deck staining Whether your deck is made of pressure-treated lumber, cedar, redwood, or teak, everything from the sun’s UV rays to rain and snow to simple everyday use creates wear and tear on the surface. Sooner or later it’ll need refinishing. Telltale signs that your deck needs a bit more attention than just a good scrubbing are: peeling; when water no longer beads on the surface; grey wood (an indication of dead wood fibers); and splintering (the wood is drying out).

As with almost any paint job, expect to spend most of your time prepping: A good strategy is to devote one weekend to cleaning and prepping, and the following weekend to applying the finish. No matter what the situation, time spent properly at this stage means the final finish will last longer and application will be quicker and easier.

Pro Tip: The best time to refinish a deck is in mid-to-late spring, early summer or early fall, when the surface temperature of the deck is above 50°F, but below 90°F, and when the humidity level is low to average. (If you can’t put your hand on the deck and leave it there without getting uncomfortable then it’s too hot.) Best times to work are in the late morning or late afternoon, when the surface is not in direct sunlight.

A thorough pressure wash is most likely needed.  In addition, mildew and mold must be removed by bleach or other products designed for that purpose.  Finally, sanding may be needed, as well as the replacement or repair of any wood severely affected by the elements.

By using an exterior stain or coating, you can keep your wood siding, fence or deck protected and looking its very best for a long time to come. If you have a deck or fence that is starting to look dull or run down, you may be able to save yourself money on a replacement and give it a face-lift instead. You’ll feel like you have a whole new deck or fence, and you’ll pay a fraction of the price. Coatings will help to lock in the stain or protect the natural wood. Coatings will protect against water damage and freezing, and they will keep the color looking vibrant longer.

home improvements molding When you are remodeling your home, you don’t need a huge budget to get the look you want. By making some smart choices, you can create a room that looks like it was put together by a top interior designer but will only have spent a fraction of the budget.

Here are a few accessories to try:

Plinth Blocks

These small blocks feature decorative carvings that you can add to moldings and mantles to add a little something extra. You can add a carved flower or plant at the bottom of your fireplace mantle or freestanding shelf, or you can put a square carved block between strips of molding. Instead of the typical, functional pieces that most people would expect to see there, you have a detailed piece that adds sophistication to the room.

Flex Crown Molding

While most crown molding looks like a variation on standard trim, flex crown molding looks like a carving on a small strip. It can make any room look more luxurious with just this simple detail. Just make sure to use it with the right wall coverings and art. You don’t want to make a room look too fussy with it.

Rosettes

Rosettes are tiny circular medallions that are sculpted to look like various flowers. You can use rosettes in a number of ways. They can be placed on ceiling tiles, in the middle of decorative wall molding or even on pieces of furniture. They make lovely decorative accents and don’t take up a lot of room or cost a lot of money.

Just because you’re on a limited budget doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the look of your home. Check out these wonderful accessories to create sophisticated décor.

patio repair Ben Franklin made the famous statement that the only things guaranteed in life are death and taxes.  I’ve got news for you; good ole’ Ben was wrong!  Try this one:  Death…..taxes…….and concrete will crack!  That’s not quite as catchy, but it’s true nonetheless.  Yes your concrete pool deck will crack.  But don’t get excited, we’re going to discuss why concrete cracks and then talk solutions.  Let’s see if we can comprehend this contrary characteristic of concrete. There are several types of cracks that occur in concrete.  Among them are shrinkage cracks, structural cracks, freeze cracks, or cracks that occur from a “bad mix” of concrete, also known as product failure. How to repair smaller cracks in your patio?

Clean the Concrete

Before you can go about actually patching the concrete, you need to completely clean the surface of debris that will impede the bond of new, fresh concrete. The easiest way is to take a power washer and blast the surface, but you can also use a scrub pad and then a mop to clean things up. Allow a minimum of 24 hours for the surface to dry before patching.

Use Flexomeric to Fill Cracks and Voids

Use Flexomeric when patching concrete because it will give you an additional layer of adhesion between the old layer of concrete and the new one. In addition, you will be sure the new surface application will not leak in those areas. After you’ve mixed your concrete in a machine and have it ready to pour from a wheelbarrow, you can coat the work area with Flexomeric. Then, while the Flexomeric is still tacky and wet, fill the low, sunken spot with fresh concrete. Don’t worry about excess since you can scrape that off later; it is more important to cover the primed layer before the Flexomeric dries.

Finishing the Surface

After the concrete has been poured or shoveled into place, use a combination of straightedges and flat trowels to finish the surface and smooth it. To pull the excess off, hold a straightedge from high point to high point across the lips of the “bowl” or sunken area, and pull the straightedge across the top while also using a slight side-to-side or sawing motion, thus leveling the concrete across the dip. Afterward, smooth it with a flat trowel and allow it to dry.

wood stain Whether you are installing a brand new deck or cleaning and re-staining an existing structure, a well-built deck can have a dramatic impact on the look of your home.  While this is a fairly simple do-it-yourself project to take on, a series of tips and tricks will make it even easier.  The following tips will equip you with the knowledge needed to stain your wood deck with the result being exactly what you intended.

Preparation

The preparation stage of this project is perhaps the most important step.  Make sure that you are taking the time to gather the correct materials, and prep the surface to be worked on.  If you are adding new stain to an existing deck structure, this involves thoroughly cleaning the surface.  For the best results, you may need a pressure washer and a strong oxygen bleach wood cleaner.  Taking the extra time to do this before adding stain will result in a brighter more vibrant end result.

Don’t Skimp on Stain

When looking for a staining product, do not go straight to the cheap stuff.  Choosing a quality stain now will lead to longer lasting results.  Spending a little more now will save you money later by resulting in a longer-lasting result.  While you do not necessarily have to go straight to the most expensive option, consider some of the better brands.

Use a Good Brush

As the application tool, the brush that you use to apply the stain can greatly affect the way it looks as it is put on the wood.  Again, do not use a cheap brush as these often cause streaky results and can even shed their bristles during the job.  Choose a high-quality brush and you will be happy that you did.  Not only will the texture look better as the stain is put down, but a good brush will work the stain deep into the wood.

Maintenance

Implementing a few maintenance routines will keep your freshly stained deck looking great for years to come.  Every so often, use a hose and broom to wash off any dirt that may have collected on the surface.  If dirt and mold are left sitting on the deck, it can begin to wear down and damage both the stain and the wood.  If some areas begin to gray and wear away before others, they can benefit from the application of a new layer of stain.

These tips should help you on your way to the perfect deck space.  With just a little bit of time and effort, you can create the perfect place for backyard cookouts, family time and relaxing Sunday mornings.  For a great selection on many of the products and tools that you need to complete the job, visit www.ewoodcare.com.

wood care tips Wood stains get bit of a bad rap in the woodworking world. However, I think this is largely because many people use wood stains to hide the imperfections of poorer quality wood. But, when you think about how this particular use of wood stain improves the appearance of cheap wood, I think we ought to admit that wood stain deserves more respect.

Moreover, wood stain is not only used to prettify ugly wood. It is also used to protect wood, which is often times very expensive and beautiful. Think about wood decks, they would deteriorate very quickly sans stain. Without wood stain, exterior wood would quickly fall victim to the sun, rain, and insects. Also, wood stains are very effectively used when they subtly alter the tone of a wood rather than change its color.

Of course, not a single type of wood stain is able to color wood, subtly alter a wood’s tone, and protect wood. No, when the time comes for you to stain wood, you have got to make sure you get the right stain for the job.

The most popularly used wood stain is oil-based stain. Made up of an oil, color pigment, and some type of binder that keeps the color in the wood after the oil has dried. To keep an oil stain from becoming a de facto varnish, you should only apply a single coating of it. Otherwise the color pigment will build up into a thick layer, which is not what a stain ought to be. Wood stain needs to be in the wood, not on it.

Water-based stains have grown in popularity because, in part, they are fast drying. If you are considering going with a water-based wood stain, make sure the wood is sanded. Wood that has not been sanded may be very thirsty and drink up the stain, which will result in an uneven result.

Finally, if you need to protect your wood, you need to go with a wood stain that also has a varnishing agent or polyurethane.

concrete repair kit Though concrete is just about the toughest, most durable building material we commonly use, it is not indestructible; it does crack over time. After all, even the mountains crumble into sand and soil eventually.

The good news for us homeowners is that there are many concrete and cement repairs we can do ourselves starting with crack repairs. The basic steps to repairing cracked concrete is to (1) identify and inspect the crack, (2) clean the area surrounding the crack, (3) Clean the crack itself and perhaps chisel out loose bits, (4) brush away all of the dust and dirt from out of the crack and surrounding area, (5) apply your choice of concrete repair patch, (6) let the patch cure according to its instructions, and (7) seal the patch and surrounding concrete.

Identify and Inspect the Crack

Identifying the crack is easy enough. If you see a crack, you have a crack. Make sure that it is not just cracked paint or stucco, but actually goes into the concrete. If you see rust coming out of the crack, you have a real problem that you probably cannot fix yourself. Rust indicates that the reinforcing steel is deteriorating.

Clean the Area Around the Crack

You will need to use a solvent to remove oil, paint, and dirt from the area around crack so that the concrete patch has a suitable surface to adhere to. Do not skip this step.

Clean the Crack

Just as you have to clean the surface around the crack, the crack itself must be cleaned as well so that the patch with stick to it. If there are broken pieces of concrete inside the crack, chisel them out.

Brush Out the Crack

Once you have used solvent to clean the crack and chiseled out the loose pieces, brush out the crack so it is ready for the patch. A small broom is perfect for this. Finish the cleaning by wiping the crack and surrounding area with a damp cloth to pick up the last remnants of dust.

Apply the Patch

Following the instructions provided with your concrete patch, apply the patch and spread it flat. After you believe you are done, check it a few minutes later to see if it has settled any. If need be, apply more.

Leave the Patch Alone to Cure

Let the patch cure for as long as instructed. Usually, this will be at least overnight.

Seal the Patch and Surrounding Area

Now that your concrete has been repaired, you must protect it from staining and moisture by sealing the patch and all of the area that you cleaned.

wood rot fixWhen you decide to set up wooden posts or columns outside, you need to account for possibilities like wood rot. In the presence of excess moisture, woodworks become prone to rotting which can completely ruin their visual appeal. The wood also becomes weak over time and eventually breaks. Here are some simple tips you can use to prevent wood rot. 

Prime the Wood

The outer portion of the wood needs to be properly primed to improve its longevity. You need to prime all 6 sides of the wood, which includes front and back, sides and also the two ends of the block. The end portion of the wood will act like a sponge and unless you prime this region, the wood becomes highly vulnerable to rot. Use an oil based primer to get the job done and use 2 coats just to be on the safer side.

Sloping

When you are using wood for outdoor use, it might be a good idea to slightly slope them so that they do not retain any water. A lot of woods start to rot during rains as they end up retaining moisture. This is a common occurrence with window sills, porches and other horizontal wooden surfaces where water can seep through and stagnate. By sloping the wood, you can ensure that it sheds all its water. The slight slope can also be made to look aesthetically appealing in terms of design.

Good Quality Wood

It is always better to use rot resistant good quality wood for home use. Even though they are more expensive, they are better protected against insect damage and rot. Some regularly used rot resistant wood types are Cumaru, Ipe, Cypress, Red Cedar and Teak.

Air Flow 

When wood absorbs a certain amount of moisture, it becomes immediately prone to rotting. It is essential that it has adequate air flow so that it can dry up. You can develop ventilation columns by creating space between the floor surface and the trim and also the vent at the top. This can be further accompanied by installing metal louvers to create more vents on columns and wooden posts.

kitchen supplies A kitchen is, as they say, the heart of the home. It’s where the food is prepared lovingly, by family members who may also consume that food in a kitchen that has been designed with an eat-in area or bar. It’s where good friends come to share coffee, the latest news and stories of personal successes and concerns. Many significant decisions are made over meals prepared in a home’s kitchen. A kitchen is love.

READY FOR A CHANGE?

Is your kitchen in need of a redo? Does it scream with stylings from a long-gone decade? Have you grown tired of looking at the same old colors and features? If you are yearning for a change, but your budget is limited, there are numerous things you can do to renovate a tired, outdated kitchen atmosphere without going into debt or spending your last penny doing so. Here are ten suggestions that will serve to give your kitchen a new fresh feel and leave you with money in your piggy bank, too.

1.Install a mosaic backsplash. This is an ideal way to bring a bit of artistic flair to the area between your cabinets and sink area and beyond. Add distinction and color with easy-to-maintain mosaic tiles in patterns or random configurations in the colors you like best.

2.Change out your cabinet hardware. By adding new, distinctive cabinet pulls and knobs, it’s amazing how you can change the entire look and feel of your kitchen.

3.Switch out your kitchen doors. Install glass paned doors, or create a new feel with a pivoting, paneled door. Cafe doors are fun and take up less room than a single hinged door.

4.Install Pendant Lighting. Distinctive pendant lighting can suitably divide spaces within the kitchen by appropriating light in precise directions at different levels. These lights have a way of softening the ambiance of a room. They work great when installed over a kitchen workspace or bar.

5.Replace the doors of your kitchen cabinets. Give your cabinets an entirely new look and feel, just by replacing the cabinet fronts. Glass paned cabinet doors are an awesome way to create change and a new kitchen appearance.

6.Install a swing-out cabinet in your pantry. By installing one of these space saving devices, you will be amazed at how much more room you’ll gain for storing all your pantry items.

7.Install a wine bottle rack and stemware racks in your kitchen cabinets.This will serve to boost your kitchen’s look with a classy, upgraded feel.

8.Give your kitchen drawer “innards” an overhaul. By adding drawer components like spice organizers and flatware/knife organizers, you will be less cluttered and more clear minded when cooking and serving.

9.Cabinet redo. Cabinets can be much improved upon by the addition of rolling pull out/slide out holders for cleaning supplies, kitchen appliances and trash cans.

10.Replace your countertops. Laminate kitchen countertops and butchers’ block countertops make a wonderful change in any kitchen. The new laminate countertops look much different from those your parents had. They create many looks of stone and marble, very realistically and affordably.

columns dinning roomHaving an airy, open floor plan between your kitchen or living room and your dining space is a desirable real estate feature, but is not always ideal to actually live with. You can always create definition to set off a dining area by installing doors, but this will completely close off and visually reduce the space. With the installation of columns, on the other hand, you can help add a true sense of definition to a room’s design without closing it off or changing the basic architecture of the house. There are several ways columns can be used to separate the dining room, each with its own subtly distinctive ambiance.

Definition For A Large Doorway

Even with a large doorway already in place, you can create some stylish definition to the edge of the dining room, by updating the appearance with the addition of columns to either side of the doorway. It will bring further definition and add interest to the space. To be the most effective, bring the columns in from the edges of the doorway slightly, and leave some space between the columns and the edges of the doorway. You can either use columns that are square in shape or round. They will either reflect or contrast the shape of the doorway, adding interest and visual appeal.

Half Wall Definition

With an open floor plan, to close off the dining room a little, you could combine columns with a short half-wall on either side. The half-walls come into the opening by a few feet on either side to close in the opening and start the separation of the dining room from the rest of the space. The columns can be placed on top of each half-wall, or they can be placed next to the half-walls, extending from floor to ceiling. If the space between the two rooms is very large, you can extend the half-walls and add columns on top at either end for more detail.

Adding Columns

Single columns can be dramatic but if they aren’t large enough to be a defining force on their own, they can look bad. If you don’t like the idea of two large columns on either end of the space, consider adding a short half-wall or pillar on either side of the door opening. Top the half wall or pillar with a grouping of smaller columns, such as four square columns arranged in the shape of a larger square. Two thinner, smaller columns placed side-by-side will serve to add definition and design without adding bulk. This look produces an elegant and understated design.

Lower The Ceiling

Columns look their best when they look like they’re holding something up. You can create more separation for the dining room space by dropping the ceiling down as a large beam across the door opening. The columns should push straight up into this (lower) beam, supporting it. Using a design like this also gives you the option of changing the look of the ceiling in the dining room such as giving it a tray ceiling or installing pressed tin. The beam not only helps to give more weight to the look of the columns, it adds another dimension of separation for the entire space.

crack repair While concrete is considered tough and can help withstand constant use and abuse, keep in mind it will eventually loosen, crack and crumble. In time, your concrete stairs and walkways and paths outdoors can fall under extreme pressure and moisture thus making it unsafe and aesthetically unappealing. But don’t let these problems frustrate you and throw in the towel by calling the professionals to do the work.  With the right resins, crack repair kits and tools, you can take a DIY approach when it comes to repairing concrete cracks. While an expert knowledge and skills in construction are not required, keep in mind that you’ll need patience and a strong back.  Mixing concrete can be tiring, but if you are up to the task, then this will not just help you save but also provide satisfying results!

When it comes to patching cracks, keep in mind that your approach will depend on the size of the cracks. Here are some techniques to remember when working on different sizes of concrete cracks on your steps or tracks.

Patching narrow cracks

For narrow cracks, you’ll need masonry crack fillers or other commercially-available crack repair kits or patching compounds. To start the task, you’ll need to clean up the surrounding area and take out the dirt and debris that are present. If you plan to use a vinyl concrete patching compound, you’ll need to smoothen it out using a putty knife.

Tricks for wide cracks

Clean first the area before starting the task and wash the dirty using a stream of clean water. Prepare the materials by mixing the vinyl patching compound or other filling materials as indicated in the manufacturer’s label or instructions. You can also mix cement, sand and a little water as your filling agent which will be applied into wide cracks.  But before you apply the materials, you’ll need to undercut or enlarge the cut or cracks using a chisel and hammer. It should be undercut or square so the concrete bonding will work for a long period of time and it will not break down. Once the patch is already in place, brush and smoothen it out.

With these general tricks, it’s easier to attend to common cracks on concrete steps and paths. Don’t just leave the job to the pros; if you think you can do it; complete the work for a satisfying and fulfilling experience.