You hastily committed to hosting your family and neighbors for a day of food and fun in the sun, but as the weekend approaches… you might realize there’s a lot of work to be done! Hosting a great Memorial Day barbecue comes with great responsibility. For many of you, this is the first time you’re using the deck, patio furniture and grill for entertaining this year. Time to knock the cobwebs off and transform your party space. Window Genie is here to offer our simple last-minute guide to prepping for a Memorial Day barbecue. We’ll let you handle what’s going to be on the menu.
Inspect your deck!
Before you break out the patio furniture or fire up the grill, make sure your deck is safe! Winter is hard on decks, especially those made of wood. Debris buildup, warping, splintering, and cracking are all issues faced by deck owners after winter is gone. Give your deck a thorough sweeping and make sure no nails or screws are popping out. Safety first!
It’s always a good idea to make sure your deck is structurally sound, also. Inspect the deck’s framing if possible. Pay attention to intersections, such as where joists meet beams. Use a screwdriver to poke any suspect area. If the tool sinks into the wood easily, the wood could be rotting. If you find problems, especially on supports or where the deck connects to the house, call in a professional to get them fixed right away.
Once your deck passes you structural inspection, you can begin the cleaning. The easiest, and most obvious, way to clean a deck is with a pressure washer. There are several low powered pressure washers marketed directly to homeowners. A pressure washer is not difficult to operate. However, it is very easy for an untrained individual to damage wood with too much pressure. If you have never used a pressure washer before, experiment on a few old pieces of wood first. If you have a second story deck, you may be able to practice on the non-visible underneath portion. If you are also using a chemical cleaner, you will be able to clean the deck at a lower pressure. If you are buying a pressure washer aimed at the home use, your only option will likely be cold water. That’s okay. Window Genie uses and recommends cold water for wood surfaces.
Once your deck is safe and clean, it’s time to unveil the patio furniture!
Whether you’ve been storing it in the shed, had it covered in a tarp or just plain left it out in the elements all winter long, it’s likely going to need some dusting off and sprucing up… especially if you live in a high pollen area! Do some research based on the material your table and chairs are made of to be sure you’re using the appropriate cleaning method. It’s likely that a simple water + dish soap mixture will be mild enough for a multi-surface usage, but it’s better to be safe than sorry! Plastic chairs can easily be pressure washed or even blasted with a hose in the backyard. If you’re working with wicker though, be careful of high pressure as you could splinter or fray your furniture. Glass table tops are fairly easy to clean with a simple spray glass cleaner and sponge. Bonus tip: If you don’t already have one, while staging your furniture, consider investing in a large patio umbrella to shield guests from the sun’s harmful (and hot!) rays. This will make a huge difference in the comfort of your guests, and keep foot traffic (and dirty shoes) out of your home during the BBQ.
Clean that Grill!
Is there really anything more important than the grill at your cookout? As with your patio furniture, grills come in a variety of types, shapes and sizes, so it’s best to do a bit of research on how to best clean your particular grill. Whether you’re working with a charcoal or gas grill, having a fresh, cleaned and seasoned grill will make or break the cookout.
Step one: Make sure it works, and have backup fuel! Replace your propane or purchase fresh, new wood. Nothing puts a damper on Memorial Day like running out of fuel to grill.
Step two: Make sure it’s clean! A great place to start is by turning on the grill or heating up some coal so you can “burn off” any excess grime or caked on food from last season. Using your grill brush, you can gently sweep off the ash after just a few minutes of high heat blasting your grates. Then, remove your grates and thoroughly clean them with a mild soap solution. For your REALLY tough caked on jobs, some may suggest harsh cleaning solutions that include ammonia, but we’re not really a fan of using anything that could potentially create harmful fumes or taint your food. We think vinegar + baking soda or simply dish soap in a big plastic soaking tub should do just fine!
Step three: Season your freshly cleaned grates. If you’re a long-time fan of cast iron, you know how important it is to season your grill or pans before using them. Our friends at Char-Broil laid out some great directions for seasoning your grates…
1. While the grill is off, and the grates are cold, coat all the surfaces of the grates and emitters with the high heat cooking oil (such as Canola or Peanut oil).
2. Wipe up any excess oil off with a paper towel — the oil must coat the grates evenly.
3. Ignite and heat up your grill for 16 minutes or until the oil burns off or starts smoking.
4. The shiny finish should now be dark brown or bronze. The darker and more seasoned the grates become, the hotter and more evenly they will cook.
5. Once the grill has cool and Put a light coat of oil on after each use, once the grill has cooled. This will help prevent rusting.
They even provide a fantastic info-graphic that breaks down their recommendation based on type of grill. Pin & save this one for later!
Prevent pests from joining the party
Nothing is worse than being bit up during an otherwise awesome backyard BBQ. Get ahead of the onslaught of mosquitoes with a few simple steps.
· Kill two birds with one stone by planting some bug repelling plants! Nothing livens up an outdoor space like some new foliage, so surround your deck with everything from citronella grass to rosemary, basil, lavender and scented geraniums.
· Survey the surrounding area for standing water. This includes bird baths, kiddie pools, and empty flower pots. Bugs LOVE to set up shop in even the smallest pool of water, so take notice and rid the party scene of bug love nests.
· If you have the ability to set up a few fans, keeping the air moving can really help deter small flying insects while keeping your guests comfortable and cool.
· Bug spray. Duh. If you’re not into the store-bought stuff, mixing water, witch hazel and eucalyptus essential oil works just as well! Make a few spray bottles and keep them handy during your party for guests to use. You can even spray down your furniture before guests arrive to freshen and de-bug your cushions.
· Citronella candles. Double duh. Go crazy with the bug repelling candles, it’ll help set the mood! Especially if your cookout goes into the night, (when bugs are really going to become more active) having a ton of candlelight can only add to the ambiance.
We hope this guide helps to steer you in the right direction his holiday weekend. Be safe & have fun!