Monthly Archives: August 2016

How to Preserve Outdoor Furniture

Finding the perfect outdoor furniture to fit your style, needs, and space can be very difficult. When you finally do find a piece or set that work for your yard, you’ll want to keep it in the best condition possible. While minimal wear and damage are to be expected given that this furniture is left outdoors, there are some steps you can take to preserve it so you can enjoy it for years to come.

Regular Care & Cleaning

While in use, it’s important to find ways to keep your outdoor furniture clean and useable. One way you can do this is to spray off tables and chairs with a garden hose once a week, or more as needed. Scrub off surfaces that look particularly dirty and dingy, using soap also when necessary.

Cleaning Upholstery

Pillows and upholstered surfaces add to the cozy and comfortable feel of outdoor furniture, and thus should be given special care since more is required to keep them clean, including regular laundering when possible. It is also wise to consider keeping pillows stored away until you plan to use them.

Store Properly for Winter

The only thing more damaging to outdoor furniture than the sun is winter weather. When the end of the season draws near, you should find a safe place to store all of your outdoor items, including large furniture pieces. Storage within a shed or garage should be sufficient, but in the event that you do not have the extra space, there are a few ways you can prep your furniture to keep it as safe as possible while out in the elements. Consider purchasing an outdoor furniture cover that can protect your chairs, tables, or other furniture from the elements.

Preparing Outdoor Furniture for Winter

Every outdoor material is different and should be cared for accordingly:

  • Plastic—Items made from plastic can benefit from a simple wash with detergent, something you will likely want to repeat prior to its first use in the spring.
  • Wood—A combination of bleach, detergent, and soap will rid wood furniture of any dirt, mold, and mildew. Consider applying a water repellent coating, especially if you intend to leave wood furniture out during the winter months.
  • Metal—Water and detergent are strong enough to clean metal, and a good sanding should remove any rust. Car wax adds a protective layer to this furniture that you’ll find beneficial, especially if it will be left to withstand the elements of winter.
  • Wicker—Wicker is one material that doesn’t do well in winter weather. In fact, it should be stored high to ensure no water reaches it during the winter season. A mixture of water and bleach kills any mold and mildew, ensuring your wicker furniture will be ready for use when the weather warms.
  • Cedar or Teak—As with wicker, bleach and water are sufficient to clean any cedar or teak furniture in your yard. Apply a tung oil after cleaning, and this material should hold up well when left outdoors all winter.

Find out what material your furniture is made out of. If there are multiple differing materials, try incorporating the tips given for each material.

Make Your Furniture Last

Incorporating these tips will help preserve your outdoor furniture. While outdoor furniture is designed to withstand the elements, it doesn’t mean that you should neglect taking care of your furniture. Don’t let your furniture become an eyesore when you want to relax outside in the warm weather. Take the time to care for your outdoor furniture.

How To Care For Your Wooden Deck/Patio

Having a wooden deck or patio is a great way to enjoy the beauty of nature. Whether you’re entertaining guests at a dinner party, reading your favorite novel, or enjoying a mid-day snack with the kids, your outdoor space is an extended area of your home that offers endless benefits. However, without properly caring for your deck or patio, the wood can quickly become mistreated and dangerous, causing it to splinter, erode, and even rot.

Make sure your wooden outdoor areas are in prime condition and looking their best with these four simple maintenance tips.

1. Wash Away Winter

After several months of winter weather abuse, your deck needs a thorough cleaning come late spring. By neglecting this critical step, you’re essentially asking for mold and mildew. Thankfully, cleaning your deck is easier that you might think:

  • First, clear away any debris that might have taken up residence over the winter. Use a putty knife for hard to reach areas like in between boards and areas where the decking crosses with the joists.
  • Cover plants or shrubs with plastic to protect them from debris that might shake loose during the cleaning process.
  • Using a standard wooden deck cleaner (found at any local hardware store) use a paint roller, garden sprayer, or stiff push broom to evenly spread the cleaner across your deck. Avoid letting the cleaner pool, and try not to let it dry until you’ve thoroughly scrubbed it into the wood.
  • Rinse well with cold, clean water.
  • Repeat the process to clean wooden railings.

Note, too, that the best time to clean your deck is during a cool, cloudy day when the sun won’t evaporate your cleaning solution. After two days of letting your deck completely dry, you can then move on to tip number two: sealing your deck.

2. Seal for Summer

Now that you have given your deck a good, hearty clean, it’s time to seal the wood to prepare it for harsh sun rays and endless summer activities. Sealing your deck is best done in late spring, just before summer kicks into full swing. Visit your local hardware store to pick up the deck sealer of your choosing. Below is a list of popular options to consider before making the trip:

  • Transparent sealers are the perfect option if you want to highlight the natural tones and grains in the wood.
  • Toners allow the natural essence of the wood to shine through but also provide a minimal amount of tint that helps protect the wood from UV rays. This is a good option for decks that only get a few hours of sunlight each day.
  • Choose a semi-transparent stain for added color that still shows a bit of the natural grain.
  • Solid stains completely cover the grain and color of the wood but provide the ultimate protection against weather damage and heavy traffic.

Mark out a two-day period on your calendar when you’ll have time to complete the project, making sure to avoid high temperatures, wind, and rain. Sand away any scuffed up marks from washing and replace or repair any nails or screws that have come loose over the winter. Use a large roller brush to completely cover the base decking and a paintbrush or small roller for railings and benches. Apply three coats for best results and be careful not to let the sealant or stain pool in any one area.

It’s important to remember that while solid stains and opaque finishes should be applied every other year, clear sealants and transparent toners must be reapplied annually to maintain optimum effectiveness.

3. Check The Deck

A good scrub and a thorough seal will help maintain your deck for most of the summer. However, to ensure it’s properly maintained, it’s a good idea to schedule a midsummer inspection. Make a checklist for your walk through:

  • Look for rot. Areas that are six inches above the ground, close to water spigots, or surrounding planters are often prone to excessive water damage which can cause the wood to expand and rot. Use a flathead screwdriver to gently probe prone areas, stairs, and perimeter posts. Rot is typically indicated if your screwdriver sinks more than a quarter-inch into the wood.
  • Go underneath your deck. Check the ledger, or section of framing that connects the deck to the exterior of your home. Use a flashlight to ensure that the ledger is still connected with lag screws as well as nails and make sure the metal sheet covering the top of the ledger – the flashing – isn’t rusting or deteriorating.
  • While you’re underneath the deck, inspect other joists, posts, and beams for rot. Look joist hangers and nails over for rust. If you sense you have a structural issue, call a professional for repair.
  • Finally, check for rotting or splitting deck boards or railings. If the wood seems to be splitting or cracking, seal it with an exterior adhesive and replace with a new deck screw.


4. Prevent Winter Problems

Come early fall, it’s time to start thinking about ways to protect your deck during the upcoming winter.

  • Consider washing and sealing your deck again, or if you didn’t get a chance to do so in the spring.
  • Trim surrounding trees and bushes to at least 12 inches from the deck to prevent mold, fungus, and rot.
  • Sweep away fallen leaves, pine needles, dirt and other debris.
  • Relocate chairs, tables, planters, benches, etc., to prevent discoloration over the winter.
  • Clean and repair gutters and downspouts to ensure excessive moisture stays off of the wood.

With your deck in mint condition, make sure it looks its best and makes you feel right at home with unique, functional patio furniture from RST Brands. Check out our full line of innovative designs and visit our website for more information and decoration ideas, today.

Save Your Weekends with These 10 Speedy Yard Maintenance Tips

Between work, cooking dinners, and transporting kids to functions, it can seem like the last thing you have time for during the week is yard maintenance. With these ten tips you can limit the time you spend maintaining your yard and spend more time enjoying it with family and friends.

1. Start with a Master Plan

Before pulling your first week, take a moment to plan a course of action. Map out your approach by area of your yard, and give targeted attention to the areas that require the most work. Your work will be more focused, and you’ll get more done in less time.

2. Take Preventative Measures

Save more time in the long run by taking measures to prevent weeds before they grow. Using a pre-emergent herbicide will control crabgrass and other weeds by preventing their seeds from sprouting. Eliminating weeds before they grow eliminates the time spent pulling them out by their well-established roots.

3. Minimize Grass Area

Minimizing your actual lawn space will save time and energy spent on mowing, weeding, and watering. Limit your grass area to only what is necessary and dedicate the rest of your backyard on hardscapes and thrifty perennials.

4. Maximize Hardscapes

Use pavers and planters to create a low-maintenance yard space. Produce different elevations by dividing backyard space into separate locations for an outdoor fireplace and even an outside dining area. Explore RST Brands for fabulous fire tables and outdoor dining sets.

5. Soften Hardscapes with Water-Thrifty Perennials

Forgo any plants that have to be replaced annually and supplement your lawn with native plants and succulents. These types of plants can offer filler around pavers and stepping stones as well as bring pops of color to your outdoor oasis.

6. Plant Trees & Shrubs

Trees and shrubs require little annual maintenance and have a big impact on your landscape. They will add appeal, flowers, and fragrance to any outdoor regions.

7. Compost

Whether you create your own or get quality compost through your local garden center, use nutrient rich compost to yield healthy plants. The healthier your plants, the less time you’ll spend trying to revive or remove them.

8. Train Fido

Large yellow dead spots caused by pet urine are difficult to fix and are an eyesore for your lawn. Train your dog to use only one spot in the yard or make a gravel or mulch dog run to keep your grass and shrubs safe.

9. Create Focal Points with Decorative Planters

Vibrantly colored and artistic containers can double as garden art while housing your plants. Grow a cluster of plants with similar needs in attractive containers placed strategically around your outdoor space to create focal points in each direction.

10. Impact > Quantity

Build one or two key garden areas with exotic-looking plants for maximum impact as opposed to multiple beds and borders in all corners of your yard. Center your efforts to the areas you will visit most, like surrounding your porch or deck, to be able to most enjoy the fruits of your labors.

Low-maintenance features will eliminate your time spent sustaining and allow you to spend more time admiring your yard. Enjoy your beautifully simplified space from the comfort of your outdoor patio furniture.

How to Plan a Romantic Outdoor Dinner at Home

Going out to dinner can be a real hassle and restaurant meals can get expensive. Skip the long lines and forget paying for parking by hosting your next romantic dinner at home on your backyard deck! Follow these great steps to transform your outdoor space into the perfect gourmet dining area for you and someone special.

1. Pick the Spot

Romantic dinners require a change of scenery. If the weather is warm, turn your backyard into a lover’s oasis. Set up your outdoor dining set on the patio or even in the grass and go barefoot. For colder months, bring that lightweight patio furniture inside and create a cozy dining spot in front of the fireplace.

2. Plan Your Meal

Use this opportunity to display your culinary chops. Make the whole experience a date by hitting the grocery store together, followed by prepping and cooking the meal. If you’re looking for a more relaxing experience, contact a local caterer or order out from your favorite restaurant. Accompany your meal with a paired cocktail, wine, or even beer.

  • Save time by marinating or breading meat ahead of time
  • Opt for easier to eat pasta such as tortellini or ravioli
  • Oysters, basil, almonds, and asparagus are great aphrodisiac ingredients to use
  • Take it easy on garlic, onion and strong spices


3. Set the Mood for Romance

Turn off any main lights and dimly light the outdoors with candles, decorative strings of bulbs, or even lamps. Play instrumental music in the background from a stereo or through a relaxing internet station. Set up a picnic-style floor bed in the grass equipped with fluffy pillows and soft blankets on which to later enjoy dessert or stargazing.

4. Prepare a Proper Table

Dress up the table with a clean tablecloth, place a small bouquet of fresh flowers in a short vase for a colorful centerpiece, and set the table with nice dishes and silverware, even if you’re just serving take out. Cloth napkins can also add a fancy touch to your dining experience.

5. Dress Up

Even if pajamas are the official uniform of your home, ditch the baggy duds for just one night. Just as you dress for a night out, dress to impress at home. Dressing up for a special dinner at home shows your effort in wanting to look nice and makes the dinner a special treat.

6. Go Dessert!

It’s not a romantic dinner unless it ends in sharing a delectable dessert. Splurge on fancy truffles to pair with wine or champagne or set out toppings to make your own ice cream sundae. You could even skip the fancy dinner and make the candlelit dessert the sweet surprise main course.

Clear off that patio this summer and visit RST Brands to make your furniture stand out for your romantic outdoor dinner at home.