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Super Handyman: Sprucing up patio for summer

If you have a concrete patio, then you have a place to sit and enjoy the great outdoors. You might even have room for a barbecue grill. Heck, if you have a big enough patio, it can be like an outdoor room. But whatever size patio you have, it probably has stains, maybe some mildew and who knows what else. Here are some great things you can do to clean it up and get it ready for another wonderful summer.

Start by removing everything you can. Sweep or blow off any leaves, dirt and other debris that have built up on the surface.

Take a close look at the surface. A power washer is a great tool for cleaning the surface. Just use a nozzle with a wide-spray pattern. If you can find it, there’s a rotary surface cleaning nozzle that will make this job even easier. If you need to use a cleaner, use one that is compatible with your sprayer. If you don’t have a power washer, you can use a chemical concrete cleaner and a good old scrub brush.

Once the bulk of the surface is clean, you can treat individual stains. Mildew stains can be removed with a bleach and water (50/50 mix) treatment. Scrub off the stains, being careful not to get the bleach on yourself or your plans. TSP, or trisodium phosphate, also is a wonderful cleaner for stains on concrete. Vinegar can be used on mineral salts that can leach through concrete from the ground below.

After cleaning, you need to consider protecting your clean surface. A penetrating sealer or stain will soak down into the pores of the concrete and give you really good protection.

Some are completely clear and others add a lot of color. Most will last a long time, too, since they won’t wear off. You may need to reapply after a year or so to maintain the protective properties. Surface paint also can be used, but it needs to be made for concrete in order to last. The best “paints” are epoxy, and will last if properly prepped. Just follow the package directions for lasting results.

Make sure all tables and chairs can rubber or plastic “feet” to protect your surface. Place catch trays under all potted plants to keep excess moisture under control. Keep up the good work, and your patio will be the perfect place for you and your friends to party this summer!


Q: I have wood floors in my house. They appear to be glued to the concrete slab. My wood floor is glued to my slab. There are two places where the floor seems to have come loose and sounds hollow when you step on it. Is it possible to glue these spots back down without ripping up the floor? – M.D.

A: You can try to glue it back down by drilling a small hole into the center of the loose spot, then shooting a syringe full of glue in under the flooring. Put a couple of loads of glue in if you need to, and then put weight on it overnight or for a couple of days to ensure it gets spread out and cures properly. Then patch over the hole with some wood putty. Good luck!


Storage for lawn and garden tools or pool needs doesn’t have to mean a large storage shed. Rubbermaid has a smaller Slide Lid Shed that is perfect for smaller storage needs such as this. It looks like a big shed, but it’s much smaller. It’s easy to assemble, won’t leak, is hard to dent and is fairly weather-resistant. The durable double wall construction even allows you to install shelving, wall anchors and other customizing features. The “lid,” or roof, slides on a smooth track to roll back out of the way so you can get what you need out. You can even lock it up if you wish to. These are available at many home centers and hardware stores, and you can get additional information online at