Preparing Outdoor Living Areas for Winter

Fall is a great time to clean and prepare your outdoor living area for the cold winter weather.  Use these fall weekends to clean your patio or deck because it is still warm enough to use your hose. 

Here are some tips on how to clean those outdoor living areas:

Winterize your Patio

Winterize PatioRemove and clean all patio furniture before storing it away for the winter.  This will keep your furniture looking newer for longer and will ensure all of the pollen and dust from the spring and summer does not buildup. 

Use an outdoor push broom, found at your local hardware store, and give the patio a thorough sweep.  This will break up and remove the dirt and dust from months of usage.  Next, rid the patio of any weeds to prevent heaving of tiles, which will ruin your patio.     

Use a hose with a powerful nozzle to get off any remaining dirt, grim and buildup.  Be careful of using any cleaners as they may damage your stones, plants or lawn.

Cleaning and Staining Your Deck

Remove and clean all furniture as explained above.  Pressure washers are really the best tools for cleaning a deck.  To defer costs, chip in with a few friends that have decks and share the cost of renting.  Or, rent it for the day and clean your siding if needed.  For tips on pressure washing your vinyl siding, check our previous siding post.  For decks that just need a light cleaning, using a pressure washer on a light setting with a household cleaner should do the job.  Remember not to use a high setting as it will ruin your deck and the stain. 

Winterize Your DeckIf you notice it is time to re-stain and waterproof your deck, fall is a great time to tackle that task.  Is your wood graying?  Does it no longer repel water?  Then it may be time to give your deck a fresh coat of stain.  If you are using the same stain, add 2 coats of stain to all horizontal areas and 1 coat to all vertical areas.  This will allow the deck to weather uniformly. 

To switch stain colors, you will have to strip the current stain with a sodium hydroxide cleaner.  Let the cleaner sit for 10-15 minutes and use a pressure washer on a light setting.  Repeat until the stain is removed.  Keep in mind- this is a very tedious task!  Follow the cleaning with an application of oxalic acid.  This neutralizes the cleaner while brightening the appearance of the wood.  It is up to you if you want to rinse it off after letting it sit or not.  Wait 24 hours before staining using the directions above.

Following these steps will allow you to keep your patio and/or deck looking new and clean for years to come. 

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