It's Time To Elevate Your Gardens

2' x 4' Elevated garden planter. Other styles available.   The experts form Outdoor Essentials want to help you go from landscaping to their version of yardscaping; that is, from the expensive maintenance of traditional lawns to creating outdoor spaces that require less money and effort, but are more aesthetically pleasing and functional.   Our last post explained how landscape rocks make a yard more interesting and easier to maintain, while hiding unseemly areas. Another way to add interest, color and functionality to a yard is with raised garden beds and planters. Planters differ from raised... read more

Have Fun and Feel Good Feeding Your Feathered and Furry Backyard Friends this Winter

  Clad in soft downy plumage, the chickadee Fears no cold in its nest in the hollow of tree: And it comes to the garden to pick up the seed The dear little children cast out for its feed. - From “The Little Chickadee Warbler of the Winter Woods” by Isaac McLellan (1806-1899) Where temperatures are cold and the ground is covered in snow, feeding birds and squirrels is a very popular winter hobby. That’s probably because it takes so little time and effort to offer healthy, much-appreciated food to your backyard friends while simultaneously providing endless entertainment and educational... read more

Last Minute Holiday Gift Ideas for Deck-Lovers

  Top photo: Nate Salnick - 2011 Best Deck Contest Entry It may be cold and snowy out there, and parents may be busier thinking about their Elf on the Shelf’s next escapade rather than how to set a pretty dining table for their first barbeque next summer, but true die-hard deck-lovers dream of their outdoor living space all year round. Therefore, why not give the gift of anticipation during the darkest time of the year and bring a little taste of summer’s warmth of into their lives this holiday season? Some of the best gift ideas for the deck-lovers in your life include: Gifts for serving food... read more

Spruce Up Your Deck, Fencing and Mailbox For The Holiday Season

  Photo credits: thinkstock.com Sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun in my title. After all, decorating your outdoor features with garlands and sprays of evergreen this winter will enhance your enjoyment of the season every time you look out your windows, go outside to play with your kids or get your mail. Elegant swags of green garland draped along your deck railings and fence line, as well as beautiful sprays of evergreen on your posts and mailbox — with or without lights or additional flair like wreaths, bows or pinecones — will make your deck and yard cheery for winter. Real garland can be... read more

Decorate for the Season with Homemade Ice Luminaries

Photo credit for images: www.bhg.com Whether you find decorating for the holidays a joy or a chore, many of us focus more on making the inside of our homes merry rather than the outside. But as the days grow shorter and colder, a bright, colorful focal point outside your windows — enjoyable both day and night — can really boost your mood. One way to add decorative fun to your deck posts, front porch, steps or walkways is with homemade frozen luminaries. This craft project is perfect for one person or the whole family. Children of all ages can participate, but it’s an easy do-it-yourself for... read more

Top tips for maintaining your deck

Decks are a great “value add” for residents, but property managers face plenty of risks—including having a deck collapse—if their deck isn’t regularly inspected and maintained. It’s happening more frequently than many property managers and homeowners realize. Between 2003 and 2007, the Consumer Product Safety Commission reported 224,740 injuries caused by outdoor decks and porches. “What’s happening across this country is an epidemic at this point,” says Michael Beaudry, executive vice president of the North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA), adding that “in most cases if a deck... read more

How do I prepare my deck for cold weather?

Basic maintenance to prep your treated wood deck for cold weather can help ensure it will endure the cold or snowy season in great shape. Thoroughly clean the decking, posts and railings using an appropriate cleaning product. If your deck boards and deck railings are made of wood and showing some wear, consider giving them a fresh coat of stain or sealant. It’s also a good idea to check for nail heads popping up, loose or damaged boards, posts, and railings. Better to repair them now so you’re only worrying about how to enjoy your outdoor living space and not spring maintenance when the... read more

Ornate, metal vegetable markers, garden stakes and bird silhouettes add character to outdoor living area

Outdoor Essentials has added a full line of ornate vegetable markers, garden stakes and bird silhouettes to its product offering. Showcased during IGC 2011 in Chicago, these unique metal cutouts are designed for practicality and visual appeal for gardens and landscapes. About the products The rusted patina markers and garden stakes are made from laser-cut recycled metal. Each vegetable marker is welded to a 12-inch-tall metal stake and available in seven flat metal profile designs. The ornamental garden stakes are welded to 18-inch-tall metal stakes and are available in seven flat metal... read more

Updating Your Deck Railing: A small project that makes a big statement

With summer winding down and cooler weather approaching, it’s a great time to think about upgrading your treated wood or composite lumber deck. Updating your deck’s railing is one of the easiest, most versatile ways to make your outdoor living area unique and more appealing. If you’ve never really thought about the function and design of your deck railing, keep in mind a few key points: Railing is an important safety feature, especially if your deck is several feet off the ground. It’s important to maintain a code-compliant deck railing to ensure it provides adequate protection against... read more

How to install and secure a deck railing post with blocking

Blocking a treated wood deck post is critically important for making sure your wood railing, composite lumber railing or metal deck railing stays secure for the life of the deck. Blocking/bridging is installed into the side framing mainly to control lateral movement. If you have to run handrail in the direction of the joists, use blocking to create your box and bolt through the post and the blocks. The bridge will help keep the outside joist from deflecting when you lean on the handrail. Installing a post when the railing runs parallel to the joists First mark the location of the post with a... read more

Tips for accessorizing a deck on a budget

Building a deck from scratch or remodeling an existing deck with new railing? There are plenty of ways to make your wood deck or composite wood deck stand out—and it doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg.Here's a short list of cool and unique ways to make your deck area pop without breaking the bank:add unique features to railing with decorative post caps or postcoversincorporate metal or glass baluster infills to your deck railbuilt in bench seatingincorporate deck stone transitionsinstall low-voltage or solar deck lightingplace colorful plants on your deck and stairsincorporate colorful... read more

Five ways to increase comfort in your home and reduce energy cost

Seal Air Leaks Many air leaks and drafts are easy to find because they are easy to feel — like those around windows and doors. But holes hidden in attics, basements, and crawlspaces are usually bigger problems. Sealing these leaks with caulk, spray foam, or weather stripping will have a big impact on improving your comfort level and reducing utility bills. Common locations for air leaks: Wiring and plumbing entrances Recessed lighting Basement rim joists Windows and doors Electrical and gas service entrances Outdoor water faucets Where dryer vents pass through walls Turn on Ceiling Fans By... read more

How does radiant barrier reflective insulation work?

Radiant barrier foil insulation, such as Enerflex, is a reflective metalized film insulation that provides a way to reduce high HVAC energy costs. Radiant barrier insulation blocks radiant heat energy instead of absorbing it like typical insulation. A high quality radiant barrier is not affected by humidity and will continue to perform at a consistent level for many years. Radiant barriers work by reducing heat transfer of thermal radiation across the air space between the roof deck (attic ceiling) and the attic floor, where conventional insulation is normally placed. In other words... read more

Landscaping on and around your deck: Make your outdoor living area pop!

Enjoying your deck is definitely a high point of summer. But if you really want to ice the cake and put a big cherry on top, you need great landscaping to go with that awesome deck. Landscaping on and around you deck not only adds to the deck’s visual appeal, it can enhance usability. Many landscaping improvements are easy enough to be done in one weekend. Here are some deck design ideas to create the perfect environment on and around your deck: Planter post caps Made of cast stone, Deckorators’ planter post caps add the charm of flowers and greenery to a deck. Available in copper round... read more

Dallas Architect Identifies Key Factors that Constitute a Green, Sustainable Home – Promotes Radiant Barrier

Recently a highly acclaimed architectural firm in Texas published an article that helps identify ways for new and existing homeowners to make their dwelling "green friendly". Gary Gene Olp, Founder and President of GGO Architects outlines steps to becoming energy efficient. Olp and his firm promotes green and energy savings by installing a radiant barrier in the attic. Read on!Dallas - Sustainability and energy efficiency have become significant selling factors during the home-buying and home-building process. In honor of Earth Day, Gary Gene Olp, Founder and President of GGO Architects,... read more

New deck trends include low maintenance, railing accessories, deck lighting

New deck trends include low maintenance decking, unique railing and railing accessories as well as lighting options. And as the trend for enjoying customized decks and outdoor living space grows, personalized outdoor living areas are the latest in home improvement upgrades.Building or updating an existing deck isn't simply a great investment: It provides opportunities to personalize your backyard or porch and customize the look to your taste. And with many families staying home this summer thanks to high gas pricing and a recovering economy, why not build your perfect area for entertaining?By... read more

Build an outdoor sanctuary with birdbaths, stepping stones and more

When it comes to landscaping, customers want more than wood chips and plastic edging. Products from Outdoor Essentials transform ordinary lawns and gardens into appealing outdoor environments that homeowners love. Show them plenty of options, including Tiffany-style stepping stones and our newest offering—Square Tilestone jade stepping stone.Call in the songbirds with bird baths of serpentine jade. Dress up deck posts with elegant caps, also available in solar-powered versions to provide lighting after dark. Planter post caps provide a place for foliage atop any deck post. Outdoor Essentials... read more

Update your deck or patio with tropical hardwood Ipe deck tiles

Thinking about remodeling or resurfacing your deck or patio? Interlocking deck tiles are rapidly becoming one of the easiest ways to do so, especially because these modular wood tiles are able to be installed by almost anyone.How to install deck tilesStart by clearing your deck or patio of debris and furniture. If installing on an existing wood deck surface, replace any rotted or warped deck boards and make sure there are no protruding nails or screws. The surface your tiles will be installed on should be as flat and level as possible to prevent the tiles from shifting.Once your surface... read more

Abaco hardwood decking provides great looks, durability

Abaco tropical hardwood decking, from Aljoma Lumber, has a contemporary European design that features a traditional smooth finish on one face and an elegant moulded surface on the other. The moulded surface makes each board slip-resistant and cooler on the feet. Abaco has slotted sides for quick and easy installation of hidden fasteners. Use hidden fasteners designed for tropical hardwood that gap each board with the proper spacing and allow for natural expansion and contraction. By using a hidden fastener on Abaco, virtually all, pre-drilling is eliminated, making installation a breeze. The... read more

Post cap deck lights make perfect railing accents

Post cap deck lights are one of the most prominent deck enhancements available. Solar deck lighting accessories highlight the deck posts at the top and bottom of a stair rail and act as both a deck railing ornament and as a source of ambient light for composite lumber decks and treated lumber decks.Solar lighted post caps are much easier to install than wired low voltage deck lights as they do not require an electric outlet. Regardless of power source, both types of post and rail lighting help improve deck safety.Deck post cap lights are typically sold with wood, plastic or metal bases to fit... read more

Universal Forest Products is the nation's leading manufacturer and distributor of wood and wood-alternative products to the retail building materials, industrial packaging/components, manufactured housing, residential construction and commercial construction & concrete forming markets.