Tag: deck maintenance

  • Get Your Screen Porch Spring Ready


    Porch and patio screens weather a lot of elements, so it's important to do a bit of routine cleaning and maintenance on them.

    First, vacuum the surface and then wipe it down with soapy water using a sponge, according to HuffPost Home.

    Check out these other tips to cleaning your porch or patio screens courtesy of doityourself.com:

    Cleaning Solution

    Use either a bleach and water solution or a commercial cleaning product like 409 or Windex. If you have a particular problem in your area, then use the bleach solution to destroy fungus and molds that might pose a health issue.

    Paint Brush

    One way to clean the screens is to use a wide paint brush. Carefully take the screens down and then use the brush to scrape dirt and debris away from the screens. As you clean the screens, use the brush to break up any stiff clumps of dirt.

    Pressure Wash

    Another method is to use a pressure washer from the inside of the screened porch. Remove all furniture and other items from near the screens. Then use the washer to force water through the screens. You can use regular water or a bleach and water solution.

    Vacuum Cleaning

    Finally, you can also use your vacuum cleaner to pull dust and debris from the porch screens. Carefully use a brush attachment and do not apply overly hard pressure that might stretch the screens.

    Exterior Specialties of PA is here to help with all of your maintenance and repair needs for your deck or porch. Call us today at 215.453.9180 for your FREE estimate!

  • Evaluate Your House for a Pennsylvania Deck


    Spring is coming. Are you wishing you had a nice deck to sit outside and enjoy it on?  Getting a deck installed doesn't have to be an arduous task.

    In addition, it can bring a nice return on investment.  Adding a deck will give you an average 77% return on your investment, depending on where you live and the size of your deck, according to the 2013 Cost vs. Value Report from Remodeling magazine via HoueLogic.

    Here are some tips, courtesy of HouseLogic on how to decide on the best deck for your home:

    Deciding on the site and size

    Your deck will be a popular place, so give careful thought to where it should be located. Begin by working out how to access it from the house. The ever-handy back door to the kitchen probably won’t do the job; it will force traffic toward the cooking area, making a shambles of any large-group entertaining. A better solution is a French door or slider that gives primary access from a living room, dining room, or family room while being handy to the kitchen. If the doorway can also be positioned to offer an expansive view, all the better.

    Next, make sure the deck neither swamps your yard, nor becomes lost in it. Your local codes may set standards for how much of your lot can be occupied by a deck, and how close a deck can be to your lot line. Check these limitations early in your planning with your city or county building department.

    Decide where to locate stairways off the deck so they provide unobtrusive access to the backyard. Also consider the path of the sun and the location of shade trees; sunlight may be pleasant in the morning but unbearable later in the day — having a shade tree to the west of your deck will help block the harsh late-day sun. Work out how to preserve your privacy and how to screen your deck from prevailing winds.

    How much should you spend?

    If you’re considering a deck the size of a helipad, with all the bells and whistles imaginable, better think again. According to the 2013 Cost vs. Value Report, simple is best. For example, a medium-size (16 x 20-foot) deck made of pressure-treated wood provides the best return, averaging about 77% nationally. (In the Pacific region, where the outdoor-living season is lengthy, a deck add-on will do even better, earning back about 96% of the initial investment.)

    Composite decking (Trex, EverGrain, and TimberTech are some well-known brands) makes great sense from a maintenance point of view but will be more expensive — composites cost about 45% more than pressure-treated wood—and will recoup an average of only 67.5% of your cost. If you own an upscale home, a more elaborate deck may be appropriate to keep pace with the competition, but don’t expect a premium payback: A two-level, 400-sq. ft. deck with upscale features such as composite decking, decorative railings, and built-in lighting offers only about a 59.7% payback.

    Hankering for an even higher return? If you’re reasonably handy, you might want to go for the gold and build the deck yourself. Labor costs typically make up more than half the cost of residential construction. That means you can spend as little as $4,000 in materials for a wood deck of mid-range size and come away with a resale value of more than $8,000 — a handsome return.

    However, plan on spending 4–6 weekends building a 16x20 foot deck yourself. If you choose this route, consider buying a ready-made deck plan. Or, put to use one of the many websites with interactive design aids, such as Lowe’s Deck Designer (registration required), and Deckorators.

    Think local

    To recoup a good portion of your investment, your deck needs to be right for your market. Appraiser Dick Koestner of Davenport, Iowa, recommends the simply checking out other decks in your area. “Don’t make it too extreme [compared with] what’s typical in your market,” he counsels. “Definitely don’t make it less than what is expected in the market.”

    Koestner also emphasizes the importance of obeying local codes. “A lot of potential purchasers are having a home inspection done,” he says. “If the home inspector finds the deck isn’t built to code, most of the purchasers are saying, ‘Hey, fix it.’”

    He emphasizes that codes exist not just to preserve property values, but promote safety. For example, railing balusters spaced too far apart can constitute a falling hazard for small children (most codes stipulate 4-inch maximum gap). In addition, a deck inadequately attached to the house can collapse, often during a party when the structure is loaded with the extra weight of many people, creating mayhem like something out of the Poseidon Adventure. So get a permit from your building department and follow their requirements.

    Of course, by dint of taking out a building permit your tax assessment will rise, but only to the extent that the value of your property is increased. The effect should be minimal: Decks are considered an outdoor improvement much like a new driveway or upgraded landscaping, not additional living space.

    Looking good

    Although it’s hard to put a dollar value on aesthetics, looks count. Give thought to how the deck will meld with the architecture of your house. Railings offer a good opportunity to pull in color and detail that complements your home. Consider how the deck fits in with your backyard; it should make a smooth transition from the house to the landscape.

    Exterior Specialties of PA is here to help with all of your pennsylvania deck building, deck installation, deck repair and deck inspection needs.  Call us today at (215) 453-9180 for your FREE estimate!




  • Deck Maintenance Tips

    Courtesy of HGTV

    Courtesy of HGTV

    When the winter weather subsides, you may notice that your deck is starting to show some wear.  Make it look like new again by following these deck maintenance tips, courtesy of HGTV:


    Before making any repairs to the deck, remove dirt and wood fibers with a pressure washer. When using one, be sure to keep the pressure stream moving. Otherwise, you could gouge the wood. Allow the deck to dry overnight.

    Fix nail pops

    If you encounter a nail that has worked loose from a board, remove the nail with a cat's paw or a hammer. Use a screw that's longer than the nail to reattach the board.

    Repair split wood

    If you have a board that's split down the middle, mark the damaged board next to the leading edge of the first support joist that's completely past the split. Be sure not to mark an area that's directly over a joist or you could damage your saw when you begin cutting.

    Cut the board with a jigsaw, remove the nails or deck screws and remove the damaged wood. Use deck screws to attach a pressure-treated 2-by-4-inch support block to the joist. The support block will hold the replacement board in position. Cut a replacement board to size, pre-drill and fasten it to the support block and joists with deck screws.

    Your replacement board may appear to be higher and wider than the existing wood, but it should shrink as it loses moisture. If the board still appears to be higher than the surrounding boards after being in place for a few weeks, you can smooth it down with a belt sander. Be sure that all nail or screw heads are recessed into the wood before you begin sanding.

    Stain and seal

    Even though pressure-treated lumber resists insects and decay, it's still vulnerable to moisture and the sun's rays. To preserve it without changing the color, use s clear wood preservative that contains a UV protector, which will bring new life to the surface while protecting it from the elements. If you want to add color, use an exterior stain first. Exterior stains come in both solid and semi-transparent finishes. Always use the semi-transparent for the decking area, but try a solid color if you want to highlight railings or banisters; it ends up looking like a painted finish. Exterior stains are available in oil or latex, and both provide fade and mildew resistance.

    Wearing protective eyewear and gloves, apply preservative or stain with a roller or a brush. Let the product sit on the wood decking for about 20 minutes so that it has time to penetrate, and then go back over the surface with a brush to give the deck a more consistent finish (this also helps get rid of any puddles that will dry as shiny patches). Apply a second coat for good coverage and protection.

    Allow the deck to dry for 48 hours, and then apply a sealant.

    Exterior Specialties of PA is here to help with all of your deck maintenance, deck repair, deck building, deck installation and deck inspection needs.  Call us today at 215-453-9180 for your FREE estimate.