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New Year’s Resolutions: Five Home Maintenance Tasks to Achieve This Year

A Toast!As any purveyor of fencing or decking materials can tell you, these structures often get overlooked when it comes to New Year’s resolutions. Yet caring for cedar decking and fencing properly is an essential part of making these outdoor investments last as long as possible.

The following is a list of suggested resolutions to help ensure the ongoing health of your fencing and decking materials.

1. Perform a Cedar Decking Safety Check

The Home Safety Council has stated that at least half of the 40 million decks in America are in danger of collapsing. Because the government doesn’t track statistics on how often decking materials collapse, it is difficult to pinpoint just how many individuals are injured or killed by unsafe decking. Still, other groups have attempted to research this troubling construction danger. According to the North American Deck and Railing Association, almost 2,000 people were hurt and 30 more were killed by deck collapses between 2000 and 2006. In other words, checking your cedar decking for safety hazards isn’t just a smart resolution – it could save your family members from serious injury or even death.

Follow these basic steps to conduct a safety check of your cedar decking:

Inspect support mechanisms. Look at the posts and beams that support your deck. Tap them with a metal tool to check for dry rot. Also, keep an eye out for splitting wood, and feel for any abnormal movement in the supports. If you do discover rotting, splitting wood or moving components, contact a local decking professional for advice.

Examine the ledger board. The ledger board, where the deck connects to the house, is one of the most common zones for structural failure. Check out your ledger board by looking for loose or missing bolts. Immediately contact a decking contractor if you find problematic connections.

Perform a sweep of the deck surface. As you comb your entire deck, check all fasteners such as screws or nails for corrosion or rust. Make sure all rails and guards are sturdy and strong, as well.

Make sure your decking materials are up to code. Call in a decking professional or city representative to conduct a safety check and ensure that your deck meets local regulations.

2. Reseal Cedar Fence Materials

When left to rot in the heavy Pacific Northwest rains, cedar fence materials take on a silvery, mossy look that some people may find attractive. Unfortunately, when you leave your cedar fence materials exposed to the elements like that, they’ll also deteriorate much more quickly.

If, on the other hand, you hope to maintain the original glow of your cedar fence, you’ll need to reseal it regularly – about once a year. And as long as you’re resealing the fence, why not reseal your cedar decking materials as well? In wet climates such as the Pacific Northwest, the health of your wood deck and fence require consistent resealing.

3. Add a Patio Cover

If you family needs more space, consider adding a patio cover. By creating an outdoor oasis that’s sheltered from storms, a patio cover expands your livable outdoor space. A patio cover also makes the winter months feel less depressing because you and your family get to enjoy the outdoors even when it’s cold and wet out. (For even more enjoyment of your patio cover, add a deck heater.)

4. Nourish your Deck Furniture

Is your patio furniture looking a little dilapidated? If so, give it a little TLC. Sand away any rust that’s accumulated on cast and wrought iron items; apply a fresh coat of paint once all rust has been eliminated. Clean wood furniture with a white vinegar dilution; once it’s clean, stain and seal each piece, just as you would cedar decking or fencing. Clean moldy outdoor fabrics with a bleach solution. Wicker furniture may require a good blast from a pressure cleaner, while molded plastic furniture will look like new if you wash it with water and soap, let it dry and apply a layer of car wax.

5. Add an Underdeck Draining System

Installing a second-story deck creates additional outdoor space, including a sheltered lower deck area. However, too often the upper deck leaks, turning the lower space into a mucky, muddy mess. Even if your deck is only slightly raised, there’s a good chance that the area underneath it attracts critters and creates drainage problems. An underdeck can solve these problems. Basically, an underdeck is molded vinyl that has been designed to exactly fit your deck. It drains away water like a dream, while also preventing bees and wasps from setting up shop underneath your deck.

[ Photo by: ckelly, on Flickr, via CC License ]

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