<h2 style="margin: 10pt 0in 0pt"><font size="3" color="#990000">Deck and patio checklist: How to hold off winter weather and prepare for next year</font></h2><p><span style="line-height: 200%; font-family: ‘Verdana’,’sans-serif’; letter-spacing: 1pt; font-size: 10pt">(ARA) – The patio season is winding down, but it doesn’t mean it’s time to neglect your outdoor space. While the season for outdoor decorating and hosting is about to take a break, you can do a number of things to make sure your deck or patio stays in good shape for next year. Winter also presents a great time to work on some projects that can make your outdoor space look even better once the warm weather comes back.</span></p><span style="line-height: 200%; font-family: ‘Verdana’,’sans-serif’; letter-spacing: 1pt; font-size: 10pt"><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">Before the weather gets too cold, you’ll want to make sure you take care of a few things to protect your deck or patio from Old Man Winter’s wrath. Follow this checklist as you prepare for winter:</p>  <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">* Clean your patio furniture before putting it away for the season. If you don’t have a place to store furniture inside, cover it with a tarp to protect it from the elements.</p>  <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">* Bring flower pots and other containers used to hold plants inside, as ice or cold temperatures could cause them to crack.</p>  <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">* Whether you have a cement patio or a wood deck, it’s a good idea to clear it of leaves and other organic material, as it could cause mold, rot, staining or mildew if it is left there all winter.</p>  <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">* The period before winter provides a great time to clean and stain your deck. Staining your deck helps protect it from the elements and the process works best when the temperature is around 50 degrees.</p>  <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">How to stain a deck: Remove all dirt and debris. If old deck coating is peeling, you should remove it using stain stripper. Before staining, apply wood deck cleaner liberally and allow to stand for five to 10 minutes. You may have to scrub areas with hard-to-remove-stains. Rinse with a hose and lightly sand the surface after it has dried (recommended 24 hours after rinsing), removing dust before applying stain. If using a solid color, apply two coats of stain. If using a clear or semi-transparent stain, one coat will suffice. Always "back brush" for optimum penetration and uniformity. Avoid staining in direct sunlight or on hot surfaces.</p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal"> </p><div style="text-align: center"><object classid="clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000" codebase="http://download.macromedia.com/pub/shockwave/cabs/flash/swflash.cab#version=6,0,29,0" width="425" height="282"><param name="movie" value="../images/banners/17c.swf" /><param name="quality" value="high" /><param name="menu" value="false" /><param name="wmode" value="" /><embed src="../images/banners/17c.swf" wmode="" quality="high" menu="false" pluginspage="http://www.macromedia.com/go/getflashplayer" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="425" height="282"></embed></object></div>  <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">Olympic exterior stains offer deck cleaners, stain strippers and exterior stains to accommodate any type of deck, as well as how-to videos at <a href="http://www.olympic.com/">www.olympic.com</a> .</p>  <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">Once the cold weather sets in, it’s a great time to head to your garage to work on some do-it-yourself projects that will improve the look of your patio in the spring. Here are a few suggestions:</p>  <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">* Build planters for flowers or other plants so you can place them on your patio this spring.</p>  <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">* Stain wood furniture or other wood items that you display on your patio. If you have leftover stain that you used on your deck, this is a great way to get more use out of it. If you’re going for a more colorful look, stains are also available in a wide range of colors – not just brown. </p>  <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">* Make rolling plant caddies to keep your plants from sitting directly on your deck, which can cause stains and decay. For a how-to video and step-by-step instructions, visit <a href="http://www.olympic.com/">www.olympic.com</a> .</p>  <p><span style="line-height: 200%; font-family: ‘Verdana’,’sans-serif’; letter-spacing: 1pt; font-size: 10pt">By giving your deck the proper treatment during fall and tackling some projects during your downtime in the winter, you’ll be able to have your patio looking good in no time once spring rolls around.</span></p></span>