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.
Are summer’s sizzling temperatures causing you to retreat from your favorite outdoor spaces? Garages, patios, sheds, gardens and other outdoor areas should be enjoyed throughout the year. Unfortunately, heat and humidity can quickly make being outside intolerable during the dog days of summer. The good news is keeping outdoor spaces comfortable doesn’t have to be a challenge. With the right tools and some thoughtful planning, you can stay cool and continue your favorite hobbies, no matter how high the temperatures rise.
(BPT) - Are summer’s sizzling temperatures causing you to retreat from your favorite outdoor spaces? Garages, patios, sheds, gardens and other outdoor areas should be enjoyed throughout the year. Unfortunately, heat and humidity can quickly make being outside intolerable during the dog days of summer.
The good news is keeping outdoor spaces comfortable doesn’t have to be a challenge. With the right tools and some thoughtful planning, you can stay cool and continue your favorite hobbies, no matter how high the temperatures rise. Whether it's wrenching on a car, in the garage tackling a DIY project, tending to your patio container garden or simply kicking back on the deck, the following steps can help you stay cool and safe.
Step 1: Shade
Direct sun on decks and patios can make it nearly impossible to enjoy hot days. Strategically install shade features like umbrellas and awnings to add instant protection and ambiance. An alternative is vine-covered trellises that block sunlight and align well with the natural elements outdoors. For covered areas like garages and sheds, direct sunlight isn't a concern, but those rays can raise the temperatures in those spaces fast. That's why it's important to take additional steps to cool the air within.
Step 2: Portable cooling
Fans alone simply circulate stagnant, hot air throughout outdoor living spaces. Instead consider an evaporative cooler. Available in a variety of sizes, Portacool portable evaporative coolers drop temperatures through the naturally occurring process of evaporation using water and the surrounding air, without creating mist. Open backyard spaces, patios and garages can be more comfortably cool on the hottest days by rolling this cooler wherever it's needed.
Step 3: Insulation
For covered spaces like garages and sheds, adding insulation can help regulate temperatures. Batt insulation is inexpensive and an easy weekend DIY project to install if drywall isn't present. Add to walls and ceiling spaces where applicable and then cover with drywall. If you already have drywall, you can look into blown-in insulation options. By insulating these spaces, you'll help keep sweltering heat out and cool air in for more enjoyable summer days.
Step 4: Color
Keep color in mind when evaluating outdoor spaces. Light colors reflect the sun and dark colors absorb it, causing temperatures to rise. For decks and patios, opt for rugs and furniture in light colors to stay cool and comfortable. For garages and sheds, consider the color of the exterior. If you find the afternoon sun beats mercilessly down upon it, consider painting the exterior a lighter shade of paint, and when it's time to replace the roof, choose a new color in a lighter hue.
Summer heat doesn't have to force you indoors. Enjoy favorite outdoor spaces with these simple steps to stay cool and comfortable. For more information about evaporative coolers, visit www.portacool.com.
All lawns are not the same, and using the right equipment to maintain the lawn is important. After all, unlocking the potential of the lawn can result in significant advantages from curb appeal to relaxing in the backyard to hosting gatherings with family and friends. Here are three key areas to consider with zero-turn mowers, an option that’s gaining popularity.
Here’s What You Need to Mow
(Family Features) All lawns are not the same, and using the right equipment to maintain the lawn is important. After all, unlocking the potential of the lawn can result in significant advantages from curb appeal to relaxing in the backyard to hosting gatherings with family and friends.
Many homeowners may have a push mower, a lawn tractor or both – and technology on lawn equipment has come a long way over the years. Today’s lawn tractors incorporate fuel-injected engines or feature Bluetooth technology that connects with a smartphone.
However, a third lawn mowing option is gaining in popularity – the zero-turn mower. It’s called a zero-turn mower because its design allows users to make zero-degree turns – allowing for easier maneuverability around trees, shrubs, lawn decorations and other obstacles typically encountered when mowing.
Zero-turn mowers are becoming more popular for homeowners because they are comfortable, have great handling and can mow lawns quickly and efficiently.
Here are three key areas to consider with zero-turn mowers:
The steering wheel option offers patented SynchroSteer® technology, providing unparalleled stability on hills and terrain with no turf damage. With four-wheel control, the RZT SX delivers incredible handling and unmatched stability on hills. The line is available in a variety of cutting widths from 42 to 54 inches.
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:
The arrival of milder temperatures means dining al fresco, hosting neighborhood cookouts and enjoying intimate cocktail parties under the stars. When creating a backyard oasis, make your space both inviting and able to withstand the wear and tear of warm-weather fun. The outdoor living experts at Trex, the world’s largest manufacturer of wood-alternative decking and railing, suggest the following tips.
Create Inviting Outdoor Spaces
(Family Features) The arrival of milder temperatures means dining al fresco, hosting neighborhood cookouts and enjoying intimate cocktail parties under the stars. When creating a backyard oasis, make your space both inviting and able to withstand the wear and tear of warm-weather fun.
The outdoor living experts at Trex, the world’s largest manufacturer of wood-alternative decking and railing, suggest the following tips:
Check your deck
Unlike wood, high-performance composites resist fading, staining, scratching and mold – and won’t rot, warp, crack or splinter. Upkeep is hassle-free with no sanding, staining or painting required and food and drink spills wash off easily with soap and water.
“Who wants an outdoor space that they have to spend more time maintaining than enjoying? For me, composite decking is a no-brainer,” said celebrity deck designer Paul Lafrance of HGTV’s acclaimed “Decked Out” series. “It delivers all the beauty and aesthetics of wood without the back-breaking and time-consuming upkeep.”
Food and drink stations – arguably the most crucial element of a party – should be prominent and accessible to guests. And don’t forget a kid-friendly zone with games, such as corn hole, badminton and ladder ball, and other activities to help keep children entertained.
Frame your space
Let there be light
Stock up on storage
Don’t forget the finishing touches
“Thanks to advances in all-weather materials, furnishings and accessories, you can outfit an outdoor living space in much the same way that you would any room in the home,” Lafrance said.
For more outdoor living ideas and inspiration, visit Trex.com.
(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!
(BPT) - It was supposed to be a community swimming pool, but many people stayed away because they couldn't tolerate the biting, nose-curdling odor of chlorine. Others experienced breathing and skin problems.
So the Evergreen Commons senior center in Holland, Michigan, converted its 65,000-gallon chlorine pool into a saltwater pool. People who had stayed away are now coming back, getting exercise and therapy, while socializing with others.
The senior center is hardly alone. Across the country, traditional chlorine pools are being converted into saltwater pools, sometimes called saline pools.
Swimmers noticed the difference right away after the switch, making their pool experience much more enjoyable. The new system also meant softer water without harsh chemicals that sometimes required a shower to wash off.
Homeowners and pool managers have many motivations for converting pools from chlorine to salt, including:
* Simplified, more convenient maintenance. Saltwater pool owners don't have to buy, transport, store and handle hazardous chlorine chemicals. This saves time and money.
* Water that's gentle on skin, eyes, nose and hair. Saltwater pools have approximately one-tenth the salinity of ocean water and about one-third the salinity of human tears, with no unpleasant chlorine smell.
* A more environmentally friendly approach. Routine pool maintenance doesn't involve the handling and storage of manufactured chlorine and lessens the need for other potentially hazardous chemicals.
How do they work?
Saltwater pools use a generator to convert the salt into mild chlorine that keeps the pool free of harmful bacteria. This chlorine is added to the water at a constant rate, displacing the bad smell and burning irritation we normally associate with chlorine and maintaining the right amount. Once the chlorine sanitizes the pool it converts back to salt. The process continues, over and over again, conserving the salt and keeping sanitizer levels balanced.
The technology for a saltwater pool was first developed in Australia in the 1960s and today more than 80 percent of all pools Down Under use this system. In the United States, saltwater pools first began to see use in the 1980s and have grown exponentially in popularity. According to data published in Pool & Spa News, today there are more than 1.4 million saltwater pools in operation nationwide and an estimated 75 percent of all new in-ground pools are saltwater, compared with only 15 percent in 2002.
The other good news for homeowners and pool managers is that pool salt is far cheaper than traditional chlorine. This is a big reason why so many hotels and water parks in the United States have already made the switch. The initial construction and installation of an electrolytic converter is very small and easily made up in maintenance savings. Even converting an existing chlorine pool to saltwater pool can pay off quickly.
Interested in Publishing on The Outdoor Idea?
Send your query to the Publisher today!