When warmer weather arrives, it’s time to prepare your outdoor living areas for spring and summer. Developing your plan to maintain your patio or deck right now means it will be ready when you need it. Here are some helpful tips.
One of the most important things you can do is to sweep often. Mildew, stains, and scratches are much less common on decks and patios that are kept clear of dirt and leaves. Try to make it your goal to sweep it at least once a week.
Move Outdoor Furniture Around
Avoid leaving outdoor furniture in one spot all season. Instead, move it a few inches every other day or so. This lets the area beneath furniture legs dry out so mildew and other stains are less likely to develop. If you are using iron or other metal furniture that can rust, add rubber tips to the feet to prevent rust stains on your patio.
Washing your Deck or Patio
Washing it about once a month will give your patio or deck increased beauty and longevity. Here are a few important rules to follow:
- Use the right cleaners. For wood decks, you should stay away from chlorine bleach. It isn’t just that bleach can lighten wood. Bleach tends to wear down the fibers as well. If you need to remove mildew stains from wood, try scrubbing it or using a mild commercial cleaning solution. Flagstone, concrete and similar materials can usually handle bleach solutions.
- Use caution with pressure washers. Pressure washers provide a fast way to remove deeply embedded grime from most surfaces. However, the force of the water can also damage decks and patios if you aren’t careful. It can splinter wood, chip pavers, and pit concrete. If you do decide to use a pressure washer, use the lowest setting and hold the spray wand several feet away. Never direct the spray at one section for more than a second. It’s better to move it the wand back and forth in a continuous sweeping movement.
A more gentle way to maintain your patio or deck is to clean it using a long-handled brush and a bucket of soapy water. Afterward, rinse the soap off with your garden hose. When choosing the soap or other cleaners, make sure they’re plant and lawn safe.
Sealing your Deck or Patio
Sealing a wood, concrete or flagstone patio makes it easier to clean and maintain. Some people choose to do this task every spring. Knowing when to seal a deck or patio can depend on factors such as what the winter was like and the amount of foot traffic the surface receives. Heavy foot traffic will wear down the sealant faster.
One way to check if you need to seal a wood deck again is to sprinkle water on several areas. If the water still beads at the surface, your deck might be okay. It’s not always as easy to tell if concrete or flagstone needs to be resealed – generally, these should be professionally sealed once a year.
Keep in mind that seasonal weather and ground shifting can take a toll on decks in ways beyond aesthetic changes. Maintain your patio or deck with safety in mind first. Check them once or twice a year for loose stones, loose railings or missing hardware. It’s also a good idea to have professionals come out once a year to perform any necessary repairs.