Exterior Care and Maintenance Part 4

Spring is the best time to think about pressure washing your deck.  It is best to get to it before your shrubs and blooming plants are big enough to be susceptible to water and bleach and big feet.  Pressure washing and staining your deck is an easy and inexpensive way to bring new life to an area of your home that can be enjoyed so much this time of year. Pressure washing will remove unsightly mildew and bring the wood color back to a neglected deck. Treating it with a quality stain will protect it from sun and harsh weather. Deck treatment will seal the wood and keep it from “checking”, fading and deteriorating. And, it will make it look great! 


Deck Health Check 


Check for loose boards or rotted wood. Replace any damaged wood that you find and nail down any loose boards. Make sure your deck is strong and sturdy and that the support posts are in good condition. Depending on the age of the deck, this should be done once a year prior to pressure washing.  


Pressure Washing 


The first step in caring for your deck is to pressure wash it on a regular basis. Once a year is usually sufficient if the deck is treated. If your deck is susceptible to tree residue and/or mold, you may want to do it more often. When pressure washing be careful not to apply too much force as it may damage the wood. 


Staining Your Deck 


The next step in caring for your deck is to apply a coat of top quality deck stain. Cabot Stains are an excellent choice as they hold up well and go on easily. Read the directions on the can and follow them carefully. In most cases your deck will need to be clean and dry when applying the stain. It is also often recommended that only one coat be applied. A coat of quality deck stain will allow the water to bead when it rains and protect the wood from excess moisture and sun.

Countertop Care and Maintenance Part 3

Routine care for most of today’s laminates is very basic.  Everyday cleaning is as quick as a wipe with a damp sponge.  Simply washing your countertops with warm water and dishwashing liquid will keep them looking and feeling new.  Rinsing and drying them will help eliminate any streaks that you may observe, as well as eliminate the chance for any type of residue to build up from the cleaning products.  Ammoniated cleaners work best for cutting through areas that have grease build-up. 

For areas that may be spotted or stained, try using an all-purpose cleaner or bathroom cleaner; be sure to rinse and dry.  

AVOID ACIDS, BLEACH OR ABRASIVE CLEANING PRODUCTS, which may discolor or scratch and permanently damage your countertop surface. 

FOR STUBBORN STAINS, use a general purpose cleaner and a soft, short bristle nylon brush or a mildly abrasive, milky paste made of baking soda and water.  Simply dab a damp, soft cloth in the mixture and wipe using gentle circular motions, pressing lightly on the area affected.  Again, be sure to rinse and dry the laminate. 

Persistent stains can also sometimes be removed with a solvent, such as lacquer thinner, fingernail polish remover, or denatured alcohol—do not let these products stand on the laminate for more than a few minutes.  Be sure to rinse them off and dry the tops.   



Avoid abrasive cleaners and scouring pads.  Never use abrasives on gloss finish.  Never allow products such as oven cleaners or products containing lye (such as drain cleaners) to come into contact with laminate.  If they should accidentally be spilled, wipe up immediately and flush several times with water. 

Chips and scratches are permanent.  Always use a cutting board when slicing or chopping.  Refrain from sliding dishes, keys, crockery, stoneware, or items with rough bottoms across the countertops to reduce wear and tear.  Surface scratches mar the appearance of the laminates and also reduce their stain resistance.  


HEAT AND MOISTURE CAN BE VERY DAMAGING TO LAMINATE COUNTERTOPS: do not let water stand on or near seams.  Do not dry your dishes on a towel over a seam.  Quickly wipe water up that has spilled.  The substrate for the laminate tops is made from particle board.  This material will absorb water that seeps in through the miter or joint and swell, causing the countertop to buckle or delaminate. 

Never place cookware directly from the oven/stovetop onto the laminate.  Extreme heat can cause burning, blistering, and delaminating.  Always use a trivet under cookware and under any heat-producing appliances and keep such items away from seams as well.  

Exterior Care and Maintenance Part 3

Cedar is a durable and resilient wood that can withstand a lot of wear and tear brought on by the weather elements. A cedar fence provides beauty and privacy to the exterior of any home. Cedar fences are low-maintenance, although specific care is required to keep the fence in good condition. Cleaning and general maintenance is necessary to preserve cedar wood fences. If cared for properly, a cedar fence will remain attractive and structurally sound for many years to come. 


Water Damage 

Apply a waterproofing sealer to the cedar fence to protect the wood from splintering, cracking and warping due to the weather elements. Brush on two thin coats of waterproofing sealer using a paint brush. Allow the sealer to dry in between coats. Seal your cedar fence every three to five years.

Avoid letting excessive amounts of water hit the fence. Preventing rainwater from getting on the fence is impractical. Do not place sprinklers where the water stream hits the fence, even after applying a sealer.


Keep bushes and vines from growing up the fence. Planting landscaping around the perimeter of the fence is fine. Cut down weeds and vines that may begin to grow on the surface of the fence.


Clean your cedar fence at least once every year. Combine 3 qts. warm water, 1 qt. oxygen bleach and ¼ cup non-ammonia dish soap into a garden sprayer. Saturate the fence with the cleaning solution. Allow it to set on the fence for about 10 minutes. Scrub any tough stains from the fence with a scrub brush. Rinse the fence clean with plain water from a garden hose.

Remove mold and mildew stains promptly. Mold and mildew will eat away at the wood if left untreated. Mix a solution of 4 oz. oxygen bleach and 1 gallon of hot water into a bucket. Scrub the mold and mildew from the fence with the cleaning solution and a stiff scrub brush. Rinse the fence with plain water. 

Countertop Care and Maintenance Part 2

The following are frequently asked questions regarding the care and maintenance of Cambria Quartz surfaces from the ones that know best… Cambria! 

Q: How do I maintain Cambria’s natural beauty? 

A: Maintaining your Cambria is easy. Simply wash with warm water and pH neutral, non-abrasive cleaners such as Formula 409® or Simple Green®, with a clear water rinse. For dried spills, a wet cotton cloth should be used. Avoid bleach; alkaline (high pH) cleaners such as oven cleaner, abrasive cleansers such as Comet®, Soft Scrub® products or products containing pumice, SOS® pads and other similar products, paint removers, furniture strippers, tarnish or silver cleaners or the like. DO NOT apply any sealers, penetrants or topical treatments to Cambria under any circumstances. If you have any questions about whether a specific product is acceptable, please contact Cambria. 

Q: Is Cambria resistant to surface damage? 

A: Yes, Cambria is structurally more resistant to surface damage than other stone. However, all stone can be damaged by excessive force or pressure. Cambria will resist stains from fruit juices, food coloring, coffee, tea, grape juice and nail polish. Cambria’s high gloss finish and extremely low moisture absorption provides maximum resistance to staining and fully eliminates the need for any sealing. Its low absorbency greatly reduces the potential for bacterial growth, mold or mildew. 

It is possible that small pieces of quartz can come loose due to wear and tear.  In this case you should contact Castle who can work with the Installer to develop a color match for the gap per Cambria’s recommendation, fill it in & polished it to the same gloss.  It’s a fairly simple repair. 


Q: How does Cambria withstand heat? 

A: Natural stone can be damaged by sudden and rapid change of temperature, especially near the edges, as well as direct or sustained heating of the top. Cambria may not withstand the direct transfer of heat from pots and pans and other cooking units such as electric frying pans and griddles, and some crock-pots, roaster ovens and heat lamps. Therefore, the use of a hot pad or trivet is always recommended. 

Q: Can I cut on my Cambria countertop?  

A: Yes. Cambria is pure natural quartz, giving it superior strength and beauty. Quartz is a 7 in strength on Moh’s Hardness Scale. (A diamond is a 10) You will find that Cambria is so durable, even your finest cutlery won’t harm it. 

Q: Will Cambria fade, yellow, or discolor over time? 

A: No, unlike other surfaces made of plastic and polymers, Cambria’s luster and color is natural and everlasting. 

Q: Is it possible that assuring the beauty of my Cambria can be this “care-free?” 

A: Yes, it is really this easy. Cambria’s care-free benefits and everlasting performance gives you more time for the things that matter most to you.