Spring Home Maintenance: Revive Outdoor Spaces
Spruce Up Before Summer
Prep your patio for a season of outdoor parties with our spring home maintenance plan.
Porches: Routine Care
Every week, sweep exterior floors with an outdoor push broom. Dust the windowsills, door frames, and ceiling-fan blades using a counter brush. Every month, wash light-fixture covers. Because insects tend to collect in them, always remove covers to clean them. Rinse and dry thoroughly before replacing them.
Porches: Seasonal Maintenance
Sweep away cobwebs and debris from walls and ceilings with a corn broom, and wash down the walls with a solution of all-purpose cleaner and water using a large polyester sponge. After thoroughly sweeping the floor with an outdoor push broom, scrub away grime with a long-handled deck brush and a solution of all-purpose cleaner and hot water.
Porches: Seasonal Maintenance
If you notice an accumulation of mildew on the floor, scrub with a solution of one part oxygen bleach to three parts water using a deck brush. (Wear protective gloves and goggles.) Clean porch screens with warm water and a nonammoniated all-purpose cleaner using a scrub or utility brush, washing the mesh as well as the frame. Rinse the screens thoroughly with a garden hose, and allow them to air dry. Between deep cleanings, whisk away dust and dirt with a handheld vacuum or a soft counter brush. Wooden porch floors and steps look best and last longer if they are painted. Paints formulated specifically for porches and floors are latex or oil-based, self-priming, and durable enough to withstand the elements. Painting a porch floor is no different from painting any other surface; you must clean and sand first.
Decks: Routine Care
Every week, sweep deck floors and thresholds with an outdoor push broom (or more frequently, if necessary) to remove leaves and other debris. Dust railings and windowsills with a counter brush. Always shovel your deck after snowstorms. The weight of snow can damage the deck, and the excess moisture can harm untreated wood.
Decks: Seasonal Maintenance
To wash a deck by hand, first sweep thoroughly and use an old saw blade or putty knife to remove any debris caught between the boards. Next, hose down the deck and scrub it with a long-handled deck brush and a solution of all-purpose cleaner and water, working in strokes that run parallel to the grain of the boards. For tough stains, use a commercial deck brightener or oxalic acid, which lighten dingy, gray wood. If you have a large deck or porch, a power washer saves time. This machine uses high-pressured water to blast away dirt, mildew, and some stains. However, power washers can open the pores in untreated wood surfaces, exposing the surface to the elements and decreasing the deck's life span.
Driveways, Walks, and Patios: Routine Care
Although driveways and walks are utilitarian, they are extensions of the home, and one of the first things people see when entering your property. Regular care of these areas will prevent them from becoming damaged or unsightly. Sweep weekly with an outdoor push or corn broom or rinse with a hose to keep surfaces clean.
Awnings: Routine Care
Rinse regularly with a spray hose throughout the outdoor season. Allow the awning to air dry thoroughly after cleaning; always open awnings after rain to let them dry thoroughly.
Awnings: Seasonal Maintenance
For a deep cleaning, first rinse the awning, then use a long-handled brush to apply a solution of water and mild soap, such as Dr. Bronner's. Rinse again. Clean awnings thoroughly and let them dry completely before storing. Store awnings off the ground to lessen the chance that they will become winter homes for rodents.
Furniture: Routine Care
Outdoor tables, chairs, and lawn chaises are built from materials that are generally tough enough to withstand sun, rain, and wind. Day to day, they require little more than frequent hosing off.
Outdoor Umbrellas: Routine Care
Rinse regularly with a spray hose throughout the outdoor season, or all year if you live in a warm climate or humid environment. If mildew is present, remove the cover from the frame, if possible, and brush away any mildew.
Outdoor Umbrellas: Seasonal Maintenance
If the label says "machine washable," place umbrella cover in a washing machine filled with cold water and a cup of oxygen bleach. Agitate to mix and let the cover sit overnight. Next, drain the water and spin, then launder the cover in cold water using mild soap such as Dr. Bronner's. Return it to the frame, in the open position, to dry in the sun.