7 tips for outdoor buildings

The structures in your yard should only add to the happiness your home brings you; they shouldn't be heartaches and eyesores. Follow these tips for maintaining your outdoor buildings.

7 tips for outdoor buildings

1. Tighten fasteners in the spring

  • Bring a screwdriver along to tighten loose screws and a hammer to reset wobbly nails.
  • If you come across nails that have become too loose to reset, replace them with larger, rust-resistant nails or screws.
  • Have a notepad and pencil handy so that you can jot down any other problems.

2. Protect unfinished wood

  • Although it isn't necessary to paint or stain redwood and cedar structures, such as arbors, play sets, sheds, and pergolas, adding a coat of water-repellant wood preservative every few years will keep moss and algae at bay and slow aging due to exposure to the sun's UV rays. Use a water-based, nontoxic preservative.

3. Keep greenhouses well ventilated

  • Good air circulation is essential to grow healthy plants and prevent mould growth and other problems.
  • While temperatures are rising in the morning, keep the vents open, but close them in the afternoon to conserve heat.
  • To avoid having to manually adjust the vents, consider installing automatic vent openers, which can be set to open and close at predetermined temperatures.

4. Beware of wasps

  • Pergolas and arbors may look lovely covered in grapevines, but birds and wasps will also be attracted to the fruit. Not only can such intruders spoil your quality time outdoors, they can leave quite a mess.
  • To get the best use from these structures, don't use them to grow crops. Stick with ivy or a flowering vine.

5. Painting an outdoor shed

  • A couple of coats of acrylic latex paint could be all you need to spruce up a faded outdoor wooden shed.
  • If you're painting a new wooden structure, prime it first with one coat of an alkyd, oil-based primer before applying one or more coats as needed of acrylic latex paint. Oil-based paint is more likely than latex-based paint to trap moisture that can give rise to blistering and rot.
  • Instead of paint, you may be better off applying a solid-colour latex stain. Although it doesn't last quite as long as paint, stain doesn't peel or blister.

6. Give your greenhouse a summer cleaning

  • Take advantage of the warm summer months, when plants are moved outdoors, to clean and make repairs to your greenhouse. Give windows and shelves a thorough washing with detergent and disinfectant (both are necessary for battling insects and diseases, but avoid any contact with plants).
  • Use an algaecide to eliminate slime from flooring and benches.
  • Also, be sure to inspect the windows for damage. Temporarily repair cracks with glazing tape, but replace broken panes as soon as possible.
  • Don't forget to check all hoses for leaks, and repair or replace any rusted shelving, frame parts or faucets.

7. Repairing a leaky tin roof

  • Once you've located the source of the leak, paint a circle around the area. On a clear day, measure the distance from the mark you've painted to two points on the roof's edge, and measure the same distances on the outside.
  • Clean the area with a wire brush and patch it with siliconized acrylic caulk or polyurethane roof and flashing sealant. Make sure the roof is dry before you start; otherwise the caulk won't adhere.
  • An even better, though more expensive solution is to reseal the roof using an acrylic elastomeric coating that you brush on in layers.
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