July 28, 2014 at 12:02 PM
When the weather is nice, as it has been for most of the summer, the ability to entertain outside becomes one of your home’s most appealing assets. After all, who wouldn’t like to sit outside on a breezy evening while sipping lemonade or perhaps a refreshing summertime cocktail?
Here are some things to keep in mind about maintaining your porches, deck, and patios:
As with any part of your home, maintaining your porch properly takes some effort. By design, porches extend outward from your house. Thus, they are exposed to elements such as sun, wind, rain, as well as snow and ice in the winter. Construction flaws also result in problems – especially if the porch is not properly connected to the house. Because they are built close to the ground, termites and carpenter ants can cause damage to porches.
Here are some maintenance tips:
- Probe the porch framing with a screwdriver to check for wood rot or insect damage. Examine beams for cracks.
- Repair or replace damaged wood on your porch. The best bet is pressure-treated lumber, which can last for decades.
- Call an exterminator immediately if there are signs of termite damage or if you see carpenter ants crawling about.
- Fix cracked floor boards.
- Paint your porch to keep its attractive look.
- Clean gutters and check the roof on your porch for leaks. Water can do serious damage to your porch.
- Update wiring and light fixtures.
It is sometimes challenging to keep your deck looking great all summer, particularly if you entertain frequently. Grease can splatter from the barbeque and children might drop their plates of food, or a clumsy guest could knock over their adult beverage. Here are some tips for keeping your deck well maintained:
- Quickly clean BBQ grease and food spills that can harm your deck’s finish.
- Don’t leave piles of leaves on the deck. (This helps prevent mold and mildew).
- Never use a bleach-based cleaner if you are scrubbing a wood deck. Instead, purchase cleaning products that are specifically designed for wood decks.
- If you plan on putting your home on the market in the fall, stain the deck to make it look fresher.
- The frequency of how often you treat your deck depends on how much direct sunlight hits it.
- You don’t need expensive weed-killing products to keep your patio looking neat. If you have time, you can create your own eco-friendly week killer by mixing boiling water with salt, lemon juice and white vinegar. Do it on a hot day for better effectiveness.
- For concrete patios, use a broom to sweep the patio and then hose it down. Use a soft brush and a grease-cutting product like Dawn to take care of grease stains. Do not use a hard wire brush, which can chip away the concrete.
- For stone patios, Dawn is also effective. If you have areas discolored by mold, mildew or moss, scrub the area with water and a light amount of bleach.
Your patio furniture also makes a statement about your home.
- Use patio furniture covers to protect chairs and tables. Deck boxes help preserve seat cushions and any accessories.
- Clean furniture with light soap and water
- Store furniture inside the home or in the garage, if possible, during the winter months.
In our geographic area, outdoor entertaining generally takes place from May through October. It is important to maintain porches, decks and patios during the months when they are in use, particularly if you plan to show your home now or in the early fall. During the winter months, it is important to do what you can to make these sections of your property look as good as possible.
Paul LaMastra has been a real estate agent in the Scotch Plains-Fanwood area for more than three decades. He and his brother, Donald, are the owners of ERA Suburb Realty (1773 East 2nd St., Scotch Plains). Call (908) 322-4434, ext 161 or email Paul.firstname.lastname@example.org.