Wood deck makeover in a weekend

Love the look of a new wood deck when its first finished but now that time has passed, you can’t even recognize it?  Even if your deck is old and looking a little sad, for a little time and a $30 can of stain/wood protector, it can really take on a new life.  Keep in mind as you are reading that this same process can be done with fences, wood trellis, wood patio furniture etc.

Before we start the how to, lets take a look at what happens to wood that is left exposed to the elements without waterproofing over time; dirt and algae build up in the wood grains making the wood appear as if its a lost cause.  Left unchecked, this actually decreases the lifespan on your wood.  Don’t rip it up just yet!

Take a look at this deck before…it is nearly black!

Step 1:  Pressure wash

If you have access to a pressure washer, borrow one from a friend or neighbor.  If you think you’d like to have one to keep at home for odd projects, you can find a pretty reasonably priced electric psi model for around $200.  These do a fine job of cleaning wood decking, fencing, siding and concrete around your home; the higher psi and gas models are stronger but why pay the extra money for a home model that serves its purpose?

After pressure washing the wood, let the wood completely dry before proceeding to the next step.

Take a look at this photo to see how the dirt and grime virtually disappear with the pressure washer:

Deck after it is fully pressure washed:

 

Step 2:  Stain/Waterproofer

I like Behr’s Stainer and Sealer in one.  Using a nylon brush or rough surface roller, roll out the stain over the deck.

The sealer will take several hours to fully dry.  Once it is dry, water should “bead” right up on the wood and you are left feeling like you have a new deck again.  Repeat every couple of years so that the wood is always protected from the elements and it will greatly extend the life of your deck.

Step 3:  Rearrange pots, add some colorful flowers and wah-lah!  It looks like an entirely new deck!

Spring Exterior Preventative Maintenance for your Home

Spring weather is a perfect time to get outside and walk around the entire perimeter of your home to check for any signs of needed maintenance.  Houses “settle” over time and are constantly in a state of movement, believe it or not.  It is common for caulk joints to deteriorate over time and a lot of us take it for granted that certain small, but very important areas such as caulking are “out of sight, out of mind”.    Its much easier and less expensive to replace caulk in order to prevent larger and more expensive issues later.  Wood rot and excessive movement however may indicate larger issues that need to be dealt with.

Check for the following:

1) Foundation

Check for any insect intrusion coming into your brick’s weep holes, any cracking of the slab, or soil separation.   Make sure vegetation, mulch and dirt stay at least 4-6″ below the top of your slab

2) Windows

Check your window’s caulking.  An inexpensive tube of caulk goes a long way to keep your windows air and water tight.

3)  Wood trim and siding

Check for any signs of wood rot, mildew or gapping due to settlement.    In our case, Spring brought an overactive squirrel that chewed right through one of our trim boards to take up residence in our attic!  Use binoculars if you need to see the higher points better

4)  Hose Bibs and other Exterior penetrations

Check the seals around any exterior penetrations; again, good seals and caulking help prevent insect intrusion, water issues and the like.

If you are not up to the challenge of getting up on a ladder for 2 story homes, most painter type contractors should not charge a lot for this type of caulking or small wood replacement maintenance.

As always, I am here to help with any questions you have.  Enjoy your Spring!

Quick and easy makeover for your front entryway for under $100

First impressions are lasting impressions.    At first glance, it may not seem like there is anything wrong with this entrance.  Upon closer inspection however, I found a rusting hollow metal door, chipped paint, brick covered with vines, mismatched door hardware and a tired light fixture.

Still have a little painting to do, but this should give you an idea of the changes you can achieve with a few simple items and a free weekend:

1)  Remove the vines-Cost $0  (time to complete: 2 days)

The vines are no doubt very attractive and give a formal look, but they are also very damaging to your mortar and are  haven for bugs. Once removed, I pressure washed the brick so the brick’s rich colors would shine through the dust and grime that had accumulated over the years.

2)  Fresh paint- Cost $15  (time to complete 1 1/2 hours)

In this instance, I decided on a color change.  I went from a forest green to a deep red rose color in a quart of Behr’s paint and primer in one.  I added some colorful plants in the pots that flank the entrance that compliment the new red.

3)  New door hardware, door knocker and kickplate-Cost $55  (time to complete: 1 hour)

Because I am trying to maintain a historical feel for this property, I decided on the oil rubbed bronze.  The kick plate concealed the rusting blemish at the bottom of the door while also adding a sense of sophistication to the entrance.

4)  New entry light-Cost $25 (time to complete: 30 minutes)

Same as the door hardware, I found a carriage style light fixture on oil rubbed bronze to place above the front door.

Welcome in!