Follow these steps to make the exterior of your home look good as early in the season as possible.

By Diane Franklin

In March, we usher in springtime—a great time to head outdoors to assess your patio, deck, fence, siding, shutters and other outdoor surfaces. Here are steps to follow to make the exterior areas of your home ready for the warmer weather.

Patios and Decks

Leaves, dust, dirt and grime are likely to have accumulated on your patio or deck during the long, wet and windy winter. Sweep off debris and clean thoroughly. You may be able to clean your patio with a garden house. For your deck, take a look at the deck boards. If you see mold, mildew or algae, use a commercial deck cleaner and follow directions accordingly to remove those stains.

Assess the condition of your deck boards to see if you need to restain. Use a deck stripper to remove the old finish before proceeding with a new stain finish—especially important if you want to use a transparent or semi-transparent to let the natural beauty of the wood show through. If your deck has seen better days, you may want to go with a semi-solid or solid color deck stain to hide the imperfections.

If you stored your patio and deck furniture inside for the winter, simply dusting off the pieces and setting them up outdoors again is all you need to do. If you left your metal or PVC furnishings outside, clean them with water and soapy water, then rinse. Freshen the space with potted plants, take the cover off your outdoor grill, and you are ready for the first backyard barbeque of the season.

House Exteriors

Springtime also is the time to assess your home’s exterior. Use a house wash to get rid of dirt and grime. If your exterior siding is particularly dirty, you may want to consider using a pressure washer with an appropriate detergent. Ask your local paint store for advice, or if you’re uncertain how to do it, hire a professional to pressure-wash your home for you.

If it’s been several years since you have repainted your home, this may be the year to consider it. Typically, you’ll have to repaint your home every three to seven years, with a quality exterior paint giving you the most longevity. Assess your home’s siding. If you see fading, discoloration, flaking, chipping or cracking, it may be time to repaint.

If the siding itself is fine, you may simply need to repaint trim or other accent areas. If you want to give your house a fresh new look without going to the expense of painting your entire exterior, consider painting your front door and shutters in a fresh vibrant color.

Wooden Fences

Painting or staining a wooden fence can be a massive job, but if you neglect it too long, it will give the perimeter of your property a worn, tired or dingy look. To revive your fence, clean the wood using a product made specifically for that purpose. Scrub with a stiff brush or a pressure washer, being careful not to damage the wood (or hire a professional to do it for you). Remove any old stain or paint with the appropriate stripper.

You can leave the fence bare and allow it to weather naturally—some people like that rustic, gray look—but you’ll have to be diligent to keep the fence from succumbing to the damaging effects of the elements. If you want to protect your fence with wood finish or stain, determine the look you would like for your fence. Transparent wood finishes and semi-transparent stains allows the natural beauty of the wood to show through, but semi-solid or solid stains will last longer. Apply the finish with a brush, roller or pump sprayer (back-brushing to ensure even application).

You also may opt to paint the fence, which gives greater protection, but the natural grain won’t show through at all. If you’re okay with that, it will save you time and labor since you can wait years before painting the fence again.

With your home, patio, deck and fence looking like new, let springtime commence!