Checklist to Prepare Your Patio for Grilling Season
Dust off the barbecue and get your tongs ready: it's grilling time! Since you no longer have to think about Christmas decorations ideas and all of your winter clothes are put away, you now have time to make sure your patio is in order for your next cookout with these tips.
Winter weather can tear down what you built up last summer — and with the way winter tore through the country this year, expect to do serious repairs on your patio and deck.
Review and Revive
Before you do any repair work, remove your patio furniture and clear out any debris accumulated over the last six months. Sweep the surface and hose everything down. When everything is cleaned up, start looking for damage.
Stone and brick patios are easy enough — look for cracks and crumbling. Replace bricks that are damaged. Relay sinking bricks by pulling them out using a flathead screwdriver and adding more sand in the problem area. Cracked and damaged concrete can easily be patched with fresh concrete.
Wood decks can suffer more wear and tear from weather. Wood can split, rot or twist. Splintering wood can be sanded and popped-up nails can be hammered back in. If nothing major needs to be repaired, check to see if your wood deck needs to be sealed or stained for the season. On a dry day, sprinkle some water on the deck. If it beads up, you don't need to treat it this season. If the wood absorbs the water, dig out the brushes and wood stain to re-seal it. It's an easy task, but it's tedious. Brush the stain with the grain, just like paint. Two coats will get you through the summer and fall. Be sure to let it dry for 24 hours before moving your patio furniture back on to your deck.
If you didn't cover or store your patio furniture over the winter, be sure to wipe it down with damp cloths before you start repairs. Look for any signs of rust and take care of it with rust removers. Tighten bolts and add lubricants to moving parts. Any cushions and fabrics that are faded don't necessarily need to be replaced, but items with thinning cloth should be exchanged for something new.
Charcoal grills are easy: dump out any ashes and hose it out. If you're feeling ambitious, you can scrub it out with soap and water, but it's meant to be dirty. Make sure there's no rust or corrosion. If it's serious, the grill might need to be replaced — you don't want a grill to cave in while you're cooking.
Gas grills are cleaned similarly to kitchen ovens: turn up the heat as high as it can go, cover it, and let last year's crud cook off for 30-45 minutes. It will be smoky but it's not something to worry about. After you turn off your grill, let it sit to cool before scrubbing it down with a grill brush and cleaning out the grill's drip pans.