A gazebo or pergola in your backyard is undoubtedly a prized possession for many. Making your property investment last takes a bit of care and maintenance to help keep a pergola in top shape for a long time. If you looking for ways to maintain your pergola and keep it in astounding shape for years to come, here are a few basic tips that can help. Traditionally, pergolas are built from cedar wood which is strong and can last for many years. However, being outdoor structures, the wind, sun and rain can take its toll on a pergola. And since we have no way to control the elements, taking care of and maintaining your pergola would be the only way to keep its appearance and increase its longevity. Care for the wood Wooden pergolas are made of durable treated wood like cedar or pine. Red cedar for example, contains natural oils that prevent insect infestation and natural decay, and simultaneously helps retain the external shine and texture of the wood. The natural color of a pergola can be improved and preserved by coating the wood with a waterproof sealer―a transparent varnish that improves weather resistance. As wood ages it changes color, acquiring a more rustic with the passage of time. When applying the sealant, consider the amount of weathering needed. It is recommended that the sealant be applied every two or four years to maintain a fresh look. For further information about weathering ask the pergola dealer for details about the wood and how its color could possibly change with weathering. Ensure that the wood is coated with sealant to prevent even the slightest damage including warps and cracks. Sealants are available in many different brands so a dealer would be the best person to get advice on brands that will best suit a particular pergola and help keep it in pristine condition. Acrylic painting a pergola When it comes to selecting the type of paint for a pergola, acrylic paint is the best as it is weather resistant and lasting. The best time to apply the oil based paint is during the driest seasons when the humidity is very low. Painting at this time will ensure that while the paint dries quickly, water particles do not become trapped inside the dried paint making it brittle over time. How to clean a pergola The treated wood of almost all types of wooden pergolas can be cleaned with the same products that are used to clean the porch or deck of a house. Vinyl coated pergolas are almost maintenance free. However, in case they do require cleaning, use mild soap and water. It would be prudent to refrain from using power washers on wooden pergolas since that can damage the wood. Restoring an old, unused pergola Cleaning a pergola that is unkempt would take a bit of work. However, working step by step it is possible to almost restore such a pergola back to its original condition. First use a bristle brush to knock out all the dry dirt and cracked paint from the pergola. Since most pergolas are made of wood make sure not to scrub too much since that may damage the natural texture of the wood. Make sure that the wood is smoothed down by removing loose splinters. Use a very light sander to even out the wood. This ought to be done slowly since over sanding the wood may damage the surface with ugly scratches. Check for mildew and stains, which must be taken care of immediately. Mildew can wreck a pergolas appearance. Mildew can be removed using a mild solution of bleach and water. Corroded fasteners like bolts and screws can stain the surface of the pergola making the wood look detestable. Wash the stains and replace the fasteners if possible. After removing the stains to the best extent possible, clear the pergola of dirt with the help of a brush. Remove the debris which is likely to collect near the grooves in the wooden planks. Then use a hose and rinse the surface with a mixture of water and bleach. Use a mild soap to further clean the area if required.Once the pergola is clean, make sure that it is completely dry before you go ahead with a paint job. A couple of coats of oil based acrylic paint followed by a water sealant will have the pergola shining. For the most part, your restoration project is sure to pay off with your pergola looking as terrific as new. Keep up the fine work and periodically take time to check the pergola for wear and tear, structural damage, insect infestation, and cracking paint. Fix the problems immediately to prevent further damage. With proper maintenance, a pergola will remain a prized possession in your backyard for years to come.