As the major outdoor living trend sweeps the nation, decks are getting bigger. But with television shows featuring 3,000-square-foot monster decks, the average homeowner is left to wonder, “Just how big of a deck do I need?”
(BPT) - As the major outdoor living trend sweeps the nation, decks are getting bigger. But with television shows featuring 3,000-square-foot monster decks, the average homeowner is left to wonder, “Just how big of a deck do I need?”
Atlanta, Georgia-based deck builder Frank Pologruto says it all comes down to how homeowners intend to use their space as each “zone” of the deck will require a general square footage.
“People want somewhere to cook, and then eat, and then have a conversation, and you start adding up these areas and you realize you can’t do all this in a 16-foot by 12-foot deck,” said Pologruto, the owner of Decks & More.
Dining — 320+ square feet
Outdoor kitchens and dining areas are growing in popularity, but do require significant space. A grill with some counter space for cooking and a large table and chairs for dining will take up around 320 square feet of deck.
Seating — 250+ square feet
Adding an additional seating area, whether a quiet morning coffee spot or an after-dinner conversation pit, will require more space. A conversation area for about six people will add another 256 square feet to the deck. Adding a fire element to the seating area, will require not only the space for the actual fireplace or fire pit, but also appropriate distance between the fire and any seating.
Pool or hot tub — 150+ square feet
Homeowners looking to include a water feature like an in-ground pool or hot tub can expect it to require additional deck space. A four-person hot tub could take up as many as 100 square feet of deck, but Pologruto cautions homeowners to build in plenty of room to walk around, and enter and exit the hot tub, bringing the total to between 150 and 200 square feet.
Parties — 15 square feet per person
As a general rule, Pologruto said homeowners should determine how many people they expect to host on their deck and estimate about 15 square feet of deck per person. To comfortably fit around 20 people, the deck will need at least 300 square feet of open space.
“Remember though, if you plan to have 50 people over, they won’t all be out on the deck at the same time, so plan for your deck to hold about 30 people,” he said.
With the added square footage comes a bigger price tag — $25,000 to $250,000 depending on the size.
The deck material will also affect the final cost. Pologruto uses traditional wood boards and high-end ENVISION composite decking by TAMKO Building Products, and says if homeowners are already preparing to spend the money to build a large deck, they should go the extra step and upgrade to a composite board.
“If you’re smart and have the money, do the composite — it just makes more sense,” he said.
Overall, from his experience, Pologruto said most homeowners don’t need a 3,000-square-foot deck, and should be able to fit a small dining area, arbor, hot tub and separate seating area in about 750 square feet, although some of the decks he builds are more than twice that size.
Planning to include the right amount of space will leave you with the most comfortable outdoor living area to suit your needs.
Warmer weather and more daylight hours bring renewed energy to truly enjoy your home with family and friends. Spring is a great time to get rid of the lingering grime and grit of winter to keep your clean home happening all season long. With a thorough home clean, you can create a vibrant living space for your day-to-day life, whether it’s playing with the kids, tackling your to-do list or simply relaxing. Here are three tips to help tackle some of the dirtiest places in and around your home.
(BPT) - Warmer weather and more daylight hours bring renewed energy to truly enjoy your home with family and friends. Spring is a great time to get rid of the lingering grime and grit of winter to keep your clean home happening all season long. With a thorough home clean, you can create a vibrant living space for your day-to-day life, whether it’s playing with the kids, tackling your to-do list or simply relaxing. Here are three tips to help tackle some of the dirtiest places in and around your home.
Wash your windows
You’ll be surprised how dirty your windows have gotten and how much brighter your home, and outlook, will feel once they are clean. First, remove the screens and use a vacuum’s extendable attachment to remove the loose gunk and dust. Then, wash with soapy water and a firm brush, rinse with a hose and let air dry. For especially dirty windows, first clean with soapy water, then move on to an even mix of water and white vinegar. While using a lint-free towel or cloth will help avoid streaks, a car windshield squeegee is the expert choice.
Tackle indoor surfaces
It’s important to make sure guests at your next get-together experience a clean and healthy home — but a full vacuum bag or clogged filter can reduce suction, leaving the dirt, dust and allergens that build up on many surfaces behind. For an ideal clean, make sure your vacuum is at its peak performance by replacing bags and filters. Arm & Hammer Premium Allergen bags and HEPA filters are designed to capture allergens, and need to be replaced every one to two months for bags and every three to six months for filters. If you have pets, use Arm & Hammer Pet Fresh Dry Carpet and Carpet and Upholstery Extractor Cleaners to neutralize pet odors and break down lingering stains.
Spruce up outdoors
Winter weather and activities can take a toll on the finishes and surfaces outside your home. Cleaning a few key areas will refresh your home’s look and feel as you spend more time enjoying your outdoor spaces for birthday parties, barbecues and more:
* Siding: No need to get complicated — first, rinse with a garden hose, then scrub the dirty areas with a brush and soapy water and rinse again. Make sure to avoid chlorine-based bleaches to keep surrounding plants healthy.
* Driveway and garage: First, soak up oil, stains and other nasty winter reminders by spreading a drying material, such as sawdust, on the stain. Leave it for one day before scrubbing with soap and water. A power washer can be used for particularly tough stains.
* Grill/barbecue: For gas grills, make sure the propane is disconnected. Then, soak the grates in hot soapy water and rinse. Scrub thoroughly under the hood and on the inside walls with a hard brush, first covering the heating elements, to get rid of grease and particles from last year. Wipe down with a damp towel.
With these tips, you are ready for a clean, healthy (and fun) season. For more tips, visit www.armhammervac.com.
Summer storm season may bring welcome rain, but some storms are strong enough to pack a dangerous punch. One of the most serious side effects of severe weather is the potential for power loss. Make sure your family is ready for any bad weather ahead this season with these tips.
Weather the Storm Wisely
(Family Features) Summer storm season may bring welcome rain, but some storms are strong enough to pack a dangerous punch. Planning ahead for this year’s wicked weather can help ensure you’re ready to weather whatever Mother Nature throws at you.
One of the most serious side effects of severe weather is the potential for power loss. In some cases, it can be just a nuisance with little more impact than the time it takes to reset clocks. However, when the outage lasts for hours or days, or when you rely on power for necessities like medical equipment, a power outage can be a major imposition.
Make sure your family is ready for any bad weather ahead this season with these tips:
Severe seasonal storms are the norm across many parts of the country. Planning ahead for potential problems, like power outages, can help ensure you weather the storm safely.SOURCE:
Briggs & Stratton
(BPT) - Demand remains high for energy-efficient, eco-friendly home features, according to a survey by the National Association of Home Builders. In fact, the majority of builders now put energy-efficient windows, heating and cooling systems, thermostats and appliances in their construction, the survey says. If you're selling your home and hope to compete with new construction - as well as set your house apart from other resales - making green improvements could significantly pay off.
"Updating your home with green features can attract more buyers and even increase your home's sale price," says Geoff Lewis, president of RE/MAX, LLC. "Buyers are not only looking for cosmetic upgrades, they also want improvements that will help save them money for as long as they live in the home."
Some green projects you can easily accomplish yourself, like replacing less efficient light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs or LEDs throughout the house, or installing a programmable thermostat. Other improvements may require professional expertise but can result in even bigger payoffs.
Here are five popular green home improvements that could help boost your home's resale value, and save you money until you're ready to sell:
* Windows: Replacing older windows with ENERGY STAR-rated high-efficiency windows could lower your annual energy bill as much as 12 percent, according to the United States Department of Energy. What's more, ENERGY STAR-rated windows may qualify for a tax credit of 10 percent off the cost of the windows.
* Insulation: Most homes in the U.S. don't have enough insulation, according to energystar.gov. Adding insulation and sealing air leaks could reduce annual energy bills by 10 percent. At the time of resale, adding fiberglass insulation in the attic could recoup 107 percent of the cost, according to Remodeling Magazine's Cost vs. Value report.
*Front door: It's a key part of your home's curb appeal and the last exterior feature homebuyers see before entering your house. However, a front door needs to do more than look good. Replacing an older, wooden door with an energy-efficient, secure steel door recoups more than 90 percent of its cost when you sell your home, according to the Cost vs. Value report.
*Landscaping: With warm weather approaching, it's a great time to think about landscaping that has green value as well as cosmetic appeal. Adding trees in addition to flowers can provide shade that will help keep the home's interior cooler in summer months. In fact, according to the National Association of Landscape professionals, planting five shade trees can return up to 100 percent of the project cost when you sell your home.
*Water: Most water heaters last about 10 years, so if your home is older, a new water heater could be a big selling point. A tankless water heater could be even more appealing; because they only heat water when it's needed, rather than consume energy to hold gallons of water at a set temperature for hours, tankless water heaters use far less energy. ENERGY STAR says a tankless water heater could save you up to $1,800 over its usable life - which is twice as long as the lifespan of traditional tank water heaters.
When you're thinking of selling your home, you'll probably invest a lot of time and energy into staging. Consider saving some additional budget for energy-efficient home improvements that may help boost your home's value. A knowledgeable real estate agent can advise you on which green home improvements can get you the biggest return on investment. Visit www.remax.com to find a real estate agent near you.
Summer storms are often accompanied by damaging hail, high winds, heavy rain and lightning that cause widespread power outages affecting homeowners’ peace of mind, and their pocketbooks. Get ready for the chance of inclement weather and power outages ahead with these tools and resources.
Plan Ahead for Power Outages
(Family Features) Summer storms are often accompanied by damaging hail, high winds, heavy rain and lightning that cause widespread power outages affecting homeowners' peace of mind, and their pocketbooks. Homeowners can prepare for possible power outages by establishing an emergency plan for their families.
"The coming of storm season often motivates homeowners to start thinking about how to keep the power on and avoid the costs and inconvenience associated with power outages," said Dan Roche with Briggs & Stratton.
Get ready for the chance of inclement weather ahead with these tools and resources:
First aid. Assemble a basic first aid kit with assorted sterile, compression and adhesive bandages, rolled gauze, adhesive tape, disinfectant, antibiotic ointment, tweezers, scissors and instant cold packs. Add pain relieving medications (including children's strength, if applicable) and a few days' worth of any regular medications you take.
Emergency kit. Include items such as a flashlight, battery-powered weather radio, bottled water, non-perishable snacks and personal hygiene items. Don't forget extra batteries that fit your devices and keep a portable cell phone charger on hand. The compact Rayovac Phone Charger, which is compatible with most USB-powered devices, holds enough power to recharge a mobile phone up to three times (depending on device) and holds its charge up to four months. Find more devices ideal for your emergency kit at rayovac.com.
Comfort items. What constitutes comfort likely varies depending on your family composition, but may include things like stuffed animals, soothing blankets or small toys for little ones and more practical items, including pillows and sleeping bags, for older family members. Remember that a storm may leave you huddled in a confined space or without power for an extended period, so diversions such as travel-size games and cards can help pass the time.
Backup power. Portable generators provide a solution during an emergency power outage to power essential items, such as refrigerators, sump pumps and lights. An option such as Briggs & Stratton's Storm Responder Portable Generator is equipped with a digital control panel that provides everything owners need to know, including the amount of power being used, total lifetime hours of the generator and maintenance reminders. Ideal for first-time buyers, the Storm Responder features step-by-step start-up, shutdown and storage instructions, as well as a safety guide printed directly on the unit. Be sure you have a transfer switch installed in your home so you are ready to safely restore the power to your home in the event of an outage. To learn more, visit briggsandstratton.com.
While portable generators can provide users with flexibility and comfort, homeowners and renters should only use portable generators outside in order to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Visit TakeYourGeneratorOutside.com to learn more about portable generator safety.
Information guide. In the aftermath of a storm, having emergency information at your fingertips is one less stress to fight. Compile contact information for family members, friends and close neighbors, along with your insurance agent. Also include any relevant medical contacts or information. Stash your guide along with your emergency and first aid kits so it will be within easy reach if you need it.
Seasonal weather can bring unpredictable dangers to your home and family, but assembling the right materials ahead of time will help ensure your family is well prepared to ride out the storm.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (storm)
Here are six unique themes and some ideas for implementing them with style this season.
(BPT) - Patriotic celebrations, neighborhood block parties, graduations, bridal showers and family reunions - whatever your summer soiree, a creative theme can elevate any gathering from fun to fantastic. If you've done the usual - luau, ethnic and red-white-and-blue - and are looking for motifs that will really make a splash, here are six unique themes and some ideas for implementing them with style this season:
1. Star-spangled movie night
Summer patriotic celebrations can be pretty formulaic if you just serve burgers and hot dogs while watching fireworks on TV. But merge patriotism with film, and you can create a memorable, magical party. Break out the red-white-and-blue bunting, rent some velvet ropes and stanchions like you see in a theater, pick up a projector, screen and popcorn machine from your local rental store, and spend the day reveling in patriotic-themed movies.
Your local rental store has everything you need to create a star-spangled movie night. Find a rental store at rentalhq.com. Not sure what to show? "Captain America" and "Independence Day" are thrill rides that both kids and adults will love. Or, tug at the heart strings with sports-themed, all-American movies like "Miracle" and "Field of Dreams."
2. A day at the carnival
Whether you're looking for an inspired block party idea or a kid's birthday party theme that will leave parents and children talking about it until winter break, you can't beat a carnival theme for summer fun! Serve up traditional carnival fare - rented hot dog and popcorn machines will come in handy - and break out the carnival games. From favorites like the ring toss, dart/balloon board and duck ponds, to inflatable bounce houses and dunk tanks, you can rent carnival games to create a one-of-a-kind backyard event.
3. Summer snacking soiree
Beach time, vacation, warm weather and sunshine are all lovely aspects of summer, but let's face it - summer snacks are the highlight of the season. Adults and kids alike will love a menu that highlights some of their favorite warm-weather snacks. Set up a s'mores station with graham crackers, marshmallows, chocolate bars and a camp fire (under adult supervision, of course). Place popcorn, hot dog, frozen drink and ice cream machines around the backyard. Celebrate summer fruits like watermelon and avocado with creative recipes like watermelon fruit pops, fruit bruschetta, fruit skewers and hummus/guacamole dip.
4. Whacky water world
When the temperatures soar, everyone loves some water fun. Invite guests to bring their bathing attire and visit your backyard for some whacky water fun. Fill balloons with water and hang them from a tree branch to create a wet, wild pinata. Rent an inflatable water slide, a misting fan, dunk tank and bubble machine. As guests arrive, equip each with a water gun. Have plenty of water barrels around the yard for quick refills and don't forget to have plenty of towels on hand.
5. Karaoke dance-off
Dance party or karaoke - which musical theme should you choose? Why not combine the themes and give your guests a chance to belt out their favorites while their friends shake it on the dance floor? Your local rental store can provide the karaoke machine, juke box and dance floor - your guests bring their creativity. Escalate the fun and add a touch of competition by inviting guests to dress and perform in the musical style that was in fashion when they graduated high school (or kindergarten or grade school for younger attendees).
6. Stadium day
Watching the big game together is a great party theme any time of year. Add a singularly summery element to your game day celebration by staging it outdoors in a homemade stadium setting. You can rent bleachers and a big screen to make guests feel like they're right there in the stadium as they're watching the game together. Add in food machines to make traditional stadium fare like hot dogs, nachos, popcorn and burgers. Decorate with banners, pennants and flags. Set up a portable bar beside the bleachers and you're all set for a stadium-style experience in your own backyard.
Creative themes can add fresh excitement to virtually any summer gathering. To find a rental store with everything you need to execute a unique theme, visit www.rentalhq.com.
Take this year’s outdoor enjoyment to a new level with items designed to keep you and your fellow revelers safe and ready for food and fun.
Fun in the Sun
Backyard essentials for a summer outdoors
(Family Features) From a leisurely afternoon watching the kids play in the sprinkler to an evening cookout with friends under the stars, it’s the perfect time of year to bask in the comfort and beauty of your own backyard. Take this year’s outdoor enjoyment to a new level with items designed to keep you and your fellow revelers safe and ready for food and fun.
Savor the Flavors of Summertime
Help Your Skin Recover After Too Much Sun
Be Prepared for Burns, Bites and Scrapes
Keep Hot Summer Parties on Ice
Grill Up Some Goodness
Serveware with a Purpose
Photo courtesy of Getty Images(three photos: people at party, cooler, and grill)
Spring and summer present endless opportunities to celebrate, from events like graduations and birthday parties to barbecues and gatherings with friends. Impress guests and add an element of fun and whimsy to your party with easy DIY balloon projects, such as Floral Balloon Tails and DIY Glitter-Dipped Balloons.
Celebrate Summer with DIY Party Decor
(Family Features) Spring and summer present endless opportunities to celebrate, from events like graduations and birthday parties to barbecues and gatherings with friends. Impress guests and add an element of fun and whimsy to your party with these easy DIY balloon projects.
Party planning experts Seri Kertzner and Michelle Bachman of Little Miss Party recommend making a bold statement by using fresh flowers to create floral tails on your balloons. It’s an unexpected detail that adds a colorful element to your tablescape. You can tailor the flowers to your party’s color scheme or the guest of honor’s favorites. Put any leftover flowers in vases or use them for a table runner to pull the theme through.
DIY glitter balloons from Kelly Mindell of Studio DIY are another fun project that can lift the look of any occasion. Simply coat clear balloons with spray adhesive and roll them in glitter to add sparkle to your gift table, centerpiece or dessert area.
With Balloon Time’s portable helium tank on hand, you can inflate balloons for creative uses anywhere you want to celebrate.
Floral Balloon Tails
Purchase light, fresh greenery that has a flexible stem. A florist or local farm stand can help identify the greenery best suited for this project.
Buy jumbo confetti balloon. To make the balloon instead, pick up a clear jumbo balloon at a local party store. Cut tissue paper into small pieces and add cut tissue into the balloon before inflating.
Inflate confetti balloon with helium tank and tie with string or ribbon.
Take strand of green leaves and wrap greenery around string, starting at the balloon stem.
Notes: Be aware that popcorn ceilings and hot ceiling lights can pop balloons. If high ceilings are a concern, tie balloons to a jar of decorative rocks or candy in the party’s color scheme.
DIY Glitter-Dipped Balloons
Inflate balloons using helium tank and tie with ribbon.
Pour glitter onto paper plate.
Spray adhesive on bottom third of the balloon and roll sticky part in glitter until it is completely covered.
Tap balloon to remove excess glitter.
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