Ready Your Patio for Spring

Iriana Shiyan-ShutterstockSpring is right around the corner, which means everyone is ready to get outside and enjoy the sunshine and fresh air. Whether you put your patio furniture in storage for the winter or left it outside, you’ll have some work to do to get your outdoor furniture ready for spring. Consider the following tips:

  1. Assess Damage

Between the cold and damp weather, winter can cause a lot of damage to patio furniture — even if it has been in a garage or shed for the winter. Steel may rust, wood can crack and splinter during freeze-thaw cycles, and wicker is especially prone to damage from expanding and contracting. Water and freeze-thaw cycles aren’t the only things that can cause damage, however. Mice or other rodents can chew cushions or wood, and things like sliders on the feet of chairs and tables may have loosened or broken as you put your patio furniture away in the fall. When you bring your furniture out of storage, make sure to assess it for any damage that occurred.

  1. Start Cleaning

Before you start repairing, it is wise to clean your patio furniture. Over the fall, winter and early spring, your furniture may have accumulated not only dust and grime, but potentially mildew and mold spores, too. Use dish detergent mixed with water and a soft cloth to cleanse your furniture. For steel items that are rusty, you can use a wire brush to remove the rust.

  1. Repair or Replace Damaged Pieces

Some things, like a cushion that has been chewed by mice, might not be repairable. Make a list of the things that you can’t fix and plan to replace them later. After that, you can focus on what can be repaired:

  • Once rust is removed from steel, paint over it with primer and apply a finishing coat to prevent further rust.
  • Splintery wood furniture should be sanded smooth. Once you’ve finished sanding, clean the furniture to remove dust and coat the wood with a protectant to keep it from turning gray with age.
  • Cracked wood furniture can be repaired as long as the cracks aren’t so large that they’re affecting the structural stability of the piece. Simply fill the cracks with putty or wood filler. This may take a few applications depending on how much the filler shrinks. Then, sand the filled areas smooth, clear the dust, and apply a finish or protectant as you normally would.
  • Check chair slides and other bits of hardware to make sure that they are intact. If you find broken hardware, remove it and search online or at your local home improvement store for replacements. Depending on the manufacturer of your furniture, you may even need to order parts directly from the manufacturer.
  • Tighten any screws or other fasteners. This is particularly important for metal furniture with moving or adjustable parts, such as the frame that holds your hammock. This step can protect you from an accident later in the spring.
  • Some furniture either folds for storage or has wheels to make it easy to move. Each of these moving parts should be lubricated, not only to make them easier to use, but also to protect the joints from wear. Use a spray lubricant containing Teflon to lubricate joints. Avoid using oil-based lubricants because these can actually make the problem worse since they tend to collect dirt.

It will take some work to get ready for spring — cleaning, repairing and replacing. However, when you’re enjoying springtime flowers and fresh green foliage from the comfort of your patio, you’ll realize that the effort is totally worth it.


 

About the author:

Jessica Kyriakos is Brand Manager of Superior Site Amenities. Jessica has worked in the site furnishing industry for over 15 years and brings her knowledge of the industry to her role with the company. They provide outdoor furniture for your unique space, including grills, picnic tables and more.

Smart Ways to Boost Your Home’s Energy Efficiency

23160632_original(BPT) – You wouldn’t know it with the mild weather we’re having this winter, but spring is fast approaching. Building industry experts say now is an ideal time to carefully consider and prioritize home renovation plans. Most homeowners will opt to address the cosmetic features of a home when completing a renovation project to add comfort and value. However, it’s often what you can’t see that can have the biggest impact.

Before diving into any home renovations, consider the “skeleton” of your home, known as the building envelope, rather than just the cosmetic features such as chrome fixtures or granite countertops. For instance, high efficiency windows are an excellent investment for any home renovation to help drive down excessive energy waste and high utility costs. The U.S. Department of Energy suggests that traditional windows contribute to as much as 10 percent of the total amount of air escaping from a typical home, while improperly sealed doors can contribute a further 11 percent.

Another easy renovation idea to consider is researching and selecting high efficiency, green materials in commonly used rooms, such as bathrooms. Low flush water systems, solar hot water systems and even small-scale geothermal energy systems, as well as Energy Star-rated appliances, can reduce energy consumption and your overall carbon footprint while maintaining a comfortable, enjoyable living space for you and your family.

Investing in an effective insulation solution also can make a noticeable impact on reducing household utility costs. Building experts suggest that homeowners completing a home renovation should be as involved as possible in determining the best insulation type for their home. This means that homeowners should actively research the types of materials available and how well they perform over the long term.

Spray foam insulation, available from Icynene, is growing in popularity among homeowners since it is an energy-efficient insulation material that delivers year-round benefits. Spray foam insulation works well in all types of homes across the country, regardless of climate, to curb air loss and retain the conditioned air within your home to maintain a consistent, even temperature.

Spray foam insulation performs for the life of the property, ensuring that homeowners can enjoy comfortable indoor temperatures all year round without overrunning their heating and cooling equipment and accumulating high heating and cooling costs every month. More information on the effectiveness of spray foam insulation is available online at www.icynene.com.

4 Things to Consider When Choosing Siding

(BPT) – Selecting new siding is one of the most important decisions homeowners face when building new or remodeling an existing home. With sosiding 2 many options – both classic and modern materials – there’s a lot to consider.

Many manufacturers are now combining traditional styles and materials with high-tech finishes, delivering a product homeowners can love for years to come. Among all the options on the market, vinyl siding – with its various styles, textures and colors – remains the most used product. In fact, 2015 marked 21 straight years vinyl siding held the top spot in cladding for new single-family houses, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s annual home report.

Whether you are building a home or remodeling one, there are four key areas homeowners should account for when determining which siding option meets your needs: durability, design, maintenance and affordability.

Durability

Siding selection is typically a once-in-a-lifetime decision, making durability a key factor for many. Homeowners should look for a siding option that is resistant to every element, including rain, wind and even the sun. Manufacturers now offer siding products with technologies that resist the damaging impact of the sun, preserving color for the lifetime of the home. Options, like Mastic Home Exteriors by Ply Gem SolarDefense, expand exterior home design with darker, on-trend colors that make your home the envy of the neighborhood.

siding 1Design

Perhaps the most-overwhelming decision for most when considering siding options is deciding on a style and color. There are seven primary siding material options available to homeowners – vinyl, metal, wood, brick, fiber cement, stucco, and stone – and countless color and style options within each material type. To guide you in determining what would look best, it is recommended to ask a siding specialist like a contractor, builder or architect for help. They can educate you on color coordination and what would go well with the neighborhood, while still giving personalized options for your home. They will also be able to weigh in on accent pieces like trim and shutters, which can help bring out your style.

“Homeowners are looking for more creative and colorful options,” said Pat Verlodt, president of Color Services & Associates, an organization that identifies color trends and educates consumers and manufacturers about those trends. “Whether you’re looking for a specific panel texture, such as cedar shake or wood clapboard, or a certain period-specific color scheme to align with historical significance, my recommendation is to look at vinyl. It provides the homeowner the freedom to add low-maintenance color and definition that will never be out of style or need painting or refinishing.”

Maintenance

Beyond style and color, homeowners are also seeking siding that is low-maintenance, which reduces or eliminates the cost and personal time expended for proper upkeep. Each siding material type has a different level of care and maintenance required. Vinyl typically requires just soap and water for periodic cleaning. Wood and fiber cement can require repainting every five to seven years. Stucco will need to be repainted and sealed. Brick and stone require re-pointing of mortar. The earlier point about durability plays a part here too, ensuring the option you select is free from potential time-consuming – even costly repairs – due to storm damage such as wind and moisture.

Affordability

Lastly, set a budget. Do your homework on the options and secure estimates, then compare them with your budget. Don’t forget that sometimes investing a little more into the project up front may reduce issues and maintenance costs down the road.

As you look to select new exterior siding, be sure to keep in mind these important factors – durability, design, maintenance and affordability – to make the best choice possible for your home and lifestyle. To get started on siding your house, look to manufacturer websites such as plygem.com for siding choices, as well as home visualizer and color selection tools that help homeowners experiment with different color and textures before making a decision.

All the Rage: What’s Trending in Hardwood Flooring

hardwood(BPT) – After months of online browsing, you’ve found the perfect, wide plank hardwood flooring. Or so you think! You absolutely love the look, but how can you be sure it’s the right product for you? Ask the pros.

In order to make an informed, purchasing decision, Linda Jovanovich of the American Hardwood Information Center, (www.hardwoodinfo.com) suggests you do your research. “All hardwood flooring is not the same,” she says. “Consulting with the experts will help determine if your product of choice will perform well in your unique home or office environment, and in your part of the country. And a little extra due diligence will eliminate guess-work, and the pain of an improper product choice.”

Getting Started

The pros at Tennessee-based Mullican Flooring (www.mullicanflooring.com), offer this need-to-know information regarding the differences between solid and engineered hardwood flooring, and the appropriate applications for each.

Solid hardwood flooring is just that, solid wood milled to a three-quarter inch thickness that can be installed only on a subfloor of wood, plywood or oriented strand board. Because of its thickness, it can be sanded and refinished over several generations of use. As a natural product, it will expand and contract with the humidity changes in your home or office. To compensate for this movement, installers should leave an expansion gap between the wood flooring and the wall, and install baseboard moulding or quarter round to hide the extra space. Remember, solid hardwood flooring cannot be glued onto concrete, does not perform well in high-moisture areas, and can require up to 14 days of acclimation time.

Engineered hardwood flooring is not one solid piece of wood, but rather a cross-layer construction of five to nine layers of hardwood, bonded together using heat and pressure. As a result of this process, engineered flooring is less likely to be affected by changes in humidity, reducing expansion and contraction. In most cases, it can be sanded and refinished, however special care must be taken with the thinner profiles. And it can be glued onto concrete, making it an appropriate choice for all levels – upstairs, ground level and basements – and a great choice for what’s all the rage these days, wide plank flooring!

Another Great Resource

The flooring professionals at the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA), www.nwfa.org, concur. Requests for wider boards, random widths and rustic species full of character and color continue to dominate the hardwood flooring marketplace.

“It’s a significant trend that will likely continue for quite some time,” says Brett Miller, NWFA vice president of Education and Certification. “And it is a trend that can present certain challenges, especially if the installation is subpar and the end-user is uninformed.”

So, act wisely and be in-the-know. Engaging the services of professional, certified flooring installers will ensure your gorgeous flooring will stay that way. These knowledgeable craftsmen understand the importance of acclimation and the control of temperature and relative humidity. They in turn will pass that information on to you, the end-user. An educated customer is a happy one.

More on What’s Trending

Other trends being followed by NWFA member companies, especially custom, wide plank flooring manufacturer, Shannon & Waterman (www.shannonwaterman.com), include a continuation of gray stains and finishes, texturing of wood versus smooth finishes, utilizing random widths in a single installation, a preference for rustic species, selecting boards based on significant character inclusions like knot holes and saw blade marks, and a return to oil finishes.

It’s spicy. It’s classy. And it’s all the rage! Visit www.HardwoodInfo.com to see more on flooring, cabinetry and other products made from American Hardwoods.