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

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

Can I use pressure treated lumber with The M Brace in a raised vegetable garden bed?

If you're constructing a raised vegetable garden using The M Brace raised garden bed kit, you should have no reservation about using the latest in pressure treated lumber for your side and end walls. In the last five years a new generation of pressure treated lumber was developed and is know as Micronized Copper Azole (MCA) or by brand name – MicroPro, ProWood Micro and Home Depot's WeatherShield among others. When constructing a raised garden bed with The M Brace garden bed metal brackets you should have no fear using the MCA pressure treated lumber. Because (MCA) micronized... read more

How to handle and store tropical hardwood decking

Tropical hardwood decking, such as Ipe decking and Abaco decking from Aljoma Lumber, should be stored out of direct sunlight and be allowed to acclimate and stabilize to the installation environment's humidity level prior to installing. Once Ipe or Abaco decking is delivered to a job site, be sure to keep the material off the ground by placing a few pieces of scrap lumber under the deck package. Cover the material with a tarp to protect it from the elements (sun and rain). If left uncovered, unfinished or unprotected, virtually any exotic hardwood decking may warp and split. About Abaco... read more

Increase the value of your house by adding a deck

Americans will spend nearly $141 billion on remodeling in the first half of this year (2011), according to Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies. And If you'll be among the many homeowners opting to improve, rather than relocating, you may be curious to see what renovations are likely to give you the best balance of enhanced resale value and immediate enjoyment.Whether you prefer pressure treated wood lumber or synthetic lumber, adding a deck is one of the best ways to improve resale value, expand your living space and up your enjoyment of your home environment. On average, homeowners who... 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

Popular products to consider when remodeling your deck

Whether you’re prepping your house for sale or just looking to make a change, nothing lends a splash of the new and different than remodeling or updating your deck. Real estate agents know how popular decks are with prospective buyers and few home renovations will get you a higher return on your investment dollar. And if you’re staying put, a remodeled deck breathes new life into the enjoyment of your home. If you're considering selling your home, check out one of my previous blog posts—How to make your deck and outdoor living area stand out when it's time to sell.Deck Railing IdeasConsider... read more

Deck railing options help transform your deck and outdoor living area

Transforming your deck into a one-of-a-kind outdoor living area can be as simple as updating your existing deck railing or installing unique balusters to the railing itself. When you decide to build a new composite lumber or pressure treated deck be sure to think about the type of material you desire for the railing and the style of baluster infill that will suite your needs. Deck railings are one of the most prominent parts of any deck, and today there are many unique deck rail options made from different material.Aluminum Deck RailingAluminum deck railing from Deckorators is strong, durable... read more

Make an old deck look new again. Resurface, reuse.

The easiest way to renew your pressure treated wood deck is to thoroughly clean it of dirt and debris. Also, make sure all the lumber fasteners are countersunk into the surface. Scrub rust marks and stains from the surface, then sand down any visible imperfections in the wood deck surface with a portable walk behind sander. These deck sanders make quick work when sanding wood decks and can be rented from your local equipment rental outlet.If a board's appearance can’t be revived, consider flipping the board and using the other face. If rot has set in or a plank is split, then you should... read more

Indulge your exotic side with tropical hardwood decking

When you want to create a unique look for your outdoor living space, consider tropical hardwood decking from Aljoma Lumber; it's a sure-fire way to catch some attention. Tropical hardwoods come in a multitude of species. Aljoma markets one of their tropical species as Abaco decking. Abaco shares some of the same features and characteristics as other popular hardwood choices like Ipe and Cumaru (see Abaco / Ipe comparison). Ipe and Cumaru, two durable and long lasting tropical hardwoods, help create an exotic look for your deck and outdoor living area.IpeIpe is a strong, super-durable hardwood... read more

Investing in outdoor living

For the past decade, homeowners have been investing more in their decks and outdoor living areas, adding on products like synthetic decking, fiber cement siding or new roofing. And not surprising, studies are reflecting changes to what many call investment improvements. In some areas, outdoor living improvements have matched or exceeded popular kitchen or bathroom projects. Exterior replacement projects, which peaked in 2005, have made their way to the top of the rankings; and now they occupy the majority of the top spots in terms of cost recouped. One reason is that curb appeal influence... read more

Green Versus Sustainable. What’s the Difference?

An iPod, a Lump of Coal, and Replaceable Trees If you look across all the green building standards and product-certification systems, one consensus principle that repeatedly comes up is the use of products that are “sustainable.” A sustainable product lowers pressure on the environment through the use of source materials that are renewable and/or sustainably harvested. The term “sustainably harvested” means the product, or the product’s components, are harvested in a way that doesn’t permanently deplete the source of the material, nor poison or ruin the surrounding area, nor—in detailed... read more

Safeguard your mailbox from snowplows while adding curb appeal

In wintry climates where massive snowplows patrol the streets, it seems like mailboxes are marked with a bull’s eye. At least in my neighborhood in West Michigan, mailboxes appear to be a favorite target for these super-sized snow dispensers. While plow drivers aren’t intentionally trying to dismantle your mailbox, you should consider protecting it nonetheless.   With snow and ice adding up, plows begin their early morning expedition up and down the streets scraping and blasting snow and slush out of the road and into yards and driveways. No matter how well constructed, average mailboxes on... read more

Save time and money by refacing your deck surface

Exposed decks take a beating from Mother Nature, and general wear and tear from moving outdoor furniture around, kids playing and occasionally the family pet. Whether your deck has constant sun beating down on its surface or you live in an area that typically gets a lot of rain or has harsh winters, your wood deck boards may wear faster than expected and become unsightly or even dangerous to walk on. Provided your deck structure (framework underneath decking boards) is solid and up to code, consider refacing / replanking the surface (deck boards)—It's more cost-effective and most DIYers... read more

Preventing mold and mildew growth on composite decking

Mold and mildew can be a nuisance on any exterior building surface, regardless of the material. If the conditions are right, they will spawn on wood, plastic, concrete, metal and other surfaces. Mold formation is most prevalent in consistently wet, shaded areas. Spores from the natural environment are carried by the wind and commonly land on decks surfaces. It is important to note that the appearance of mold and mildew is a function of nature, not necessarily a deficiency with any of the material on which it grows. Deck Cleaning Periodic washing with soap/detergent and water will help remove... read more

Wood Treatment Basics

We are seeing some real innovation with wood treatments these days; whether it’s wood for decking, siding, or part of the structural frame. At the root of this topic is the fact that, when left untreated or when unprotected, wood can rot. Even premium species like cedar and redwood—which are naturally decay- and rot-resistant—require treatment to extend their useful lives. Today’s wood treatments range widely from chemical treatments to heat treatments (a.k.a. “thermally modified wood”). And if you are looking for the green angle here, the simple fact that wood treatments can dramatically... read more

Lattice—a versatile deck add-on

If you have a deck or are planning on constructing a deck, then consider installing wood lattice or plastic lattice as an accent or barrier. Installing lattice on your deck is a great way to accent your outdoor living area and add privacy. Commonly used as skirting, lattice is a perfect solution for keeping pets and other animals from digging or nesting under the deck. Adding lattice to your composite lumber deck or pressure treated decking frame also allows you to create a hidden storage area and helps conceal the otherwise exposed wood deck support posts. Lattice can be used in a variety of... read more

Natural looking dock options

If you're thinking about having a new dock built or are about to replace an existing dock, then consider two popular types of decking material—natural lumber decking and composite lumber decking. Each type of dock / deck building material has it's own unique benefits, and each has passed the test of time in unforgiving elements.   Natural Lumber Decking Pressure-treated wood decking is a great option for a tighter budget. The classic look of wood gives a more rustic feel, and can be stained or painted to match virtually any color scheme. Pressure-treated decking can be notched for installation... 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.