Outdoor Remodeling

Outdoor entertaining is one of the joys of warmer weather, but before you fire up the grill, take a look at your deck. Just like your yard, home or pool, your deck needs regular maintenance, especially before heavy-use seasons. Here's a step-by-step guide to getting your deck splinter-free and looking great.

Clean. If your deck is already fairly clean, clearing off dirt and mildew may only require a simple bleach solution. Lichen and sun bleaching may mean a deeper cleaning is necessary.

Pressure wash. Once the surface has been cleaned, it's time to get out the pressure washer. A quick tip: Avoid using the max setting as it can damage the wood, so check the manufacturer's pressure recommendations.

Repair. It's inevitable that a wooden deck will need some repairs. Check the screws and fasteners regularly and tighten or replace them as necessary. Railings and planks should be able to withstand guests leaning on and bumping into them.

Sand. Nobody likes splinters, so sanding down any rough edges is a must. An electric sander is a great tool for taking care of high-traffic areas, but you may need to manually sand trickier spots.

Stain. A fresh coat of stain proves an easy way to refresh a dull, gray deck. Always make sure to pick the right stain for the job -- not all wood stain is appropriate for outdoor use. And plan your staining path; it's easy to paint yourself into a corner.

Finally, for those of you who have a composite deck, double-check your products. Using the wrong cleaner or stains may damage your deck permanently.