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Protect Your Deck This Winter

(ARA) - As the leaves start to change color, you may find yourself reminiscing about the hours of enjoyment spent outside on your deck. While warm weather gatherings and summer barbecues are a favorite pastime of the season, the combination of foot traffic, food spills and weather can take its toll on any deck.

Before the chill in the air turns into harsh winter weather, clean and protect your deck to prepare it for the long winter months ahead.

"Smart homeowners recognize that seasonal changes can wreak havoc on decks unless properly maintained," says Fiona Seal, Rust-Oleum Wood Care brand manager. "But with a few simple steps, you can winterize your deck so it survives the onslaught of ice, snow, sleet and moisture that can cause damage during the months ahead."

Here are a few deck survival tips that can keep your deck looking beautiful longer.

* Clean thoroughly: Ground-in dirt and barbecue stains can ruin your deck's appearance and ultimately cause degrading of the wood. Exposure to sun can cause wood to gray and weather and exposure to moisture can create the perfect conditions for the growth of mold, mildew, moss and algae. So it's important to clean your deck thoroughly to remove the remnants of summer and get it ready for winter.

Use a bleach-free cleaner specifically formulated for wood to restore your deck to its natural beauty without the bleaching or yellowing that chlorine bleach can cause. Cleaners like JOMAX Deck Wash loosen and lift dirt, and remove gray weathered wood and stains from mold and mildew to prepare the deck for a new protective coating. And the convenient hose mount applicators make these cleaners easy to use. Just attach to an ordinary garden hose and spray. It's that simple.

If your stained or painted deck has seen better days, consider stripping any faded or deteriorating finish prior to applying a water repellent sealer or stain.

* Apply a protective finish: After cleaning, it's important to apply a water repellent finish to protect your deck against the damaging effects of winter. Moisture such as ice, snow, sleet and rain can penetrate the surface if not protected, which can cause splitting, cracking and warping. Fortunately, there's a wide variety of premium exterior wood finishes that offer protection against the elements, while giving you the opportunity to achieve any look you desire.

For example, if you're looking for a clear water repellent to protect against water damage without changing the color of the wood, choose a product like Rust-Oleum Premium Water Sealer. It will protect your deck against the elements for three years.

Or for maximum protection against water absorption and maximum durability, choose a product like Rust-Oleum Premium Deck and Fence Stain. It's available in both solid and semi-transparent formulas in 22 different colors so you can choose any look you desire. What's more, it's backed by a 10-Year Satisfaction Guarantee so it will keep your deck protected and looking beautiful for years.

Rust-Oleum Premium Deck and Fence Stain also features breakthrough Cool Touch technology, which reflects solar rays to keep surfaces cooler to the touch. It's the perfect preparation for next season's warm summer weather.

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