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7 Easy Upgrades for a Fabulous Deck Makeover

If a new deck isn't in your budget, don't worry. You can work with an old tired deck and still get the look you want without spending a fortune.

Maintenance First

Older and neglected decks not only look worn, but can be hard on bare feet and outright dangerous in some cases. Before you go shopping for deck accessories, take care of these simple deck maintenance chores first.

Give your deck a good scrubbing with a deck cleaner or mild detergent. Then, sand rough spots with 80-grit sand paper. If the whole deck needs sanding, forget the palm sander and use an orbit sander for this job. Hammer down popped nails, and refasten or replace loose or broken boards and railings.

If the deck surface is really bad, consider laying interlocking wood tiles over the old decking. These tiles atre backed with a plastic mesh base and snap together without nails, screws or adhesive. You can get wood deck tiles made from various hardwoods and softwoods depending on the durability you’re after.

The other great thing is that if you move or rebuild, you can take the tiles with you. You won’t lose your investment like you would if you built a conventional new deck.

Once you’ve taken care of these basics, the trick to giving an old deck new life is all in the accessories.

Outdoor Rugs

Outdoor rugs are simple and affordable accents that do double-duty. In size, color, and texture outdoor rugs can tie your whole look together, but they can also be used to cover up stains, peeling paint, and other eyesores.

Good quality outdoor rugs are made with polypropylene or vinyl materials that are treated before weaving. This makes them impermeable to stains, mildew and sun damage. To clean, just hose them down and drape in a sunny spot to dry.

Bamboo mats are another popular outdoor floor covering. With fabulous texture and much sought after natural coloring, they coordinate with almost any type of décor. Plus, bamboo is highly durable and environmentally friendly. To clean bamboo mats, just wipe them with a damp cloth or mop.

Outdoor Furniture

Outdoor furniture is probably your single most important deck accessory. In fact, it’s more of a deck “essential”. If your chairs, table and shade umbrella are faded, cracked or dirty beyond repair, then your outdoor oasis will lose its appeal. If you can, invest in some quality furniture.

Stylish options for furniture include cedar, teak, wrought iron, stainless steel, and outdoor wicker. But think beyond the standard patio set. For something a little different, you can add a hammock, love seats or benches, a porch swing, even outdoor bars with bar-style seating. Why not give your deck some Polynesian flare? You can even build your own tiki bar complete with thatched roof and tiki bar stools. Palm thatch is surprisingly tough and can handle even cold climates.

Solar Deck Lighting

Another way to add enjoyment and extend the use of your deck is to make sure you have adequate lighting. Solar lighting is an affordable solution that’s easy to install--no wiring required. Solar fixtures work by converting sunlight to energy stored in NiMH (nickel-metal hydride) rechargeable batteries. At dusk, the light fixture automatically turns on and gives you at least 8 to 10 hours of light. Solar deck lights are available as tabletop lanterns, post lights, and even step lights.

Fountains

If you’re trying to create an oasis of calm, why not add a water feature like a decorative fountain designed specifically for decks and patios. No space is too small. Even apartment balconies, terraces and small decks can sport a wall or tabletop fountain. The water circulates within the fountain itself so there’s no plumbing required, and the pump plugs into any standard electrical outlet.

Planters

Container gardening is a must have and no deck would be complete without a few pots planted up with your favorite annuals or perennials. Take your time choosing great pots in different sizes and glazes. Plastic pots with the look of terracotta are another good idea. For large, heavy pots, buy pot stands on castors so they can be moved around easily.

Patio Heaters

The way to really extend the use of your deck is to invest in a natural gas patio heater or outdoor propane heater. Used by bistros and restaurants for years, stainless steel patio heaters have now become hugely popular. They’re an affordable deck accessory that will maximize the use of your deck through the year, especially during transition seasons like spring and fall. A standard heater warms about a 20-foot radius and can increase the ambient temperature 10 to 25 degrees. Now that's cozy!

If you start with regular and routine maintenance, and then add stylish outdoor décor and comfort accents, you’ll be more than pleased with a deck that you’ll be able to use throughout the year.

 
 
Leanne Tremblay is a freelance writer and publisher of www.deckdesign.learnabout.info, a site all about easy ways to upgrade your deck.