Spruce Up Your Deck or Patio

Is your deck or patio as attractive as it could be? Fix it up and then invite friends over for a party!

By FamilyTime


Whether you are planning a formal or casual evening, outdoor entertaining is especially enjoyable at this time of year. Before you plan the party, take a look at your deck or patio -- could it use some sprucing up?

Help is at hand!

Check for Cracks and Other Weaknesses
Walk around the deck. Make sure all the screws and nails are still firmly in place. Replace any that need it with stainless steel or porcelain-covered screws and treated nails to avoid rust, which can bleed color into the wood.

Split planks should be replaced. Check for rot and termites. With regular care, you will avoid having to replace the entire deck.

The concrete footings for the deck should be poured above ground level with a galvanized plate between the four-by-four wood and the concrete.

If there are eroding cracks in the patio, you may have to pour new concrete, or at the very least, do some patchwork. Check that retaining walls are sturdy and show no signs or eroding or crumbling.

Clean and Stain
Decks and patios are most effectively washed with a power washer. Beware! Rent a power washer but do not use it at full strength. Medium to low strength is all home decks and patios can endure without the risk of wood splintering or cement eroding.

For the best outcome, mix the water and bleach in a 10:1 ratio. Let the solution sit on the surface for about 20 minutes in the sunshine before rinsing. Bleach fights the buildup of mold and mildew.

Let the deck or patio dry completely before sealing, staining, or painting it.

Choose a clear coat sealer such as CWF for cedar or pressure-treated wood decks. Or, if you prefer, sealers are available in a range of colored stains.

If you would rather paint the deck, be sure to use outdoor paint.

Make it Pretty
Now for the fun part. Begin by choosing a color scheme that will carry through the cushions, umbrella, and flowers.

The railings enclosing some decks are tricky to work with. To soften these, install lattice work on the railings or a wall to make a trellis for flowers and vines. Think about an arch over the entrance to the deck or patio.

Decorate with a potted garden of colorful flowers and climbing vines. Fill some pots with aromatic herbs. Snip a few sprigs for the evening meal or to use in centerpieces.

Take a good look at your outdoor furniture. Looks shabby? It might be time to replace some pieces and paint others. Maybe new cushions or a table umbrella is all you need. How about a hammock?

Dress up the table with a snazzy washable table cloth or festive placemats and napkins. Invest in some fashionable plastic glassware and plates.

Good lighting is important for safety. Enhance the mood with strings of small white lights looped in trees or along fences. Candles are great for outdoor entertaining. Buy some decorative candle holders with wind guards.

Sit back and enjoy your outdoor space. Summer is all too fleeting - make sure it's pretty!