Heat can make decks unbearably hot to walk on and difficult to enjoy during summertime, but there are ways you can keep them cooler by providing shade or creating shade structures on the deck itself.
Plants offer shade and reduce temperature, adding beauty and greenery to your outdoor living space while providing shade from UV rays. However, their growth process takes time – there is no quick solution here.
Planters filled with flowers and greenery add a vibrant splash of color to any deck, but be careful when selecting plants safe for decks – standing water left by overflowing saucers could cause stains, mildew and mold growth, as well as even rot the wood in your deck!
Tony advises shading the roots of any potted plants with shade cloth, mesh or window screening scraps – or a light layer of organic mulch – in order to slow evaporation and keep the soil cooler. Grouping planters together also reduces evaporation loss and drying times.
Protecting your deck from the heat of the sun requires providing shade. Options for providing such coverage include installing a gazebo, pergola, or patio umbrella.
Pergolas offer more permanent solutions that can be built into the design of your deck or purchased as kits. Not only are pergolas beautiful to look at but also offer shade from the sun by blocking the direct rays – plus vines such as morning glories, hops or ivy can grow gracefully over them for added appeal!
Retractable awnings provide another light control option while also offering panoramic views and keeping you cool in the process.
A breeze can help cool down a deck by dissipating hot air off its surface, which is particularly effective if the material used to construct it heats quickly. This is particularly effective for composite deck materials which heat quickly.
Metal and plastic outdoor furniture heats up rapidly when exposed to direct sunlight, potentially scorching your bare feet when you stand up from sitting down. Wicker or other natural-looking pieces may help avoid this problem.
If you need to cover an expansive area, roof mount fans are an effective way of moving air over large expanses.
Misters can provide an effective means of cooling patios, porches and decks while at the same time protecting against mosquitoes and dust from bothering you and your guests. Most systems can be run directly from a garden hose spigot for easy portability depending on where the breezes are blowing from.
Before taking off your shoes and leaving the deck, another quick way to cool it down quickly is using the garden hose to spray some cold water on it from time to time – this soaks up some of the heat while allowing it to evaporate away like sweat does for our bodies.
Shade and fans are great ways to keep the surface of your deck comfortable, but water can further cool it down and make walking on it more bearable. A quick and easy way to do this is simply spraying down with the garden hose!
Cold water absorbs some of the heat from deck boards before evaporating to keep your deck cooler, much like sweat cooling your skin. Apply a splash every 30 minutes for optimal results or install a misting system to make an alternative option more efficient.
6. Plants in Pots
Container plants can add beauty and life to your deck, but be sure they are shaded from afternoon sun. Move planters on a weekly basis so as to reduce moisture build-up that leads to mildew, mold or ring stains forming in them.
Consider installing a pergola or arbor as part of a shaded planting area, featuring long-vined plants such as grapes or brewer’s hops (Humulus lupulus). Grapevines provide both shade and fruit!
Water your plants regularly as potted plants tend to dry out more rapidly than in-ground plantings. Be wary not to overwater as droplets in direct sunlight may magnify and scorch leaves, and cause further wilting and scorchage of leaves.
7. Covered Seating
When temperatures climb during the day, composite decking can become unbearably hot to walk barefoot on. Selecting lighter colored composite materials may help decrease heat absorption.
Outdoor rugs can help to protect your feet from scorching on a hot deck and come in various shapes and sizes to keep them from burning.
Handrail misting systems serve to cool off a deck as you sit or stand. While they are typically integrated into deck design during construction, these can also be purchased and installed later on.
Awnings provide a great way to shade and cool your deck, protect furniture from weather wear and tear and lower indoor home temperatures.
Awnings can be installed over windows and doors to decrease energy costs by blocking sunlight entering your home, as well as provide shade and privacy from outdoor elements in a relaxing patio area. There is a range of styles and fabrics to suit every taste and budget – they may even be retractable!
9. Water features
Evaporation’s cooling effect can be leveraged to help cool your deck by spraying it over its surface and allowing it to evaporate (similar to how sweat evaporation cools your body). This will maintain a lower air temperature.
Handrail misting systems work similarly to overhead misters but allow you to direct water flow directly where it’s needed on your deck. Hose misters offer similar convenience but are less costly; most water spigots should support their operation.
An elegant pergola with louvered slats provides shade to a dining or seating area on your composite deck, and also helps keep it cooler by reflecting sunlight away from this space.
Setting your deck aglow with ample lighting will extend its cooling effects beyond sunset. For safety, enclosed candle holders and battery-powered options offer romantic flicker without creating hazards due to hot wax or open flames.
Recessed lights offer another lighting solution, mounting flush to the deck material to provide safe footing and stylish ambience after dark. Recessed lights can also illuminate planters or other focal points on your deck and are easy to install yourself.