Birmingham, is your deck or patio ready for the summer?

Christina Lowry James
Published on June 16, 2017

Birmingham, is your deck or patio ready for the summer?

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In the Birmingham metro area, we are lucky enough to get to use our decks and patios more than most of the country. If you love entertaining outdoors during these glorious warm months, you should give your decks and patios special attention every season. Seasonal maintenance is a must for a long lasting, safe and sturdy, beautifully inviting deck or patio.

Safety First

Remember safety first! Lawyer, Jere Beasley, in his 2015 blog reports on two incidents in the Birmingham area of deck collapses causing serious injuries. Tragedies like these can be avoided by getting your deck inspected. The NADRA suggests you have your deck inspected annually for any signs of trouble, like rotted wood, rusted hardware, or loose structure. Anthony Westbrook of Westbrook Homes conducts over 500 inspections a year in the Birmingham area. He says that the most common safety concerns he observes with patios, decks and porches alike would be handrail and guardrail openings. Openings larger than 4 inches becomes unsafe for children since they can easily squeeze through the opening and fall off. Guards are required for open-sided walking surfaces greater than 30 inches above the floor or ground.

Another issue that is the cause for many deck collapses is simply age and deterioration. Some of these structures are not being maintained and others are being put up or added onto without regard to building codes. The NRDRA recommends inspecting decks annually. The proper maintenance of a deck includes tightening or replacing loose screws and bolts, removing splinters, sealing the wood against the elements to prevent rot and decay, reinforcing anchors and bolts that hold the deck to the permanent structure, and replacing warped or damaged boards. All of these things are the responsibility of the property owner. If your deck overlooks the valley atop Birmingham’s Shades Crest or is two stories off the ground in Riverchase, heed the warning and take no chances with deck safety.

 Do sweat the small stuff

Preservation is the key to longevity, especially in the Birmingham’s deep south. It is recommended that decks are cleaned and trees and shrubs are trimmed away from the decks or porches annually. An unwashed deck and a deposit of decomposing leaves is an invitation to mold and mildew, which can cause rot. After sweeping your deck and clearing the cracks, it is important to clean the wood. Once the deck is clean, one of the best ways to protect your outdoor wood surfaces is to use a high-quality, oil-based wood preservative. Using an oil-based wood preservative with ultraviolet inhibitors keeps your deck surfaces looking newer longer.

Give your patio furniture a thorough inspection, also.  First, check to make sure that nothing appears unsafe or damaged. Then, check the bolts and screws. Lubricate and tighten any that need it. A buildup of dirt, debris, and Birmingham pollen dulls the finish and shortens the life of patio furniture. Use a damp cloth to wipe off “the gunk.” If the accumulation requires more work, use a few drops of dish soap in a bucket of water, and a scrub brush. Depending on how long it’s been between cleanings, you may need to blast the furniture with a power washer. Don’t forget after washing, for moving parts and hinges, a couple of squirts of a lubricant, such as WD-40 or an all-purpose oil serves as a preventative for deterioration and quiets the squeaks.

Cleaning patio furniture stinks

You also owe it to your pocketbook to protect and preserve your decks and patio, but what about your patio furniture? Patio furniture is also susceptible to mildew and grime. You want your porch or deck furniture to beckon you, not repel you because it is full of muck.  According to the Alabama Allergy & and Asthma Center, pollen season is nearly every month in Birmingham with only a few months off in the winter for clear air.  This presents a continuous challenge for those of us that love our decks and porches. You could wash the dirt and grime away before every seating or you could just invest in an attractive patio storage box and furniture covers. These covers will also come in handy when summer comes to a close. Patio furniture can maintain its beauty from year to year if you take steps to protect it during winter.

Tackle the rust on your patio furniture

Birmingham humidity is a familiar guest that comes with summer. We may get used to, but it takes a toll on our metal patio furniture. The Family Handyman suggests how to rid the outdoor furniture of rust. Sand, scour or grind.  This method requires that you “use a power tool like a grinder, sander, oscillating tool or drill and that you “keep the tool moving so you don’t gouge the metal,” according to the Family Handyman. This method will remove the paint as well. Next, metal spray paint will make it look like new again.

Where to start when shopping for new furniture?

A lovely set of patio furniture can really make the deck sing and call you out all summer long. If you have lived with the same old deck furniture, an upgrade may be your best option, but make sure you know what to look for. First, you need to know how to get rid of your old furniture. This could include listing it on the Birmingham Craigslist, Facebook group, or sending old metal furniture to the recycling center.

Deciding on the material for your new furniture can be based on aesthetics, but you should also consider the function of the pieces and the environment these pieces will be placed.

Metal

Metal is the most durable of the outdoor furniture. It can withstand more exposure to weather and is easily cleaned. As long as it is taken care of, metal furniture can last years, even in humidity in Birmingham. With metal, you have the option of the heavier iron or lighter aluminum. Aluminum would work best for furniture you plan to move around but iron is the best choice for furniture you want to stay put. Steel is another option for metal patio furniture, it is the strongest but also the heaviest and most expensive.

Plastic

Plastic does not have the reputation of being the most sophisticated material for patio furniture. Aside from the colorful, affordable, and playful options, there are also wood alternative options that are great for classic Adirondack and rocking chairs to bring the beachy feel to Birmingham. Plastic furniture is weather resistant and incredibly light weight.

Wood

Wood may not sound like the best material for the humid Birmingham climate, but if chosen thoughtfully, wood can be resistant to insects, decay, and water. Teak is one of the best woods for outdoor furniture for its water resistance and beauty. It was a very distinct smooth texture and red/golden tone.

© Christina James and BirminghamHomeAgents.com, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Christina James and BirminghamHomeAgents.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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