Thank goodness for spring! It is a time of re-birth and a great time to get back in touch with nature! Getting back outdoors after a long winter and connecting back with nature grounds us and gives us a deeper appreciation for what we have been missing all winter long. So let's all start our spring clean up on the outside of our homes and address some items that might have slipped by us.
Let's start with the front door. People who use their garages to enter their homes very rarely see what going on in front of their home. They often overlook the front door, front porch and front steps. But that is exactly what visitors see first before they enter your home. So let's see what items come on our list for the entry.
If the wreath on your front door screams old, worn and dated and then get a new one or replace the foliage with new, fresh, bright silk flowers and greenery. Great Feng Shui colors to welcome your visitors include reds and yellows.
Does your door need fresh paint? If not, then maybe all it needs to have the grease and grim removed. For an environmentally safe product simply mix 2 cups of water, 1/2 white vinegar and 1/4 cup liquid dish soap, and 1 tsp. Borax. Place into a spray bottle, wipe and viola!
How is your hardware looking? Add some shine by taping the area around the hardware leaving only the hardware exposed. Try using brass cleaner (readily available at hardware, home improvement centers and grocery stores). Brasso is one of the more popular on the market. Get some rubber gloves and a soft cloth. Rub the brass cleaner onto the surface of the hardware and allow to dry for a few minutes. Polish with a clean, damp, soft cloth. Not too much of an investment for a great shine.
Are your flower beds looking a little earthy and weed ridden? Get some water boiling on the stove and water your weeds with the hot water. This will kill them and allow you to add a nice, new covering of mulch. Before adding new mulch cover the flower beds with newspaper or old shower curtains. This will help prevent new weeds from cropping up. Now you are ready to add mulch. Mulch varies by color, quality and size so make sure you add the right mulch for your yard. Ask the advice of the home care specialist at your local home improvement store. They are more than happy to help you choose the right mulch for your needs.
Is your mailbox in need of a face lift? Not to worry help is here! You can prime and paint your mailbox to refresh its look. If your flag is worn and falling off try purchasing a new one. With one screw you can easily replace the flag and clean up the appearance. If you are having trouble with the door closing then simply adjust the hasps with vice grips or metal pliers. You can bend them both the upper and lower hasps so that they are aligned.
If your wood post need straightening then dig around the bottom of the post and fill the hole where the posts leans with a rock or piece of concrete and make sure that is no longer leaning. Next, fill a hole about three inches below the surface with dry concrete mix. Pour about a gallon of water into the hole and tamp down the hole with soil. Make sure the post is level and allowed to dry. If you find that your post could use some new paint go ahead and add a fresh coat of paint and then finish the project with brand new brass numbers to reflect your home's address.
Concrete Porch or Steps
Since many of us hardly ever come through our front door it is a good idea to check the concrete porch or concrete steps several time during the year. Here in the Midwest our weather conditions go from one extreme to another causing the concrete to become brittle over time. No need to worry about costly repairs. Take a look at his video to find out how easy it is to repair steps: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1smrLU7bgOY. By the way, did you know that calcium is concrete's worst enemy? Make sure the materials you apply to your walkway to melt ice is calcium free. Not only does the calcium melt ice but it also destroys the concrete over time.
Mold or Dirt on Exterior Siding
If your home siding is wood put away the power washer. This is NOT recommended for wood siding and can actually score and damage the wood. Instead use a solution of water mixed with oxygen bleach (NOT chlorine bleach) and fill a spray bottle. Saturate the wood and let the solution sit for about 10-15 minutes. For stubborn stains use a bristle brush and some elbow work. Mold and mildew can build up over time so you might also consider using a mildew repellent to deter the mildew from taking hold.
For aluminum siding you can out your pressure washer. If you don't own one then no worries here because you can rent one at your local home improvement center or hardware store. One word of caution: start with a low setting. Many dents and dings have inadvertently occurred by an over aggressive homeowner determined to get the job done quickly! You can slowly increase the setting to a comfortable level that will not cause any damage. Next apply trisodium phosphate to clean the aluminum. If your aluminum siding is painted and the paint is peeling off then is would be wise to remove the loose and peeling paint, apply a primer and touch up the paint. If left exposed the aluminum will begin to oxidize.
For vinyl siding a mixture of three parts vinegar to seven parts water will do the trick to remove dust, grime, and mold. Remove dust with a hose first and then apply the mixture with a mop and scrub. Simple Green also works well and is easy on the environment.
A word of caution: if you have beautiful bushes or flowering plants that butt up against or near the siding cover the vegetation with a drop cloth before proceeding with any siding treatment. This will help preserve your mature plants and shrubs.
Grab yourself a ladder and a drop cloth. Place the drop cloth beneath the area where you are working so that when you scoop out the leaves (which will be moldy and often times wet) you can just drop them onto the drop cloth. Next make sure the downspouts are clear by placing a hose into the spout and have a helper check to see if the water if flowing freely out the bottom. If not, try using a plumber's snake to clear the debris and free the clog. Run more water through to make sure that clog is completely gone.
Don't put that ladder away just yet! Let's take a quick look at the condition of your roof. Look for signs of water damage, missing shingles, deformed edges, buckling or anything your eye is drawn to that doesn't look right. Now we aren't all professional roofers so if you find that there is damage it's best to call in a qualified roofer to help out with the repairs or to locate where and why problems are occurring. Often times the location of the house is situated so that one portion of the roof is exposed to more wind than the rest of the roof's surface. Check with your roofer to determine what precautions would be advisable.
If you have a cedar shake roof make sure that your roof is clear of debris, tree branches, and leaves. Cedar needs to breathe so make sure that you do regular checks to help extend its lifespan. Check for damages such as splitting wood and warping. Not all cedar shake roofs materials are alike. Before deciding to have a treatment applied to your roof find out more about the product that was originally used and then proceed with caution. This is not recommended as a do it yourself project. Call in a professional. And please note that not all roofers are familiar with cedar shake roofing and may apply a treatment that is not meant for cedar shake roofing materials. Check with your local better business bureau for qualified roofers specializing in cedar shake roofing. It's best to err on the side of caution on this one.
Fascia and Soffits
Check your fascia and soffits to make sure that there is no evidence of wood rot or wood deterioration. Check for evidence of insect infestation as well. Replace rotting wood and bring in a professional to determine what type of insects is feasting on your home.
Well folks there you have it! Sounds like a lot of work but spread over the course of a few weekends the tasks become much easier to handle. Here's a great tip. Enlist a few of your buddies who also own homes and focus on one home at a time. Then when all of the maintenance has been completed have a big outdoor barbeque to celebrate! Things seem to go much easier, much faster and become more enjoyable when you are with a group of supportive people who can have fun while helping out their good friends. Now, let's get ready to enjoy the summer months!