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Three Ways to Beat the Backyard Sun

June 21st, 2010

cedar pergola with patioWhen the temperature starts to rise, people are lured to their backyards to enjoy the sun and fresh air. However, if a backyard does not have adequate shade, it can quickly become a miserable place on the hottest days of summer. A well-balanced backyard environment provides both sunny areas for catching the sun’s rays and shady retreats for escaping the worst of the heat.

Backyard shade can come in many forms, from a large table umbrella to a pocket of trees or shrubs. For yards that lack mature trees, there are several simple and relatively inexpensive structures homeowners can build over a deck, patio or part of a garden to help block out the sun. The most common and easy to install include arbors, pergolas and patio covers.

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A Cedar Fence that Keeps the Neighbors Happy

June 17th, 2010

good neighbor cedar fenceAs the wise Caroline Westerhoff once said, a fence represents the “irresolvable tension between boundary and hospitality.” We build fences to establish borders with neighbors, and by blocking them out we show that we respect them. One type of fence, in particular, was designed with respect towards the neighbors in mind – the appropriately named Good Neighbor fence.

A Good Neighbor fence is the epitome of equality and cooperation. While most cedar fence designs are built with all of the boards attached to one side of the rail, creating one smooth “face” and one less attractive back side, Good Neighbor fences feature alternating boards along a sturdy rail. Popular in neighborhoods with a lot of shared property lines, the Good Neighbor fence looks the same from both sides. Read the rest of this entry »

Deck Rails: Choosing the Perfect Finishing Touch

June 16th, 2010

cable handrailsLooking for a way to personalize your deck? Focus on the handrails. Deck designers have more handrail options than ever these days. And because the rails are one of the most visible parts of any deck, they’re a wonderful venue for customization.

Regardless of what decking material your deck is made from, customized deck rails can add a personal flair your neighbors will appreciate. To help you choose the perfect handrail for your decking project, this article describes the different types of handrails currently on the market.

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Deck Benches: Taking Your Deck to the Next Level

June 16th, 2010

built-in deck benchWhen it comes to enjoying your new deck, the devil is in the details. Choose the right shape, shade and material for your outdoor living space, and family members will flock to it. On the other hand, if you don’t carefully think through your options, you may be stuck with an area of the home that no one actually uses.

Built-in deck seating is an excellent way to guarantee the utility of your new cedar or composite deck. This article will review the advantages of built-in deck seating and offer tips for installing a deck bench.

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Deck Fasteners and the Three Little Pigs

May 23rd, 2010

deck clipsWhich of the three little pigs would you rather be? The one with the strong brick house seems the obvious choice. Unfortunately, not all construction projects are as obvious as this familiar fairy tale. Sometimes, a single subtle aspect of construction can make or break an entire project.

When it comes to decking materials, fasteners are a crucial element. From nails to screws to clips, you have plenty of options for attaching the decking material to its frame. Like the houses of the three little pigs, some fasteners are stronger than others. This article will provide an overview of the types of deck fasteners on the market. It will also explain the structural and aesthetic reasons for preferring deck clips to other fasteners, especially for cedar decks.

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Patio Covers: Reinventing a Boring Backyard

May 23rd, 2010

solid patio coverA patio cover—a  type of roof that defines, protects and enhances an outdoor space—can turn a mere slab of concrete into additional living space for your home. Installing a patio cover will create an official outdoor living space that will not only increase the value of your home, but add value to the time you spend in your backyard.

Materials Used to Make Patio Covers

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How to Approach Your Neighbors About Building a Fence

April 29th, 2010

good neighbor fenceYou’ve probably heard the axiom, Good fences make good neighbors. It’s the truth, and for more reasons than one. Building a fence without first communicating with your neighbors, or building a poorly constructed fence, can unnecessarily sour relations with neighbors.

However, by understanding the potential pitfalls of building a fence, and by approaching the situation well-prepared and open-minded, you can ensure your new fence will look good, serve its purpose and be enjoyed by all.

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Seven Tricks to Make a Small Deck Look Bigger

April 28th, 2010

small cedar deckAre you struggling to fit a deck in a mini-yard?  Or do you already have a small deck that you wish looked bigger? You’re not alone. Over the last century or so, the size of the average American house has boomed, while the size of the surrounding yard has shrunken.

Between 1950 and 2000, the National Association of Home Builders found, the average American home went from 1,000 to 2,000 square feet of livable space. Concurrently, lot sizes have been on the decline. Urban planners are keen to prevent sprawl, and one way to do that is to subdivide larger lots and sell off the new parcels.

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How to Train Climbing Plants to Climb a Pergola

April 28th, 2010

cedar pergola with vinesQuick: What do ivies, grapes, morning glories and squash have in common?

Answer: They’re all climbing plants.

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Staying Dry Beneath an Underdeck

March 29th, 2010

vinyl underdeckAsk anyone with any kind of decking in their yard if they’re glad they had it installed, and it’s a given they’ll say yes. Ask them if there’s one thing they’d like to fix, however, and there’s a good chance they’ll mention the wasted space beneath, particularly if they have a second-story deck.

That dark, dank space beneath a deck, made even more unpleasant after a heavy rain, has long been the bane of many homeowners’ existence. Advances in decking, however, have made it possible to transform that wasted space into an enjoyable living space, a gathering place for parties or a handy storage area.

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