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Prepare your outdoor deck before the party starts

Keep your deck looking good by repairing, cleaning and staining it each spring. Accent colors add drama.

StatePoint Media Wires

Keep your deck looking good by repairing, cleaning and staining it each spring. Accent colors add drama.

Before family and friends take to your deck or patio for barbecues, parties and other seasonal fun, you need to make sure it's safe and in good shape. While the outdoors can be terrific for fun and relaxation, the elements can wreak havoc on decks, causing old or unprotected wood to warp, crack and grow mold or mildew. And age, moisture and wind can cause railings, flooring or steps to loosen. "Now is the perfect time to take advantage of warmer days to inspect and revitalize your deck," says Susan Uram of Olympic Exterior Stains. "And it shouldn't take you that long if you know what to look for and have the right tools and products on hand." StatePoint Media Wires

Safety first

Inspect your deck, patio or porch for split or rotting wood, loose railings or handrails, and damaged support beams and planking. Repair any structural damage. Replace or hammer in nails or tighten loose screws, bolts and spindles. You'll also want to check outdoor benches, chairs, tables and planters to make sure they are stable.

Apply protection

Deck wood has many small pores that can fill with water and dirt, causing warping, discoloration and splintering. Mold and mildew also damage wood. First, give your deck a facelift by cleaning with a suitable deck cleaner. Then protect it with a high-quality stain, which will penetrate and enhance the beauty of your wood. Be sure to choose appropriate deck cleaners and stains, which clean properly and protect against water, mildew, scuffs and damage from the sun's ultraviolet rays.

"If you're unsure if it's time to stain or seal your deck, pour a small cup of water on a few horizontal surfaces. If water is absorbed in less than 10 minutes, or if the surface color darkens, it's time to stain or seal," says Uram.

Beware of grills

Everything you put on your deck can affect it. Your grill can drip grease, staining or eroding your deck's finish. Position grills carefully, placing a hard rubber mat beneath them. Also be mindful of welcome mats. They can collect moisture, leading to wood damage. Always dry out mats after it rains, allowing the deck's surface to dry before replacing them.

Complement with accents

Liven up your deck by using stains with accent colors on railings, spindles, step risers and treads. Get creative with wooden furniture and accessories. Try staining planters or benches with vibrant colors for a particularly dramatic effect.

For inspiration, you can visit www.olympic.com for a how-to guide for garden DIY projects.

Prepare your outdoor deck before the party starts 03/31/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 31, 2010 5:30am]
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