composite decking compared to wood decking.
Composite Decking Will Not Absorb Calcium Chloride Ice Melt
One of the main reasons not to use calcium chloride on a wood deck is it is absorbed by the decking, drying it to a brittle point. Causing the decking to crack and split.
Composite decking with its polymer cap will not absorb the calcium chloride. So, there is no danger of drying out the decking and cracking or splintering. This allows you to use de-ices on a composite deck when you should not use it on a wood deck.
Which is a great advantage when removing ice from a composite deck. You can do little to remove ice from a wood deck, but de-icers will quickly remove the ice on a composite deck. Making the deck safe to walk on again.
Recommended Ice Melt for Composite Decking
If you are looking for an ice melt for your composite decking, Green Gobbler is 96% Calcium Chloride, just what the Doctor ordered. Or at least the manufactures of composite decking.
It is safe for both concrete and plants. As not to damage the decking or your beautiful landscaping around your deck.
It does not include an abrasive traction material that can scratch composite decking. It also does not have added colourant, potentially leaving small colour marks on your deck.
You can also conveniently have it delivered to your front door from Amazon or pick it up at your favourite building supply store. If they stock it?
Tips for Using Ice Melt on Composite Decking
Yes, Calcium Chloride is recommended by leading composite manufacturers. Yes, both PELADOW™ and Green Gobbler have great reviews. But always test in an inconspicuous part of the deck or scrap piece of decking before using on your deck. Hate for your deck to be the one in a million that stains and ruins your composite deck.
Always test before using it.
If the ice melt doesn’t damage or stain the test decking. Still use ice melt moderately on the deck. This is not a set it and forget it product. Leaving large volumes of ice melt is not good for the deck, your yard or your enjoyment of your deck.
Gapping between deck boards should remove most water from the deck, preventing ice.
Use the ice melt to melt away the ice on deck boards. Pouring it on patches of ice that needs to be removed. A better practice then spreading ice melt on the deck for the possibility of ice in the future.
Clean off Composite Decking After Using Ice Melt
Never a good idea to leave a large quantity of on used product on your deck. If after the ice is melted and you were a little too generous with the ice melt. Simply sweep up the extra ice melt as to minimize the potential to damage the decking.
When spring comes, it’s also a good idea to wash and clean off your composite decking. Making sure to remove any left-over residue and just to make your deck look that much better.
A clean and safe deck is one to be enjoyed for years.
Cleaning Snow Off Composite Decking Before Using Ice Melt
Chances are high that if you have ice, you also have snow on your composite deck. Just a quick reminder care must be taken in removing snow without damaging composite decking. On warm days, I find with a south-facing deck, if cleared of snow, can still be enjoyed in winter. It’s amazing how warm it can get as the sun reflects off the walls and decking.
Also, always remove snow before using ice melt on your deck. Its “ice melt,” not snow melt.
But when you clear snow off the decking, only use tools that will not scratch the decking. The three best tools for cleaning snow of composite decking are.
- Plastic Shovel
- Corn Broom
- Leaf Blower
If you have some serious amount of snow to move, the shovel will be best for scoping the snow off the decking. Just make sure there is no metal blade on the scoop. May scrape of the snow better, but it could also scrape the decking.
For light, fluffy snow, the leaf blower will make quick work of it. Create your own little blizzard blowing the snow off the deck to the yard.
Personally, I like peace and quiet; the blower is for others. I love being outside with my trusty corn broom, enjoying the quiet of freshly fallen snow. It’s eerie but enjoyable with the corn broom quietly brushing the snow off the deck.
It may be cold now, but summer is coming and with it deck seasons. Think warm thoughts till then.