Your Guide to Maintaining Outdoor Structures

February 28, 2018 Mike Holmes

A lot of homeowners don’t think about their outdoor structures too often. I’m talking about your sheds, decks, fences, or pools. But the fact is, these structures are part of your home and need the same maintenance and care that you need to give to your house. Ignoring your regular maintenance can end up costing you big in the long-term, or worse - lead to an avoidable accident.

Always keep an eye out for signs of water damage like mold and rot. Rotted wood needs to be replaced, because it compromises the strength of the structure.

 

Sheds

Your shed is probably full of valuable tools, so it’s worth maintaining. But leaky sheds won’t protect those tools for very long. You can look for evidence of moisture damage by looking at your shed from the inside. If the roof is made of wood, look for signs of water damage on the ceiling and corners. For metal roofs, your clue is rust around the nails. For shingled roofs, look from the outside - make sure those shingles are all properly secured!

Keep an eye on any trees near your sheds. Overhanging branches can break and damage the roof, so trim back any branches over your shed that are starting to look dead. Too much shade can even lead to problems with mold, rot, and algae.

 

Decks

There’s no avoiding it - your deck is constantly at war with Mother Nature. It just doesn’t get the same protection that your house does from its building envelope, so you need to take care of your regular maintenance. I read about too many deck accidents every year that could have been avoided with a keen eye and some proper care.

Check the condition of your deck every spring before you start using it - and again at the end of the season. Don’t host any backyard parties until you know it’s safe!

There are the obvious signs to look for: wear and tear of any of the wooden components or rust and corrosion on metal hardware. Look for missing or loose connections along stairs, railings, joists, and boards - and pay special attention to your ledger board. This is the board that runs along the side of your structure, attaching the deck to your house. It provides most of your deck’s strength, so if it’s starting to come loose, you could find your deck collapsing. Most deck collapses occur when that ledger board fails. Don’t let it.

If your deck is looking a little grimy, dirty or moldy, you can clean those stains by applying Concrobium House & Deck Wash. Concrobium cleans your wooden surfaces without bleach or harmful chemicals, and can help you lift out those mold and mildew stains to restore your deck to its former glory.

If you’re not sure what exactly to look for, a licensed home inspector can perform a routine deck inspection to help you find any trouble areas. In fact, if your deck is over five years old, it should be professionally inspected, and then every three years after that.

 

Fences

Your fence takes the same beating that your deck does - and all that harsh weather can wear down the structure. If you stain and seal the wood, you can slow down that wear and tear and keep your fence standing taller for longer. For fences that receive a lot more direct sunlight, you may need to stain them more often.

With humidity and harsh winter conditions, you’ll find that the wood in your fence will start to sag, lean, or warp. This is normal - but be prepared to change a plank now and then to keep it looking right.

 

Pools

I love my pool, and it brings a lot of value to my home. But it takes a lot of maintenance to keep it in good condition. Ignoring that is going to cost you big bucks in the long run.

Take a good look at your pool deck. Do you see any cracks? Now look at the liner. Are there any leaks? These are signs it’s high time to call a pool professional.

Concrete will shift and heave with the freeze and thaw cycle, so cracks are bound to happen. Rubber surfacing like Duraroc makes a great solution for worn pool decks, and it’s even resistant to mold and mildew. Better still, the rubber is a non-slip surface, which is ideal in a pool area. It’s flexible enough to move with the concrete so you don’t have to worry about cracking.

A leaky liner needs to be removed and replaced, because when water gets behind the pool lining, you’ll start to see rust in your pool wall. This is a job that can take up to four weeks, but it has to be done - even if it means shutting down your pool during the peak season.

The best time to think about pool maintenance is at the end of the summer season. Having a professional inspect the pool at the end of the season will give you the time you need to plan ahead and budget for any necessary maintenance you’ll need to perform the next year. Nothing ruins a long weekend like being blindsided by some necessary maintenance.

 

By performing regular maintenance on your outdoor structures, you’ll be able to avoid unnecessary repairs and enjoy them for the entirety of their useful life.

About the Author

Mike Holmes, professional contractor and TV host, is working with Associa to refine the standards and protocols that today’s Homeowner’s Associations use to Make It Right™ for their homeowners. He brings more than 35 years of experience in renovations, construction, and inspection services, and is best known as the contractor and host of “Holmes on Homes” and “Holmes Makes It Right” where he rescues homeowners from repair and renovation disasters.

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