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Now that temperatures are finally warming, outdoor life beckons like never before. But is your home ready to shine this summer?
After you’re done with your spring home maintenance checklist, it’s time to level up and make your house not just functional but also the perfect setting to enjoy the best time of year: summer.
No need to feel overwhelmed, though. From improving your outdoor living area to maintaining a cool interior, here’s how you can get your home ready for the summer — one project at a time.
Years of enduring extreme temperatures, wind and precipitation will eventually wreak havoc on exposed wood — and your deck is no exception. Spring is the perfect time to thoroughly inspect your deck to make sure it’s safe and ready for (bare) foot traffic.
Check the deck boards and railings for any cracks or splinters that could cause injuries. It’s also a good idea to test balusters and boards to ensure nothing is loose or detached. Also, check for rot at the structural joists and posts.
Next steps: If you find any problems, it’s time to make repairs so you can be ready to host parties and enjoy al fresco meals on balmy evenings. You can address small issues like popped screws on your own. Or, you can hire a deck contractor or carpenter to tackle more complex repairs.
So you checked your deck, and it’s functional and safe. It’s just that it’s looking a little... blah. Maybe the color has faded, or perhaps the natural wood has turned a dull gray over time. It happens — but you don’t have to live with it. A good sanding and refinishing will inject new life into your deck, deepening the color and making it a real standout in your landscape.
Remodeling’s 2021 Cost vs. Value report found that a deck comes in at No. 8 on the list of projects with the best return on investment. When you make your deck look like new, you’re protecting that investment and making sure your home's resale value is as high as it can be. You’ll also wow your neighbors and guests.
Next steps: Figure out what type of look you want for your deck. Depending on your deck’s existing finish, a professional might need to strip the paint first, clean the deck, sand it and apply a new stain. Or, they might just need to clean, sand and repaint it. Discuss your options with a pro who specializes in deck refinishing.
A lush, green lawn is the gold standard for outdoor living. It provides a play area for the kids and a gorgeous backdrop for flower gardens and stately trees. If you have a lawn, keeping it in top condition brings a real sense of pride, too.
Healthy lawns require 1 to 1 ½ inch of water every week to look their best. That’s a tall order in many regions, so you’ll have to give Mother Nature a helping hand with regular irrigation.
Next steps: Set up sprinklers and install a timer to make sure your lawn always gets what it needs. Consider hiring a pro to install a pop-up system for a more permanent solution.
For your other lawn care needs (fertilizing, mowing, etc.), set up routine lawn care service.
A patio can be so much more than a piece of concrete where you keep your grill. With some imagination, you can create a whole new outdoor room to host dinners, play games and keep lively conversations going deep into the night.
Next steps: Address the foundation. If you have cracked concrete or missing bricks, it's time to make repairs — or replace your patio entirely. Or, may you just need to repaint or restain it. A patio or concrete contractor can help you design, upgrade and install the perfect patio for outdoor living.
Once you’ve got your patio up to snuff, think about how it can function as a room. Add an outdoor rug as an anchor to your furniture, and consider setting up separate areas for dining and lounging. You’ll also want to create a bit of shade for the afternoon and maybe even a fire pit or patio heater in preparation for cooler nights as the season comes to an end.
Just like indoor decor, no outdoor room is complete without a functional lighting plan. While string lights and candles are classics for a reason, you can do so much more to improve safety and functionality.
Add task lighting on or over your table so guests can see what they’re eating, and make sure garden paths, stoops and steps are well lit for safety.
Next steps: If you don’t have sufficient outdoor outlets to handle your lighting needs (or if you don’t know how to install lights), consult an electrician or outdoor lighting installation company.
A landscape architect can also provide a beautiful lighting plan that will spotlight focal points or create a delicate leafy pattern on your walls by shining through the trees.
Once you’ve created your ideal backyard oasis, you’ll be spending a lot of time outside this summer. Do you like the view? Or will you find yourself staring at your neighbor’s trash cans instead of enjoying the sunset from your patio?
A privacy fence does more than shield you from neighbors’ prying eyes. It also lets you hide unsightly views with an attractive piece of architecture.
When selecting a fence, consider your home’s style. Color is also important. Natural wood tones will blend into the landscape, while classic white picket fences will pop. You may not need a full-height fence on all sides of your property, so consider a mix of heights or even a blend of fencing and privacy hedges to create softer, more fluid lines.
Next steps: If you don’t want to DIY this project, hire a fence contractor or builder. They’ll also show you plenty of fence styles and colors to choose from.
Related content: How much does fence installation cost?
Pool season is finally here, and everyone (especially the kids) can’t wait to dive in. But not so fast — you need to complete a few pool opening steps to ensure it’s clean and swimmable. For example, you’ll likely need to do the following (not necessarily in this order):
Next steps: Get your pool equipment out and begin the process. Of course, you can also hire a pool cleaning company to take care of these tasks for you.
No matter how much you’ve been dreaming of summer living, you’ll be indoors at least some of the time. When you are, you want to feel cool and comfortable. Help your air conditioner keep up with conditions by making sure your house is well insulated against the blazing summer heat.
Purdue University Extension estimates that floors, walls and ceilings account for 31% of energy loss and windows another 10%. Fix these with proper insulation, and you can save money in the long runbig bucks.
Next steps: If your home isn’t already insulated, talk to an insulation specialist about how best to get buttoned up, whether it’s blowing cellulose into the space between studs or adding loose-fill or batt to the attic.
You can also invest in insulated curtains or honeycomb blinds (aka “cellular shades”) to help block the sun and add a layer of insulation over windows for even more protection.
Related content: How much does insulation cost?
Many home experts recommend servicing your air conditioner at least once a year. Ideally, you should’ve done this before the start of summer. But if not, no worries — it’s always better late than never.
Next steps: Search for a top-rated technician in your area. Then, schedule service. Also, let your contractor know if your HVAC has been making weird noises, blowing warm air instead of cool air or leaking water. There might be a bigger problem that needs to be addressed.
Related content: Your HVAC troubleshooting checklist.
If you’re one of the many people looking forward to taking a much-needed vacation this summer, now’s a great time to install some smart home technology.
While it’s convenient to have voice-activated features year-round, smart technology really shines while you’re out of town. Controlling your thermostat remotely helps you save on energy costs, while turning lights on and off at random times will help make it appear like you’re home to dissuade burglars from breaking in. For additional security, nothing beats checking your door camera from anywhere in the world.
The bottom line: making your home a little smarter will make your vacation more relaxing.
Next steps: Learn about the costs of setting up a home security system, and figure out what type of features and equipment you want.
Then, reach out to a few professionals to explore your options, get cost estimates and set up an appointment for installation.
Getting your home ready for the summer doesn’t have to be a chore. It doesn’t even have to be a DIY project. If you’d rather spend the season relaxing, you can find outstanding professional services for all of your summer maintenance tasks and home improvement projects on Thumbtack.
Tell us what you’re looking for and we’ll show you pros right for the job, with prices.