Mix and match trend revolutionizing deck design


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When it comes to fashion faux pas, the only thing worse than clashing patterns is overly matching every item. Mixing and matching creates exciting contrast – and not just when you dress yourself, but also when you “dress up” your home. The trend toward mixing colors and materials has made its way outdoors, with enterprising homeowners getting creative with their decks.

When it comes to building a deck, or refurbishing an existing one, options abound. Design choices beyond simple considerations such as wood or composite, square or rectangular, open the door to creative outdoor environments that are truly unique and reflect your personal style.

The deck design experts at Deckorators point to several popular looks emerging in the mix-and-match trend:

Mixed materials

Retire that old rule that says all the materials you use for your deck must match. Your railing no longer needs to be made from the same material as your decking. Pairing wooden deck planks stained in a natural hue with a metallic railing and decorative balusters creates a fresh, exciting look. Dress up basic wood and vinyl deck posts with fiber-reinforced concrete postcovers that provide the look and feel of real stacked stone.

An inset of deck stones in the floor creates contrast and interest – as well as a functional, durable spot for outdoor kitchens, grilling areas and raised fire pits.-

Pairing metal or glass balusters with a wood or composite railing is another striking way to add personality to a deck. The combination is the perfect marriage of rustic and modern, incorporating the classic natural appeal of wood with the modern flair of metal and glass.


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Playing with color

Metal balusters also allow you to experiment with color. Available in finishes that mimic popular metals such as bronze, copper and stainless steel, as well as basic black or white, metal balusters also resist insect damage and rot – making them practical as well as pretty.

There’s also no rule that says all your balusters have to match. For even more personality, try mixing balusters: alternate different styles of glass or metal, or mix regular metal or glass balusters with lighted balusters. Using energy-efficient LED technology, lighted balusters connect to a standard 12-volt power source to create a soft glow.

Exploring accessories

Accessories like post caps and planters are great ways to enhance a deck’s visual appeal and usability. While metal and glass post caps are traditionally thought of as great complements for metal and glass balusters, they can also add pops of color to a monochrome deck. Available in a variety of colors such as copper, pewter, black and white, metal post caps also coordinate well with wood and composite deck materials.

Or, for an even more colorful accent, consider glass post caps. Deckorators offers a line of glass post caps that mimic timeless Tiffany styles. They are also available in basic colors and styles, as well as illuminated versions that coordinate well with regular or lighted balusters.

While you’re experimenting with accessories, don’t overlook the opportunity to mix things up with a variety of sizes, shapes, colors and materials for built-in planters and seating.

Need help visualizing how your deck might look all dolled up using the mix-and-match trend? Deckorators offers a simple online tool, the Deck Visualizer, which allows you to mix different decking, balusters and post caps and see in advance how your personalized outdoor space might look. Log on to http://www.deckorators.com to learn more.

Courtesy of BPT

Tankless water heater repair and installation for your home


We all know hot water is a necessity. Most of us have water heaters at home and do not give it a second thought, we just assume we will have hot water on a daily basis until… You are standing in the shower and the water goes cold because someone in the other part of the house decides to turn on the water- maybe trying to get the dishes done after dinner. Or we get ready for that therapeutic evening bubble bath so we can unwind and there is no hot water. If this sounds familiar it may be time to consider a tankless hot water system.

Let’s discuss the advantages of replacing your old hot water tank with a Tankless water heater. Have you found yourself scratching your head when the electric bill comes? Most of us have. Depending on your household size and use, your conventional hot water tank can drive your electric bills through the roof.

Did you know that most conventional heaters make up for almost 20% of your household energy consumption? Think about this for a moment. 20% is a lot of consumption when you begin thinking about the different household items that make up your electric bill…clothes dryers, stoves, heat, washing machines, lights, hair dryers and the list goes on. So when you think about it, 20% for the use of hot water is quite a bit of your electric bill. This is why if you are a conservationist or a home owner that simply wants to save money and enjoy effective water heating, consider switching to a different system. It may be time to try using a tankless water heater.

With electric bills soaring and people becoming more eco- friendly, many are now considering installing a tankless water system. The advantages to having a tankless system may outweigh the disadvantages. Let’s review some of the reasons why installing a tankless heater could be very beneficial:

Tankless hot water heaters are energy efficient. You can cut your heating cost to up to 30%. Tankless systems work differently from conventional water heaters. With a Tankless water system the water is heated only when it is needed. When you turn on the faucet, that is when the Tankless heating system kicks in and the water is heated (using a heating element). This kind of system is also called “Instantaneous” or “On Demand. “

With tankless water heaters there is a constant flow of hot water, so this allows everyone in your home to have hot water at the same time- no more being deprived of hot water in your home! It does not matter if two or more faucets are running at the same time. But be sure to speak to a professional plumber so they can advise you on what you may need to properly supply your entire house or what your options are regarding installing two or more of this type of system to meet larger instantaneous hot water demands.

You should know that tankless water heaters are considered safer because the system does not store water that can be a breeding ground for bacteria such as Legionella. Keeping the water temperature at an appropriate level is important to prevent these types of bacteria from thriving.

Preventive maintenance is still periodic- the same as a conventional heater – but the cost is less. Perhaps one of the best advantages of a tankess water system is that if you do what the manufacturer requires, it can potentially last up to 20 years and still maintain its efficiency.

by: Trish 

http://www.articlecity.com/articles/home_improvement/article_7339.shtml

How to pick the best riding lawn mower


For home owners with sizable yards that are overwhelmed and fed up with doing typical lawn mowing utilizing a push mower, it truly is time to consider a riding lawn mower. These lawn machines can certainly make quick work of your normal lawn mowing. Nonetheless, as with any big investment, purchasing a riding lawn mower may be an intimidating task. That’s why I have assembled this write-up to assist you in making the best purchasing choice, considering that the wrong choice can be incredibly expensive.

When evaluating your requirements you’ll want to look at a number of different things. You’ll want to look at the dimensions of your yard, the landscape inside of your lawn, the quantity of obstacles inside your yard, and the layout of your yard, in addition to your total spending budget. All items will play an important role in picking the perfect riding lawn mower.

For those who have a few obstacles to cut around, a gear driven riding mower is a good choice. This will give a constant, steady pace to mow the yard. If you have plenty of obstacles in your yard, you need to pick an automatic transmission riding mower which will permit you to speed up or slow down with out clutching. An automatic mower is also easier to drive.

Look throughout the off-season. Most mowers are used during the spring and summer time, so they do not sell all that well in the fall and winter seasons – making these the best seasons for purchasing a brand new mower.

Throughout the purchasing process, don’t forget to check the riding lawn mower’s parts. You should ask if they have replaceable parts, and extra capabilities. After you find any lawn mowers you like, be sure to also ask the dealer if they offers no cost repair service or if they sell parts like the blades and the mower’s motor.

The size and type of the blade are also important factors which you ought to think about. For those that will probably be mowing in narrow paths, a cutter with a smaller width could be more appropriate. However, you might benefit more with wide cutters simply because they are able to save you additional time when cutting the lawn. But needless to say, it will really depend on your needs and preferences. Just bear in mind that the larger the cutter the more space it can cover.

Finally, storage is an additional important consideration that should by no means be overlooked. You need to find an area where you are able to easily and safely maintain your riding mower. Then, get its specific measurements and buy the mower which will perfectly fit inside your storage place. Other characteristics that you probably should also factor in are the seat comfort, available legroom, ease of control and repairs and maintenance.

by: Ted Davis 

http://www.articlecity.com/articles/home_improvement/article_7005.shtml 

Creating the perfect master suite retreat


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The master bedroom is the ideal place to take refuge from reality – and when it comes to creating the perfect bedroom and bath, casual and comfortable retreats are more appealing than formal, model-home-like spaces. The right color palettes, furnishings and fixtures can transform a master suite into a tranquil escape from the stresses and headaches of the day.

But blissful hideaways are not limited to only one style and feel. Relaxation can come in a number of ways – it simply depends on the eye of the beholder. Here are some ideas and inspiration to create a serene master suite, no matter your definition of relaxing.

Bathing bliss

Before choosing a theme or color palette for the bedroom, focus your attention on the bath. This functional room deserves to be updated with elegant and understated features in order to create a haven from the stresses of everyday life. After all, a true master suite escape has the ideal spa-inspired bathroom.

To achieve a charming appearance with soft comforts, start by styling the room with fixtures and accessories that exude a clean style, like the Voss collection from Moen. Voss delivers uncomplicated glamor throughout the entire bath. With a full range of bath fixtures, including rain showers, faucets and coordinated accessories, your master bath can be transformed into a personal sanctuary that will last for years to come.

“While American bathrooms are decreasing in size, they’re actually increasing in spa-like atmosphere,” says Rebecca Kolls, senior director consumer strategist of home and garden for Iconoculture.

One way to incorporate this type of atmosphere into your bath is with a customized shower or vertical spa, like Moen’s innovative ioDIGITAL. With ioDIGITAL, you can control water temperature and flow with electronic precision. Your bathroom will become the ultimate getaway that will effortlessly flow into any bedroom theme.

Cozy country flair

An uncluttered room with rustic antique decor pieces is sure to create a relaxing environment away from the hectic world outside. The simple and charming aesthetics of an English country look accomplish this desired feeling. English country styling mixes patterns and decor elements comfortably and with a bit of flair, incorporating what Kolls calls “style telling” – or styling that tells a story. And the cozy design flow works perfectly for a bedroom setting.

To create this look, start with a simple color palette – such as blue and white or pink and brown. Patterned wallpaper, borders and curtains in floral or plaid prints are a great way to evoke that welcoming, home-style country feeling. Keep your eyes open for one-of-a-kind antiques and wood furniture to accent your country retreat. A perfect – and often inexpensive – place to start is your local antique store, flea market, or even yard sales. After all, one person’s trash is another person’s vintage treasure.

Select delicate, yet comfortable, furniture pieces to add to the relaxing and comfortable feel. Accent chairs with coordinating floral patterns and overstuffed accent cushions in a variety of shapes and sizes will make you want to curl up with a blanket and read your favorite book. Don’t be overly concerned with finding matching wood pieces. Different and unique items add to the rustic appeal. Pine, oak or mahogany furniture items all have their place in laid-back English country style.

Coastal contemporary

There’s a reason why tropical beaches are considered the fundamental escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The rush of the ocean and the feel of sand between your toes can bring anyone a lasting sense of tranquility. Those same feelings can be incorporated into a master suite by selecting contemporary and cool hues in blues, pale greens and whites, with touches of sandy brown and gold.

For this laid-back theme, use an upholstered headboard in a soft blue pattern to highlight the focal point of the room – the bed. You can even go a step further by adding plush curtains behind the bed frame, paired with a large plate-glass mirror to provide the feeling of open spaces – like the open sea. Because the bed will be the focus of the room, keep the shades simple.

Try bamboo window shades to maintain the casual flow while allowing in natural light. Use whimsical decor pieces such as glass bedside lamps and palm plants throughout the rest of the room to complete the theme. Looking for low-cost design elements? Corral beautiful shells and sea glass found at your nearest beach into clear glass cylinders and place strategically throughout your master suite.

Whether your style is more classic, country or coastal – or perhaps a combination – you can create a dream master suite retreat that fits your own personal style.

Courtesy of BPT

Hiring a roofing contractor: 4 secrets you should know


Roof construction is an important part of the integrity and energy efficiency of a home. So when it comes time to repair or replace a roof it is best to select a contractor who practices the right roofing techniques.

It’s hard to know what to look for in a roofing contractor, so here are 4 things you should know to help simplify the process of hiring the right one for you.

#1: Roofing Contractors Must be Insured

Any roofing contractors you hire, whether for new roofing, roofing repairs or roofing restoration, must carry insurance. First and foremost is liability insurance, which protects your property in the event it is damaged by the contractor or his employees. Any roofing contractor you’re considering must also carry worker’s compensation insurance. This insurance will protect you should one of the roofing contractors or one of their workers gets injured on your property. If they don’t have it you may be liable. Make sure you ask any roofing contractors for proof of insurance before signing a contract or allowing work to begin. A good roofing contractor will expect to show proof of insurance to potential clients.

#2: Roofing Contractors Must be Licensed

In order to protect yourself any roofing contractor you hire should be licensed. Anyone can come in and claim to be an expert, but without a license you could potentially expose yourself to financial harm. If an injury or property damage occurs during work with an unlicensed roofing contractor, the Contractors Board cannot assist you with resolution to a complaint against that contractor. Hiring a licensed roofing contractor also ensures a degree of quality in that it gives you the assurance that the contractor has met the qualifications required by your state. States usually have high standards for professional roofing contractors, which contractors must meet before being licensed.

#3: Roofing Contractors Should Guarantee Their Work

Most roof materials have a guarantee, but your roofing contractor should too. The work done by a roofing contractor, including roofing repairs and roof restoration, should be guaranteed for at least a year. Make sure the guarantee is in writing and that it includes a guarantee against leaks, defective materials, and defective workmanship. It should also detail what will be done to rectify any situation where the guarantee is not met.

#4: Roofing Contractors Should Sign a Contract for Their Work

You should ask for a signed contract from even the most reliable roofing contractor. In the contract they should specify everything from cost and payment to schedule and completion date. Make sure the project cost, including a reasonable deposit request, is in writing. And payment schedule and/or due date or timeline should also be in writing. An important item to include in the contract is roof materials and what brand specifically you have agreed upon that will be used. The contract from your roofing contractor should also include details such as cleanup during and after the project and what happens if anything unexpected occurs during the course of the project or how any change requests are handled.

Start enjoying your deck after one day’s work


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Most deck owners know that one of the keys to keeping their decks looking good is staining it every few years. However, while deck staining is a process that most homeowners are capable of doing themselves, finding the time to do it can be difficult. With the right approach and the right products, you can get everything done in just one day and spend the rest of the year enjoying your newly stained deck.

 
By perfecting your process, you can take staining from something that you dread to a simple one-day process. Here’s a step-by-step guide to getting your deck looking good in a day:

 
* First, choose the look you want to project on your deck. Do you want a clear, semi-transparent or solid finish? Do some research to see which type of wood stain would look best on your deck. Clear finish generally looks better on newer wood, while a solid finish might be used on older decks to hide imperfections. If you are looking for the solution that will allow you to accomplish your project in one day, you’ll need to choose a product like Flood OneCoat Waterproofing Finish, which can be applied within a few hours of cleaning the surface.

 
* Always know your deck’s square footage before heading to the store to buy stain. Don’t estimate, because nothing is more frustrating than having to stop your project because you ran out of stain – Flood.com offers a handy calculator so you can get an idea of how much you might need. Make sure you also have all the necessary supplies before leaving the store.

 
* Before the day you stain, examine your deck to see if there are any necessary repairs that should be done. If your deck is squeaky, it’s likely due to loose nails. Replace loose or missing nails with deck screws, as hammering a nail into the same spot won’t fix the problem.

 
* Once you have all the supplies, check the weather report and pick a day that’s good for staining. Required temperatures will vary but it should set for at least 48 hours without a threat of rain.

 
* Remove everything from your deck and use a wood cleaner to clean and prepare your surface. Decks that are in good condition can simply be cleaned before staining. But if your deck is peeling, has mildew growth or experiencing other surface irregularities, it’s best to strip it before staining.

 
* If you’re using Flood OneCoat Waterproofing Finish, you can begin staining a few hours after you prepped the surface. Quick tip: If you’re using multiple cans of stain, mix them together for color consistency and continue to stir throughout the process.

 
* Work the entire length of each board and make sure you are applying evenly throughout. If you are working on a vertical surface, start at the bottom and work up to avoid streaking.

 
* Take your time to do a thorough job, but make sure you use only as much stain as the directions call for. Especially when working with oil products, using too much can ruin the look of your deck.
It’s important to note that for larger decks, or decks that pose unique challenges such as numerous hard-to-reach areas, the process could take longer than a day. But by following these steps, you’ll ensure that your deck will be looking great in less time and with less hassle.

 
Once you’ve finished staining, dispose of any extra stain or cleaner as directed by the instructions on the can and let the deck dry for the prescribed amount of time before walking or placing items on it. In no time, you’ll be enjoying your deck for the seasons to come.

For more deck staining tips, helpful tools and videos and help finding a home improvement retailer near you, visit http://www.flood.com.

Courtesy of BPT

Common outdoor lighting mistakes and their solutions


Upgrading your home’s exterior lighting is a surefire way to increase your home’s curb appeal and resell value. And a well-lit front lawn can also deter would-be burglars. Most of  the outdoor lighting of one’s home adds a welcoming touch for family and guests. Here you can learn about outdoor lighting trends, common lighting problems and their solutions, and things to consider when selecting outdoor lighting fixtures.

First and foremost, it’s important to give a considerable amount of thought to the placement of your outdoor lights. Just as you would not place several lighting fixtures like table lamps or wall sconces in a single area of your living room, you don’t want to place exterior fixtures too close together either. This is a common problem when integrating pathlights into your outdoor lighting solution. Too many pathlights, too close together can make your walkway look more like the runway at an airport. Instead of placing the lights directly opposite one another on either end, try a staggered approach. The light will flow less harshly.

Another common mistake in selecting outdoor lights is in finding the proper lighting direction, or limiting “light pollution”. Outdoor lights should not obstruct one’s vision or interfere with one being able to see the entire landscape of a yard or area clearly. On a similar note, the lights should not shine directly into the road or a neighboring yard either. To avoid such issues, look for spotlights with glare guards.

Just as it would be boring to find the same exact lamp in every room of one’s home, it’s boring to see the same outdoor lighting fixture repeated throughout the yard. It can make the home appear institutional as opposed to personal. Use a wide variety of fixtures to light your yard; it will enhance the character and charm of your home.

Be sure to balance your home’s exterior lighting. Another common mistake in outdoor lighting placement, is to inadvertently divide the yard by placing too many lights in one area and too little in another. You want to evenly distribute light throughout the canvas of your home. You don’t want your yard looking like a parking lot.

Finally, like most things in home décor, less is more. Outdoor lighting should call attention to the beautiful and unique features of your home. It should not be intrusive. Proper outdoor lighting calls attention to various parts of your home’s exterior, not the entire surface area. Over illumination is never attractive indoor or outdoor.

by: Melinda Cayetano 

http://www.articlecity.com/articles/home_improvement/article_7064.shtml 

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