Specialty Items

Preparing your deck or patio for winter

by Kidron Vinyl on 2018-10-17 15:47:16

Fall in the midwest is a beautiful season, so you might not be ready to put the patio furniture away just yet. After all, a bit of sunshine can make a chilly fall day feel much warmer than it really is, so a light jacket and a steaming cup of coffee or hot chocolate might be all you need to enjoy your deck or patio a while longer. But even if you're not ready to pack up your outdoor living space, those sunny fall days are the best days to get things cleaned since the sun helps dry things after cleaning. And taking some steps now—even if it means leaving your furniture out a while longer—means you'll have a lot less work to do in the spring.

Cleaning outdoor furniture

To clean your furniture, it's important to first remove any debris, as well as coverings or cushions.

Poly or plastic furniture: Fill a bucket with mild dish soap and warm water and scrub the furniture with a soft sponge or rag, or use a soft bristle brush such as a toothbrush for hard-to-reach places. Depending on the manufacturer's recommendations, mold and mildew stains may be able to be removed with a one-to-four bleach/water solution. However, even diluted bleach can cause discoloration on some materials and is generally not recommended for white plastic furniture, so even if the manufacturer recommends bleach, it's a good idea to test it on an inconspicuous area first. Another effective way to remove mold is to use a diluted vinegar solution.

Metal or wrought-iron furniture:The challenge with metal and wrought-iron furniture is rust, so before you clean it, inspect the furniture for rust spots. Rust can be removed using steel wool or a wire brush, and then the furniture can be cleaned with a mild dish soap and water solution.

Wicker furniture: Just like plastic and metal furniture, all that's really needed to clean wicker furniture is a mild soap and water solution. Wicker furniture can be a little more difficult to clean when it's dirty due to its woven texture, but a soft bristle brush will help remove trapped dirt and debris. A vinegar and water solution can help combat mildew.

Fabric umbrellas, cushions, and pillows: The fabric in these materials adds depth and comfort to your outdoor living space, but often the fabric is susceptible to mold, mildew, and water stains. The best way to clean outdoor fabrics is to use a solution of mild dish soap and water. Scrubbing the fabric with a soft bristle brush can help remove stubborn stains and mildew.

No matter the material, make sure to thoroughly rinse each item with a hose and let it dry in the sun. Before putting any outdoor furniture away for the winter, make sure it is completely dry.

Storing outdoor furniture

If possible, it's best to store outdoor furniture in a covered area such as a garage, basement, shed, or other storage area until spring. If that's not possible, covering the furniture will help protect it from relentless winter elements. Outdoor furniture covers are even good to use if you are storing the furniture in a garage or shed, since the covers will help keep it from collecting dust.

Cleaning decks and railings

Before cleaning any deck, make sure to remove all debris with a broom or a leaf blower. In fact, even if you don't plan on cleaning your entire deck before winter, removing organic debris is imperative in keeping your deck free of stains and discoloration. Vinyl or composite decks, as well as vinyl railings, can be cleaned with a solution of mild dish soap and water or—depending on the manufacturer's recommendations—a commercial deck cleaner that is appropriate to use on vinyl or composite materials. For areas where surface mold is difficult to remove, (again, depending on the manufacturer's recommendations), a one-to-four bleach/water solution may be used. Even if the manufacturer recommends a particular cleaner, it's still best to test the cleaner in an inconspicuous area prior to cleaning.

To clean hard-to-reach places between vinyl railings, a toothbrush works well. Larger, non-abrasive nylon bristle brushes can be used on composite decks to remove ground-in dirt or stubborn mold. Rinse thoroughly with a hose, and let the deck dry completely before moving anything back onto it.

Aluminum railings can also be cleaned with—you guessed it—a mild soap and water solution and a soft sponge, rag, or soft-bristle brush. Abrasives can scratch aluminum, and solvents should be avoided.

Preparing the grill for winter

If you're not planning on using your grill through the winter, make sure to thoroughly clean it following your last use. To make the inside easier to clean, leave the grill on high heat for about 15-20 minutes. Once it cools, clean the cooking grates, burners, and other inside surfaces, and then empty the drip tray. Outside surfaces should also be cleaned if necessary. If the grill will be stored on an uncovered deck or patio for the winter, a grill cover will help protect it from the elements. The propane tank can remain connected to the grill, but make sure it is completely shut off prior to covering it. If the grill will be stored in a garage, basement, or other storage area, remember to leave the propane tank outside, since it's unsafe to store it indoors.

Getting your deck or patio ready for winter may not sound like the most enjoyable way to spend a sunny fall day, but putting the extra time in now will be worth it on the first gorgeous day next spring when it's time to get everything back out!

preparing your deck or patio for winter

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Preparing your deck or patio for winter
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