Category

Outdoor Deck Tips

  • Stained Wood Deck Refinishing Guide

    When you first installed your wood deck, you couldn’t believe just how beautiful it looked and are thinking back to how much use it would get in the evenings and weekends. Now, you’re trying to remember the last time you actually stepped onto your deck and can’t remember when you fired-up the grill last. Needless to say, if you’ve not regularly using your wood deck, it’s being neglected by default. Sure, you’d love to restore the deck but are apprehensive about tackling such a big project on your own.

    Fortunately, it doesn’t take a lot of specialized skills or tools to refinish a stained wood deck. You’ll only need a few supplies and tools, as well as a helping hand or two to get the job done right and look great.

    Ways to Improve Your Deck

    Before you refinish your deck, you’re probably thinking it’s time for some changes. Perhaps you don’t like the furniture or decor and just want a change for something different. Whatever the case, there are ways to improve your deck and remake it into an outdoor oasis that’s ideal for relaxing and entertaining friends and family. For instance, you can clean it up, refinish the stain and then replace the furniture.

    Remember how excited you were the day you finished building your new deck? The smell of fresh-cut wood, the warm, even color of the new deck boards, that summer afternoon spent admiring the fine details that made yours the best-looking deck in the neighborhood. Now years later, you hardly notice the deck as you amble across it to take out the trash. Yes, the colors have faded, the wood is gray and there may even be some mildew. Well, don’t despair; this is a love affair that’s easily rekindled. It takes just a few days, mild cool weather, some cleaning and stripping solution and a few minor tools to get that old relationship right back where it started. —The Family Handyman

    You can also hang a swing to give it a rustic look and provide a place to relax. In addition, you might consider putting in a fire pit that doubles as a table for guests to gather around and eat. You might even replace the grill or can install deck lighting to make it really attractive.

    Stained Wood Deck Refinishing Guide

    To get the best results, you’ll have to use the right materials, supplies, and tools. Otherwise, it won’t look as good as it could and will have to be completely redone. The trick is to take your time and go step-by-step. If you rush through the process, you’re likely to miss something and the results will certainly show.

    What You’ll need to Refinish Your Deck

    • Drill-driver or hammer
    • Screws or nails
    • Pry bar
    • Boards
    • Deck wash
    • Eye protection
    • Gloves
    • Scrub brush
    • Garden hose
    • Sander and sandpaper
    • Broom
    • Brush and roller
    • Paint tray
    • Stain

    With your tools, materials, and supplies ready-to-go, you can now refinish your wood stained deck, by doing the following:

    1. Clear off the entire deck. Remove everything from your deck, no matter how small it is. It’s especially important to clear it off so you can inspect the entire deck for any damage or things in need of repair.
    2. Make any necessary repairs. You’ll probably find a screw or nail or two that’s sticking out from the wood. Use a drill-driver or hammer to refasten screws and nails. If these are corroded, then replace them. Should boards be warped, replace these with new planks.
    3. Clean the surface thoroughly. Use deck wash, a garden hose, and scrub brush to clean the whole surface thoroughly. Make sure the entire surface is clean and then let it dry for a day.
    4. Sand the whole surface of your deck. Now, you need to sand off the old finish. While stain will not peel like paint, it will fade and you need a new surface to apply another coat or more of stain. Don’t go crazy, just sand off most of the existing stain.

    Final Stained Wood Deck Refinishing Steps

    1. Clean the deck off again and allow to dry. Clean the deck again to get rid of all the dust and debris, then, allow it to dry. You’ll probably have to broom it off once more before staining the wood.
    2. Apply as many coats of stain as necessary. Using a brush, roller, paint tray, and stain, apply the first coat to the wood. Let it dry completely and do not step on the surface until the first coat is dry. Then, apply one or two more coats of stain to complete the refinish.

    Once the last coat is dry, you can put the furniture and any decor back onto the surface — be careful not to mar or scratch the wood. The stain will last about five years if you periodically clean the deck.

  • New Deck Cost Estimates and Considerations

    New deck cost estimates will vary greatly depending on your preferred materials, size, and features. When you build a deck, there’s more to it than simply selecting the wood or composite. You’ve got to think about use, size, layout, and much more. Then, there are several deck customizations available and these will factor into cost, as well as time to completion. So, let’s take a look at some basic new deck cost estimates and considerations.

    New Deck Installation Considerations

    When most homeowners first think about adding a deck, they typically imagine the finished product’s look. That depiction often includes what type of deck surface material they want most. For instance, it could be redwood, cedar, polyethylene, polypropylene, tigerwood, teak, bamboo, or PVC. Some homeowners like the look and feel of pinewood lumber decks and opt for this as the surface material. But the surface material is only one component of many.

    The end result: your own private oasis, mere feet from the fridge. The process? Nearly as easy, provided you envision your plans for using this newfound entertaining/relaxing/al-fresco-everything living space. You’ll want to be able to tell your top rails from your balusters for sure, but it’s also time to consider some bigger questions, like how much space do you need to pull out the dining chairs? Does your town require architectural plans before permits? And what about a hot tub? —Trex.com

    The first consideration should be the understructure materials. That is, the foundation of a deck and some of the most used understructure materials are pressure treated lumber, steel, and concrete and/or block. Pressure treated wood and steel both share the benefit of being resistant to rot and to insects, as does concrete. Of course, costs will differ for these understructure materials, so it’s very important to choose one that best fits your budget.

    New Deck Cost Estimates

    Speaking of budget, it’s also important to think about future costs. Remember, the materials and installation costs aren’t the only expenses you’ll incur. There will be maintenance costs involved to keep your deck in good condition for the duration of its life. Here are some new deck cost estimates to factor into your calculations when budgeting to build a new outdoor living amenity for your home:

    • Permits. Depending on the build and your type of residence, you might or might not need a building permit to install a new deck. Sarasota County generally does not require a building permit for “decks and patios directly on grade and without footings. (Any material, 1 and 2 family residences only).”
    • Property taxes. Although you might not need to get a building permit, a deck will add to the value of your home, which will be reflected in your increased property taxes. You can contact the local tax assessor to learn what to expect in regards to adding a deck to your house and its potential impact on your property taxes.
    • Materials. Now, one of the largest expenses will be the materials you choose for the understructure, the surface, and any additions, such as railing. On average the cost per square foot for the most popular materials are as follows: polyethylene $7.82, polypropylene $8.86, PVC, $7.50, redwood $7.75, tigerwood $20, cedar $3.75, and bamboo $3 to $4.
    • Additional costs. It’s likely you’ll also incur additional costs. For instance, deck lights range in price from $8 to $30 each. Post lighting is considerably more expensive, ranging in price from $30 to in excess of $100 apiece. Then, there are other things, such as an umbrella, railings, fire pit, grill, and more.
    • Maintenance costs. If you do chose a wood surface over composite, the wood will need to be restained occasionally, as well as resealed and waterproofed. Stain averages $30 per gallon and seal and waterproof combination mixtures range in price from $10 to $25 per gallon.

    The average deck build installation cost is $6,916 for an area of under 200 square feet, about $35 per square foot. Cost factors include size, geographic location, materials, and whether it is done do-it-yourself or professionally installed.

    But upfront and small ongoing maintenance costs are all worthwhile. A new deck will add value to your property and will be a great enjoyment for outdoor living and entertaining. Plus, when it comes time for resale, you’ll recoup some of your costs. Combine this with the enjoyment and use and it’s no wonder why so many homeowners add this great outdoor living amenity feature to their properties.

    If it’s time to update your landscape or add more features, like a new deck, just go ahead and contact us. We are a full-service, professional landscape design company and serve all of Sarasota, including near Bayfront Drive, around Rolling Green Golf Club, along Longboat Club Road, and elsewhere.

  • Aging Pergola Refurbishment Made Easy

    There’s nothing like the aesthetic charm and the real function a wood pergola gives an outdoor living space. It can serve as a centerpiece, but also, a dedicated place providing shade from the sun and for entertaining friends and family. What’s more, these are quite versatile features, offering many styles and extras. Large or small, a pergola can also provide a bit of privacy, perfect for a hot tub retreat, or, house a fire pit, ideal for encircling with seating to cook and enjoy meals.

    Unfortunately, summer storms, extreme heat, copious humidity, and wind exposure all take a serious toll. Though it’s constructed with treated materials, designed to withstand outside weather elements, eventually, even the best made will succumb. Over time, the side walls, or lattice, support posts, rafters and beams, will all show marked signs of aging. In some instances, a pergola might become a victim-host to insect infestation, speeding-up structural compromise.

    The good news is, more often than not, a pergola can be refurbished, or, replaced, in-part or whole. It’s not really difficult and you don’t need to be a master wood craftsman or contractor to give it a fresh, new look. It only requires a few tools, some readily available materials, and a bit of elbow grease.

    Aging Pergola Refurbishment Made Easy

    The first step is to assess its condition. Examine the entire structure, looking carefully over each support post, the side walls, if so equipped, and, the rafters and beams along the top. If the damage observed is merely cosmetic, that makes the job all the easier. You can elect to refurbish it, which entails giving it a good cleaning and some TLC. First, clear the pergola and surrounding area. Remove any furniture, fixtures, and features under and on the structure. Put these aside in a weather protected space. If it’s covered in vines, these probably won’t survive too much trauma, so, unwind them.

    An outdoor pergola provides a framework for climbing vines. [Refurbishing] a pergola should not be an overly exhausting chore, especially if you have the right tools, some time, the correct know-how and possibly a friend or two to help. —Do It Yourself.com

    You might not be able to save the vines completely but might be able to salvage enough to regrow and cover the pergola once again. Now that you have a clear area to work around and the structure is free of vines, you’ll be able to do the following:

    • Hose-off all the wood to remove surface dirt and debris. You’ll probably be able to see surface dirt and debris, like cobwebs, on the structure. Begin the refurbish with a complete hose-down from top to bottom. If you have a pressure washer, use it, but set the pressure to an appropriate level. Don’t make the mistake of blasting the structure on a high pressure setting as the stream will cut into the wood.
    • Deep clean the wood. Hosing it down will only do so much — you’ll have to go a step further and use wood deck cleaner to get to those tough, clinging particles. Apply it with a synthetic paint brush, or, for better coverage and results, use a spray bottle. Apply the cleaner in a side-to-side motion, going from bottom to top to avoid streaking. Allow it to soak in, then gently rinse and let dry for 24 hours. Once dry, reexamine it to see if there’s any grime left on the wood, if so, clean those areas and allow to dry overnight.
    • Rough sand the wood. Using rough grit sandpaper, gently sand the wood so it will absorb the finish. Don’t break out the high-powered orbital sander, though you can use one, on a low setting. Be careful not to sand in one area longer than another because the finish will look uneven. This will take quite a bit of time because of the sheer amount of wood to cover. You can break this step up over the course of a couple to a few days.
    • Brush-on a color finish. To give it a little more charm and a fresh, new look, apply a coat of color finish, and let dry. Plan this step ahead of time, checking the weather forecast so you don’t work in vain. You want a nice, even coat, so use an applicator pad on the largest, widest surfaces, while using a brush on smaller, narrow surfaces. When using an applicator pad, apply the color finish in a circular motion. The brush will work best around and in corners, as well along edges.

    After the color finish dries, then it’s time to apply a coat of sealant to protect the wood. Choose a commercial sealant that’s easy to apply. Here again, check the weather forecast because you certainly don’t want to undermine the sealant. Use a clear sealant and apply it following the manufacturer’s instructions.

  • Deck versus Patio: What You need to Know

    Patio or deck, what’s the difference, you might ask? We’ll there is a difference between the two amenities but both share some common traits. Each will increase your home’s value and bolster its resale appeal. Both are great for the Sarasota climate and both provide a wonderful space for relaxing and entertaining. In fact, many homeowners consider their decks and patios to be extensions of their house, and can serve as a dining area, as well as a kitchen. Another similarity is both are sturdy but do require periodic maintenance (for instance, resurfacing a concrete patio or having to refinish a stained wood deck).

    Patio or Deck: What’s the Difference?

    Okay, so what’s the difference between a deck and patio and why does it matter? Well, you might believe one is inherently more costly than the other, but that’s simply not the case. You can customize a wood deckjust as you can customize a patio. And, it’s not uncommon to use the terms interchangeably. The difference between a deck and a patio doesn’t have to do with the construction materials, it has to do with the placement. A deck is typically raised off the ground, while a patio is built directly on the ground.

    If you’re a homeowner with nothing special outside your back door, you’ve probably felt the pang of patio or deck envy. You go to a friend’s house, and he has an incredible layout in his backyard. Someone is grilling, and friends and family are lounging in comfortable chairs on the patio. Everyone’s laughing and having fun, and you remember your own place and think: I want this. So how much does a patio or deck cost? And what should you know before building one? —U.S. News and World Report

    Patios generally extend from the exterior of homes or are built onto other construction features in yards. Decks also generally extend from the exterior of homes or are built elsewhere in yards, but are raised, hence the term, “floating deck.” Patios are usually constructed of concrete, pavers, stone, tile, or brick. Decks, however, are generally built out of wood, vinyl, or composite materials.  Also, decks are usually equipped with a railing system and are built on a support system.

    Deck versus Patio: What You need to Know

    As far as costs go, there’s really no hard and fast rule about which is more or less expensive. Each can be as expensive or inexpensive as desired — it depends on the material, size, customization, labor, and other factors. But, there’s more you need to know about a deck versus a patio. If you like the idea of installing both but just can’t decide which is the better choice, you’re certainly not alone. Here are some considerations to think about to make the right decision:

    • What will be the primary use? Most likely, the primary use will be a place to relax and entertain. But, if you have a pool, it’s probably better to install a patio because it won’t splinter (unless you build a deck of vinyl or composite). Just remember, a deck is built off the ground and that will play a big part in your ultimate decision.
    • How will you tie it into your house? Regardless of which you choose, understand it simply must tie or “match” your home, appearing as an intended extension. If it looks out-of-place, it won’t bring value to your home and could be a serious objection come resale time.
    • How will you fit it into your landscape? Just as a patio or deck must tie into your home’s exterior and overall theme, it should also be a good fit for your landscape, as well. If you have a wood gazebo, then a wood or composite deck will be a good candidate but if you have a rock garden, a patio will probably fit better.
    • Are you planning to add-on to it? This is an important question because some homeowners have a grand vision for the finished product. Meaning, starting with a basic build and embellishing it a few times to make it into an envious amenity. In general, if you want to add-on to it, a deck will be a better choice because it could be difficult to find the same or matching materials for a patio.
    • What’s the grade in your yard? This will be a huge factor because it will greatly influence the price, pushing it up or allowing you to save money. If you have a flat yard (as most do in Sarasota), then a patio or deck won’t be all that much different in price. However, if you have a sloped yard, a deck will be a less expensive choice because you won’t need all the specialty grading and building a patio would require.
  • Simple Ways to Update Outdoor Living Spaces

    While avoiding big landscaping mistakes will help to keep your yard from looking awkward, there are simple ways to update outdoor living spaces which add more flare and function. The trick is to infuse continuity into your outdoor living space so that it isn’t a total or weird mismatch from the interior. Moreover, your outdoor living space should provide creature comfort, while still offering ample traffic flow. With a few easy changes, you can transform an outdoor space from ordinary to extraordinary in just a weekend or two.

    Simple Ways to Update Outdoor Living Spaces

    Whether you want to customize a wood deck or spruce up a patio space, there are plenty of choices at your disposal. Just be cautious about attempting to pound a square peg into a round hole. In other words, continuity is important. Just as important is function because ultimately, that’s what everything is about. For instance, it’s great to have an outdoor kitchen, complete with a high-end grill. Even better is comfortable seating for family and friends.

    Is your outdoor living space in need of a makeover? Do you look at your patio and cringe every time you dream of inviting your friends over for a backyard barbecue? Whether you live in the city and have a small outdoor living space, or you live in the countryside and have a wide open meadow to work with, there are simple solutions for turning that drab outdoor area into a fabulous spot for your family and friends to enjoy. —Porch.com

    What isn’t great is arranging the furniture and grill in such a way the seating is constantly covered in smoke. Or seats which are located under direct sunlight. These two scenarios are examples of the design actually ruining itself. But, there are also many ways to improve your outdoor space. With a bit of inspiration and some light work, you’ll be able to create a wonderful area the whole family and your friends can enjoy. Here are some helpful tips about simple ways to update outdoor living spaces:

    • Add and upgrade lighting. One element too many homeowners often neglect is outdoor lighting. When the sun goes down, there’s always a need for more outside lighting. And, it’s not only about convenience and function, it’s also about adding beautiful elements to an outdoor living space.
    • Install fans and misting fans. Here in the Sunshine State, the outdoors gets quite toasty but you can provide some much appreciated relief simply by installing fans or misting fans. These are perfect when it’s warm outside and are also one of the most effective mosquito repellents.
    • Replace old outdoor furniture. There’s nothing more disheartening than old outdoor furniture. It looks sad, unsafe, and out-of-place. But this is one easy fix. Replace your old outdoor furniture for something that’s eye pleasing and comfortable.
    • Erect a pergola and lace with vines. A pergola is a great addition to practically any outdoor space. It can be enclosed with curtains, topped with a variety of materials, like vines, and also hold a fan with lighting. It’s open and airy, plus, it adds to the overall look of your outdoor space.
    • Hang curtains for shade and privacy. A pergola isn’t the only place to hang curtains. These can be hung in different areas of your outdoor space for shade and privacy. These too, can add much to the aesthetics of your yard and patio or deck.
    • Install a multi-use fire pit with seating. Another wonderful feature is a multi-use or multi-purpose fire pit. These are great for sitting around a fire on a chilly night, roasting marshmallows, cooking kabobs, and more. Plus, they can be covered when not in use to serve as a serving table or a board game table.
    • Put-in a mini bar with a beverage station. If you want to take your outdoor living space experience to a whole new level, install a mini bar with a beverage station. Glass holders, along with plenty of other accessories, a small refrigerator, and other essentials will provide a lot of convenience.
    • Lay down an area rug or a few of them around. For those wanting to keep costs low, outdoor area rugs are a terrific way to add install appeal to your outdoor living space, while helping to define spaces. These are not only inexpensive, they bring a sense of style and are easy to care for with periodic cleaning.

    If it’s time to update your outdoor living space, landscape, or add more features, contact us. We are a full-service, professional landscape design company and serve all of Sarasota, including near Bayfront Drive, around Rolling Green Golf Club, along Longboat Club Road, and elsewhere.

  • Big Time Outdoor Kitchen Mistakes

    When it comes to the ultimate in outdoor living, nothing beats an outside kitchen, complete with all the amenities of a traditional interior space. It takes entertainment to a whole new level and is ideal for hosting parties around the pool and nice for family dinners on weekend evenings.

    There’s just one, actually several, problems that homeowners inadvertently invent and invite on themselves because they do not take into consideration some undeniable factors. Every home improvement project comes with its own set of challenges and just like hardscaping or implementing measures to deal with common pests, it isn’t a simple do-it-yourself proposition.

    To make the most of your existing landscape, you’ll want to expand upon the theme already in place. One thing you really want to avoid is not synchronizing your new kitchen with your existing features. If you do, it will look out-of-place and that will negatively impact your home’s value come resale time.

    Planning an Outdoor Kitchen Design

    Like any other home improvement, planning is the key to success. That starts with creating a realistic budget and taking into account contingencies for unexpected problems. Determine your budget and subtract at least 10 percent for unwelcome problems. Then, begin to plan the ebb and flow of your new outdoor kitchen and do not be unwilling to remove or move some current features.

    The outdoor kitchen takes the typical BBQ set up to the next level. It can include stovetop-style burners, griddles, roasting spits, sinks, refrigerators, storage space for dishes and cooking gear, low counters for prep work, bar-height counters for guests, stereo systems, TVs, and more. Outdoor kitchens range in cost from about $3,000 to, well, the sky’s the limit. —Desert News

    Your main focus is twofold: work space and proximity to an entrance and exit to your home, and your guests. For instance, you should place the grill in a place that’s easy to access from your home as you’ll likely be going in and out of your main kitchen. What’s more, you don’t want to put a huge space between the grill, landing space, and serving area.

    Avoid these Common Outdoor Kitchen Mistakes

    Unfortunately, too many homeowners commit serious mistakes when they install an outdoor kitchen. It’s often to do with ineffective planning and not thinking through most likely scenarios for prepping food, cooking meals, and serving them. Here are the biggest mistakes made when installing an outside kitchen:

    • Not enough light. It gets dark outside when the sun goes down. Everyone knows this meteorological fact, but for some strange reason, it goes without heeding when it comes to putting-in an outdoor kitchen. Since most homeowners do not spend much time in their backyard after sundown, it simply does not occur to them they will need plenty of lighting for preparing, cooking, and serving meals. Think about shadow-casting as, well, because such dark spots can confound cooking.
    • Isolating the cooking area. Another big mistake is to place the grill and landing space strategically out of the way from the serving and eating areas. Sure, you don’t want to wrap your guests in a shroud of smoke, but you also don’t want to cut the cook off from hungry guests. Having to shout across the yard will be disheartening and aggravating. Think carefully about where you’ll install the grill to avoid having to constantly walk back and forth to hear what you’re guests are saying.
    • Insufficient cabinet airflow. In the main kitchen, this usually isn’t much of a factor. However, outside is another matter. You don’t want to inadvertently create storage spaces which are a breeding ground for spores, molds, and fungus. Multiple vents are the answer to the conundrum of keeping stuff safely away from pests while providing adequate airflow. It’s important to remember that moisture will collect at the bottom of storage spaces, but vents should be placed low and high to mitigate the moisture factor.
    • Lack of landing space. Ample landing space is necessary for an outdoor kitchen because its intended use will be to cater to large groups. Having enough space for staging food to cook and to place before serving is essential.
    • Smoke from the grill. It seems like Murphy’s Law, but it is inevitably the case smoke will wind in the direction of the guest sitting area. A fan will be of good use here, along with an above the grill vent, minimizing the amount of smoke.

    In addition to these missteps, don’t pick the wrong materials. For instance, avoid wood, because moisture will be aplenty, wreaking havoc on the material and creating a perfect environment for mold, mildew, and pests. What’s more, be realistic by accurately assessing the amount of space you’ll actually need. Too many homeowners try to check their budget by creating a small space. That inevitably results in lack of functionality, which is a key component of any outdoor kitchen.

  • Spring Deck Preparation Tips You Can Use

    Decks are a wonderful amenity to have at a home. They provide dedicated space, functionality, and aesthetic qualities which make them a great choice to have, but they must be maintained. Decks are actually one of the highest wishlist items on the lists of homebuyers’ precisely because they are so enjoyable. These spaces offer a place for outdoor living and entertaining, from casual family dinners, to cook outs with friends and neighbors.

    Over time, the majority of wood decks begin to show their age. Planks begin to warp, paint peels, and uneven areas are not uncommon, not to mention stairs that start to bow from years worth of use. The weather elements definitely take their toll, even here in sunny Sarasota. The salty air is yet another damaging component, along with inclement weather. While this environment is ideal for year-round outdoor recreation opportunities, it does take its toll.

    Spring will be here before you know it, just about eight weeks away. That gives you ample time to address any problems to revive your deck so that you can take full advantage of all it has to offer in just a few weeks. Because the weather is so mild, you’ll have the benefit of working in very pleasant conditions in brisk, invigorating weather.

    Assessing the Condition of Your Deck

    The very first thing you ought to do is take the time to really inspect your deck. Unfortunately, that means having to almost completely clear it off, but, you ought to be thorough to ensure that you’re not missing anything. To do this, after you’ve cleared your deck of furniture, potted plants, and everything else, sweep it clean, brushing away fallen leaves and dirt. After sweeping, use the broom or another item to clear out the spaces between the floor planks to promote water runoff. Then, clean it with soap and water to reveal any problems lurking under the debris.

    Before you clean, make repairs. Replace splintered and rotted parts, and sand down any rough spots. Be sure to use stainless-steel or weatherproof fasteners, not drywall screws or plain steel fasteners, which rust. If you haven’t checked your deck for structural soundness, now is a good time. —Popular Mechanics

    Start with the obvious, make a list of problem areas, and also look for more subtle things, such as rust, mold, mildew, and the ground underneath. You might discover pests have built a home right under your feet and have burrowed a way in and out of your home. If you do discover mold has set-in, then use a bleach mix to get rid of it. Thereafter, you can truly find those problem areas, and might find that it’s time for a pressure washing, a new coat of stain, a new coat of sealant, or a combination. Typically, wood decks require re-staining or re-sealing every two to four years to keep them in good condition. This is a good time to change the color of stain, if you so wish.

    Steps for Preparing Your Deck for Spring

    Once the deck is clean, you can begin to make necessary repairs. This is the time to consider composite choices, ones that are specifically designed to withstand the outside elements and don’t need to be replaced periodically. This is also the ideal time to give your outdoor furnishings a once-over, clean them down, and allow you to assess their condition.

    While replacing planks and stairs might be in order, there are more things you can do for preparing your deck for spring:

    • Check underneath. No matter if your deck is elevated a few feet in the air or sits on risers that just separate it a few inches from the ground, you should be aware of any potential problems. While pest infestation is one, a sinking deck presents a real safety hazard if it isn’t fixed.
    • Carefully go over each nail, screw, or bolt. Should you find any nail or screw head popping-up, do your feet and the feet of your family and friends and countersink it. You don’t want to step on one of these, especially if when in sandals or worse yet, barefoot.
    • Consider making changes. This is the time to add-on to your deck or make other modifications. If you do want to expand it, do so in a way that compliments your landscaping theme and doesn’t take up precious space. You might also change the coloring, add built-in bench seating, or other amenities to enjoy. These could be a built-in storage bins for pool toys.

    Protect your deck’s surface from things you put directly on it, like potted plants. Place plastic directly underneath potted plants to prevent water, plant food, and other things from dripping onto the wood surface. You can also take this occasion to either replace your furniture or change-out the chair cushions.

  • Deck Lighting Installation Tips

    Your deck is a wonderful outdoor living space addition to your home. It provides an intimate and functional area to entertain and relax. When equipped with the right features, it becomes more than just a place to sit. A deck can be a gathering place where meals can be prepared, cooked, and served, with an outdoor kitchen. In addition, this space can also have other creature comforts and uses, for instance, a fire pit, seating area, television, sound system, and so much more.

    In order to make it fully accessible, regardless of the time of day, you’ll need to install deck lighting. This provides more than just illumination for when the sun is down, it can also drastically transform your outdoor living space. Deck lighting can not only illuminate common seating and functional areas, it can also be used to highlight features. With such versatility, you’ll have a lot to take into consideration before you purchase and install deck lighting.

    Types of Deck Lighting

    At first, you might think your choices are limited, but that’s just not the case — you’ll have plenty of options from which to choose. There are several types of deck lighting and each has its own uniqueness. There are recessed deck lights, and, as the name describes, are recessed into the deck, illuminating upward. These are constructed very sturdily to withstand heavy foot traffic and provide ample light. Accent deck lights are opposite recessed, being install in high places to illuminate downward. These are primarily to highlight a feature, like a fountain, tree, statue, or something else.

    Deck lighting is a great project because low voltage lighting doesn’t usually require hiring an electrician. Installing deck lighting is similar to installing landscape lights. You can choose from a variety of light posts, rail lights, and stair riser lights. Most deck lighting systems are powered by a 12 volt transformer that is plugged into an ordinary wall outlet. Solar lights are available that are self powered and don’t even require wiring or transformers. Always read the manufacturer’s installation instructions and contact your local building department before starting the project. —Decks.com

    There are also stair and post deck lights, and, each is installed as the name describes. Stair deck lights are ideal for illuminating steps, while post deck lights illuminate various posts around the deck. Solar deck lights are a very popular option because of their main advantages: they require no wiring, are simple to install, provide light for up to 12 hours, and, cost nothing to power. Low voltage deck lights utilize halogen bulbs and use very little power but provide ample illumination. These can be installed practically anywhere and are an alternative to solar deck lights.

    Deck Lighting Installation Tips

    When you’ve decided to install lighting on and around your deck, you’ll need to start with planning. What you want to avoid is installing the wrong type or types of lighting only to discover it’s not right for your wants and needs. Here are some helpful tips on how to install deck lighting:

    • Study your deck as the sun goes down. If you don’t frequently go onto your deck just before and after the sun sets, you’re probably unfamiliar with at least a few aspects of where lighting would and wouldn’t be instrumental. About 15 to 20 minutes before the sun goes down, step out onto your deck and take note of the areas that require the most light and which do not or need just ambient light.
    • Create a deck lighting plan. Now, you can create a deck lighting plan, drawing out where the lights will be installed and at what angle they’ll be set. Think about it practically and role play a typical scenario. Where do people usually sit? Which areas need the most illumination? This is important because you don’t want to position lights to blind people or so they cast long shadows in areas that should otherwise be illuminated.
    • Choose the right types of deck lighting. It’s important to choose the right kinds of deck lighting because, as mentioned above, each has its own purpose. You’ll probably find you need a combination of two or more types of deck lighting to suit your needs.
    • Test each light before and after installation. When you’re installing your lights, you should take the time to test each one before you finalize the installation. This will save you time and effort, if one or more doesn’t work and you have to make replacements.
    • Try out the lighting at dark. After the sun sets, walk onto your deck and look around. Take notice of any unwanted shadows, any lights that could potentially blind guests, and look over functional areas to ensure these are well illuminated.

    You might have to make adjustments here and there to get it right, but, it will be worthwhile when you’re enjoying your deck as an outdoor entertainment space in the evenings.

  • How to Prep Pinewood Lumber to Use as Decking

    Pinewood lumber can be used for many applications. After pine is cut, the wood can be assembled into a piece of furniture, made into a derby car, fabricated into another form, or be used as decking. However, it must be painted, varnished or lacquered to preserve the finish to keep from rotting. Regardless of the final product, pinewood is susceptible to not only rot but to stains and other markings. Sealing pinewood and drying it properly will protect it. Although pine can be purchased pre-treated, some adventurous do-it-yourself types enjoy prepping the wood.

    Pinewood Deck Benefits

    Like any other material, there are different ways to customize a wood deck to really make it your own. Homeowners have many choices when it comes to deck materials, such as redwood and composite. But pinewood is also a great choice because of the benefits it offers. Unlike other types of wood, pine is significantly less expensive due to its ubiquity. It’s also easy to maintain, when properly treated. This is why so many homeowners choose pressurized, pre-treated pinewood. True treated pine can last between 10 and 15 years, with minimal maintenance.

    For many reasons like durability, low-cost and safety, treated pine decking is becoming more and more popular. The attempt to make decks long-lasting, economical and safer lead to the evolution of the science behind treated pine. Many people might prefer redwood or cedar for their deck but using treated pine you can have the same benefits or even more, and it is a lot cheaper than the other options. —Do It Yourself.com

    Pine also boasts a rustic aesthetic, with its many knots and rough edges. What’s more, pine is very eco-friendly. Even when treated, pine doesn’t pollute and can safely be burned at the end of its lifespan. A huge advantage pine has over other types of wood is its ability to absorb less heat and remains cool. That alone is a great combination to have during those long hot, summer days in Florida. Besides, installing a deck is just one of many fall landscaping ideas.

    How to Prep Pinewood Lumber to Use as Decking

    It is best to purchase pre-treated pine lumber for your deck but you can prep the wood on your own, if you like. The advantage of buying pre-treated is the wood is pressurized, maximizing the treatment applications, causing the lumber to last longer, even under heavy use conditions. But, you can prep it yourself by doing the following:

    • Place all the pine in one room. Choose a room or space that is dry and dust free as possible. You can use a garage, shed or another type of climate controlled space. It’s got to be free of floating debris and well-ventilated.
    • Begin to prep the pine lumber. Lay newspaper out over a table, then set the pinewood lumber or assembly on the newspaper. Leave the paint, lacquer or varnish to dry on the bare pinewood. Do not attach any metal or plastic hardware at this juncture or you may smudge the finish.
    • Apply paint, varnish, or lacquer. Consult the label on the paint, varnish or lacquer for the manufacturer’s suggested drying time. Be sure to apply two to three coats, allowing each ample time to dry.
    • Wait until the treatment dries completely. Set a timer to go off for the appropriate time — this may be as little as 30 minutes or as long as 48 hours. Do not rush the process or it won’t result in a lasting deck board product.
    • Test the pine lumber to ensure it’s ready to-go. Gently touch the pinewood with the tip of one finger after the timer has sounded. If it is tacky, allow to dry longer and check periodically until the finish dries completely.
    • Build your base and install the pinewood over it. Once the pinewood is treated, you can then build the deck base, using whatever material you prefer. It’s usually best to go with wood but you can also use other types of materials. When the base is complete, you can install the pine on top of it to finish.

    If it’s time to update your landscape or add more features, like a new deck, don’t hesitate to contact us. We are a full-service, professional landscape design company and serve all of Sarasota, including near Bayfront Drive, around Rolling Green Golf Club, along Longboat Club Road, and elsewhere.

  • 10 Ways to Customize a Wood Deck

    There are several ways to customize a wood deck and most of these improvements are quite inexpensive. If your home needs some pizzazz, you can refresh it by restaining your wood deck and adding some nice, useful features. With a little bit of effort and some imagination, your outdoor living space will transform into an enviable oasis.

    If you want to improve your deck simply and quickly, there are plenty of options. Before you get started, take time to clear it off and then give it a good cleaning. Just use soap and water with a long handle scrub brush to brush away the grime and surface debris. After it dries, make any necessary repairs, like replacing worn planks, filling in holes, and replacing missing fasteners.

    A deck is a great way to add low-cost living area. A professionally installed deck costs about $25 to $35 per square foot, compared to the $100 to $200 (and up) per square foot cost of an enclosed addition. You can ensure you’re getting the most from this smart investment with low-cost add-ons and special features that increase your deck’s appeal, and that will make your deck one of your home’s most enjoyable living spaces. –House Logic.com

    Now your deck is clean and clear, it’s easier to reimagine its look and function. The sky’s the limit when it comes to these types of home improvement projects and you’ll have a plethora of choices. But don’t get overwhelmed. Think about how you currently use it, how you want to repurpose its use, or blend old with new. If you don’t know where to begin, here are ten ways to customize a wood deck you can use as inspiration:

    1. Stain or paint it. For nearly instant transformation, stain or paint your deck. Choose a color complementary to your home and landscape. If you want bold, go for it and paint “tiles,” by choosing two colors and painting squares around the floor. Another option is to pick to shades of stain and alternate.
    2. Add creature comforts. A few chairs, a couch, and some pillows give it a homey feel while adding color and style. If you already have furniture, consider swapping it out or purchasing new covers for it to give it a new lease on life. Add an ottoman or two or more for dual use as foot rests and convenience tables.
    3. Erect a pergola. A fancy upgrade is erecting a pergola. This works well in a corner or over the entry/exit of your home. Place furniture or a seating table underneath and give it more aesthetics with rambling vines sprawling over the top.
    4. Add lighting. Install deck lighting to provide decorative illumination that will look great after the sun goes down. Deck lighting also provides the ability to use your deck during the evening hours and adds beauty to your home’s exterior.
    5. Install a privacy lattice. A privacy lattice is a great way to create a visual boundary that also serves as an aesthetic feature. You can stain or paint it to match or as a complementary color scheme for your outdoor space and landscape design elements.
    6. Build a wrap-around bench. A great way to add both function and style is to build a wrap-around bench. This feature provides family and guests a place to relax and can also be painted or stained with a complementary color scheme for your home’s exterior and/or landscape design elements.
    7. Put-up a green privacy wall. Put-up a lattice lined with colorful plants to create a green privacy wall. This provides a stunning visual boundary and can incorporate your landscape design features in the rest of your yard.
    8. Hang planter boxes. A very easy to install feature are planter boxes. Hang these from the rail of your deck on one or both sides, spacing them evenly apart. Plant simple to care for flowers with plenty of color to create great accent pieces.
    9. Set-up a long dining table. If you have the room to accommodate a long dining table, go for it and use it as a centerpiece. When you entertain guests, put out your best dinnerware, complete with a tablecloth for a sophisticated look; or, go come as you are casual with a picnic setup.
    10. Install an entertainment system. To provide entertainment to you family and guests, install a television and sound system. A sound system alone works best because it provides background and creates a mood to experience and enjoy without monopolizing people’s attention.

    If it’s time to improve your home with a new deck or to refurbish an existing deck, contact us. We are a full-service, professional landscape design company and serve all of Sarasota, including near Bayfront Drive, around Rolling Green Golf Club, along Longboat Club Road, and elsewhere.