When it comes to home maintenance, most people overlook their outdoor structures, such as the shed, deck, fence and swimming pool. Consider these structures as an extension of your home; ignoring them during regular maintenance intervals may end up costing you in the long-term.
Any outdoor structure that’s made of wood will need to be properly maintained. Cedar and other pressure-treated woods are the most popular choice for an outdoor structure because they’re very weather resistant. But no matter what wood your structure is made of, always look for signs of water damage, such as mould or rot. Rotted wood will need to be replaced; otherwise, the whole structure could be compromised.
Image courtesy of The Mike Holmes Group
Your shed probably houses some important and valuable items, so why wouldn’t you properly maintain it? If there’s a leaky roof every time it rains, the structure won’t protect your items very well. You can tell if moisture is getting in by looking at the inside of the structure. If it’s made of wood, look for water damage on the ceiling and in the corners. If the roof is metal, check for rust around the nails. With a shingled roof, you’ll need to make sure the shingles are properly secured. Are there overhanging trees near the shed? Overhanging branches can cause precipitation to run off the tree onto the roof. There’s also the risk of the branches breaking and damaging the roof. And too much shade can lead to things like mould, rot and algae.
Your deck is constantly being exposed to the elements. It doesn’t get the same amount of protection your house gets from its building envelope, so regular maintenance is key. Regular deck maintenance and inspections can extend your wood deck’s life by 10-15 years.
But it’s not just about extending the life of your deck; the safety of the structure is what’s most important. I get extremely bothered when I hear about deck accidents because they are always preventable. Ideally, you want to check the condition of your deck in the spring before you start using it, and again at the end of the summer. Make sure it’s safe and secured before you start hosting those barbeques.
Look for any signs of wear and tear – cracking or decay along any wooden components, rust or corrosion on any hardware. Check for missing or loose connections, especially along stairs, railings, joists and deck boarding. If your assessment shows issues, have your deck properly inspected by a pro. A professional inspector will look at all deck connections and fasteners for signs of corrosion. Zinc coated or stainless steel fasteners and connectors are resistant to corrosion so they will add to your deck’s longevity.
An inspector will also examine your deck’s ledger board. The ledger board is the board that runs along the side of the house and attaches the deck to your home. It provides much of the deck’s strength, but it also undergoes the most stress and can become loose over time. Most deck collapses happen when the ledger board fails, which is especially dangerous if the deck is elevated.
Decks are structures that make up part of your home so make sure they’re safe every year, without exception. And properly maintaining your deck will increase its longevity.
Image courtesy of Rinaldi Homes
Like your deck, fences are constantly exposed to harsh weather conditions that can wear out the structure. Properly staining and sealing the wood will slow down that process and keep your fence standing tall for years to come.
There are two types of staining you can use on your wood fence: semitransparent or solid.
Semitransparent stains will protect the fence from harmful UV rays, but will also show a subtle colour while allowing the wood’s natural grain and texture to show through.
Solid stains will give you a rich, opaque colour and will cover the grain of the wood. You can get bright and bold with your fence which, if you’re trying to touch up an older fence that’s showing some wear and tear, may be a better option than going with a semitransparent stain.
Do a quick check in the spring to assess whether or not you’ll need to touch up the fence that year. You’ll find that, if your fence gets a lot of direct sunlight, you may need to restain it more often.
If you have a wooden fence with a wooden gate, chances are one or both will start to sag, lean, warp or twist. With the humidity and harsh climatic conditions, our fences are exposed to each year, it’s only natural for the wood to behave this way. Be prepared to replace the odd plank down the road to keep your fence looking right.
Look Out for Unwanted Guests
Peeling paint and insect nests are a sure sign that your outdoor structure needs maintenance. Also, check for animals that could have made a den underneath the shed. The borrowing can undermine the soil and cause the structure to tip or slant. Check for gaps around doors, and if the structure has windows, check for loose panes and gaps in the window frame. Seal any gaps with caulking; rubberized caulking is best as it’s flexible and will last longer. Check doors and tighten any loose hinges – you don’t want the door to fling open during a storm.
A swimming pool isn’t something you can just put in and forget about. I love pools, but they require a lot of maintenance. And ignoring the maintenance will definitely cost you in the long run. Pay close attention to the pool deck – are there any cracks? And what about the pool liner? Are there any leaks? As soon as you see these warning signs, it’s time to call a pool professional.
When it comes to cracks in the pool deck, you have options. Remember – concrete will shift and heave due to freeze and thaw cycles, so cracking is inevitable. Duraroc is a rubber surfacing material that is an excellent solution for worn pool decks. It’s resistant to mould and mildew and can pretty much cover every surface (except bare metal). It’s a quick install and becomes solid after 24 to 48 hours. The rubber material provides a non-slip surface, which is ideal for safety in a pool area, and it moves with the concrete, so you don’t have to worry about cracking.
If your pool liner has a leak, the water will get in behind the lining and start to rust the pool wall. The pool liner will need to be removed and replaced, and depending on the damage to the pool wall, it will need to be ground. Pre-galvanized paint primer or rust-inhibiting paint is then applied to protect the walls from future rust. Replacing a pool liner is usually a 2-4 week job (3-4 weeks during peak season). I recommend checking your pool maintenance after it’s closed for the season, so do a maintenance check in October to prevent more damage in the harsh winter months.
Just remember – your outdoor structures are a part of your property and you should be taking care of it as part of your home. A rundown shed can be very unsafe and you could be held liable for unsafe conditions on your property or adjacent to it, and can also hurt your home’s overall curb appeal. This may not sound too important but a well-kept home will give you a better homeowner experience.
Image courtesy of Frame Custom Homes