Living on or near the beach is a dream for many Southern Californians. The fresh air, cool breezes, views, and sound of the waves are just part of the appeal of owning a coastal home. But anyone who’s achieved the dream will tell you that coastal living involves more home maintenance than what’s required in other areas. Fog, salt air, and humidity are among the elements that can contribute to greater diligence than living in an inland home–indoors as well as outside.
Think about the following upkeep requirements before you follow through with living in a coastal zone. They can affect your home even if it’s several miles from the water.
Coastal home maintenance tips
- Patio furniture can take a real beating from the ocean air and moisture. Protect it by covering it up when not in use and overnight. Remove salt buildup by rinsing furniture weekly if possible, and drying it with a soft cloth. Use a mild cleaner such as dishwashing soap; harsh cleaners should be avoided. To be really effective, apply a coat of car wax or other polishing compound every few months.
- If your powder-coated metal furniture has chipped or eroded to the bare metal, treat it right away or rust will take over. Apply rubbing alcohol to the affected areas, sand them lightly, and then use touchup paint from the manufacturer to cover each spot.
- If your furniture contains fabric, the cushions and pillows should be polyester, vinyl or acrylic (100 percent acrylic is the best choice). They dry quickly and resist mildew. Store fabric pieces inside as much as possible, because even the sturdiest will eventually break down from the elements.
- Salt buildup is very corrosive to metal components, so consider installing fiberglass-frame doors and windows, and avoiding metal parts. Vinyl and aluminum also work well for window frames, but aren’t as anti-corrosive as fiberglass. Hot-dipped metal, galvanized, or stainless steel fasteners are best when you must use metal parts.
- If you need to replace the rollers under sliding-glass doors, stainless steel is one of the best choices, even though it’s not completely rust-resistant.
- To “unstick” salt particles that build up on windows, clean them often and rinse with fresh water. Cleaning all of your home’s exterior surfaces frequently can loosen the salty residue that collects and eats away at the surfaces. The longer something remains damp, the higher the corrosion.
- For window fasteners, hinges, and other metal hardware, apply WD-40 or silicone spray to slow corrosion and pitting. Salt neutralizers also can help protect metal parts.
Bathrooms and Kitchens
- Mold can thrive in damp coastal regions and grow on almost anything, such as wood, carpet, and ceilings. To help prevent mold, regularly inspect all areas of your home where water spray mighty leak inside. Then stop a leak, circulate air in your home with fans or fresh air, clean and dry the carpets and other fabric surfaces, and vacuum. If there’s mold or mildew in shower corners, scrub the surface with mild detergent, dry, and then apply a mixture of one-quarter cup bleach to one quart of water.
- In general, use antifungal cleaners often, inspect and repair bathroom caulking, and squeegee shower doors after use.
- In kitchens, apply a protective wax to metal-front appliances to repel water and rust damage.
- To go beyond simple maintenance, use dehumidifiers and have more vents installed. Some homeowners even install vents in their closets, which are traditionally limited in ventilation.
One of the best things you can do is work with a real estate agent who specializes in coastal homes. He or she will have the experience and knowledge to advise you on how to buy and maintain your abode by the beach.
And before you tackle any major additions or modifications to your home, learn what the California Coastal Commission might have to say about your plans.
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