Low Maintenance Decks are Worth Every Penny

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Perhaps you’re thinking of building a new deck. When you decide which type of deck to install, one important question you need to ask yourself is how much time you’re willing to spend on maintaining it. If you consider the maintenance time and costs required, and the overall lifespan of the deck, you’ll find that the seemingly most cost-effective option — pressure treated pine — isn’t necessarily the best overall value for the money you’d spend.

If you’re looking to get the best overall value, and the best long term return on your investment, it’s also worth considering building your deck from low maintenance materials such as hardwoods or composite. These materials do cost more upfront, but they greatly reduce the amount of time and money you’ll have to spend on maintaining your deck. They also have the potential to achieve double the lifespan, as compared to pressure-treated pine.

Your deck’s lifespan will depend on many factors, including materials, your local climate and whether you consistently invest in giving it the amount of maintenance it needs.

On average, homeowners inland usually enjoy their pressure-treated pine decks for somewhere around 15 years. Composite decks often come with 25 year guarantees. Installation costs vary, but composite and hardwood decking does tend to incur higher costs in this area as well.

However, the upfront costs are more than offset by increased lifespan and lower maintenance costs in the long run, making composite decks and hardwood decks a better overall value for the money spent on them. Most homeowners are able to reach their full return on investment within a time period of about 4 – 7 years.

Wondering what maintenance considerations are actually involved? For pressure treated pine decks, you’ll have to stain and seal them periodically. Warping is a possibility you may have to contend with.

When it comes to decking materials, the old cliché is true. You really do get what you pay for. For homeowners who don’t enjoy spending time on maintenance, or want to avoid having to rebuild their decks again in about 15 years, low maintenance decks are worth considering. Make your investment count.

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Vintage Decorating Ideas for Your Porch

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(Photo Source: Cedar Hill Ranch, a cozy inn in Cedar Hill, Texas. Their design taste is inspiring.)

There are many ways in which you can give your porch or deck a cozy chic look. Most people want their outdoor living space to feel organic and collected, and not be filled with a perfectly matched outdoor furniture set and a few run-of-the-mill decorating accessories. Creating your own vintage, decorated outdoor space can easily be accomplished.

The collected look starts with a great deck or porch. If the space isn’t covered, a pergola will add interest and provide a little shade. As far as the amount of square footage goes, a stylish vintage theme can be executed whether the porch is small or large. If the space is large, instead of spreading everything out, create vignettes and designated areas that cluster furniture, art and decor together.

There are some key pieces that give any space the perfect vintage feel. Distressed or reclaimed furniture is one of the best choices for a vintage vibe, and whether it is a large dining table made from barnwood or a mint green hutch distressed to perfection, it will add a nice touch of rustic charm. In addition to reclaimed pieces, galvanized metal is another welcomed option for a vintage, eclectic space. Planters, watering cans, washtubs and buckets are great galvanized choices.

To soften the porch or deck, throws, quilts, rugs and pillows will work wonders. Not only do they add that softer touch, but they can also bring in pops of color, as well as texture. For more visual interest, you can add in vintage signs and unique lighting. For example, drop pendant lights created out of mason jars and hanging lanterns can really illuminate a space.

Whether you decide to use vintage patio furniture and rustic ladders covered in plants, or porch swings, rocking chairs and handmade quilts, remembering to make your deck or porch your own is most important. Don’t forget to personalize your outdoor living space with touches that mean something to you and bring back pleasant, nostalgic memories.

The Modern Deck: Five Emerging Trends

deck-largeDecks have been a popular home addition for several decades, but now they are transforming from simple to sophisticated. In the past, most homeowners opting for a deck were satisfied with a rectangular design of about 10 feet by 20 feet. Increasingly, homeowners are seeing the value of larger decks with modern conveniences built right in. Here are five emerging trends in deck design for 2015.

Bigger is Better

Modern life is more and more an indoors affair, where we spend most of our time inside spacious, temperature controlled houses and offices. Large home decks provide a safe, comfortable, and readily available outdoor space for enjoying the sunshine and stars – if they are big enough. Larger, multilevel decks give you the space to maximize this outdoor pleasure.

Lighting and Fire Pits

Outdoor lighting, along with other outdoor electronic equipment, like TVs and kitchen appliances, are undergoing a revolution in design. Instead of wiring in regular 120 volt lights on a deck, new solar powered deck lighting saves money while making your deck more usable after dark. New types of safe and easy to use fire pits also add comfort and warmth, making decks usable for more of the year.

Outdoor Kitchens

A barbecue grill is only the beginning when it comes to cooking outdoors. Full outdoor kitchens with all the appliances, counter space, and storage are on the rise in deck design, as well.

Water Makes it Work

Outdoor kitchens require outdoor sinks. Hot tubs make relaxing easy. Fountains add the beauty of natural sound, masking the sounds of neighbors and street noise.

Multipurpose Decks

By creating different levels, or adding trellises and screens, a deck can become an outdoor living space that rivals the interior of the home, and the rising trend in deck design is for an outdoor space as comfortable as the home itself.

If you are considering adding a deck to your home, be sure to contact us for a free quote.

5 Ways to Make an Old Grill Look New

grillWhen most people think of decks, they think of grilling and lounging around with family and friends on it. When an old tired grill has lost it’s appeal, it may not necessary to run out and purchase a new one right away. There may be other options and that old grill may have more life left in it. Here are a few tips to spruce it up and make it look like new again.

How to Make an Old Grill Look New

  1. Clean it up: A shop vacuum can get out all the loose debris inside your grill. Use a wire brush to clean off the tough stuff, then put on some rubber gloves and wipe down the whole surface, inside and out with soap and water.
  2. Several parts in gas grills are standard and can be easily and inexpensively replaced at a hardware store. This includes the gas jets in the grill and the burners themselves. If the burners are not lighting properly or burning evenly, this is most likely where the problem is.
  3. Some grills have an electrical lighting system called a piezoelectric ignition switch. If you are resorting to matches or a striker to get your grill going, this part is likely the source of trouble. New ones are easy to find and install.
  4. There is nothing like a coat of paint for making an old grill look good again. Be sure you clean the surface completely first. Spray paint works best.
  5. If your grill has ceramic briquettes, these can be cleaned by soaking in vinegar. Wash them completely in water afterwards, and if they are damaged, get new ones.

Cleaning and fixing up an old grill is usually a lot less expensive than replacing it. Of course, grills do eventually wear out in which case none of the above will work. Still it’s so worth it to own one as there is nothing like a grill to make your deck more enjoyable.

Keeping Critters Off Your Deck

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Your deck is meant to be a place of enjoyment. It should be a relaxing respite for you and your family to take in the beauty of the outdoors. What it is not meant to be is a haven for raccoons, possums, mice or snakes. These animals and others like to take up residence in dry, dark areas; and the space beneath decks are prime real estate in their opinion.

To keep animals from setting up housekeeping beneath your deck, the best precaution to take is to create a barrier. The most common type of barrier is a trench and fence combination. You can implement this method by digging a trench that is twelve inches deep and twelve inches wide. Once you’ve dug the trench, erect either mesh or wire fencing over it and attach it securely to your deck posts. Fill the trench back in with soil.

For those who don’t feel the trench approach is aesthetically appealing, there are still things you can do to keep unwanted critters from your deck. You could also remove any weeds or other vegetation from beneath your deck and put down landscaping mesh material to keep out regrowth. Animals won’t be as interested in your deck if their isn’t a dense patch of growth beneath it in which they can burrow and hide.

If you suspect that an animal is already occupying the space, you can set out ammonia-soaked cloths or mothballs to hurry their departure. The unpleasant scent will cause them to scurry. If you aren’t sure if animals are beneath your deck or not, you can sprinkle flour around any openings and check periodically for footprints over the course of a couple of days. You definitely want to make sure nothing is living under the deck before you build your barricade.

With these preventive methods, you can ensure that your deck is only enjoyed by you and your family. It doesn’t take much to keep your deck free of unwanted visitors that could cause damage to your property.

Ideas for Decorating Outdoor Living Spaces

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Most people know how they want to decorate their living room or bedroom, but coming up with decorating ideas for decks</>, porches or patios can leave them at a loss. Outdoor living spaces don’t have to be difficult to decorate and can be transformed into the perfect place for parties, relaxing or hanging out with friends and family.

When decorating outdoor living spaces, think about how you will be spending the majority of your time outside. Are you one to sit on the back deck with a cup of coffee and a good book in the mornings? Do you plan on having several backyard barbecues or pool parties? All of the above?

If you don’t entertain much, you may prefer your outdoor space to feel like a relaxing retreat from the rest of the world. Comfy lounge chairs, gauzy curtains blowing in the breeze and potted ferns, orchids and roses can help create the feel of a spa resort in your own backyard. If you are one to entertain, an outdoor sectional, lights strung in the trees, and cozy chair groupings situated throughout your yard would be the perfect backdrop for the soiree of the summer.

It is also important to put your own personal spin on your space. Have custom pillows made in outdoor fabrics for your wicker furniture. Choose an outdoor rug in a pattern you like. Use your favorite colors. Complete an outdoor space as you would an indoor room– rugs, pillows, accessories, lighting and functional layout are all important. Just keep in mind to use weather resistant decor items. You want your outdoor space to be a continuation of your home.

If a major decorating project seems like too much to take on, paying a professional http://smartessaywriter.net/ is always an option. Or you can try doing a little at a time. For example, an Adirondack chair with a cute pillow is a simple addition that looks good in just about anyone’s back yard. Some homeowners find that once they get started, the decorating ideas just keep coming.

Grilling Vs. Barbecuing

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With beautiful weather here, many homeowners are choosing to cook outside on decks or patios. Did you know, there is actually a difference between grilling and barbecuing? Most people assume grilling and barbecuing are synonymous with one another. They don’t realize there is actually a difference. It is a fairly common occurrence for the two words to be interchanged when referring to a backyard cookout. However, there is a significant difference between the two outdoor cooking methods.

The two biggest differences between these forms of cooking are time and temperature. Grilling is done over high heat for a short amount of time, while barbecuing is a much slower process in which the food is cooked at a lower temperature. When firing up the grill, gas is a typical form of heat used, but hot charcoal is also common. With a barbecue pit, smoldering charcoal and wood are usually the preferred methods.

Grilling is a great, speedy method best suited for tender cuts of meat, as well as vegetables and fruits. The high heat and short cook time keeps the meat juicy, but it’s important to watch the food closely. If meats stay on the grill too long, it will easily dry out and get tough.

When you barbecue, the process may take significantly longer, but the results are astounding. You can use tougher cuts, but by the time they are finished cooking the meat has the potential to be so tender it will melt in your mouth. The food also doesn’t have to be watched quite as closely.

The way sauce is applied differs between barbecuing and grilling, as well. On a hot grill, barbecue sauce will easily burn away, and it is best applied towards the end of cooking. With barbecuing, sauces can be applied periodically throughout the entire time the meat is over the coals, and it will soak in and create a glaze.

Whether you decide to grill or to barbecue, you will be pleased with the final results. Just remember to plan accordingly to allow enough time for whichever method you choose. It’s time to lounge around on your deck or patio with friends and family. So, enjoy!

Keeping Termites from your Deck

Deck in Landsdowne Virginia

As warmer weather arrives, thoughts of firing up the grill and basking in the sun may be filling your mind. Since decks tend to be the summer hub for family gatherings and outdoor fun, it is important to keep this area termite free. The last thing you want to worry about is having to deal with termites and the damage they can cause to your deck.

Keeping your yard clear of items that appeal to termites is imperative. Tree stumps and old root systems are problem areas that can attract termites, so it is a good idea to have them removed by a professional tree clearing service. It is also important to not keep firewood stacked against your home. Instead, keep wood stored on a rack as far away from the house as possible. Also, damp wood is appealing to these pesky insects, and sealing your deck with stain will keep out unwanted moisture.

Another way to keep your home, deck, and yard protected from termites is to treat the area. Chemical treatments provide a barrier against termites and other bugs, too. These treatments typically guard against pests for about five years.

There are several precautions you can take to prevent termites from eating your deck. With simple preventive measures, you can enjoy your summer and breathe easier knowing that your due diligence should keep your deck protected from termites. You definitely want to be on the defensive when it comes to termites, especially since preventing an attack is much easier than cleaning up the havoc they can wreak.

If you are currently planning a new deck, using pressure-treated lumber can reduce the chances of termites invading your deck and home. It is highly resistant to decay and insects. Through a series of pressure and vacuum cycles, wood preservative is forced deep into wood pores, forming a barrier against termites and decay. Another option would be to build a deck with composite material instead of wood. To look into your deck building options, contact us today for a free consultation.

Building a Deck with a Gazebo

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As the trees bloom into life, and flowers blossom along roadsides, warmer weather is coming to stay for awhile. What better way is there to take in the beauty of spring and summer than enjoying a morning cup of coffee sitting on your beautiful deck inside your gazebo listening to birds and wildlife? Decks with gazebos are truly the perfect addition.

Gazebos are Versatile

One option for building a deck with a gazebo is to add a private one with just enough space for a bistro table or a larger one that can hold a crowd. You can choose the more traditional hexagon or octagon gazebo styles, or the larger rectangular or square ones. The six or eight sided varieties are usually what comes to mind when picturing a gazebo, but the square styles are perfect for covering hot tubs, and the rectangular structures can be built large enough to accommodate several dining tables.

A lot of options are available to customize your deck and gazebo. The material chosen for construction will allow the building to lean more modern or traditional. While red cedar tends to be a popular choice for gazebos because of its beauty and durability, they can also be constructed from metal, vinyl or composite. While it is important to note that wood provides the opportunity for you to paint or stain the structure to blend in perfectly with your home, composite materials can match just as well and provide less upkeep and lower maintenance than wood.

The Modern Gazebo

Decks with gazebos can be wired with electricity for lights, fans, and outlets to provide power. Some homeowners even add a TV to provide additional entertainment. You can also have your gazebo screened in to keep out insects and other pests.

The decision to incorporate a gazebo into your deck is a decision you will not regret. Cuddling up with a good book and listening to the wind blowing softly through the trees all while being protected from the elements are some of the many benefits of a screened in gazebo.

4 Deck Plants that Repel Bugs

deck plantsWhen you start enjoying your new deck, you might find that the bugs start enjoying you! Fewer and fewer people want to use toxic chemicals that repel bugs like this. When it comes to decks, there are deck plants that naturally repel bugs that can rescue the situation and add beauty to your out-door living space. Here are some good choices for bug repelling plants that are easy to grow potted or planted around your deck.

Rosemary

Rosemary is a perennial, drought tolerant shrub most people know as an herb used in the kitchen. When grown around a deck it makes the entire area less attractive to bugs, and it can also be rubbed on the skin for extra protection. Rosemary can also be used for making many natural skin and hair care products.

Mint

Mint is another easy to grow plant that makes a tasty tea, can be used on the skin as a repellent, and is generally unappealing to bugs flying by. Mint does like a lot of water, and it can grow out of control if not planted in containers or carefully maintained.

LemonGrass

Lemongrass is an easy to grow grass that contains a chemical similar to citronella, which is also sold as a stand-alone product for mosquito control. Besides repelling bugs, lemon grass plants can also make a natural fence, and it is delicious as a tea and in many Asian recipes.

Catnip

Catnip is not only for cats. This plant has powerful properties that are as effective as some pesticides in repelling bugs. Catnip also has medicinal values, and some cats really do like it. Like mint, it can be invasive and does best in a container.

Making your deck comfortable, beautiful, and unappealing to bugs is easy to do by choosing the right plants for your deck-scape. These are only a few of the possibilities in bug repellent plants that are available to homeowners.