Summer’s finally here, and that means it’s time to soak up as many hours in the great outdoors as possible. For the optimal relaxation spot, your summer porch, try out these 10 tips.

Paint the Front Door

Nothing makes a more cheerful first impression than a freshly painted front door. Painting exterior doors is best done during warm weather, on a day with low humidity. Don’t be tempted to paint the door while it’s still on the hinges. For best results, start early in the day, so your front door can be back in service by nightfall. It may be tempting to paint the door while it’s still on the hinges, but you’ll get better results by taking it down and removing any hardware before getting started.

Set Out Plants

A little greenery goes a long way. Whether you pick up a few young seedlings at the nursery or fill hanging planters with cascading flowers, porch plants can change the whole feel of the space. Rather than putting potted plants directly on the porch floor, place them on risers so air can circulate below the pot, reducing the risk of rot to your flooring.

Pressure Wash the Porch

Thorough washing is the first step to creating a comfortable setting for your furniture and accessories in your outdoor living spaces. If you don’t own a pressure washer, you can rent one for about $100 per day–choose one that produces at least 2,000 psi of pressure. Before you begin, practice handling the washer first in a low area, spraying from about two feet away from the siding and at a slightly downward angle to avoid spraying water up into the siding.

Install a Door Knocker

Door knockers can be as by-the-book or as whimsical as you’d like, but whichever one you chose, they add a custom touch to any house. They come in a variety of styles from a monogrammed ring to cheeky animals and are either surface-mounted or through-the-door mounted, so make sure to follow the instructions that come with your chosen model carefully.

Clean Exterior Light Fixtures

Over time, it’s inevitable that porch light fixtures will accumulate dirt inside, so one of our tips is to take time this summer to give them a quick cleaning. Shut off the power to the light before taking it off the wall. Dismantle any parts that can be dismantled. Spray a cloth with glass cleaner (don’t spray the light itself, as you don’t want to get the electrical components wet) and wipe down the inside of the glass panels. Allow it to dry completely before putting things back together.

Lay Down a Welcome Mat

Aside from being a cozy accessory, placing rugs outside the front door keeps your indoor flooring clean and dry, and reduces the amount of dirt and allergens from being tracked inside the house. Make sure to vacuum it regularly throughout the season.

Perform a Safety Inspection

Before summer kicks off, one of our most important tips is to give your porch a safety inspection. Check that all fasteners are tight and free of corrosion, that support posts and joists are secure, and that there’s no decaying of boards, stairs, or rails. Inspect the connections where the porch structure is attached to the house carefully. If you can access below the porch, inspect it for excess moisture or mold. If you see any warning signs, make the necessary repairs immediately, or call in a pro.

Silence Slamming Screen Doors

If your screen door slams shut, it’s easy to fix it by making a few adjustments. Simply turn the adjustment screw to make the door close harder or softer. Turn the screw little by little, while you test out closing the door until it closes just right. If that doesn’t work, you may need to change the mounting position of the connecting pin.

Accessorize

The best porches look like an extension of the indoor living spaces. To achieve a comfortable, homey look, set out a few accessories to liven up your outdoor space. Colorful pillows and cushions pack a big punch­—look for high-performance indoor/outdoor material like Sunbrella. Layer on candles, lanterns, wreaths, and seasonal décor for an extra boost of personality.

Upgrade House Numbers

Every house has ’em, but not all homeowners make the effort to upgrade their house numbers. Beyond the simple numbers available at the local hardware store, some beautiful options are available online. Consider your house style when you make your purchase: oversize numbers with thin fonts make a modern statement, whereas hand-painted ceramic tiles look great on craftsman-style homes.

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