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(BPT) - Is your outdoor patio or deck looking a bit dated and dingy? Does it reflect your home's personality? Whether you're planning to host outdoor festivities with friends and family or just grilling up gourmet creations, a few changes can really liven up your outdoor space and add value to your home. Follow these simple steps for an updated look that will create a more enjoyable area.

Clear it off

The first step when updating any patio or deck is to remove all items from the area; this includes furniture, planters and even the weathered layer of grime that sits atop the wood. Use a power washer to really remove any mildew and debris. By starting with a clean surface, you'll be able to see the current state of the wood. If the stain is faded or wearing away, consider re-staining it. Wood exposed to the outdoor elements should be coated with an oil-based finish, never a latex or acrylic paint. Paint is more susceptible to weathering, fading and flaking. Oil-based stains soak into the wood and result in better and longer-lasting results.

Purdy mini-rollers are the perfect size for applying stain to railings, spindles and any other small areas of the deck. The covers are available in 4 1/2- and 6 1/2-inch lengths and come in all fabric types, including fabric that works well with oil-based finishes. If your deck is currently painted, be sure to scrape away any flaking areas from the deck flooring, the steps and handrails. A Purdy scraper is a great tool for removing peeling or flaking coatings. If the entire deck is painted, consider stripping with chemicals or power sanding, and then applying a high-quality stain.

Dress it up and add some color

Is your existing outdoor furniture looking a bit drab? Repaint it and dress it up with outdoor pillows and cushions. Change up the layout of the furniture for another fresh look. By moving furniture into a more square or circular shape, you'll increase conversations. If a focal point exists, such as a fire pit or great view, arrange furniture to face that. For a more embellished look to your railings, replace existing spindles and ball tops with more decorative ones. Repaint planter boxes and add in colorful accessories such as rugs, lawn ornaments and small plants. Flowers, herbs and many vegetables can be grown in planters, boxes and any other small space.

Lighten up your space

Many outdoor gatherings can carry on past sunset, so lighting your deck area is important. There are hundreds of options available to lighten up any outdoor area. You can create whatever atmosphere you prefer. Solar lamps are a smart, energy-efficient way to light the walk and seating areas, while Chinese lanterns hanging in the trees create a fun, party feel.

Lights lining railing walkways will direct attendees to and from the gathering areas safely, and an enclosed bonfire pit or portable fireplace is a great way to gather people for post-dinner carousing. Sufficient lighting will encourage guests to stay past dark and allow everyone to enjoy a warm evening.

By following these simple steps, you'll be spending more time outdoors and have a fresh space to enjoy with family and friends.

Courtesy of BPT

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