Deck and Patio Blog
Can You Build a Deck in Winter in Maryland?
November 22, 2014
Most homeowners don’t believe that winter is a good season for outdoor renovations. And you are probably right if you are the one measuring, sawing and nailing in the bitter cold. However, there are some outdoor projects that are possible and even beneficial to complete in winter, and Maryland deck building is one of them.
So, can you build a deck in winter if you live in Maryland?
If you think about it, homes are being constructed year round, so why should a deck be an exception? The simple answer is yes, you can build a deck in winter in Maryland. But let’s go into more detail to address any specific concerns you might have.
What About the Frozen Ground?
In order to build a deck, we would need to dig below the frost line and install footers that will serve as the deck support. The footers are typically made of pressure-treated wood and are fixed with a concrete base. The frost line in most parts of Maryland (the depth at which ground water freezes) is about 30 inches, which is also the regulated minimal footing depth in the Baltimore County. Digging through 30 inches of frozen ground can be tedious, to say the least, but in reality the ground rarely freezes that deep.
Last year’s polar vortex might be an exception, but for the most part Maryland winter temperatures fluctuate widely, allowing for the ground to stay warm above the frost line except for the very top layer. Beyond that, the ground is warm and easy to dig. It might take a bit longer to get to the desired depth, but it is definitely possible.
The Benefits of Building a Deck in Winter
Even Wood Curing
The pressure treated wood posts used for footings will dry more consistently in winter due to low humidity and the lack of stress from the hot sun exposure. The same is true for the rest of your deck if you chose to go with pressure-treated wood all throughout. However, it’s crucial to hire an experienced Maryland deck contractor who will account for the wood’s give and take when spacing out the deck boards. As the wood absorbs summer humidity, the fibers will need room to expand.
If you start your deck construction in spring or summer, you might have trouble finding a reliable contractor because this is the busy season. You might have to get on the waiting list to grab your spot in the long queue of projects, which means waiting several weeks. In winter, however, there is less demand and you will have no problem scheduling the project on your terms. Besides, when everyone is mid-construction in the spring, you are ready to enjoy your deck as the first warm April days roll in.
Because winter is traditionally an off-season for deck building, you may also get a better deal on both labor and materials. There is more room for negotiation—feel free to ask your Maryland deck building contractor about possible discounts.
A Few Things to Keep in Mind
While deck building in winter is possible, it has its own challenges that you should keep in mind. The biggest challenge, of course, is the often unpredictable weather that will affect the speed of the project. Below are a few things to keep in mind when you decide to go ahead with deck construction in winter:
- Rain, snow and bitter cold may delay the project.
- If you are building a wooden deck, staining might have to wait until warmer days, so the boards have the time to expel extra moisture from the winter rain and snow.
- Concrete might take longer to cure in cold weather.
Overall, besides unexpected delays due to inclement weather, you can certainly have a deck built in winter just as successfully as any other time of the year. If you are planning a deck and patio combo, you can break the project into stages and have your patio completed in spring, so that you can enjoy the deck in the meantime.
No matter what you choose, our deck building pros at North American Deck and Patio will be happy to offer you a free consultation. Call us for an estimate, compare your options and then decide whether winter deck building is right for you.
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