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Quick DIY Projects Before the First Freeze

By Brian Kline | October 2, 2019

Much of the southern US is still enjoying sunshine and temperatures in the 70s and 80s. But many northern areas are already seeing freezing or will soon have overnight lows below freezing. These locations are quickly running out of time to finish outdoor preparations for winter weather.

frozen flower

Hopefully you’ve taken care of the tough chores like climbing ladders to clean the roof, gutters, and seal the chimney. Now it’s time for easier tasks down at ground level. There are several quick projects you can take care of that will save you money by protecting outdoor surfaces in preparation for winter and so that everything is in good shape next spring.

Reseal Outdoor Surfaces

Driving rain, wind, snow, and freezing temperatures wreak havoc on outdoor surfaces when you let them. Smaller projects would be cleaning and resealing a birdhouse, or decorative treasures around your property. Bigger projects would be doing the same for a deck or gazebo. If you don’t have much experience, starting with a smaller project would be the wise choice.

Here are the steps for resealing a deck. For most climates, it’s a good idea to reseal your deck about every other year.

  1. Sweep the deck. Obviously, you want to sweep off all leafs, small twigs, and other debris. Pay particular attention to twigs and debris lodged between the boards. You may need to use a screwdriver or other tool to pry out what’s stuck in those spaces.
  2. Scrub the wood. There are several cleaning solutions on the market that quickly clean off dirt, mildew, and algae. You can talk to a customer representative at your local home center about what solution is recommended for you area. A good DIY mixture is ½ bleach and ½ water. Don’t use straight bleach. For larger decks, you might want to consider renting a pressure washer. You can run a cleaning solution through the pressure washer to take care of this task quickly. A pressure washer also makes it easier to clean between the cracks. After cleaning with a solution, rinse all of the surfaces thoroughly with clean water. Allow to dry complexly for a few days before applying any finishes.
  3. Apply stain and/or sealant. If you want to maintain a clear finish, you can go straight to applying a clear coat sealant. Again, a local home center will recommend the best sealant for your climate and location. Make sure the wood is completely dry before applying. Most sealants are easily applied with a roller, brush, or power spray paint machine. Typically, a brush works best to get sealant down between the boards. Also, think about a fresh coat of sealant on the underside of the boards every few years is you want your deck to last the longest.

You might want to consider applying some color but this is more time consuming, especially if a previous sealant has been applied. If a previous sealant has been applied, it must be completely removed with a chemical stripper, sanding, or both. If the original sealant isn’t removed, the color coat won’t soak in. After removing the old sealant, follow the cleaning instructions in step 2 again before applying a final sealant over the color coat.

Time to Put Things Away

It’s all about the changing weather this time of year. You probably still have lawn furniture out. Now is the time to give it a last cleaning for the year and store it away out of the coming winter weather. Cleaning it with a mild solution before putting it away will keep it looking good for another summer season. Leaving it out in the winter elements is the fastest way for the finish to fade and look dull and worn next time you go to use it.

The same thing goes for your grill, gardening tools, lawnmower, and other outdoor belongings that you’ll want looking good for the next warm weather season. If you don’t have a garage or shed to store them in, cover these with tarps before the winter winds, rain, and snow flies. Be sure to tie down the tarps so that they don’t end up in your neighbor’s yard when the first storm blows in.

Please leave a comment about your own DIY projects and experiences or if you have questions/comments about this article. Also, our weekly Ask Brian column welcomes questions from readers of all experience levels with residential real estate. Please email your questions, inquiries, or article ideas to [email protected].

Brian Kline has been investing in real estate for more than 30 years and writing about real estate investing for seven years with articles listed on Yahoo Finance, Benzinga, and uRBN. Brian is a regular contributor at Realty Biz News
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