With Memorial Day weekend just around the corner, many of us are busy making plans for a backyard barbecue.
If you are the type who cleaned your deck furniture, umbrella and grill last fall, and covered everything or stored it for the winter, a little unwrapping may be all you need to be ready for Memorial Day.
But if you left things out over the winter, you better plan to use some elbow grease to get things back in shape before your guests arrive.
In my experience, the three areas that usually need attention are the outdoor furniture, deck umbrellas and the gas grill.
If you have plastic or coated metal furniture, using a good cleaner like Simple Green in a 10-to-1 solution of water should do the trick. You also can use Simple Green or Contractors Solvent to clean the padding on your outdoor furniture.
For dull plastic resin furniture, I always recommend restoring its luster by using Meguiar's Mirror Glaze Clear Plastic Cleaner, item No. M1708, www.meguiars.com.
If you have rusty metal furniture that needs new life, first remove the scaling rust with a wire brush and then wash the furniture down with full-strength Simple Green or Contractors Solvent. After rinsing and drying, wipe it down with a liquid deglosser before painting it with a latex enamel such as Rust Tough by Krylon, www.krylon.com, and no primer is needed.
If you have natural wood furniture that has become worn and needs re-finishing, first you have to strip it with a paint and varnish stripper like Ready-Strip, www.ready-strip.com. After removing the old finish, wash it down with a good wood cleaner like Cabot's Problem Solver or Behr Wood Cleaner/Brightener. After it dries, you can stain it with a penetrating oil finish like Zar Wood Stain, www.ugl.com, or Minwax Gel Stain.
To make sure you protect the wood from the weather, and increase the odds that you won't have to do the same project again next year, use a good exterior finish such as Zar Ultra Exterior Polyurethane, or Valspar's McCloskey Man O War Spar Marine Varnish, www.valsparglobal.com.
For painted wood furniture that needs re-finishing, scrape away flaking paint, fill in the chips with an outdoor wood filler like Elmer's Stainable Wood Filler, then finish with two coats of porch or floor paint, either oil- or water-based.
Next, turn your attention to your patio umbrella or the awning you have over your deck. Most umbrellas and awnings get dirty thanks to blowing leaves and dirt, rain, and even bird droppings. Vince Falahee at Marygrove Awning in Livonia, (734) 422-7110, www.marygrove.com, said his company sells Fabric and Vinyl Cleaner and Fabric Guard from 303 Products, www.303products.com, for cleaning umbrellas and awnings.
"This is the line of products that the Sunbrella fabric manufacturer recommends," Falahee says.
Once you have your furniture and umbrella cleaned and revived, it's time to turn your attention to the gas grill. Weber has a Caring for Your Gas Grill section on its Web site, www.weber.com, dedicated to tips on cleaning and maintaining grills inside and out.
With the exception of the awning and umbrella cleaner, these products are usually available at your local hardware or home centers. So with just a weekend's worth of work, you can have your deck and grill ready for the first outdoor holiday weekend of the year. Then turn your attention to more important things, like deciding what to grill. If you need some "manly" recipes for cooking, click on Cookin' With Roscoe, www.cookinwithroscoe.com.
It's really fun and tastes good, too!
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