Keep Your California Beach Home Looking Great For Generations: Beach House Maintenance 101

Keep Your California Beach Home Looking Great For Generations: Beach House Maintenance 101 1080 1276 White Sands Design/Build

All houses need maintenance, but beach houses require extra TLC. Here’s how to do it in your Manhattan Beach, Hermosa, Redondo Beach, Venice Beach, or Palos Verdes, CA beach house.

California's South Bay Beach Custom Built Home

Photo by Paul Jonason

Owning a beautiful beach house along the gorgeous California coast is a dream for many. With sweeping ocean views, the soothing sound of waves, and sun-filled days, these homes represent the ultimate relaxing getaway. However, preserving your beach house’s charm and beauty over the long run requires diligent maintenance.

Between the sun, the salty air, and the seagull waste, there are a lot of quarterly, biannual, and annual things you need to do to avoid expensive California beach home repairs down the road. I always err on the side of more maintenance than less. A South Bay beach house is a premium investment, so you’ll want to take excellent care of it. Living at Manhattan Beach, Hermosa, Redondo Beach, Venice Beach, or Palos Verdes, CA beach is worth the investment in maintenance. 

Preserving the Charm of Your South Bay California Beach Home for Generations: Essential Maintenance Tips

Replace HVAC Filters.

You’ll need to replace your HVAC filters more often when you live at the beach since the system is dealing with sand and more fine particles. Do this monthly rather than quarterly to keep things flowing cleanly.

 Stick To a Pressure Washing Schedule.

The ocean breeze that makes coastal living so relaxing can also dust your home’s exterior with a nearly invisible layer of sand. These particles land and stick, thanks to condensation from humid air. Then there’s seagull waste and salt, both of which can break down wood or stucco over time

You’ll want to pressure wash the exterior of your home every three to six months to keep it in good shape long-term. This is one of the easiest and most important things to do in terms of home maintenance, and it’s probably something you can do yourself. 

In my own home, I simply use a pressure washer and water. If you want to use soap, make sure it’s mild, chemical-free, and non-abrasive—something like liquid dishwashing detergent or Simple Green cleanser. 

Pressure Wash Your Windows To Maintain Warranty

Window cladding requires ongoing maintenance since salt will corrode metal and humidity weakens the wood. Wood-clad windows usually come with 20-year warranties, but the warranty on your windows is void without regular upkeep. Windows should be pressure-washed every three to six months. A good rule of thumb is to pressure-wash your windows when you do your house.

Inspect Wood Frequently

Any exposed wood—decks, railings, wood cladding, wooden garage doors, eaves, etc.—needs to be monitored for rot and touched up with paint every six months to three years, depending on sun exposure. South and west-facing surfaces will get sun damage faster than north and east-facing surfaces. 

I repainted my entire wooden garage door within a year after moving in because it’s south-facing. Repainting involves stripping old paint, and it’s a big job. But you’re going to end up with worse problems if you’re not doing it.

If you notice warped or rotting wood, replace it immediately. Strategic use of shutters, ventilation, drainage, sealants, and more can protect your home from harsh coastal conditions. Proper moisture control is also vital to prevent mold/mildew. At White Sands Design/Build, we understand the unique maintenance needs of California beach homes.

Check Metal Railings & Surfaces

California's South Bay Beach Home Stairway

Powder-coated metal is more expensive, but it’s much more rust-resistant. Stainless steel holds up well, so it’s a good choice for exterior metal. Eventually, the mix of salt and sun causes white deposits on all exterior metal. You could be dealing with this as frequently as every three months or as infrequently as every year, depending on the placement and type of metal. When this happens, the metal needs to be repainted. Be sure to sand the old paint off first. Our design/build experts source and install only the most durable, weather-resistant materials explicitly tailored for beach homes. Contact us today to discuss options for your next project.

Take Care of Your Stucco

California's South Bay Beach Stucco Home

Photo by Lauren Pressey

Peeling paint is your first line of defense against dampness in your building envelope. If you notice peeling or bubbling stucco, it needs to be addressed immediately. Water may be getting in between the stucco and the underlying structure, causing the metal web to pull away. This undermines the structure and leads to mold. 

At the bottom of your stucco, there’s a weep screen. This is a metal trim with holes that allow condensation to escape. Because stucco is porous, it absorbs moisture. A water-proofing membrane between the plywood and the stucco directs the water to drain out of weep holes. If the holes get clogged or blocked, the stucco may retain moisture, which can cause significant damage. The salty sea air, high humidity, harsh winds, and sandblasting effects of blowing beach sand all take a toll. Understanding these challenges is crucial for proper maintenance.

Check these weep holes annually to make sure they’re clear. The best way to prevent stains and moisture damage is to seal the stucco. That option costs around $30,000, but it comes with a decade-long warranty.

Keep Your Exterior Tile Clean

Exterior tile-work needs to be pressure-washed, with a new topcoat of sealer applied, every six months. Sand and other grit will scratch tile and can permanently discolor it.

Inspect For Termites

Termites love high humidity. Every year, you need a professional termite inspection. Once you have termites, they’re difficult and expensive to clear.

Don’t want to deal with an annual inspection? Hearty artisan siding or any sort of cement board costs more upfront, but it’s termite-resistant and will hold up better over time.

Invest In Marine-Grade Exterior Fixtures

Marine-grade fixtures are designed to stand up to the elements. They can take salt, sand, wind, and rain and are less likely to corrode. But marine grade isn’t magic, so all exterior fixtures need to be meticulously cleaned every three to six months. This means you should wipe them down with a nonabrasive soap and microfiber towels. If your fixture opens, such as a lantern, wipe down the inside as well.

Copper is great for outside fixtures. It naturally patinas, which adds to its charm and makes it easier to maintain. At White Sands Design/Build, our decades of experience with beach properties allow us to pinpoint and address these unique needs in the Design and Build Process.

Don’t Forget Indoor Surfaces

All that sticky, salty air gets inside your house, too. You’ll need to wipe down surfaces more often in a California beach home to prevent salt from wearing down finishes. Our design/build experts source and install only the most durable, weather-resistant materials explicitly tailored for beach homes. Contact us today to discuss options for your next project.

The California Beach Home Hand-Off

We spend a year and a half building your home. During that time, we take complete ownership of everything—the big stuff and the tiny details. Then you’re move-in ready, and we hand you a packet with a detailed maintenance schedule and information about all the materials, finishes, and appliances that were lovingly and expertly installed in your new beach house. That’s when the house becomes your baby, and it’s up to you to protect your investment. 

If you’re not super-handy or experienced, you may want to hire a professional to handle more labor-intensive tasks, such as repainting. Preventative maintenance is vital to optimize the lifespan of your beach house. Be diligent about regular upkeep and cleaning. Wash salt spray off exterior surfaces. Check for any signs of damage or deterioration. Address issues promptly to avoid further problems down the road.

If you’ve yet to build your dream California beach home, we’d love to guide you in some important initial decisions. White Sands Design/Build uses quality materials and advanced techniques designed explicitly for Manhattan Beach, Hermosa, Redondo Beach, Venice Beach, or Palos Verdes, CA, beach environments. We also handle all permitting/compliance needs for coastal construction projects. Let us worry about the details – you focus on enjoying your beach house. Get in touch today!

Proper maintenance is critical to protecting your investment and preserving the charm of your California beach home. Implementing the strategies above, along with the help of our expert team, will keep your coastal oasis looking its best for years to come.

Thanks for reading,

Hawlie Ohe

Hawlie headshot for home air purifiers

Hawlie Ohe heads White Sands Interiors, and she and her husband are raising two boys along the South Bay coast. Hawlie brings the curiosity that fueled her first career, as a journalist, to her interior design approach: Who are you, who do want to be, and how can this space get you there? Great design makes you feel present and engaged, and Hawlie is here for it. Because she wants to help you be “here” (in this space, in this moment), too.