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Inspect, Repair and Decorate: Help decks, patios flourish with three steps

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Outdoor spaces are a literal extension of the home, and as a result, they deserve the same level of attention and maintenance. From patios to decks, regular care and upkeep can help make sure these outdoor spaces are ready for summertime entertaining or a solo relaxation session at any time.

Inspect

According to home repair and improvement site Bobvila.com, regular and vigilant inspections can not only help with keeping track of repairs, but also with preventing new ones from forming. For decks, homeowners should keep their eyes peeled for soft or splintered spots, loose nails, and split or rotten planks. 

For decks that have rails, check to make sure they are tight to the deck and not loose, which can be a sign of impending fracture or failure. If there are loose nails, hammer them back into place and tighten any and all bolts that keep the deck secured to the house’s infrastructure.

According to DIY Network, homeowners should also pay attention to the ledger, otherwise known as the framing material that attaches the deck to a house. The ledger should be attached with lag screws instead of nails for added security. All metal hardware should be monitored for signs of rust.

Do not neglect the tight spaces like the crevices between floorboards or the spaces between patio stones. When neglected for extended periods of time, the accumulation of debris or moisture between these spaces can lead to buckling, warping and wood rot. Floorboards could fail and loose patio stones can become a tripping hazard.

Patios and decks should be level, and if there are any bumps or dips, it is a sign to call a professional. 

Repair

Outdoor surfaces should be deep cleaned annually to help prevent mold and mildew and any possible pest infestations. 

Tools like pressure washers can save a lot of time for clearing patios and decks of residue, but in inexperienced hands, it can leave more destruction and debris in its wake than before the cleaning process began. According to Bobvila.com, professional power washers will be able to expertly clear surfaces of mildew, dust and build-up without damaging the surfaces. Homeowners can take preventative measures to protect their outdoor oasis from the elements by sweeping away puddles, branches and leaves on a regular basis.

When using chemicals like cleaners and sealers on wood, remember to cover nearby vegetation or shrubbery with tarps to keep them safe during the treatment process.

Oxygen bleach is an all-purpose surface cleaning alternative to regular bleach that won’t destroy natural colors or harm plants, but it’s still not suitable for use on redwood. Synthetic sealants can protect wood without attracting mildew and algae like some oil-based products can. Semi-transparent finishes can work double-duty and protect wood from the sun while adding a subtle tint of color.

Decorate

When it comes to decorating, try to avoid outdoor rugs made of natural fibers such as jute and bamboo. According to Bobvila.com, these materials absorb moisture, which could promote mildew. Rugs made out of materials like recycled plastics don’t experience these problems and tend to be more durable in the long-run.

According to Extra Space Storage, a real estate investment trust, the installation of outdoor lighting and comfortable outdoor furniture can help any deck or patio realize its potential as a unique entertainment area rather than just the outdoor alternative to interior comfort.

The addition of outdoor cooking equipment or kitchen space can add another level of versatility. Focus on having plenty of countertop for meal preparation. 

For summer, patio fire pits are also seeing a resurgence in popularity and are a safer alternative than trying to build a traditional campfire, which can easily become a danger not only to surrounding structures but to family and friends as well. 

When decorating your outdoor space, no matter what, always check with the corresponding homeowner’s association or city ordinances. Depending on the neighborhood or municipality, specific features may need to abide by certain codes or measurements to be lawfully installed. Before pursuing any updates, do your homework and consult a professional about your options.

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