West Michigan is thawing again after another deep freeze. Sure, it may not be prime cookout weather yet, but our guess is that you’re itching to get your outdoor entertainment space ready for those warm and sunny conditions! A little spring TLC can keep your patio, deck, and furniture looking great!
Cleaning Your Deck
Winter isn’t always kind to wooden decks. Wood is much more susceptible to swelling, shrinking, and warping due to temperature and moisture than most materials. Since it’s made from biological matter, it’s also prone to rotting if you aren’t careful.
Once the snow clears, you should give your deck a complete visual inspection, including the underdeck if you can. Be on the lookout for rot, mildew, loose railings, or even wayward nails. Soft, discolored patches are a possible indication of structural problems.
You’ll also want to give your deck a good cleaning. You’ll want to do this on a cool, cloudy day if possible, since it reduces the stress on the wood and the cleaner won’t evaporate as quickly. Use an environmentally friendly deck cleaner and deck scrub brush to gently remove algae, mildew, and grime. Be careful—if your chemicals are too strong, or even if you use a power washer at too high a setting, you can damage your deck.
If you need to re-stain the finish, you can do so a little later in the spring. Regardless of whether you’re re-staining the deck, you generally should reapply a sealer annually to protect the wood from rotting and splitting.
Cleaning Your Patio
While a stone patio won’t have the same concerns about rotting or deterioration as a wooden deck, you’re still going to want to clean and protect it thoroughly each spring to keep it looking its best.
For concrete, the job can often be as simple as giving it a good sweep and rinse with a garden hose. You can use a degreaser on spots near the grill, and a detergent mixed with water to remove grimy surfaces and mold, as well as brighten the stone. Use a bristle scrub made from natural or synthetic fibers—never a wire brush.
Preparing Your Furniture
If you’ve been blessed with more storage space than you know what to do with, it’s possible that you’ve kept your patio or deck furniture in a shed or garage. Most of us, however, have our furniture sitting outside year-round, including the long winter months.
A simple hose-down is a good place to start. After all, these items are designed to get rained on, so a little water shouldn’t hurt! You might be surprised at how well plain water can clean a good chunk of the dirt and dust that accumulates over several months of disuse. Use a soft brush and a dry cloth to do some initial touch-ups.
Now, on to the deep clean. The best choice for each piece of outdoor furniture really depends on the material. For example, chemicals that might be totally appropriate for plastic might damage teak, or vice versa. In the ideal scenario, you still have the original instructions from the manufacturer. However, most people don’t.
Some general guidelines:
- Fabric: We recommend that you store outdoor fabric cushions, pillows, hammocks, etc. indoors during the winter, but that’s not always the reality. If you don’t have the care instructions from the original manufacturer anymore, it’s best to err on the side of caution to avoid damaging the material. Dish soap mixed with warm water should be safe and effective. You may also consider the washing machine. Air dry only.
- Plastic: All-purpose cleaners and sponges are probably all you need. Plastic is easy to maintain. Of course, if your furniture is badly damaged you may opt to simply replace it, which is more feasible with inexpensive plastic furniture.
- Wood: Furniture made from wicker, teak, ipe, or other wood tends to be a little more laborious to clean. (Dusting regularly and performing a more thorough cleaning at least twice per year is recommended). You may want to get a cleaning solution specially made for outdoor wood, although dish soap mixed with water isn’t a bad alternative. Wipe with a soft cloth and work in small sections, one at a time. You may need an old toothbrush to clean out particularly grimy spots.
- Metal: The biggest issue with metal outdoor furniture is rust. If you don’t spot any, you can mix a bucket of warm water and dishwashing detergent, then use a sponge or soft brush. If you do notice rust on wrought iron or other metal, you will need something like steel wool or sandpaper to scrub away any oxidized surfaces. You’ll then need to prime and repaint to protect the metal and restore its appearance.
Time for an Upgrade?
If your existing concrete patio is looking a little tired, Bosch’s Landscaping can repair cracks and exterior damage, and even breathe new life into it with decorative cement overlays. Of course, we’re also happy to improve the view from your patio, too, with great landscape design that incorporates both living and manmade features.
Our schedule for the spring is already filling up, so if you want to enjoy your new patio or landscaping before it’s time to pack it all up for winter once again, give us a call at (616) 399-6861.