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Cleaning Tips for Patios and Decks

Cleaning Tips for Patios and Decks
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Banish dirt and grime from outdoor entertaining areas by following these cleaning tips for patios and decks.

Protect Deck Furniture from Fading and Peeling

Too much sun can be just as harmful to deck furniture as it is to people. To protect your outdoor wooden furniture from sunburn and avoid messy and time-consuming refinishing jobs, apply a quick coat of penetrating finish each year, recommends master woodworker Keith Gotschall of Salida, Colorado. (Keith likes Thompson’s Water Seal, but there are many others.) These finishes are easy to wipe on with a paint pad or rags. Avoid film finishes, such as spar varnish or lacquer, says Keith. They look good at first, but they soon blister, whiten, and peel in the sun, requiring heavy-duty sanding and refinishing.

Clean Patio Furniture at the Car Wash

The patio furniture, grill, and other large objects loitering on your deck can accumulate a grimy coating over the years. It looks awful, but it would take half a day with a bucket of soapy water and a scrubber sponge to expunge the grime. Fear not-there’s a quicker way. Toss all the dirty items into the trunk or backseat (protected with a plastic tarp) of your car and drive to the nearest self-service car wash. Set out the items in the drive-thru bay and hose them down with the pressure wand. You’ll be done in minutes! Even faster: Set up all your backyard gear in the back of a pickup truck and pressure-spray without unloading it. Got teenagers? They’ll think this sounds like fun and do the job for you without griping.

Keep Decks Spick and Span

Sanding and refinishing a worn and dirty wooden deck is a huge job. It can require more than 8 hours of work, spread over several days. Instead of struggling with this task, try one of the chemical wood cleaners available at home improvement stores. Look for a nonbleach cleaner, which will remove dirt and nail stains without affecting the wood’s natural color or harming neighboring grass and shrubs. Cover all the nearby aluminum and glass, sweep the deck completely, and keep it wet with a light spray from a hose while you apply the cleaner. Follow the product’s mixing instructions and use a long-handled brush or roller to apply; extra-dirty spots will require hand-brushing. (Wear rubber gloves while you work to protect your hands.)

After the deck has soaked for 20 to 30 minutes, hose it off thoroughly. Cleaning a medium-size deck this way takes about 2 hours. In some cases, especially with redwood or cedar decks, you’ll get the best results by following up with an application of wood brightener, which is also available in various brands.

Updated Tuesday, May 7th, 2013
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