Patio & Deck Safety – Maintenance Tips

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Published: July 22, 2021 Last Updated: July 22, 2021

Backyard Wood Deck Top View

Whether you are soaking up that summer sunshine on your outdoor patio, or preparing your deck to withstand a harsh winter, there are a few steps you need to take to keep your patio safe and looking great.

  1. Examine your deck sealant every few years to make sure it is still functioning effectively. Especially true for wood patios, if you see water is being absorbed, rather than being repelled by the boards, it is time to re-seal your deck. Effective sealant also prevents wood rot.
  2. Don’t over-wash your patio. Power washing should only be performed every few years as it can wear away at your sealant and can damage the sand stabilizing your pavers.
  3. Lighting and Electrical maintenance should be performed yearly to keep your patio well-lit and free of safety hazards. If your lights are under performing, before you replace the bulbs try cleaning the lenses! Often times dim light is the result of a dirty fixture.

Patio decks are typically constructed of wood panels, or stone pavers that are laid out in sequence and secured in place by sand. To ensure the beauty and longevity of your patio, pay close attention to your deck’s sealant and washing schedule. No matter what material your patio is comprised of, a proper sealant will ensure easy and effective maintenance. Remember, even the most effective sealants wear over time, and should be re-applied every few years.

Wood Decks – Sealers & Washing

Wood decks, if not properly sealed, will expose your wood to the elements and leave your deck susceptible to water damage. Water damage will be the ultimate downfall of a wooden patio deck. Excessive exposure to water can lead to wood rot, which challenges the structural integrity of your patio. In turn, it can also warp and shrink the boards causing gaps and uneven surfaces that can be potential safety hazards.

Wood deck boards

So how can you tell if your deck sealant needs to be re-applied or if there is wood rot present? Here are a few quick troubleshooting tips:

  1. To test your deck sealant, simply sprinkle some water onto it and observe if the water beads or if it seeps into the wood. If water is readily absorbed by the wood, it’s time to reseal the deck!
  • To check for rot, take a screwdriver and attempt to penetrate the wood’s surface. If the wood is soft and spongey, breaks or splinters, or you can easily penetrate ¼- ½ inch without significant force, decay or rot may be present. You can prevent rot from an effective and well-maintained sealant, but if it’s too late and the rot is already present you will need to remove and replace the effected boards. Pay close attention to areas around handrails or stairs as these areas are harder to seal and therefore are more prone to rot!

Since wood decks are especially vulnerable to water damage, you shouldn’t go overboard on the washing! The best and only time you should power wash your deck is every few years, before you re-apply your sealant.  In the meantime, you can gently wash your deck with a standard garden hose when there is visible grime present.

Pavers – Sealers & Washing

Unlike wooden patios, stone pavers don’t necessarily require a sealant, however it can prevent the pavers from staining, discoloring, and aging. Pavers are often filled in with poly-sand, which is a polymer-enhanced sand that is engineered to disperse evenly and is used to stabilize paver joints. If poly-sand in installed properly, it can also prevent weeds and burrowing insects. Poly-sand should be removed and replaced every 2-5 years. For those that prefer a sealant on their pavers, this is also an ideal time to reseal your patio.

Paver patio, wicker chairs, fireplace

Again, it is not recommended to be over-zealous when it comes to washing pavers. Power washers should only be used every few years as they can easily damage the sand stabilizing your pavers and wear the stone surface away. If you are noticing a buildup of grime, it is recommended to wash your paver patio once a year with a soft garden hose and a mild plant-safe detergent.

No matter what type of patio you are maintaining, remember that areas that are heavily trafficked or are constantly exposed to water are going to require more frequent care and maintenance.

Patio Lighting & Electrical Maintenance

To ensure the safety and functionality of your lighting, outdoor electrical check-ups should be performed yearly. You should confirm that all electrical outlets, features, and appliances are up to code and in proper working order. If you have children, it is also advised to child-proof any potential electrical hazards.

Upgrading your burned-out lamps and bulbs is an easy way to keep your patio safe and well-lit! If you are in the process of replacing your lighting, consider HID or LED lamps. Not only are these lamps energy saving, but they have the longest lifetime of any other bulb on the market which means they don’t need to be replaced as often. If you find that you are burning through bulbs pretty quickly, consider setting your lights to a timer or motion sensor to eliminate excessive use.

When replacing lamps and bulbs, take care to examine the fixtures for rust or corrosion. If you notice excessive corrosion, it is likely a sign that the mechanical integrity of the fixture has been compromised and needs replacement.

Did you just replace your bulbs but notice the lights are still under performing? Chances are your fixture or lens just needs a little bit of TLC! Start with the lens cover and clean both sides thoroughly. If possible, try to reach the internal reflectors and remove any dirt that has collected.

If you notice your light fixtures are collecting dirt at an usually high rate, this could be a sign that the gaskets are not performing up to code.  Check your gaskets to ensure they are working as intended, it may be time to replace them!

By incorporating these simple maintenance tips, you can ensure that your patio is safe and ready for the whole family to enjoy.

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