If you just bought a new home near the coast (or your beach home is even relatively close to the ocean), you should understand that beach home maintenance is absolutely necessary and a bit more involved than your average home.
Are beach homes hard to maintain?
Homes near the beach are generally more difficult to maintain because materials like wood and metal are more likely to become brittle or oxidize due to a combination of moisture, salt air, sand, and wind.
In addition to routine maintenance to protect your home from the elements, beach homes are also more costly to ensure; aside from routine maintenance, you must be prepared as a coastal homeowner for emergency maintenance tasks, like boarding up windows from time to time in the event of a hurricane.
A little more time and money on home maintenance comes with the territory if you live at the coast…but no need to stress. In this post, I’ll cover 21 basic maintenance tasks you should add to your list this year.
1. Review your home insurance policy
It’s never a bad time to review your insurance policy for your beach home, because you may be missing out on coverage you need or discounts. For example, adding hurricane shutters or hurricane windows could save you quite a bit in monthly premiums.
On that note, if you have hurricane shutters, you should inspect them every 3 months (another item to add to your list!) Check out this post I wrote for a complete tutorial on how to clean and lubricate them.
Review your deductibles
Make sure you know what your deductible is for named storms, wind, and other coastal-specific deductibles; some insurance companies won’t cover homes on the coast, so make sure you know exactly what your policy covers.
This article by Insuramatch offers provides a good overview of a few insurance FAQs for coastal homes.
Not a traditional maintenance task, but important.
2. Power wash your beach home
Like your car, your beach house needs the occasional rinsing as well, especially if you live directly on the ocean. Yes, paints do help seal in moisture to a degree, but salt can penetrate just about anything.
For this reason, it’s a good idea to power wash your home at least once a year if you live a few miles away from the ocean, and more frequently if you are oceanfront.
Frequency: Every 6 months
3. Apply latex paint to the exterior
Many experts recommend acrylic latex paint for coastal homes because it retains color well and makes it easy for salt to flake off when washed.
On average, most beach homes will need to be repainted about every 5 years, possibly more depending on factors like humidity and sun exposure.
You can even apply a surface sealer to help paint bound to your beach house. Primer/paint is one thing, but you can take it a step further using a product like Perma-Crete to ensure paint bonds to your home effectively. Since beach homes tend to flake paint, it could buy you a little extra time between paint jobs.
Frequency: every 3-5 years
4. Inspect protective devices like smoke alarms
If you typically rent your beach home, it’s easy to forget to check things like smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguishers. Always stock extra batteries for your smoke alarm (and if you have renters). If you don’t live at the coast full time, may want to consider a property management company for a few of these tasks.
A good property management company will be able to handle everything from rental agreements, to finding handymen who can change your filters and batteries.
- Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors: every 6 months
- Fire extinguishers: Varies based on type (commercial vs. personal extinguishers) and jurisdiction. Some states require fire extinguishers by serviced once per year (per the NFPA) for all rental properties plus monthly inspections by the owner.
5. Add protection to your deck or other wood surfaces
You can apply a wood stain or sealer if you desire to protect your deck or other wooden surfaces from the elements; if you don’t stain your deck at the coast, expect the wood to turn a gray color within about 6 months.
Check out my post on wood preservation for docks, where I cover 4 products you can use to protect your deck, wood railing, or other exposed surface.
6. Lubricate door hinges
Squeaky doors as you probably know are common at the beach because it’s easy for sand and salt to corrode your door’s hinges.
Try adding a little bit of WD-40 or another penetrating oil to those squeaky screen door jambs the next time you’re at the beach. A little goes a long way, and can also be applied to window locks and other mechanisms that are prone to rust and corrosion.
Frequency: Once a year
7. Remove rust and corrosion from metal surfaces
If you catch rust before it spreads, you should remove it and protect it with an anti-rust coasting (the next tip); a little TLC will make those door hinges, handles, outdoor shower fixtures, and other metal fixtures last a lot longer.
The best way to remove rust from outdoor fixtures is to assess the situation and start with something mild like this Goo Gone rust remover.
This product is good for fixtures that have pitting and a few rust spots that don’t require a wire brush or sandpaper. Some people even submerge door or cabinet handles in this solution to remove the rust. If pitting has occurred, you’re better off using light abrasion, however for extreme cases you want to use a chemical solution after you use a wire brush.
As always, be sure you wear gloves before dealing with rusty surfaces.
Frequency: Every 6 months
8. Coat metal surfaces in anti-rust coating
If you’ve just removed rust or want to protect new fixtures from corrosion, consider picking up a product like Everbrite; Everbrite is ideal for protecting architectural metals like railings, and other outdoor metals exposed to salt air and sand.
This product you can find here on Amazon comes in different sizes. Everbright The before/after photos I must say are pretty impressive. Everbright also makes other coatings like ProtectaClear you can use indoors to protect and polish stainless steel, jewelry, and other metals.
Frequency: Every 6 months or as needed
9. Cover grills and furniture when not in use
Covers are simply a good idea for anything left out at a beach house. I recommend storing bikes, grills, and other metal objects in a storage shed or garage if possible to get them out of the open air; if you must leave furniture out, pick up some quality furniture covers.
Golf cart covers, grill covers, covers for metal tables and chairs…if a cover exists for any metal item you don’t regularly use—always clean the item and apply a cover when not in use.
You don’t have to be obsessive about small items, just be mindful about what you leave outside for an extended period of time.
I don’t recommend using a car cover at the beach all the time (because covers can scratch vehicles) but you’re better off washing, waxing, and covering an old Jeep or golf cart left outside if you plan to be out of town for a while.
If you can, always keep motorcycles and other vehicles indoors AND covered to protect them from sand, wind, moisture, and the sun. The more barriers of protection you have, the better.
Frequency: always, or as needed depending on usage
10. Add mulch to retain moisture and keep weeds out
Mulch or pine straw can help keep weeds out and keep plants hydrated for coastal homes, especially if you don’t regularly maintain your lawn. Before you apply any kind of mulch or straw, you can also lay down black plastic sheeting to prevent weeds from popping up in the first place.
Sandy soil at the beach will benefit from mulch and straw to keep plants alive more so than traditional soils. Plan to freshen up those flower beds with new mulch at the beginning of spring, as well as at the end of summer.
Frequency: 1-2 times per year
11. Service your HVAC unit
Sand and salt can reduce the lifespan of common HVAC systems by about 8 years according to Conditioned Air Inc. The condensers and compressors on heat pumps and AC units tend to fail prematurely at the coast, but there are a few things you can do to prevent rust and corrosion.
- Remove salt from your HVAC coils periodically
- Add an HVAC fence screen to help protectable your unit from the elements
- Add a breathable HVAC top cover to help protect the fan from sand and sea spray
- Use a product like Coil Shield, designed to stop salt air corrosion on HVAC condenser coils
- Check fan blades 1-2 times per year or have your HVAC unit serviced annually
12. Clean salt off of windows
Due to a lot of salt buildup, one common method for cleaning windows at the coast is to mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle.
This mixture can dissolve and remove salt quite easily after about 5 minutes. If salt buildup on windows is severe where your home is located, you can find salt wash concentrate here on Amazon; this stuff also contains a corrosion inhibitor if you have metal fixtures and can also be used on boats.
How to protect your coastal home’s windows
If you just have a few windows to protect, consider applying a product like Invisible Glass or a Nano-scale glass coating for maximum protection after you clean off the salt.
Frequency: Clean and protect windows every 3 months or as needed
13. Prevent or get rid of sandspurs
It’s always a good idea to remove existing sandspurs from your property if you can to prevent children (and anyone, really) from stepping on them.
Since sandspurs are a seasonal weed, growing out your grass can prevent them from popping up, as well as applying a pre-emergent herbicide like nitrogen.
Check out my post on how to prevent or remove sandspurs in coastal areas to learn more.
Frequency: Treat 1-2 times per year at the beginning of March and in June
14. Apply varnish and polish to indoor wood
Polyurethane varnish is a common method for protecting finished wood furniture indoors and will give it a glossy look and feel.
You can also apply something like Feed-N-Wax designed to polish all type of wood furniture. The wax acts as a protective element keep the wood from drying out.
Frequency: As needed
15. Change your air filters and dust ceiling fan blades
Since sand and salt can accumulate in your filters more easily at the coast, it’s best to purchase high-quality air filters and check them frequently.
If air quality is an issue and you have an air purifier, it’s also a good idea to check these filters about once a year or as recommended by the manufacturer. While you’re tackling air quality maintenance, go ahead and dust off those fan blades and check lightbulbs.
Frequency: Monthly or as needed
16. Spray for pests
Roaches and other insects love humidity, so don’t take pest control lightly. I’ve seen some of the largest roaches I’ve ever seen at the beach, so make sure you have your local pest control company spray every few months.
Termites, sand fleas, cockroaches, and a lot of other insects hang out at the coast, so be sure you treat insects that are common in your area.
Frequency: Every 3-6 months
17. Check for mold and mildew
Since you’re more likely to encounter mold and mildew at the coast, don’t neglect showers, tubs, and other areas that accumulate moisture easily.
You may want to install fans in all your bathrooms if you haven’t already to prevent mold or mildew, and make sure the rooms are properly ventilated. There are a lot of mildew-removing sprays to clean bathrooms and dehumidifiers, but if you notice signs of mold, it’s best to have a professional treat the area.
Frequency: Every 1-2 months depending on the humidity
18. Rinse your vehicles and bikes
If you keep vehicles or bikes at your beach home, hit them with the water hose from time to time. Rusting occurs pretty easily on bike chains, so it’s never a bad idea to wash them occasionally—especially prior to storing them.
I’m all for protecting and covering expensive items, but rinsing your vehicle’s wheels just to knock off the sand is never a bad idea from time to time. You’re at the beach…yes, but not letting wet sand dry is always a good thing.
Frequency: As needed and before storing
19. Use a leather conditioner on couches and furniture
If you do opt for leather indoors, be mindful that salt and sand can cause leather to age a bit faster. Every few months, it’s a good idea to wipe down any indoor leather furniture, since you’ll likely have sand, salt, and everything else from the beach in the cushions.
A good leather cleaner and conditioner is also a great option to both clean your furniture and prevent it from drying out.
Frequency: 1-2 times per year
20. Wipe down kitchen surfaces
Metal, plastic, rubber..you should wipe down any kitchen surface that is routinely exposed to moisture and water. Growing up, I’ve seen neglected kitchen knives rust at my family’s beach trailer; it doesn’t take that much water to corrode metal of any kind.
Especially if you frequently have guests, add table/countertop wipedown to your refrigerator checklist.
Frequency: As needed
21. Change out moisture absorbers in closets and other locations
Moisture absorbers are great to pick up to add to those musty closets, storage buildings, and anywhere else moisture tends to accumulate. You can also find charcoal moisture absorbers (for vehicles) or baking soda (to keep your fridge fresh) if you prefer.
Frequency: Every 3-6 months or as needed
With a little routine maintenance, you can avoid costly problems down the road like peeling paint or HVAC problems.
What routine maintenance tips do you have on your list that I missed? Let me know in the comments.
Check out my post on 7 Beach House Essentials Every Homeowner needs for more tips as a coastal homeowner.