Did you know there are millions of aging decks across the United States in need of repairs and refinishing? The devastating news is that hundreds of deck accidents occur each year that could have been prevented by regularly repairing and refinishing these unsafe structures. At first glance, refinishing your wrap-around patio seems to be about keeping up appearances, but at its core, it is about safety. Let's take a quick look at the importance of refinishing your patio and 10 questions you should ask yourself before you begin your own refinishing project.
Importance of Refinishing your Wrap-Around Patio
Refinishing your wrap-around patio every few years or as needed is important for a variety of reasons. For starters, you want the outside of your home to look as great as the inside. A shabby deck can quickly ruin the look of your home. A well-maintained patio will also add value to your home in the event you decide to sell in the future. Potential buyers will be much more interested in a home which has an appealing wrap-around patio.
More important than the aesthetic reasons to refinish your patio are the safety reasons. Refinishing your patio protects the wood from rot, which extends the life of the wood. This is also a good opportunity to check for compromises in the structural integrity of your deck. Any issues with the flooring, railings, stairs, etc. can be repaired and refinished at the same time, giving you peace of mind knowing that your wrap-around patio can be enjoyed safely by family and friends.
What is Your Budget?
Understanding your budget before you even begin is the very first step. The amount of money you have set aside will determine whether you are able to upgrade certain features of your patio or if you need to stick to just a basic refinish. If you must pick and choose, always choose safety over aesthetics.
If you are on a limited budget consider whether it will be more cost-effective to do the work yourself or hire someone. Often times you can make your money stretch further by doing some or all of the work yourself because you do not have to pay for the cost of labor.
Researching options and prices thoroughly beforehand will help ensure you get the best deals on supplies and materials. You may even be able to purchase discontinued styles at a discounted price.
How Much Time Do You Need to Refinish Your Patio?
The length of time you need to refinish your patio will depend on how much you plan on updating, preferences, necessity, and budget. Pick a time frame that will allow you ample time to make the needed repairs and upgrades, as well as additional time to dry and cure. While the project is underway, everything must be removed from the deck and foot traffic rerouted to a different entrance.
Consider the best time of year as well. Winters and summers are often not ideal. Winters tend to be wet, cold, and damp. This can make it difficult for the paint or stain to cure well. Summers can be brutally hot, which is also undesirable. Fall and spring tend to be the best times of the year for not only your comfort level but for the best weather conditions.
What Materials Will You Need?
The exact materials will vary from person to person depending on how many and what kind of upgrades and repairs you plan on making. Here is a basic list of materials you will need for refinishing your wrap-around patio:
- Hard Bristled Brush - This is to be used in conjunction with a detergent or soap to clean off any debris and dirt from the patio.
- Wood Stripper - You will need a wood stripper to remove the existing paint or stain from the wood. This will allow your new finish to adhere better to the wood.
- Pressure Washer - Once the existing paint or stain has been removed, a pressure washer will help remove the remaining dirt and debris.
- Paint or Stain - You can choose from a variety of exterior patio paints and stains based on your personal preferences.
- Sealant - This will protect your wood and make the patio weatherproof.
If you choose or need to replace any part of the patio, you will need additional materials and supplies.
How Do You Know Which Parts of the Patio Need Replacing?
Maintaining the structural integrity of your patio is of the utmost importance. The first thing you should do is check for rot. You can do this by checking for soft spots on the flooring, railing, and stairs. Small areas of rot can be treated with a wood preservative that will prevent spreading. Larger areas of rot will need to be completely replaced.
Make sure ledgers are free from rust and not compromised in any way. Check for rust on any and all hardware. You will need to replace hardware which shows significant signs of rust.
Boards which are significantly cracked may need to be replaced, but for the most part, cracks are more of an aesthetic issue than a safety concern. However, if the flaw is of concern to you, go ahead and replace the board.
Ballasts and posts which are loose should either be reinforced or replaced depending on the origination of the problem. If the issue is loose hardware, then simply installing new hardware should fix the problem. If the integrity of the wood itself is compromised, it needs to be replaced.
Should You Use Screws or Nails?
Should you find that there are certain boards you need to replace on your deck, you may be conflicted as to whether you should use screws or nails. Originally, nails were used when building patios. However, over time a number of deck collapses have been at least partially attributed to nails working their way loose. The standard has now shifted away from nails to screws. The reason being is that screws are able to grip the wood better than nails.
However, you can't just pick up any type of screw for your wrap-around patio. There are major differences in the types of screws and not all are made for exterior use. Choose a type of screw that is approved for exterior use, rust-resistant, as well as resistant to the chemicals in treated wood. As a bonus, choosing screws with a self-drilling tip will make your job a lot easier.
What Do You Need to Know About Replacing the Railing?
For starters, depending on the age and design of your wrap-around patio you may need to either replace part of your railing or install a whole new railing if you are looking for a different design or your patio does not have one. Railings are very important from a safety standpoint but can also add tremendous value to your patio from an aesthetic standpoint as well.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
- The International Residential Code requires all patios higher than 30 inches off the ground to have a railing installed.
- The minimum height for patio railings is 36 inches, but you can always install a higher railing as long as it meets your area's local building codes.
- The space between the balusters must be less than four inches. This regulation is set in place to keep young children, babies, and even pets from slipping through or becoming stuck. The same standard applies for horizontal railings as well.
- The railing must be able to withstand at least 200 pounds of lateral pressure from either side.
How Can You Dress Up Your Railings?
The railing on your wrap-around porch is one of the first thing guests will notice. Railings can be just as beautiful as they are functional. Here are a few ways you can increase the aesthetics of your railing:
- Decorative spindles and ball tops are an easy way to add a little bit of style.
- Incorporate wooden lattice. This not only makes your railing unique but adds a bit of privacy as well.
- For those who are looking for a more modern look and/or don't want to obstruct their view, install plexiglass in place of the balusters.
- Install rope in a diamond pattern (Or any pattern you would like) in place of the ballasts.
- Install a sitting bar on the inside of your railing. Not only does it add to the appeal, but it is also functional as well.
- Instead of vertical ballasts, choose horizontal ballasts.
If you need or want to replace your entire railing, you can start from scratch and choose a completely different design. If your existing railing is in good condition, you can incorporate these ideas on your current railing.
How Do You Make the Front of Your Wrap Around Patio Look Polished?
If your wrap-around patio sits a good distance off of the ground, it can leave the front appearing unpolished. What can you do? You can add skirtboards or trellis material to not only give your patio a finished and eye-catching look but the space below it can then serve as storage.
If this isn't the most appealing option, you can also consider planting shrubs or a flower bed to enhance the look. The kind of flora that will look best is dependent on the height of your patio. In most cases, you will not want to plant anything that will grow big enough to cover the railing. The use of shrubbery is a great option because it can be trimmed and shaped to the desired height.
How Can You Make Your Patio Comfortable for Guests?
There is not much use in having a patio if you can't enjoy it. How do you make it an extension of your living space?
The use of solar lighting post top lighting provides low light so that both you and your guests can comfortably enjoy the outdoors well into the night.
You have plenty of choices when it comes to outdoor furniture. You can choose from a combination of chairs and sofas. It is important to purchase only outdoor furniture because it is made to withstand the elements and changes in temperature. Furniture made specifically for exterior use consists of a frame which is rust and corrosion-resistant. The upholstery will be made of weatherproof material.
If you enjoy listening to music while on your patio you can install a weatherproof sound system. There are many different kinds of systems available today that can pair up with just about any device. If you want to watch the big game outside, you can mount a television to the exterior wall of your home. To protect it from the elements you can even install a built-in with doors on the wall for the television to sit in. When it is not in use close the doors to ensure it is protected from the elements.
How Do You Make Sure You are Hiring a Reliable Professional to Refinish Your Patio?
When it comes to patio restoration you want to make sure you hire a reputable professional. How do you know who has the proper know-how and who is just looking to turn a profit? Let's take a look at the considerations you need to make before hiring a contractor to refinish your wrap-around patio:
- You need a deck restoration professional. Properly refinishing your deck is about more than just painting it. Often times painters lack the experience and know-how to properly prep your patio for refinishing.
- Budget is always a concern. You should be leary of contractors who's price comes in well below anyone else's. It could be that they may cut corners, use substandard products, or lack experience.
- When a contractor gives you an estimate, make sure that is the final estimate. Some contractors will give you a low initial estimate, only to tack on additional charges to your final bill.
- Ask for references and pictures of any patio refinishing projects they have completed in the past.
Speak with family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors. Chances are really good that someone you know has hired a deck restoration professional recently and can help you find just what you are looking for.
The Leaders in Architectural Products
Worthington Millwork proudly offers American made architectural products including balusters, railing, trellises, and much more! Our products are available in a variety of styles, colors, and materials. Shop our online selection today or contact us and let us know what you are looking for!