5 Ways to Beautify Your Deck Without Breaking the Bank

23336438_original(BPT) – Are you ready to put your deck on the best-dressed list this summer, but hesitant to dent your savings? With these simple design ideas, you can make your deck the perfect place for summer festivities.

1. Accessorize with Railings.

An easy way to give your deck a beauty boost is to update the railing. The decorative details of this safety feature are easy to overlook during the initial deck building process. Thankfully, with today’s products, it’s easy and affordable to turn this eyesore into an accessory.

For example, by replacing outdated railings with those that complement your deck boards and home’s exterior trim, you can create an outdoor living space that’s a well-styled extension of your home. If you have a non-traditional deck, cable rails or mixed medium infills like tempered glass panels may be your style. Or, if you want to mix modern with traditional elements, consider letting guests lean on attractive, but affordable aluminum rail systems like MoistureShield Pro.

“The sleek lines of aluminum railing are the perfect counterpart to today’s contemporary spaces,” says Brent Gwatney, senior vice president, MoistureShield Composite Decking. “They’re a less obtrusive railing option and give decks a high-end, custom feel without the high-end price tag, and tend to be backed with long-term warranties.”

2. Block the Sun Beautifully.

Another way to balance form with function is to shade your deck in style. Fortunately, there are a number of beautiful, low-cost ways to block the sun that go beyond the patio umbrella.

Pergolas are a popular way to shade your space without breaking the bank. You can vary the direction of the beams to create interest, weave fabric panels across the top to create a cozy respite or use the structure to frame a view.

Screening trellises are another affordable option for relief from direct sunlight. They can disguise an unsightly view, soften your deck or provide an attractive backsplash for an outdoor kitchen, while adding shade and privacy. You can even bend high performance decking materials, like composite decking, to curve around existing trees to let nature act as your canopy.

3. Plant a Deck-Adent Garden

Deckscaping is a timeless, low-cost way to turn your outdoor living space into a backyard beauty. Placing shrubs or a curving flowerbed along the perimeter of your deck can soften its edges and add colorful accents. Alternatively, bringing planters on deck with a mix of annuals and perennials can quickly turn a bland deck into a garden retreat full of seasonal blooms.

If your deck is small, consider keeping floor space free with a gorgeous overhead garden. Hanging flower baskets and trellises with climbing vines are simple and affordable space-savers that can make covered deck spaces resemble a spa-like retreat.

4. Dress your Deck to Impress

To finish your deck and give it that one-of-a-kind feel, outfit it the same way you would an interior room, thinking about color and texture. While this may sound expensive, there are plenty of practical, budget friendly ways to make your deck a stylish extension of your home.

You can easily spice it up with painted furniture and fun accents. Pretty and durable accent pillows made from outdoor fabrics are an inexpensive way to add pops of color. Or if you find an outdoor fabric that you love you can make bench cushions to give your outdoor seating a cozy feel. Accents like an outdoor rug can tie it all together by adding texture underfoot, keeping dirt from being tracked inside your home, and defining areas for different uses.

5. Light Up Your Evenings in Style

Finally, don’t neglect how your deck looks when the sun goes down. With the right lighting, you can extend your hours outside and keep your deck as charming in the nighttime as it is during the day.

From subtle post lights that cast a magical evening glow to understated recessed lights and rail strip lights that help guide guests’ steps, today’s deck lighting choices are both functional and affordable. And, with the emergence of energy-efficient LEDs, you can use them liberally with little effect on your monthly electricity bill. So, let your imagination roam with nighttime illumination options to add after-dark ambience to your outdoor retreat.

Matching Fencing Types To Your Needs

Photo by Susan Law Cain via ShutterstockBefore you buy a new fence for your home or business, ask yourself this: “How do I know which fence is the best fit for my property?” Whether your goals are keeping pets inside, keeping intruders out, adding privacy or increasing value, certain fences will make more sense than others. That’s why you need to know what’s available and how to compare your options.

To determine the best fencing structure for your needs, take the time to do your research. What are all your options? What does each kind of fencing have to offer, and what are its potential drawbacks? To help you evaluate the different fencing types so you can make a good choice, here’s an overview of the specifics:



As one of the oldest and most popular fencing options, it’s no surprise that wood fences communicate timeless appeal. From white picket wood fences to tall privacy wood fences, there are a variety of possibilities within this fencing material. Some pros and cons include:


  • PRO: Greater property privacy
  • PRO: Durable, long-lasting material
  • PRO: Lots of possibilities for design
  • CON: Lengthy installation period
  • CON: Can be expensive



If it’s a budget-friendly fence you’re after, PVC is an option to consider. PVC fences come in a lot of colors and heights, and they’re made to last. Here’s a quick look at their basic pros and cons:


  • PRO: Resistant to weather damage
  • PRO: Lots of design options
  • PRO: Inexpensive fencing option
  • CON: Not as durable as wood



Vinyl fences stand out for being highly durable without any need for regular upkeep. While they may have a higher upfront cost, their low-maintenance expenses can offset some of those costs over time. Their pros and cons include:


  • PRO: Maintenance-free and easy to clean
  • PRO: Stronger and more flexible than wood
  • PRO: Long lifespan
  • CON: Higher upfront cost



Aluminum fencing is not only attractive, but it’s also easy to maintain because, once installed, it requires no upkeep. While it can look almost identical to wrought iron, it’s actually lighter in weight and less expensive. Here’s a look at the pros and cons of this kind of fence:


  • PRO: Versatile designs available
  • PRO: Maintenance-free
  • CON: Susceptible to weather damage
  • CON: Lighter and less expensive than wrought iron


Wrought Iron

Whether you’re enclosing the garden at an English estate or the driveway at a stately home, a wrought-iron fence creates a touch of elegance wherever it’s placed. Because of the distinguished, classical appeal these fences offer, they are popular choices in locations where decoration is important. Here are some of the major pros and cons of wrought-iron fences:


  • PRO: Customizable
  • PRO: Attractive and durable
  • PRO: Prestigious feel
  • CON: Relatively expensive
  • CON: Require regular sanding/painting to look its best


Chain Link

There’s a good reason chain-link fences are the style of choice found at many schools, parks and industrial locations. Chain-link fences are affordable, easy to maintain and made to last: Here are some important considerations:


  • PRO: Inexpensive
  • PRO: Require little maintenance
  • CON: Unless combined with plants, don’t add much privacy


Post and Rail

Also known as stockade fencing or ranch fencing, post-and-rail fencing is a popular choice for enclosing pastureland or horse areas. Frequently used on farms, it’s easy to maintain, doesn’t obstruct views of land or animals, and comes in a variety of styles. Here are some key pros and cons:


  • PRO: Allows for visibility through the fence
  • PRO: Easy to maintain
  • PRO: Versatile design options
  • CON: Doesn’t add privacy or high security


Based on the characteristics listed above about the various types of fencing, do you have a clearer sense of which option is right for you? Whether you’re interested in enclosing your backyard or acres of horses, use the pros and cons above to help you decide.


Author bio:

Dean White is President of Tru-Link Fence and Products. Tru-Link Fence has been Chicagoland’s “go to” fencing supplier since 1952. Please visit our website to learn more about our various products and services.

How To Incorporate Perforated Metal In Your Interior Home Design

perforated-metalGreen is the new interior home design trend that keeps renewing itself. In other words, it’s not just a fad, it’s here to stay.

There are so many reasons to go green in your interior design: respect for the environment, energy efficiency, and return on investment, to name a few. But one of the biggest reasons to go green from a designer’s perspective is the vast selection of environmentally friendly materials available today. Many of these materials offer design possibilities that transcend the usual and make for innovative and striking — as well as sustainable — interior effects.


Perforated Metal – the “Surprise” Green Material


One of the most exciting green materials to catch the attention of forward-thinking designers today is perforated metal. You might be surprised to think of metal as green. However, it can be very eco-friendly.


  • Metal is 100 percent recyclable.
  • Metal components and materials are frequently up to 100 percent recycled as well.
  • Metal is easy to clean without using harsh chemicals.
  • Metal is an exceptionally durable material that can stay looking good for decades.
  • Perforated metal can be used in many ways that significantly improve a building’s energy efficiency.
  • Perforated metal sheets use far less material than their solid counterparts.
  • Perforated metal is lightweight and burns less fuel to transport as well.


The design potential of perforated metal is virtually unlimited. Let’s explore some of the interesting and beautiful ways designers have found to put this unique material to good use in the home environment.


9 Perforated Metal Interior Design Ideas


  1. Perforated metal decorative wall paneling. Tired of the same old, tired wall surface options? Perforated metal wall cladding can create an eye-popping accent for a home office, living room or any room in the house. The effect can vary from rustic to futuristic, depending on your choice of metal, patina and pattern — and the many combinations provide almost endless possibilities from which to choose.
  2. Sliding perforated metal doors. Take the sliding barn door look up a notch by using perforated metal panels instead. Perfect for spaces where consistent air flow is a priority.
  3. Perforated metal stair treads. There’s no need for your stairwell to interfere with daylighting your home. Whether it is a stairway up to a loft, a spiral staircase or deck steps outside a basement window, perforated metal combines the strength and durability that a structural stairway requires with exceptional light transmission.
  4. Metal artwork. Perforated metal makes an inspiring material for artists, both on its own or in combination with other metals and eco-friendly materials. Why not commission a piece for your home?
  5. Perforated metal lampshades. Perforated metal makes a stunning lampshade material due to its light-reflecting qualities and the large selection of patterns available. Try pairing it with a base of reclaimed material or found objects. It’s durable, too!
  6. Cabinet grills. Use perforated metal panels as the doors and front panels for cabinets and pull-out drawers. They are especially good to use anywhere you want to encourage air circulation.
  7. Railing accents. Perforated metal makes a practical and beautiful fill material for railing applications, especially where small children or pets are concerned. The perforations allow for visibility, while the metal panels protect from falls.
  8. House plant havens. Why not go green in more ways than one? Living plants make the ultimate environmentally friendly home décor, and perforated metal is a perfect material to compliment them. How about an open bookcase with perforated metal shelves, filled with plants and placed in front of a picture window? The metal is sturdy enough to support even heavy clay pots, while the perforations allow maximum light to pass through to plants on the next level. Consider, too, training vines up a perforated metal panel — an elegant statement for patio or porch.
  9. Window shades. With its light-reflective properties, metal shades can significantly reduce the amount of solar heat entering a home in warm, sunny climates. At the same time, the perforations allow cooling breezes to enter the home.


Many of the applications above can result in fantastic and beautiful light effects. Many others can actually reduce your energy bills. All provide a unique, eco-friendly and practical change from traditional home décor materials sure to spark many a conversation. And, this is just a starting list of perforated metal home design ideas. What additional ways can you think of to use it?


Author bio: Damon Henrikson is Director of Marketing at Accurate Perforating Company in Chicago, IL. He brings more than 10 years of experience in the manufacturing space and over five years of experience within the perforated metal industry. Accurate Perforating produces a variety of metal products for commercial and home use.


Protecting Your Basement From Unwanted Moisture

shutterstock_230577643A dry, well-insulated basement adds valuable living space to your home. When designing and building a new home, it’s essential to protect your basement from unwanted moisture. Basement moisture can cause mold growth, which poses a health threat to anyone living in the home. While you can’t prepare for a broken pipe and the water damage it causes, you can prevent a variety of basement moisture issues.


Three Sources of Basement Moisture

Understanding where and how unwanted moisture in basements develops is key to creating a basement or lower level living space that remains dry and maintains low humidity levels. According to the University of Minnesota, every homebuilder needs to consider three sources of potential basement moisture:


  • Rain and groundwater
  • Interior moisture (e.g., unvented clothes dryers, bathrooms and moisture found in concrete after construction)
  • Exterior humid air that penetrates the basement, condensing on cool surfaces


Prevent Basement Moisture

A rainstorm that drops 1 inch of rain into your rain gauge deposits 13,577 gallons of water onto your property, reports the U.S. Geological Survey Water Science School. If your home doesn’t have the proper protection against seepage, your basement will suffer from moisture and water damage. With a combination of techniques, you can prevent moisture and maintain low humidity levels in your home’s basement.


Know about the water table. 

Before choosing a site for your new home, ask about the area’s water table. Avoid building on a high water table area that can contribute to wet conditions for your basement.

A publication from Kansas State University cautions, “When evaluating a home site, examine soil and rock profile layers for evidence of drainage restrictions. Restrictive layers are especially important in rocky areas because these layers will impede drainage.”

Is your property on a hillside? A cut-off drain may be needed to divert water away from the home’s highest side.


Know your soil.

Certain soil types contribute to foundation issues and moisture problems in a basement or crawl space. A drainage tile system is essential, especially if your soil has a high gravel content or is sandy. If you have clay soil, known as expansive soil, it’s essential to address drainage issues to avoid water problems and potential foundation damage.


Build on highest part of property.

One of the best ways to avoid basement moisture is to build your home on the highest part of the property when possible. Fill in the area around the home so the soil slopes away from the structure. The slope should grade at least 6 inches in the first 10 feet. The soil around a new home or building structure does settle during the first 12 to 15 months after construction. Because of this settling it’s recommended to refill after a year in order to maintain the necessary slope.


Install proper drainage systems. 

It’s also recommended to have 4-inches of gravel under the basement’s slab to aid in drainage. In addition, gutters and downspouts must be installed with the downspouts expelling water away from the home without sending that water into the perimeter drainage tiles. A drainage tile system diverts water away from the home’s foundation, working to keep the basement dry.

Failure to improperly install gutters/downspouts or a subsurface drainage tile system can cause long-term problems. Water that doesn’t drain away from the home increases the risk of foundation cracks and serious water damage over time.


Invest in basement waterproofing.

An exterior waterproofing coat can help reduce basement moisture and mold growth. This type of protection helps maintain stable temperatures within the lower level space, can reduce condensation issues, and even help to decrease foundation cracks.


Allow basement to dry thoroughly.

The cement used to form your basement has a high water content. After the basement’s completion, run a dehumidifier for about 60 days to reduce humidity caused by the water’s evaporative effect.

After moving into your new home, keep humidity levels low and moisture at bay in the basement by insulating all cold water pipes, venting the dryer to the outdoors, and running a dehumidifier as needed.



Author Bio:
As the Vice President of Operations for DKI Commercial Solutions, Bill Robinson oversees disaster relief operations for commercial large loss in the U.S. Bill has seen first hand how water damage can wreak havoc on a home. DKI Services is a remediation and restoration company that offers emergency restoration services for residential and commercial buildings. Some of Bill’s efforts have been nationally and locally recognized throughout the media.