Feeling like your backyard could use a little privacy? Now that we’re in the dead of winter you may be thinking about adding something to your space as a sense of retreat. Or perhaps you’re reimagining your backyard oasis ahead of summer. No matter the area, large or small, inside or out, adding Blue Sky™ privacy screens can help you create the space of your dreams.Continue reading
A little-known product called G-tape – what is it? Glad you asked!
Consumers today are spending thousands of dollars on new PVC or composite decking products to enjoy the outdoors. These new decking products are state of the art and will last for many years maintaining their beauty and enhancing outdoor activities. Composite and PVC decking products are installed over pressure treated framing that has been around for over 40 years and will decay much quicker than the decking it supports. This is where G-tape comes in.
G-tape installs on top of each joist and beam creating a watertight barrier between standing water and the wood framing it protects extending the life of the sub structure. Why not give the framing a little TLC! G-tape is a small fraction of the total cost to build a new deck and is well worth the investment.
Click here to see the G-Tape products we offer!
TruNorth Composite Decking
TruNorth Composite Decking
Composite decking is a great alternative for those looking for no-maintenance decking. When we were considering our deck renovation, composite decking was the best choice, since we wanted a deck that had no-maintenance. TruNorth Decking materials are a fantastic option for composite decking. When you choose composite decking, there are a variety of benefits that come along with it.
Firstly, this composite decking is stain and fade resistant, and comes with a 25 Year Limited Warranty, to ensure your composite decking looks brand new even after years of exposure to sun, snow and rain. TruNorth decking is extremely versatile for any season; meaning it’s extremely durable to withstand harsh Canadian winters, while also features heat blocking, to keep your deck cool in the Summer months. TruNorth composite deck materials are also a great low-maintenance decking solution; as there is no paint, seal or stain required. When researching all the different kinds of composite decking, TruNorth decking stood out because it was well-priced, and had low maintenance. I was impressed with how eco-friendly, and realistic, the deck boards looked, in comparison other composite decking. I also liked how TruNorth ensured no rotting or molding of our deck. Although I was skeptical, seeing for myself after 5 years, I’m truly impressed.
Blue Sky Privacy Screens
Blue Sky Privacy Screens
Blue Sky Privacy Screens are a fantastic option to enhance and customize any outdoor or indoor living space. Blue Sky Privacy Screens are available in a wide variety of designs, allowing you to create custom privacy barriers for all spaces. In addition to easy installation and low maintenance, Blue Sky Privacy Screens are also made out of durable aluminum, and will continue to be reliable during any Canadian season.
In addition to creating a useful privacy option, Blue Sky Privacy Screens are also extremely versatile. For indoor living spaces, Blue Sky Privacy screens are a great solution to separate rooms and spaces in your home or office, whilst still offering a sleek and modern design. Whether you need to separate desks in an office space, or create privacy between shared common spaces in your home, Blue Sky Privacy screens allow you to create barriers without sacrificing space or design.
Not only are Blue Sky Privacy Screens ideal for indoor living spaces, they can also create sleek and stylish barriers for your outdoor living spaces. Nobody wants to see their neighbour’s, and by using Blue Sky Privacy Screens in your backyard, you don’t have to! Blue Sky Privacy Screens are great for creating privacy between you and neighbours, or around your backyard deck, pool, gazebo, and much more! By adding a simple privacy screen, you can turn your backyard into a luxurious and private outdoor living space.
Blue Sky Privacy Screens are offered in 5 design profiles to suit your specific style. Privacy screens should enhance your space, not become an eyesore! Blue Sky Privacy Screens are the best solution to achieve not only privacy for your living space, but also a sleek and modern design.
What You Need to Know About Decks Part 2
What You Need to Know About Decks Part 2
When you are planning and building your deck a lot of consideration should go into designing the deck of your dreams. Once you begin designing your deck you will need to determine what your budget is, what material you want to use, the area of your yard you want to build it and whether or not it is a project you want to do it yourself or hire a professional. If you have not read Part 1 of What You Need to Know About Decks check it out to find out more things you should know if you plan on adding a deck to your home.
Decking is the floor surface of the deck and is one of the most important parts of any homeowners’ deck. In addition to being one of the most aesthetically pleasing parts of the deck it is also where the majority of the contact with the deck will be made. For a while whenever homeowners decided to add a deck to their home the decking material was primarily made of wood like Red Balau which has a natural beauty but requires a significant amount of maintenance, but can also be made with a variety of materials like composite, vinyl and aluminum. So whatever your budget may be you are sure to be able to find the perfect type of material for you. Before deciding which type of material you want you should take into consideration your home’s climate, your budget, as well as what you intend to put on your deck like pizza ovens, furniture, etc. because you will want to choose a material that will be strong enough to support them.
Another way you can make your deck attractive is by adding an appealing rail system. Railing is often the first thing that you see when looking at a deck so it is important to choose a rail that will complement your decking material and the style of your home. There are many choices of colors, styles and accessories available which make your options almost endless. Most railing systems are made from composite or metal which are very low maintenance but a bit traditional for those who want a more modern look while cable and glass railing like Invisirail are very modern and aesthetically pleasing. Because railings are such an important part of any deck you should do thorough research when deciding what type of rail system you want to use.
If your deck is a certain height off the ground then you will be required to have stairs or face the wrath of the IRC. When building stairs for your deck you will have to make sure you follow every requirement set by IRC which uses building inspectors to strictly enforce all building codes. The minimum width for stairs is 36” but a good width for you to have plenty of room is 48”. The minimum rise required is 4” with the maximum being 7 ¾”. The best way to make sure your stairs fit perfectly with your deck is by planning ahead and making sure all of your stairs measurements are the same so you won’t fail inspection by having stairs that or too tall, too short or not wide enough.
Deck lighting is a great way to add light to your deck, make it more appealing, and allow you to carry your party on well into the night. They are a great project to do yourself because they normally don’t require an electrician or contractor and usually come in kits that are easy to install. There are a variety of options for lighting to choose from like light posts, stair lights, rail lights and post cap lights. Before deciding to install your lighting make sure you read the instructions thoroughly and if you have any additional questions contact a professional who would be more than happy to help you off.
A home with a well-built deck will instantly add value to your home making it a great investment if you plan on selling your home at a later time. Along with added value decks can breathe new life into homes that may have lost their appeal over the years. Your choice in decking is very important because it is what you will see daily, walk on daily and have to live with and maintain for years to come so using all the information provided here along with researching additional information on your own will help prepare you to make the best decision for your home and your deck.
What You Need to Know About Decks Part 1
What You Need to Know About Decks Part 1
Deciding to expand your living area by adding on a deck is a common American tradition. No matter if you plan to hire a professional or do it yourself the key to a successful deck is all in the design. Picking the right materials for your budget, climate and what you plan on using the deck for are all essential things to take into consideration when designing your deck. Here are a few things you should know if you are planning on a building a deck.
What You Should Know Before Building Your Deck
- Permits are a requirement unless you are building a really small deck. Before you purchase any materials consult with a contractor to determine which permits you will need and so you know how to get them. If you don’t get the correct permits you could end up wasting a lot of time and having to start all over again.
- Not all decks are made out of wood. In fact, there are a wide variety of materials like PVC or composite that can be used to build your deck. One of the most popular types of material used for decking is pressure-treated wood since it is not very expensive but can last for years without warping, twisting or chipping.
- Expect to give up access to your backyard for a little while. Since you will have to dig and prepare your backyard for deck installation you will probably not be able to use your backyard until your deck installation is finished.
- Decks don’t have to be one level. They can be multiple levels as well. If you feel like your backyard is not big enough to fit the deck of your dreams then a multi-level deck could be your best friend.
- Decks are a very expensive investment so you should always try and protect that investment through the use of sealers and stains that protect from UV rays as well as climate changes and can even enhance the natural color of the material you use.
Footing is very important in the design of your deck because it provides a solid foundation that will support your deck and it is the first thing everyone encounters when they use your deck. The more footings your deck has the better the total weight load is distributed and the less weight the deck has to carry. It also lightens the load that the ground will have to support. Without footings deck posts could possibly sink into the ground under all the weight the deck may be carrying. If you live in an area where it is extremely cold and the soil freezes then you will have to install the footing below the frost line to prevent it from moving when the soil freezes during the winter. How big your footings should be will depend on the condition of the soil and the climate in your area. Since footings are installed underground the material they are composed of will have to be made from material that won’t decay. The most common material footings are made of is concrete although there are multiple types of material that can be used.
When building a deck frame joists, the repeated structural members, are used. The number of joists needed is related to the number of footings and beams that will be installed in the deck. They are usually constructed in the deck with a ledger on one side of the joist and a beam on the other side. If you want to install a rail on your deck then you will need to have a larger frame that will provide more strength in the rails. The size of the joists needed is directly related to the size of the deck based on the measurements; 2×8 up to 12 feet, 2×10 up to 15 feet and 2×12 up to 18 feet. If you have an upper level deck then a 2×10 joist is the minimum size that can be used to make sure your deck will be safe and stable enough to support strong railing.
Adding a new deck to your backyard is an opportunity for homeowners everyone to extend their living room to the outdoors. But, before you go out and start planning your deck and purchasing material learning all you can about decks is a great way to stay ahead of the game. For more helpful tips and information about building a deck and all the things that go into it check out Part 2 of Everything You Need to Know About Decks.
Tips for Keeping your Deck Bug-Free
Tips for Keeping your Deck Bug-Free
Summer time is the time of picnics, barbecues, sunshine, and lots of outdoor fun. In some cases, a lot of bugs. Bugs can be quite annoying and even cause the spread of disease. This is especially true for mosquitoes which spread West Nile virus, malaria and other serious illnesses. They are one of the most relentless bugs out there and can cause entire gatherings to move indoors just to avoid them. Over the years, people have come up with many ways to combat them; spray repellents, oils, lotions, candles, outdoor foggers and much more. Not much seems to deter these little guys though. However, if you combine your regular summer time outdoor skin routines with other methods, you might find you finally have a bug-free outdoor oasis to enjoy.
Remove sources of stagnant water
Mosquitoes, Dragonflies, Flies and water scorpions all require stagnant water to breed. While you may not want to deter dragonflies, the rest are quite a nuisance and can be quite hard to get rid of.
- If you are like many people, you may have a few buckets or empty planters sitting around your yard. Make sure to dump these out and store them upside down.
- Gutters are the second most common place that bugs breed, check to make sure there isn’t a collection of leaves and other debris holding up the flow of water.
- If you have one or more birdbath’s in your yard, it is a good idea to change the water out at least once a week.
- If you have a pond in your back yard, natural or man-made, you should install an air pump, add a waterfall or fountain to it to keep water flowing and discourage pests.
- Check for standing water at the base of your downspouts, if there is, fill the space in with gravel.
Natural bug repellents
There are several things you can do to fight off pests naturally. These methods can help you get and keep your pest problem under control.
- Place fans on your deck, the excess air movement will repel mosquitoes and help keep your and your guests from being bitten.
- Wear light colored clothing. If it isn’t too hot wear pants, long sleeves, and socks, especially if you are working in your garden in the evenings.
- Spray herbal mosquito repellents on your clothing. Many contain herbal extracts such as cedar, citronella, lemongrass, peppermint, basil, eucalyptus and more. All of these are natural mosquito repellents and are safe to use on children.
- Take garlic or brewers yeast supplements to help fend off mosquitoes from within.
- Plant bug repelling plants and herbs such as marigold’s, mint, horsemint, geraniums, basil, and lemongrass. These might take a while to grow, so it is a good idea to start them indoors during the wintertime. In the spring, you can simply plant them around your deck for an instantaneous effect.
Add bug repelling accessories
Most people believe that candles, torches and other outdoor accessories don’t really work to combat mosquitoes. While their repellent properties are limited to the spaces immediately surrounding them, they do work. Here are a few accessories you can use in combination with other methods.
- Tiki Torches come in many different styles, colors and designs. They can be filled with a variety of different types of oils and are a beautiful addition to any outdoor living space. Fill them with citronella oil, between the smoke, flame and scent of the citronella, bugs are sure to steer clear of the areas they are in.
- Use candles on outdoor tables and other surfaces. You can choose to use citronella candles or any that are scented with natural essential oils that repel bugs such as eucalyptus, peppermint, or fever-few.
- Place large incense in planters filled with sand. These are usually quite colorful and can double as a decorative piece. The smoke and scent usually work as a great deterrent for bugs. In addition, incense can really set the mood for your outdoor gathering.
While all of this might seem like a lot of work, it really isn’t. Especially because most people either have these items on hand or purchase them every year. Herb gardens can serve a dual purpose and save you money on both pesticides and cooking herbs, both of which can be pretty expensive. If you happen to like crafting or one of your family members does, you could have them make candles infused with essential oils for your deck. When you take the time to combine a few of these methods, you will find that your outdoor oasis is more like an oasis than ever before.
Should I Build A Deck By Myself?
Should I Build A Deck By Myself?
Many homeowners ask themselves at some point “Should I add a deck to my backyard?” and the answer is of course you should. The real question you should be asking is should you build the deck by yourself or hire a professional to do the job for you? Well this all depends on your confidence in your carpentry skills, the type of deck you want to build, as well as how much you’re willing to risk if things don’t go as you plan since you will be solely responsible for anything that happens while you’re building your deck and long after if any issues come up when you’re entertaining your guests. If you want to build a simple deck that is from a pre-designed deck plan and you have average carpentry skills then you can reasonably assume that you can build your deck yourself but don’t take the building lightly because you will need to research the materials you use as well as any local codes that are in place regarding deck additions to homes. You can always head down to your local hardware store and ask a store associate for advice on the best material options available.
Do It Yourself With Free-Standing Decks
Free-standing decks are one of the easiest kinds of decks to build with one huge advantage. They don’t have to be attached to anything like traditional decks and honestly one of the hardest things about designing a deck is attaching it to the home since this is where lots of things like mold, mildew and dry rot like to form if it isn’t secured to the home correctly. You will have to remember even though it isn’t attached to your home there are still laws and codes that you will have to check to make sure your deck is not breaking any rules and is within all the right deck dimensions allowed. One disadvantage to free-standing decks is that they will need to have support on each side of the deck which means buying extra support posts.
Pick the Right Tools and Materials
Most homeowners who are considering building their own deck already have a pretty decent repertoire of tools available at their disposal but before you begin you should double check that you have the right tools and materials that you will need specifically for building your deck. Make sure you choose the right decking material and any wood you choose has been pressure-treated since most wood decking warps. You should also look for deck screws that are designed exactly for the decking material you want to use since regular nails can cause certain decking material to splinter and can hold water if it rains and start to rot or develop mold or mildew.
Other materials you will need that you should take into consideration will likely include:
- Post caps. Which come in a variety of styles and can even have lights added to them to brighten up your deck at night.
- Railing. If your deck will be above a certain height off the ground you will be required to have railing.
- Steps. If you are required to have railing you will also be required to have steps and there are certain dimension requirements for steps so you should make sure you learn about those as well.
- Deck fasteners. Instead of having those unseemly looking nails showing you can use hidden deck fasteners to hold your decking together without taking away from the beauty of your deck.
- And many more. There are tons more materials that are involved with building a deck but just how much and what type of material you need will all depend on how elaborate or simple you want your deck design to be.
Why Should I Hire a Contractor?
Most decks are considered a major home improvement project and something that many will want to last for a long time. While designing a basic deck that you can save money with building yourself sounds good it most likely will not last nearly as long as a professionally build deck would. Having a professional build your deck also takes any liability away from you and puts it on the contractor who should always be insured.
Adding a deck to your home is a big decision to make and a huge commitment since it will be with your for at least 10 years if it was designed and built well so if you are planning on trying to build a deck yourself remember that the simpler the design the better but if you are a little uncomfortable with the idea of taking on such a huge task then you should definitely look into hiring a professional.
Questions to Ask Your Deck Builder Before Hiring Them
Questions to Ask Your Deck Builder Before Hiring Them
When you are getting ready to hire a contractor to build your deck you should thoroughly research their building history, get at least three estimates, and always ask them questions. This will help make sure that you are being dealt with fairly and that you will hire a contractor that you will be comfortable with and feel at ease allowing them to come to your home often since building a deck can take anywhere from a few weeks to a month.
There are many deck builders available for homeowners to choose from and many of the ones available are up for any job presented to them so it is up to you to choose the one that is best for you and your home. Give each deck builder you interview an equal shot at being able to complete the job and when searching choose a contractor who has a great eye for design and is still passionate about their job. Someone who is passionate about their job will take pride in their work and will do their best to deliver a beautiful, eye-catching deck.
Questions You Should Ask Your Potential Deck Builder
If you decide to build your own deck then you should make sure you know how to do it correctly and so it is up to code. If you decide to hire a deck builder then here are some questions to ask them so you can be sure that you will be getting the best person for the job.
- How long have you been building decks?
- Were you professionally trained or did you learn how to build through an apprenticeship program?
- Are you licensed and registered?
- Do you have any insurance?
- Can you give me the name of your insurance carrier?
- Are you a part of any professional contractor associations?
- Do you have any references that wouldn’t mind being contacted?
- Do you give warranties for your work?
- How long will it take you to complete the deck?
- What decking material options can you provide?
- Do you specialize in working with specific decking material? For example, hardwoods like Red Balau or PVC material like Gossen?
- Will you have a supervisor on-site while work is being done?
- When could you start working on the project?
Another great way to make sure you will be choosing the best deck builder is to ask their past customers about how their experience was. Some questions to ask references are:
- Were you happy with your deck once it was finished?
- Was it finished on time?
- Did you have any unexpected expenses you had to pay?
- Would you work with this deck builder again?
- Do you give a recommendation for this deck builder?
Tips on How to Get The Most Out of Your Deck Builder
A properly designed deck is a great addition to many homes. They provide a nice outdoor area for homeowners to relax and invite guests over for entertainment. Because of the traffic your deck will receive it is essential that it is built correctly so there are no accidents or potentially harmful things that could occur. Here are some tips on how to choose your deck builder.
- Plan your deck out thoroughly. Before you go to a contractor you should have a good idea about what you want your deck to be and what materials you would like to use. When you go to your contractor they will help you finalize your plans and give you any recommendations they may have. Some things to consider are:
- What deck layout you want to have
- Will it be one or two stories
- Will you have a staircase
- What material you want to use
- Do you want railing
- What is your budget for the project
- Check online reviews and recommendations. The best advice on how a contractor will complete their job for you is by finding out from others what their experience was and how the contractor worked for them. Websites like Angie’s List are great for viewing people’s opinions about contractors all over the country.
- Get a written estimate. When working on big projects like decks it is very important to get everything in writing for your records and to protect yourself should any legal issues may arise. Each deck builder you look at should be able to give you a written estimate breaking down the cost of materials that will be used and how much labor will cost as well.
- Make your decision. Once you’ve done all the research and interviewed potential deck builders it’s time to make your final decision and sign a contract with your chosen deck builder. The contract should include:
- the total price of everything all together
- all the work that will be done
- a copy of the contractor’s license and insurance
- it should have a date the project will start and when it should be finished
- any liabilities the deck builder will take on
Building a deck is a great time for many home owners and knowing that a good contractor built it will ease your mind and make it that much more enjoyable so take your time when looking for a deck builder and always do your research.
How You Can Go Eco-Friendly With Your Deck
How You Can Go Eco-Friendly With Your Deck
When it comes to adding a deck to your home they already instantly add value to your home but if you were to make sure that your deck was eco-friendly you could not only add more value to your home but help protect the environment. After all, what’s more green than designing a place where you will be spending time outside with nature? Most decks that are eco-friendly are low-maintenance and last a long time.
How Going Eco-Friendly Can Help Both You and the Environment
Many people don’t waste a second thought when they decide what material they want to use to design a deck, but if everyone would take the time to choose materials that are beneficial to our environment then the world would be a much better place both economically and environmentally. Going eco-friendly means less waste for the environment and a longer deck lifespan for home-owners. Imagine the piece of mind you will have knowing that you designed a deck that’s your dream deck as well as eco-friendly.
What to Ask Yourself Before You Decide to Design an Eco-Friendly Deck
- Do I have the budget for this? Upfront eco-friendly deck material is more expensive than traditional decking material like wood and if you have a tight budget you may not be able to buy all the materials you need for your deck.
- Does my contractor have experience with eco-friendly material? The worst thing about building a deck is having to put it in someone else’s hand to build it. If you are working with a contractor you should ask them if they have ever installed any eco-friendly decks and if so what type of material have they used and
- Do I want to do a lot of maintenance? If you know you’re not the one who wants to be out there spraying their deck down and wiping down all the furniture than a low-maintenance deck is perfect for you. Most eco-friendly decks are low-maintenance and can outlast most other decking material choices.
Will it Cost Me More to Go Green?
Most of the time when people hear the words “green” or “eco-friendly” they immediately think that it will cost them more but that is not always the case. When designing your deck the initial cost for eco-friendly material like PVC will be more than conventional deck material like wood but in the long run you will end up spending less since you will not have to buy cleaning products as often and the material itself lasts longer than others.
What Deck Materials are Eco-Friendly?
Eco-friendly materials are those that have not been in contact with harmful chemical treatments like pressure-treated woods. PVC decking is extremely eco-friendly since they are made out of recycled materials. They don’t need to be treated, painted or sealed and can come in gorgeous stains that can mimic the appearance of wood like Trailways PVC decking.
Other materials you can use to make sure your deck is eco-friendly are solar lighting products like Pegasus or Polaris. They can charge all day and then light up the night for you well into the late hours and you won’t even have to use any energy doing it.
Tips About Designing a Green Deck
One of the biggest challenges to designing an eco-friendly deck is finding decking material that doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals. Here are some tips to help you get started building your eco-friendly deck.
- Incorporate any existing trees on your property into your deck design so that you will be able to natural shade.
- Make sure water runs away from your foundation if it rains instead of towards it, which can cause moisture problems and lead to rot and mold, which can mean devastation for your deck.
- To keep your deck cool build your deck so that it is facing the south of where you live so that it is not facing the sun so that during the summer months it is not extremely hot but during the summer and warm during the winter.
- If you plan on grilling on your deck then choosing propane-fueled accessories is better for the environment than grills that use charcoal.
- Invest in natural, eco-friendly furniture that you and your guests can enjoy like chairs, hammocks and even awnings.
Going green for anyone can seem a bit overwhelming at first but once you have the knowledge you need and the items to match there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to build the deck of your dreams that’s good for the environment as well.