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10 Things To Do To Prepare Your Deck or Patio For Fall

You've been enjoying your deck or patio throughout the summer, but now the weather's changing. Here are 10 tips to help prepare for fall.

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Patio furniture Cover protecting outdoor furniture from snow, close up.vasare/Getty Images

Store or Cover Outdoor Furniture

As summer gives way to fall, it’s time to protect your outdoor furniture from the elements. If you have the storage space, consider moving patio furniture to a garage or shed. Or if you prefer, cover those items with a lightweight tarp.

Of course, if you live in an area with warmer fall temperatures, you may well want to leave your furniture out for a bit longer, especially if you enjoy spending time around a fire pit.

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Table Fire Pit with rocks on outside deck patio at homeOsarieme Eweka/Getty Images

Safety Check on the Fire Pit or Heater

Speaking of fire pits, now that we’re moving into prime fire season, it’s time to give them a quick safety inspection. If your deck or patio has a wood-burning fire pit, check for any damage from a falling limb, weather exposure or animal activity. For propane or natural gas fire pits and heaters, check the connections and integrity of the gas supply.

Damage to the pit or heater itself is usually DIYable. But if you have any concerns about a propane tank or natural gas line, consult a pro.

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sunken pavers on patioZigmunds Dizgalvis/Getty Images

Secure Loose Boards or Sunken Pavers

As you’re storing outdoor furniture, you’ll see more of your deck or patio. This is a great time to examine and secure loose boards or sunken patio pavers. Depending on their condition, individual boards or pavers may need to be reset or even replaced. You can secure deck boards and raise sunken pavers yourself.

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A dangerous broken paving slab on a pavement.whitemay/Getty Images

Repair or Replace Cracked Pavers

While resetting your pavers, you may notice some cracks. If there’s a freeze/thaw cycle where you live, even small cracks can be blown apart by expanding ice. Repairing small cracks now can save you from replacing entire pavers later.

Luckily, repairing small cracks is relatively straightforward and makes for a great DIY project. Simply clean out the break and use a two-part epoxy masonry or concrete adhesive to bond the pieces together. If the paver hasn’t yet broken apart, clean out the crack line with a wire brush and vacuum or use an air compressor. Then fill the crack with concrete caulk.

Unfortunately, even the best paver repair will still be visible. To eliminate that sight completely, or if the cracks are too extensive to repair, replace the paver.

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Cleaning patio decking with power pressure systemmatspersson0/Getty Images

Power Wash

Once your deck boards or patio pavers are secure, clean them with a pressure washer. Power washing at the end of summer lets you head into the off-season with a fresh surface, meaning minimal cleanup when it’s time to reopen in spring. It’s also an essential first step to putting a protective topcoat on your deck or patio.

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Staining wooden deckgkrphoto/Getty Images

Stain or Seal

After power washing, you may choose to stain or seal your deck or patio. It needs this kind of topcoat refresh every few years, and it’s smart to do it before fall. Whether you live in a climate with freezing temperatures or rainy winters, the precipitation and temperature swings can damage wood deck boards or paver stones.

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plants on patio outdoorsТодорчук Екатерина/Getty Images

Prep Patio and Deck Plants

If you keep plants on your patio, now is the time to start thinking about caring for them through fall and winter. The right decision depends on the type of plant, its resilience, and whether you expect freezing temperatures and snowfall. Leaving snow on the deck can shorten the life of your deck coating because there’s water sitting on it non-stop.

You may want to bring your plants inside over the colder months, or erect a cold frame greenhouse to extend their growing season. Whatever option you choose, take action now before Mother Nature takes the decision out of your hands.

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Woman using shears to trim potted shrubIAN HOOTON/SPL/Getty Images

Prune Trees and Shrubs Near the Patio or Deck

When prepping your deck and patio for fall and winter, don’t stop with the building material. Look upwards and see if any overhanging dead limbs should be pruned back before they come tumbling down on their own. Even the best-prepared deck or patio may not withstand the impact of a hefty limb crashing down on it.

Similarly, shrubs and bushes that encroach on your deck or patio can be a haven for animals and moss growth. Moss creates a slip hazard while animals gnaw on deck boards. And patio bases are especially vulnerable to damage from burrowing animals such as chipmunks. If possible, trim surrounding plants back at least six inches to keep moss and animal activity to a minimum.

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Fall Cleanup - Leaves in Guttermaunger/Getty Images

Clean Out the Gutters

A clogged gutter can cause a shocking amount of damage. Water overflowing from gutters can saturate deck boards and wash away patio base materials, causing pavers to tilt and list.

Give your gutters a thorough clean-out now, and be sure to maintain it during fall leaf season. And double-check your downspouts to ensure runoff isn’t washing away your paver base.

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Mixed race woman arranging pumpkins on patioInti St Clair/Getty Images

Break Out the Fall Décor

You’ve done all the hard work to keep your deck or patio secure during the changing seasons, so now you can sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Swap out all those summer-themed decorations for a whole new look. Whether it’s an autumnal wreath or pumpkin shaped string lights, it’s time to show your fall flair.

Dan Stout
Ohio-based freelance writer and author Dan Stout is a former residential remodeler, commercial site supervisor and maintenance manager. He’s worked on nearly all aspects of building and DIY including project planning and permitting, plumbing, basic electric, drywall, carpentry, tiling, painting and more. He also publishes noir fantasy thrillers, including The Carter Series, from Penguin imprint DAW Books.