Scattering of time-harmonic waves from periodic structures at some fixed real-valued wave number becomes analytically difficult whenever there arise surface waves: These non-zero solutions to the homogeneous scattering problem physically correspond to modes propagating along the periodic structure and clearly imply non-uniqueness of any solution to the scattering problem. In this paper, we consider a medium that is defined in the upper two-dimensional half-space by a penetrable and periodic contrast. We prove that there is a so-called limiting absorption solution to the associated scattering problem. By definition, such a solution is the limit of a sequence of unique solutions for artificial complex-valued wave numbers tending to the above-mentioned real-valued wave number. Our method of proof seems to be new: By the Floquet-Bloch transform we first reduce the scattering problem to a finite-dimensional one that is set in the linear space spanned by all surface waves. In this space, we then compute explicitly which modes propagate along the periodic structure to the left or to the right. This finally yields a representation for our limiting absorption solution which leads to a proper extension of the well known upward propagating radiation condition. ... mehrFinally, we prove uniqueness of a solution under this radiation condition.