One of the most important additions to any home is the patio. It’s a place to socialize, relax and appreciate the outdoor beauty of your property. The enjoyment you get from your patio or deck is reliant on how well it’s taken care of however. While it isn’t advisable for the average homeowner to attempt building or doing a significant remodel of their patio, there are still many things they can do to maintain it.
Here are 5 ways homeowners can improve their deck and extend its life without the help of a pro.
Routinely Check Key Stress Points for Damage
They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to health, but the same can apply to your patio or deck. One thing every homeowners should do it routinely check theirs for structural soundness. Catching damage before it becomes a possibly dangerous situation will also save you on expenses in the long run.
Once a year you should completely go over your patio or deck, especially if you have a raised deck. You will want to check for rot or mold, especially around areas prone to dampness. Rot can hide so be sure to use a tool like a screwdriver to push against wet areas. For a raised deck you’ll want to check the underside for damage and check the ledger to ensure it’s still firmly secured.
Checks the stairs and if you have a wooden deck you should look over all boards in detail to see if any are cracking or broken. Give the railings a wiggle to ensure nothing is loose. Shake the railing quite firmly.
You should examine your patio after a heavy snowfall or a storm as well.
Replace Split or Damaged Boards Proactively
If you have a wood deck and find a split, rotted or otherwise damaged board you need to take action right away. Some people that are handy with power tools and construction may be able to replace these boards themselves. Others who lack confidence should consult a professional to help them.
Depending on the design of your deck, one rotted board can lead to more so don’t ignore this problem. Not to mention there are serious safety issues if a board snaps due to negligence.
Learn How to Properly Wash Your Patio
Many people don’t actually know how to properly wash their patio, often times just spraying it with a hose and leaving it to dry. The method you use to clean your patio will depend on a few factors, namely what material it is made out of.
Concrete patios are easiest to wash since it’s usually just a single slab. You will want to remove any outdoor furniture and sweep all debris away. You can then use a special concrete patio cleanser to wash it. If there isn’t much to clean you can often use a dense push broom and hose or pressure washer.
For a wood deck it requires more work as you’ll need to clean debris from between planks and take care not to damage any boards. Purchase a wood deck-friendly cleanser and take care if your boards are painted as you don’t want to chip it off.
PVC or composite decks will either require their own special cleanser (recommended by the manufacturer) or can be washed with water and a mild cleanser. Again, take care when using a putty knife to remove plant debris between planks to ensure you don’t gauge boards.
Re-stain and Seal Your Wood Deck in the Summer
Every few years you may want to re-stain and seal your wood deck. How often this needs to happen depends on the sealant you use. Clear sealants may need to be reapplied every summer, as well as toner sealants that only provide a wash of color. Full on paint or opaque stains are longer lasting.
Re-staining and sealing can definitely be done by the average homeowners but it takes time and some elbow grease. Once you’ve chosen your new stain and/or sealer you’ll need to prepare your deck by sanding it down. Before applying any product this is a good time to ensure all nails, screws and other hardware are flush with the deck. Be sure to follow manufacturer instructions for the products you choose and ensure you have about 2 days of sunshine on the forecast so it has time to properly dry.
Ensure Your Deck is Stable Before Adding New Features
It’s tempting to want to remodel your patio or hire a professional to implement some of those modern home designs you see in magazines. Before you do this you should make sure that your deck is already safe, sturdy and a good foundation. While remodeling can be a lot of fun and even a bit addicting, don’t forget to properly maintain your deck seasonally.
Do-It-Yourself projects are always popular, especially for homeowners that are looking to save money. While all 5 tips featured here are safe for nearly anyone to perform, it’s important to not hesitate to call a professional if needed. Severe damage to a deck, rotting wood or erosion around a cement patio are fixed best left to the experts.