Patios are exposed to the elements, so they can easily suffer from mold and mildew. They can also become the target of pests that look for food, shelter and nesting areas.
Look for patches of what looks like fuzz clinging to cushions, pillows and the underside of your furniture’s umbrella. Discolored mold and mildew should be removed immediately to prevent it from spreading.
Clean It Regularly
Just like other areas of your home, patios need regular cleaning to maintain their beauty and function. Sweeping and mopping will remove the dirt from daily foot traffic and prevent stains and discoloration. It will also eliminate potential tripping hazards and make your furniture more comfortable to sit in.
You can also use a pressure washer to give your patio a thorough cleaning. However, be sure to follow the directions for your equipment and keep it a few inches away from the surface so you don’t damage the paving material or the paint on your furniture. If you want to go a step further, try applying a cleaner designed specifically for patios, such as Simple Green Patio Cleaner. This will remove the deep-seated dirt and prepare the surface for future treatments, such as sealants.
The best time to clean your patio is in the spring before you start using it regularly, and again before putting it away for the winter. During this time, you’ll have more energy and motivation to tackle the project, and you’ll be able to enjoy your newly-clean patio while you’re working on it.
It’s recommended that you sweep the patio at least once a week and mop it at least twice per month with warm soapy water. There are also products that are specially made for patios, but you should always check the label to make sure they’re compatible with your paving material. Also, always test a new solution on a small, hidden area of the patio before using it.
Vinegar can help lift organic stains, such as those from food splatter and pet urine. Mix a 50:50 solution of vinegar and water, apply it to the paved surfaces, and leave it to soak for a few minutes before using a stiff brush to scrub any visible stains. Rinse with clean water, and allow to dry completely before you put any furniture back on the patio.
You can also make the process more convenient by investing in a set of foldable chairs and a table that can be easily stowed when not in use. You can also take the time to wrap any fabric cushions and pillows in plastic bags or old blankets for protection during storage. Be sure to also store any glass or metal items in a safe, dry place.
Whether your patio is made from wood, brick, concrete or some other material, it needs to be protected from the elements. While most outdoor furnishings are tough enough to withstand the rain, sleet and snow, prolonged exposure to sunlight and other weather conditions can cause them to degrade over time. Regular cleaning and a good sealant can help prolong the life of your furniture and keep it looking good.
Before you apply a patio sealant, make sure to read the manufacturer’s care guidelines carefully. Many of these will specify which cleaners and cleaning methods to use, as well as which ones to avoid. Using the wrong cleaners or applying them incorrectly can damage your furniture and void any existing warranties.
Most manufacturers recommend a water-based acrylic sealer for patios, as it is durable, low cost and non-yellowing. It is also breathable, allowing moisture vapor to escape. If you prefer a less shiny look, there are also penetrating sealers that will give the same level of protection.
It’s important to power wash your patio before you apply a new coat of sealer, as this will remove any dirt and grime that may have settled in the cracks of your patio bricks. You should also sweep the area thoroughly to make sure you get rid of any loose or broken pieces. It’s also a good idea to sweep up any sand that has accumulated between the individual patio bricks and add more if necessary.
If your patio has a wide gap between it and your house, a rubber strip is an inexpensive solution that can last up to 12 years. Caulking is another option, but it’s best combined with a rubber sealant to prevent moisture absorption.
Keeping your patio in good condition can take some effort, but the results are worth it. If you follow these simple tips, your patio can look new and beautiful for years to come.
If you don’t have the time or energy to maintain your own patio, hire a professional. They will clean and seal the patio, as well as provide other services such as landscaping, gardening and pool maintenance.
Inspect It After Heavy Weather
When heavy gusts of wind or severe rain hit, they can damage your patio or ruin furniture. To prevent this from happening, move furniture into a protected area before storms hit. A garage or shed is a good option. If you cannot take your furniture inside, wrap cushions and pillows in plastic sacks or in old blankets to protect them from moisture.
After a storm hits, you should also inspect your patio for damage. In addition to checking the ledger (a piece of framing that attaches the deck to your home), you should probe for signs of rot around the posts, railings, and joists. If you see rot, make repairs as soon as possible to keep the structure safe for use.
It is also a good idea to examine the area for trip hazards. These include cracks wider than a quarter inch and areas where the sidewalk slopes upward more than half an inch. It is also important to check for signs of drainage problems, such as standing water. These can be corrected by making sure there is a downspout nearby, and that the gutter system is functioning correctly.
Another common problem with outdoor furnishings is mildew and mold. These can be hard to spot, especially when the growth is a sickly shade of white, gray, black or brown. If you spot these spores, wash your furniture with warm soapy water or a commercial solution that is compatible with the material of your patio.
As with dirt and grime, mold and mildew are easier to remove if they are caught early, before they have a chance to spread. You can spray fungicide or rub the surface with ammonia mixture or a mild bleach solution to kill it and keep it from returning.
Finally, before the weather turns cold, it is a good idea to inspect your patio one last time. This is a great time to look for damage to the ledger, as well as check for the presence of critters looking for shelter. A general maintenance plan that includes keeping food and garbage away from the patio can help deter these pests, as will ensuring that plants are kept trimmed and healthy.
Inspect It During the Winter
The cooler weather of fall is a good time to think about winterizing your patio. Keeping it in good condition can help protect your furniture, keep pests away and allow for smooth operation once the warmer weather returns.
To begin with, remove any cushions or fabric from your furniture and give them a thorough cleaning before storing or covering them. Depending on the material, this might mean brushing and vacuuming or a washing with mild soap and water. Be sure to allow the furniture and cushions to dry completely before putting them away or covering them. Moisture left on furniture can lead to mold or mildew which will be difficult to remove once cold weather sets in.
If you have a deck, inspect it for signs of rot, particularly around posts and railings. The ledger is a critical piece of framing that attaches the deck to your house, so be sure to check it thoroughly. If you notice any cracks or damage, repair them as soon as possible.
Sweep the patio of leaves, sticks and other debris regularly to keep it free from damage. A stiff bristle brush or outdoor broom can be used to ensure a thorough cleaning. If you have a wood or composite deck, it may be wise to reseal it now as well.
Consider changing your seating arrangement for the winter. For example, if you have an open patio area with a table and chairs, you might want to add a comfortable bench or loveseat for additional seating during the colder months. In addition, it’s a good idea to add some extra lighting to your patio for the winter. For instance, hanging some string lights can help create a cozy atmosphere and add a touch of elegance to your patio.
Taking care of your home patio will not only make it look nicer but also increase its lifespan and help reduce your energy bills. By following these simple tips, you can enjoy your patio throughout the winter and have it ready to go when the warm season arrives again.