With school out of session and the weather heating up, my eyes, ears and stomach are turning toward the outdoors. I have been paying more attention to our yard, and the sounds of the geckos and birds outside. My cravings are no longer for slow-cooked stews, but instead for grilled meats on the barbecue.

My husband Scott and I are spending more time outdoors as well. When we dine out, we look for restaurants with al fresco options. At home, we’ve dusted off our outdoor dining table and spend more time out there than anywhere else.


It turns out that we are not alone. My brother-in-law recently moved into a new home with his fiancée. Their first order of business: Get the wooden deck ready for outdoor summer fun. If you also are getting your wooden deck in order, keep in mind some of these guidelines for cleaning and sealing:

First, make sure you start with a good base. Take a look at the boards and sand any splinters with 80-grit sandpaper, sanding in the direction of the grain. Replace nails with deck screws, as needed, and repair any damaged boards. Sweep off as much debris as you can. Then, use a putty knife to get any debris caught in the small spaces between boards.

Next, use a pressure washer to give the wood a good scrubbing. If you don’t own one yourself, you can rent one from a hardware store. If your deck is anything but new, you will probably want to use deck cleaner as well. You can use a mixture of diluted bleach or purchase cleaner from the store that is formulated for decks. Just make sure to cover up plants and siding, and remove furniture surrounding the area before you begin. You can apply the cleaner with the pressure washer, or a paint roller with extension handle. Follow manufacturer instructions for applying the cleaner properly, soaking and drying as instructed.


For sealing, you will want to make sure that your deck needs it before you proceed. To do this, sprinkle some water on the wood and observe what happens. If the water soaks in, the deck should be sealed. If it beads up, you can probably hold off.

Make sure your deck is completely dry before applying sealer. Follow manufacturer instructions for best results. If possible, apply the sealer when your deck is under at least partial shade. This will help to ensure the sealer does not dry too quickly. Use a paint roller with extension handle for large areas, and a paintbrush for smaller spots.

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