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Never underestimate the advantage of a great patio.  They help accentuate the backyard, make hosting outdoor functions easier and quite frankly, it is a home improvement project that yields big benefits. Inspect this area of the home from time to time.

Nowhere is this more evident than during the brutal stretches of winter. Patio or deck repairs come in different forms. Depending on which type of surface you have, there are a handful of tips for preparing your patio for winter. This keeps it looking its best for the long haul.

Landscaping Around a Patio :: Keep Your Patio Looking Good Year Round image via Premier Window & Building

Winterize Your Patio

Before the weather dips too far, homeowners should make a point to survey the surface of their patio. Look for cracks or chips in the foundation. These appear as holes underneath the overhang that leads out to the lawn, if certain stones are shifting or sinking lower than the rest and just general staining or fading all around.  Getting to the heart of the matter is relatively easy depending on how soon the warning signs are picked up.

Each Fall Perform a Thorough Inspection Targeting These Areas:

1.)  Staining

Make it a point to move around the patio furniture, BBQ grills, and other stationary fixtures and try to identify any staining. Sometimes leaves compacted onto the surface from bouts of rain lead to stains. If the leaves weren’t picked up quickly enough, they can leave behind brown stain outlines, often referred to as tannin.

Simply sweeping the dust, dirt and leaf debris off can have a big benefit.  If you happen to spot these stains, the next plan of attack is to safely remove them with soapy water and a light-bristled scrubber. There’s always the option, too, of using moderately acidic solutions to remove these stains. In the end — it’s all about preference. Both scenarios will do the job just fine.

2.)  Stone or Wood Tile Patchwork

The most delicate patio designs have individual stone or tiles scattered around the entire surface.  They are some of the best looking patios out there. They give your landscape a rustic or antiquated entrance to the back door.  That being said, the installation for these patios are a bit more labor-intensive. Maintaining that quality requires more attention than other standard patio surfaces.  Each stone could be inspected. Homeowners have to deal with uneven stones due to a sinking effect caused by soil erosion and other factors. And then there’s the lime and moss growth, more of a cosmetic blemish than anything.

For simple patches for the latter problem, simply spray and wash with a light, soapy solution. Follow this with a delicate scrub to remove any moss growth.  As for individual stones sinking, you’ll have to break out a hand shovel and sand. (Sometimes caulk works in leui of sand.)  But before you dig out the sunken stone, I’d get a tape measure and determine how uneven the stone is compared to the rest.  This measurement will come in handy when you fill in the gap with sand.  After it’s measured, use the hand shovel around the corners of the stone and gently pry it loose.  Now, fill in the appropriate amount of sand, center the stone back in place and if reseal the sides with caulk.

And speaking of sealants…

3.)  Reapply or Add Sealant

Depending on which kind of patio surface homeowners opt for, more often than not, there’s going to be a sealant applied over the top of it.  This especially holds true with natural stone, reconstituted stone and wooden decking. These patio surfaces are more susceptible to chipping and cracking caused from heavy rains or snow. Plus, colors may begin to fade over time from sun exposure.

I know first hand that I should have put a sealant over my wood deck. I opted not to and paid a severe price. Within a year or so, the wood was not only faded, but it began to warp along the ends of some of the boards.  Throw in that some of the wood began to hollow and show holes and the repair costs added up higher than they should have been.  Whether it’s Thompson’s WaterSeal or Liberon wood/patio sealants, there are a variety of DIY sealants to get the job done right.

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Editor’s Note: For more on maintaining a wood deck, see our article – How to Winterize a Wood Deck.

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In the end, keeping your patio looking its finest is a great accomplishment.  Not just for your enjoyment as a homeowner, but for the home’s future resale value.

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Note for the hosts:  Thanks out to Kyle O’Brien from Premier for putting these simple tips together for us.  For more on Patio Details, see our articles on Picking the Right Patio Furniture, Building a Storage Box (hosted with Black + Decker) or Installing In Patio Lighting.

For more on What to Consider when Deciding to Seal Concrete Pavers. Plus How to Seal a Flagstone Patio from DoItYourself.com. Cheers! ~jb