Follow these simple steps to a new deck surface that you can spend less time maintaining and more time enjoying!
(BPT) - Outdoor living season means backyard BBQs, yard games and relaxing with a good book or good friends. If you own a wood deck, however, it also means considerable time and money spent on seasonal maintenance and deck repairs.
While wood decks are aesthetically pleasing, properly maintaining them requires regular stripping, sanding and staining. The process is labor-intensive, time-consuming, messy and costly — averaging between $540 and $1,050 each time, according to HomeAdvisor.com.
Consider this: For the same time and energy you would spend maintaining and repairing those old wood boards, you could replace them with a deck made of structurally superior composite material — and never again have to worry about upkeep. As long as the structural framework of your existing deck is intact and in good condition, you are a candidate for deck resurfacing.
“Resurfacing an aging or decaying wood deck with new composite decking is a doable DIY project that can be completed over the course of a weekend or two with just a little know-how and the help of a few friends,” explains Adam Zambanini, vice president of marketing for Trex Company. “You get a brand-new deck for a lot less money than starting from scratch — and a lot less hassle through the years.”
Designed for maximum durability and minimal maintenance, wood-alternative decking is resistant to fading, staining, scratching and mold and, unlike wood, requires no sanding, staining or sealing. Just an occasional soap-and-water cleaning is all that is needed to retain a “like-new” appearance and durability for decades.
Ready to resurface?
Follow these simple steps to a new deck surface that you can spend less time maintaining and more time enjoying:
Step 1: Examine the substructure
Before removing any boards, check your deck’s foundation. Start from the ground up by examining the footings, posts and joists. Pay close attention to the condition of the wood. Soft wood indicates rot and should be replaced before proceeding. If the existing framing and substructure are sound, you’re good to go.
Tip: To help ensure your substructure lasts as long as your new composite deck boards, use a protective tape, such as TrexProtect, to shield wooden joists and beams from moisture that can lead to rot and the loosening of deck screws and fasteners.
Step 2: Remove old deck boards
Remove any existing railing and begin prying up the nailed decking boards, leaving the substructure and framing in place. Start from the outside and move toward the house so you have a solid, safe platform from which to work.
Step 3: Level it out
To ensure a level surface for the new deck boards, make sure the joists are flat and even with one another. If any joists are bowed, you may need to plane or cut them.
Step 4: Install new deck boards
Begin laying out the new composite boards. Starting near the house, face screw the first board to the frame. Closely follow the instructions for spacing from the manufacturer’s installation guide. As you progress, check the spacing between the house and the deck boards to make sure they stay parallel with the house. Correct variations a little at a time over several rows to avoid large, tapered gaps.
Step 5: Complete with railing
Measure for each post location, and cut placement holes with a jigsaw. Then, drop the posts into the holes and bolt them securely. Slide sleeves over the posts and assemble railing and balusters per the installation guide. Finish off by adding your choice of decorative elements, such as post caps and top rail caps.
For more guidance on deck resurfacing, watch a step-by-step video from Trex at https://youtu.be/ZI8CYwI0MYM.
Over time, the appearance and function of any outdoor space can dull due to combinations of heat, precipitation and use. With some careful attention, you can quickly spruce up your outdoor living areas and get them back in great working order for patio season.
Spruce Up Your Outdoor Spaces
(Family Features) Over time, the appearance and function of any outdoor space can dull due to combinations of heat, precipitation and use. With some careful attention, you can quickly spruce up your outdoor living areas and get them back in great working order for patio season.
Take Care of Textiles
Declare Dust Off-Limits
Freshen Up Finishes
Blast Away Grime
When cleaning these surfaces, it’s important to find a power washer that can cut through the grime and rinse it away. In addition to gas-powered options, Briggs & Stratton offers a full line of electric pressure washers to help you tackle light-duty outdoor cleaning projects around the house. Some models, like the S1800, feature a turbo nozzle to give you the ability to blast away grime up to 40 percent faster than with a standard spray tip. When that power is combined with an onboard detergent tank, you can eliminate outdoor grime quickly and efficiently, so you can get back to enjoying your outdoor living space.
Getting started is simple. Just turn on the washer and begin with a rinse setting to loosen dirt and debris. Next, use the soap nozzle to apply the detergent in the tank. You may want to let the detergent sit for especially grimy areas, depending on the detergent’s directions for use. Rinse thoroughly and repeat the process if needed.
7 Safety Tips for Operating a Pressure Washer
As with any power equipment, it’s important to know how to operate a pressure washer safely and correctly. Even if you’ve had your unit for a while, it’s a good idea to refresh yourself on how to use it properly before you get started on your outdoor to-do list.
1. Dress for the task. Wear indirect-vented (chemical splash) goggles for eye protection and a pair of closed-toe shoes such as sneakers or boots.
2. Before getting started, be sure to remove all electronics, cords and wires, and place them safely away from water.
3. Perform routine maintenance. Prior to each use, check the oil level and top off if low. Check the water screens to ensure they can freely move water. Inspect hoses and couplings; if they are cracked or brittle, replace them.
4. Know your equipment and where it can or can’t be used. Never operate your gas pressure washer indoors or in enclosed structures. When operating a gas pressure washer, use it outdoors away from occupied spaces to prevent a potentially deadly buildup of carbon monoxide.
5. When operating a gas pressure washer, know the signs of potential carbon monoxide poisoning (dizziness, fatigue, headache, nausea or irregular breathing), and if you experience these symptoms get to fresh air right away and seek medical attention.
6. Always point the nozzle in a safe direction. Never operate a pressure washer near small children or pets.
7. Before storing, relieve the pressure in the system. Also run a cycle of water through the machine to eliminate any detergent residue and give the unit time to cool down before storing.
The Powers of a Pressure Washer
A pressure washer can provide up to 75 times more cleaning power than a standard hose for deep cleaning. They are ideal tools to clean the following areas:
Find more cleaning solutions and a limited-availability discount code for a S1800 electric power washer at Briggsandstratton.com/OutdoorCleaning.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (empty patio furniture)SOURCE:
Briggs & Stratton
If cooler weather has you longing for sunny days outdoors, take heart. Once spring rolls around, you can safely begin the annual cleanup to prepare your yard for months of warm-weather enjoyment. Start by evaluating your lawn with these tips.
Spring into Lawn and Garden Care
(Family Features) If cooler weather has you longing for sunny days outdoors, take heart. Once spring rolls around, you can safely begin the annual cleanup to prepare your yard for months of warm-weather enjoyment.
Start by evaluating your lawn. Look for bald spots where grass has grown sparsely and needs reseeding, or uneven areas that may need to be filled and leveled.
Before you take steps to correct any problems, you’ll need a clean slate. Clear the yard of any leaves, rocks or sticks that may have accumulated then cut the grass as short as you can. Use a thatching rake to remove dead roots and grass. Break up the soil in bare spots to create an environment that will be hospitable to new seed. Add lawn soil to level the surface.
You’ll also need to apply an herbicide to treat weed-infested areas. Allow the weed killer to work for about a week then rake again to remove dead weeds.
Then you’re ready to over-seed or spot seed, depending on your lawn’s needs. Your climate will determine the best grass variety for your yard. Be sure to select and apply a fertilizer that is consistent with your grass type and water thoroughly to promote deep root growth, which can help your lawn withstand extreme conditions as temperatures rise.
Your lawn isn’t the only part of your yard that needs attention during the spring months, though. Your garden and flower beds may need some care before they, too, are ready to burst with new bounty and color.
Begin by clearing your garden and beds of any debris like leaves and other matter that piled up during months of neglect. Gently turn the soil and work in fresh fertilizer.
Before your plants and flowers are in full-growth mode is the ideal time to make repairs. Check edging for any damage, replace rotted woodwork and complete any other maintenance tasks.
As for the plants, prune before the first buds sprout to minimize stress. You can also start indoor seeds, and early spring is the time to divide perennials and plant some hardier vegetables, such as onions and potatoes.
The warmer months may still seem far away, but getting some of your lawn and garden care underway now can make those warmer, sunny days feel closer in no time. Find more seasonal tips for prepping your yard at eLivingToday.com.
Photo courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
(BPT) - As temperatures drop, you're reminded that Old Man Winter will soon rear his ugly head. Before the first flurries fly, it's important to take some winterization steps to ensure your home is ready for whatever the season brings.
This five-point checklist will help safeguard your home against winter's woes for another year. For additional winterization ideas and detailed project plans, visit Real Cedar.com.
Inspect each window from the outside to see if any gaps or cracks are present. These small openings let in cold air and are also inviting to small critters looking for protection from the cold.
If you find some gaps, it’s important to seal them quickly. Apply caulk to the openings to prevent cold air from seeping in, helping to cut down on heating bills. Plus, you won’t have to worry about bugs making your home their hibernation haven. Note: never caulk above or below the window and door openings, as this may block moisture drainage.
Prep the deck
The amount of work you have to put into winterizing your deck depends on your decking material. For example, a durable, long-lasting material such as Western Red Cedar requires the least amount of maintenance. That said, all decks require some upkeep.
To preserve your deck’s luster, start by cleaning it with a warm, soapy solution and a soft-bristle brush. Do not power wash as this can damage the wood. It’s important that you remove all dirt and debris from the surface as well as in between the boards to improve ventilation.
Next, inspect the deck for mold. If present, wash the deck with a mild oxygen bleach solution and leave on the surface for 30 minutes before rinsing thoroughly. Finally, remove anything that might leave marks on the deck’s surface such as furniture, planters and mats.
Protect planter boxes
The majority of planter boxes are made with Western Red Cedar. That’s because the wood is naturally resistant to rot, decay and insects; and therefore, doesn’t require treatment from potentially dangerous chemicals that can leach into soil and plants. But like all garden beds, real cedar planters need protection during the winter months.
Start by removing all soil and cleaning the boxes as you did the deck. Then, if possible, store emptied planters in a garage, shed or under the porch. If you don't have the space to store them this way, then cover them with a water-repellent tarp to protect from moisture buildup, but don’t seal the tarp. As with decks, it’s very important that you allow for proper ventilation.
Look for weak trees or those with dead branches, particularly those near your home. As snow accumulates, the weight may bring down a tree or branches, potentially damaging your house.
Eliminate this risk by removing any dead trees or dangerous branches now before the first snow. Be safe by using the proper equipment for tree trimming and removal, or, consider hiring a pro to do so. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and handling this issue now could prevent costly damage to your home down the road.
Clean the roof
Your roof is a large portion of your home, and it also holds a lot of snow over the winter. To prevent ice dams and other roof problems when freezing temperatures arrive, it's important to clean gutters and check your roof for problems now.
Start by taking all debris out of gutters to ensure free flow for water. Next, walk around your roof and inspect it for any damage. Repair loose shingles and make sure the chimney and vents look intact and secure. Your roof takes on a lot of weight from ice and snow during the winter months and you want it to be as strong as possible.
A few simple steps now can mean a cozy, safe winter for you and your entire family. Add these five steps to your winterization to-do list for this weekend and give yourself valuable peace of mind.
(BPT) - Researchers are predicting 2017 will be one of the worst years for ticks that we have seen in quite some time — and by all indications, those researchers are correct. People who have found themselves pulling ticks off their pets, children and their own bodies can readily attest to this. The question is, what to do?
While the tick population may be booming and becoming an increasing problem, there are effective measures you can take to prevent them from getting on you and your loved ones.
1. Cover up. One of the easiest ways to keep ticks off of you when you're hiking in tall grass or a wooded area is to make sure you and your family wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and closed-toe shoes. You may think dressing this way during warmer months is anything but comfortable, but if you dress in lightweight, breathable clothing, you’ll be surprised at how cool you can stay.
2. Keep up with your yard. Ticks love a messy yard. They seek out tall grass, patches of weeds and unkempt gardens. Take the time to keep your lawn cut, remove any loose debris and keep the weeds out of your garden. Areas you want to be particularly concerned about are around patios, play areas and anywhere people congregate or pets explore.
3. Protect your yard. Ticks and other pests may seem like an insurmountable problem, almost impossible to avoid or get rid of. But rest easy knowing there is a solution to help protect against these blood-feeding pests. Whether you’re concerned about protecting your family’s health from tick-borne illnesses or need help controlling an infestation, contact a licensed pest control professional to come in and assess the situation. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) can help you find a qualified, local expert to identify and treat your tick problem.
4. Wear insect repellent. Just like you make it a habit to always apply sunscreen when going out on a bright, beautiful day, get in the habit of applying insect repellent any time you are out in an area that might harbor ticks. To be effective, make sure the insect repellent contains at least 20 percent DEET.
5. Perform regular inspections. At the end of the day, take the time to comb through your pet's fur and check them for ticks, even if they are wearing a tick collar. Also, don't forget to do a check on yourself and your children. Since it usually takes between 24 and 48 hours for a tick to attach to a host and transmit diseases like Lyme disease, it’s important to remove them quickly.
To learn more about ticks or other common pests, visit www.pestworld.org. There you’ll find a wealth of information and resources that will help you and your family have a safe and tick-free year.
(BPT) - The end of summer doesn’t have to mean the end of your gardening enjoyment, even if you don’t have the time or climate for a full plot of food plants. Herbs are perfect fall crops; they are prolific growers, can satisfy your desire for fresh, garden-grown greens and are one of the easiest ways to elevate your recipes from so-so to so good! Plus, they’re ready to harvest and growing your own will make a dent in your grocery bill.
The fall gardening experts at Bonnie Plants offer some gardening guidance for planting herbs this fall:
Multiple factors will influence your choice of herbs, including fall temperatures, where you live, and your taste in seasonings.
If you decide to plant outdoors, it’s important to know when to expect the first hard frost. You can find the estimated first frost date in your area by checking out Bonnie’s online frost map.
You’ll want to choose herbs that like cooler weather, such as parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, mint, chives, lavender and oregano. They’re all prolific producers and some, like mint and rosemary, are especially easy to grow. Availability of Bonnie’s fall varieties is limited to specific regions, so check your local garden retailers.
Pick a place
You may envision pots full of leafy, green herbs sitting on a sunny windowsill, while colorful autumn leaves, or even snow, fall outside. However, windowsills aren’t always a best bet for indoor herbs, especially if your windows are drafty or the herbs brush the cold glass.
Herbs need at least four to six hours of natural light per day to grow indoors, so choose a sunny spot near a window where they’ll be protected from drafts and cold. South- and southwest-facing windows will give you the most natural light throughout the day. Windows facing north won’t provide enough sunlight.
Picking the right pots
If you really love rosemary, you may be tempted to try to plant the largest pot appropriate for your kitchen, but stick with manageable-sized pots that will fit better indoors, allow you to keep your herbs more organized, and still produce plenty of yield. Be sure to choose pots that have good drainage and always use a premium potting mix.
Caring for container herbs
Any type of plant growing in a pot needs water, and herbs are no exception. You’ll need to keep a close eye on your herb plants’ watering needs. Remember, dry topsoil is not an indication plants need water. A quick and easy test is to stick your finger, or a pencil, into the soil right where the stem enters the soil. If the soil is moist at 1.5 to 2 inches deep, do not water. If dry, it’s time to water! Always water in the morning, at soil level and avoid watering the leaves, as bacteria can breed in cool, wet, damp and dark conditions, like night time.
Fertilize your food plants. Water is an obvious must, but irrigation can wash nutrients out of the soil. Plus, some potting mixes only have a short-term supply of fertilizer while others are slow-release. Read the label on your premium potting soil mix and follow the brand’s recommendations for fertilizing frequency. Timed-release granular fertilizer or a plant food you mix with water will help keep herbs nourished. Remember food plants are hungry!
Best bets on basil
Although basil is the most popular herb, it can sometimes struggle growing indoors. Start off growing it outdoors on a sunny deck. Be sure to continually pinch-off the prolific leaf growth, which encourages more growth and harvest, until the weather turns cool, then bring the pot indoors. Harvested leaves can be continually dried, although freezing does a better job of preserving the herb’s flavor.
Tip: Try using old ice-cube trays, inserting basil leaves in cells, filling with water and freezing. When weather gets cold, you can easily pop your “basil ice-cubes” in recipes throughout the cold weather season. Basil is also tasty in some drinks, like lemonade and tea.
While clipping sprigs when cooking is a great way to harness the freshness of any herb, you can also store them and they’ll maintain their flavor. Preserving by drying and freezing aren’t your only options; try adding herbs as seasoning to cooking oils.
Whether you’re an expert gardener or a first-time fall grower, autumn is the perfect time to fall in love with the freshness, flavor and ease of herb gardening. You’ve still got time to get growing!
While planning a new outdoor living space can be overwhelming, chances are there’s a home improvement retailer nearby that offers an abundance of resources to help you tackle virtually any project. If a DIY deck project is on your to-do list, these tips can help you navigate the aisles like a pro.
Tips for Tackling a DIY Deck Project
(Family Features) While planning a new outdoor living space can be overwhelming, chances are there’s a home improvement retailer nearby that offers an abundance of resources to help you tackle virtually any project. If a DIY deck project is on your to-do list, these tips can help you navigate the aisles like a pro.
Do your homework. Get started by perusing retailer websites to learn about their product offerings and services. Then visit manufacturer websites for more information and to compare aesthetics and performance. Research your options and decide what materials and styles make the most sense for your lifestyle and preferences. For instance, if you are looking to spend more time enjoying your deck than maintaining it, you may consider a high-performance composite material, like Trex. Unlike wood, composite decking won’t rot, warp, crack or splinter, and resists fading, scratching and mold.
Take advantage of retailer resources. After you’ve decided on a preferred material, your local big-box retailer can help you obtain additional information, design ideas and product samples. To help get you on your way, lowes.trex.com can help you explore the decking and railing collections available through Lowe’s. In addition to perusing an array of decking options, you also can preview designer-curated railing pairings. Once you find a combination that suits your outdoor space, you can download the materials list to better guide your in-store experience.
Explore the store. Once you have determined the direction of your project and narrowed down your product preferences, orient yourself with the store landscape so you can navigate the merchandise in an order that correlates with your project. It may be easiest to start with decking materials in the lumber aisle and then move to railings, which can typically be found in an adjacent aisle or on an end-cap display. Pay close attention to signage and look carefully for logos to make sure you’re finding the brand you want.
Ask an associate. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. The staff at your local retailer can provide tips to help you successfully navigate your project and the store. For instance, if the materials you are looking for aren’t on the shelves, many options are available via special order. Typically, an associate can arrange for the product you want to arrive in-store in about 10 days. Most stores also offer assistance with installation.
When planning and building, the one-stop convenience of a big-box retailer makes it possible to construct a customized deck with confidence and without stress. Visit lowes.trex.com for more tips, tools and information on decking materials.SOURCE:
As the weather gets warmer, mosquitoes can prevent homeowners from reaping the benefits of living life outside. Depending on where you live, the mosquito biting season lasts 5-7 months. If spray isn’t adequate to combat the mosquitoes at your home, it may be necessary to take additional measures. These tips can help combat mosquitoes outside of the home.
Banish Biting Season
Tips for eliminating backyard pests
(Family Features) As the weather gets warmer, mosquitoes can prevent homeowners from reaping the benefits of living life outside.
According to a Harris Poll conducted on behalf of TruGreen, 85 percent of Americans say that mosquitoes limit their family’s outdoor activities during the months they’re most active. The same survey also found that nearly two-thirds of Americans are concerned about protecting themselves and their family from Zika or other mosquito-borne illnesses.
A majority of respondents reported using bug spray on themselves and their family members to combat mosquitoes outdoors at home. Although it’s the leading preventative measure, still only half say it is most effective at preventing mosquitoes from biting.
Depending on where you live, the mosquito biting season lasts 5-7 months. If spray isn’t adequate to combat the mosquitoes at your home, it may be necessary to take additional measures.
These tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the pest control experts at TruGreen can help combat mosquitoes outside of the home:
Remove standing water. Mosquitoes generally lay eggs near water, so once a week take time to dump anything that may hold water in the yard. This includes buckets, kiddie pools and birdbaths. Don’t overlook items like toys, planters and flowerpot saucers. For containers intended to hold water, like cisterns or rain barrels, regularly check that the lid is secure so mosquitoes can’t gain access. A finely woven mesh is a good alternative if there is no lid. If you can’t cover the container and won’t be drinking from it, use a larvicide to treat the water.
Be wary of unexpected reservoirs. Natural features such as shrubbery and tree stumps can also collect water, and they may be more difficult to remedy. Keep dense shrubs thinned and pruned. Increasing the air flow can make these areas less attractive. If removing a tree stump is impractical, a professional can guide you in proper treatment.
Apply a broad-application pest eliminator. Use an outdoor insect spray or professional service to kill mosquitoes in areas where they rest all over the yard. A professionally applied treatment such as TruGreen Mosquito Defense targets pests where they live, and the company’s professionally trained specialists use an innovative mosquito control formula to treat all areas of the yard where mosquitoes hide, including trees, shrubs, mulched areas and all types of ground cover.
“Mosquitoes are a nuisance for many of our customers, inhibiting the time they can spend enjoying outdoor activities,” said John Bell, board certified entomologist and TruGreen regional technical manager. “Most people protect against mosquitoes by using a repellant or citronella candles, but these methods do not target the places mosquitoes hide including low-hanging limbs, ornamental foliage, potted plants and ground cover. The TruGreen Mosquito Defense treatment program targets these places, eradicating the mosquito population in homeowners’ yards and allowing people to spend more time living life outside.”
Make regular rounds to spot trouble. Humans are creatures of habit, and that can mean certain areas of the yard receive much less traffic than other spots. Take time each week to tour the entire yard and keep an eye out for potential pest problems, including standing water in containers or low spots in the ground.
Mosquitoes’ favorite Habitats
Because mosquitoes typically lay their eggs near water, places in the yard where water can pool up are often desired breeding grounds. These areas of stagnating water allow the mosquitoes a favorite spot, but there are some other areas around the house to be wary of as potential habitats:
For more year-round lawn care tips, visit TruGreen.com/mosquito.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (family dining outdoors)
Illustration courtesy of Getty Images (infographic)SOURCE:
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