As Product Manager for Latitudes Decking and Railing, I'm on top of composite lumber products and accessories. No really, I'm sitting on them right now. Latitudes is a leader in its category, backed by Strandex technology. It stands up to the elements while standing out from the competition.
While most homeowners take full advantage of their decks during spring, summer and fall, in the winter months, it can be out of sight and out of mind. But using your deck or porch to your advantage can give your home some seasonal flair. Here are a few festive ways to decorate your outdoor space this winter:
Garland Railing. Presents shouldn’t be the only things that get wrapped this year. Wrap your railing with garland! It’s the perfect way to add some holiday color to your deck. Plus, it’s a simple project. You can use real or fake garland and simply attach it to your railing with twine at the beginning and end of the garland rope. Make sure you space out your wrapping so it doesn’t look too crowded.
String lighting. This simple solution also adds nice ambient light in the evenings. Whether the lights blink, twinkle or flash, this project can be finished quickly and is much easier and safer than climbing a ladder to hang lights from gutters. This look is accomplished by wrapping the lights around the top rail. Light kits can be found in various lengths to avoid ending up with too many or two few lights.
Christmas Tree. Tis the season for families to pile in the car like the Griswolds and venture out for the perfect tree. But, the perfect tree often means a lot of pine needles on the floor. Using a real tree outside on a deck means you are not limited by overhead space, you don’t have a mess to worry about and trees tend to last longer in the cold weather. A second option would be to purchase an artificial tree for the indoors and a smaller live tree for your outdoor deck with decorations that will not be damaged by rain or snow.
The winter months do not have to mean the end of your deck season and these simple ideas allow year-round enjoyment of your outdoor space. If you have any other ideas, please comment on our blog. Latitudes Decking and Railing wishes everyone a safe and happy holiday season!
Click to view our "How to Clean" video
Since Halloween has passed and we're closing in on Thanksgiving, there are only a few weeks left before the weather forces us inside. One of the many important steps in winterizing your house is preparing your deck for winter.
First, remove furniture and planters from the deck because cleaning the deck at the end of the season is important to maintaining its appearance.
Once the furniture is removed, prepare the deck for cleaning by sweeping off any loose items, like leaves. Now, it's time to clean your deck. Periodically washing composite decks with soap and water eliminates surface dirt and chalk that can accumulate over time. It also prevents the buildup of pollen and other debris that allow mold and mildew to grow.
Deck cleaners usually contain sodium percarbonate and a detergent, which are effective in removing dirt and grime from deck surfaces. You will want to wet the deck surface before applying the cleaner. Use a brush with nylon bristles to scrub the surface and let it sit for 15 minutes before rinsing. A pressure washer should be used only to rinse down the deck before and after the deck cleaner is applied, never to remove stains or dirt from decking. But whether you use a pressure washer or a standard hose, be sure to thoroughly rinse off all of the deck cleaner.
Now that the deck is clean, it is ready for the cold. For further care and cleaning information or to find the proper type of snow melt for your composite decking, visit the Latitudes website and check the Care and Warranty page.
Latitudes Decking teamed up with Purina for their Beneful Dream Dog Park in Lancaster, PA which was unveiled on August 6, 2013. One of the main features is a deck in the center of the park built with Latitudes ® Captiva Decking.
This was Beneful's third Dream Dog Park contest since 2009. Each park is built using inspiration from the contest winner, and this year Angela Bauman's creativity included a large deck as the park's centerpiece. Enter: Latitudes Captiva Cedar decking, which was used for its unique wood grain pattern and resilience to stains and scratches.
Knowing how much traffic the deck would receive, the project manager and Desperate Landscapes host Jason Cameron, chose Latitudes Captiva Decking to deliver what was needed. The deck is 64' long and 25' wide with a fence down the center to separate small dogs from large. Dog owners can relax in the Adirondack chairs or control the park's water features all from the deck surface.
The park also featured Universal's ProWood Lumber for a 40' roller coaster bridge and the understructure for the composite decking.
The building of the Beneful Dream Dog Park was documented in an hour-long special of Desperate Landscapes that will air in September on the DIY network.
In honor of Bauman's four-legged playmate, Beau, the City of Lancaster renamed the half-million-dollar park, "Beau's Dream Dog Park," which has been transformed from a muddy off-leash area into an oasis for dogs and their owners.
ProWood was thrilled to be a big part of an exciting new “Dream Dog Park,” sponsored by Purina’s Beneful dog food brand in Lancaster, Pa., using ProWood® Professional Grade Lumber for many of its structures.
The park was unveiled to the public on Tuesday, August 6, 2013 as Beneful’s third Dream Dog Park project! The park, inspired by Lancaster resident Angela Bauman's 2012 contest winning entry, features an array of amusement park-themed elements. Universal Forest Products donated ProWood® for many of the wood structures in the dog park. ProWood treated lumber, which is safe for pets and people, was used throughout the dog park, including the perimeter, around all trees inside the park, for the substructure under the composite lumber deck and on the entrance pavilion. The highlight is 40-foot- long roller coaster bridge, which was built using ProWood Dura Color pressure-treated lumber. Watch video. Universal also donated Latitudes® ultra-low maintenance composite decking for the custom-built deck and dock.
In honor of Bauman's four-legged playmate Beau, the City of Lancaster renamed the half-million-dollar park “Beau's Dream Dog Park,” which has been transformed from a muddy off-leash area into an oasis for dogs and their owners.
One of the biggest criticisms of composite decking when compared to pressure-treated lumber is the price. But that might not be entirely fair when you consider the whole, long-term picture. While there is a greater cost per piece for composite material, it makes up a much lower percentage of the overall cost than you might think—because treated wood is used for the structural components.
Most contractors and homeowners deciding between composite and pressure-treated products see that a composite board can cost anywhere from three to eight times more than a piece of treated lumber. But that’s just for the deck boards; your entire project won’t be three to eight times the cost.
Let’s put the material cost into perspective. A typical 12’ x 12’ ground-level deck would need 25 twelve-foot boards to cover the deck surface. Because you will need the same understructure for a pressure-treated deck as you will for a composite deck, the difference in the grand total is only in the deck boards. The cost of materials of a 12x12 pressure-treated lumber deck project would be around $1,500. To upgrade your decking to composite would cost about an extra $500, but that investment pays for itself in the first 5 years because of the low-maintenance.
So, you can see why Latitudes Composite Decking is clearly the right way to go. The cost differences aren’t as great as you might think. Plus, you have less maintenance, less worry and guaranteed performance.
There is no better time of year to be outside enjoying your deck! And this month, grills all over the country will be fired up to serve up hotdogs, hamburgers and other summer traditions so you can enjoy great food, cold drinks and bonfires after the sun goes down. With all the use your deck will see during National Grill Month, there’s bound to be an accident with some rogue condiment, grill grease or spilled beverage. The best way to minimize damage (or avoid it entirely) is to be proactive with your choice of decking and accessories.
Latitudes Captiva and Capricorn decking products were manufactured with outdoor living in mind. Many different kinds of decking are susceptible to staining and fading including pressure-treated wood and standard composite decks. Not Latitudes products. The Captiva and Capricorn boards from Latitudes take a Strandex Core and cap it with a material that’s made from some of the most durable polymer technology available. Cleaning up messes is as simple as wetting them down with water and using a light detergent and a scrub brush to rinse them away. The surface of this deck is covered by a 25-year limited Stain and Fade warranty so your deck will look great for many gatherings to come.
The grill is the hot spot during the day but a nice fire at night always gathers a crowd and helps keep the mosquitos at bay. Fire pits, especially mobile ones, are common sights on decks of all kinds. Make sure you are using fire pits in a safe way because any fire left unattended can get out of control and cause serious damage. Latitudes Deck Stones prevent embers that jump out of the fire from damaging your beautiful deck surface. Available in Riverstone Granite or Smoke Slate, these stones can be retrofitted for any deck with 16” joist spacing! Latitudes Deck Stones also carry a Class A fire rating and a hidden fastener system to provide the high-end look and protection every deck deserves.
While you’re enjoying your deck this month, extend the sentiment of Independence Day by remembering a reason for celebration: raise a glass or say a few words in honor of our founding fathers, the Declaration of Independence, and all they did to create this great nation and the liberties its citizens enjoy. And, if you’re on a Latitudes product, you can stand tall and proud knowing that you’re on a deck made in the U.S.A.!
Deck Safety Month and a good time to inspect decks for the upcoming deck season. A thorough inspection is important: More than 40 million decks in the U.S. are older than 20 years, and deck failures and injuries are increasing.
Take advantage of Deck Safety Month by using the following tips and resources to carefully inspect your deck and make it hazard-free.
When inspecting, take time to check:
Railings and balusters
Grills and fire pits
NADRA recommends that homeowners have their decks inspected annually. See more detailed inspection tips at the NADRA website.
Be safe out there!
Now that warmer temperatures are taking hold, people are heading to their favorite outdoor spots, like the deck. Once primarily used for sunbathing, decks have grown into outdoor living spaces to work, relax, cook, dine and entertain -- day or night. And deck options have grown with them.
Here are a few basics any deck planner should consider:
Wood, composite or plastic? It’s perhaps the most important - and most difficult -- choice to make because cost, durability and maintenance needs can vary significantly. Wood can be the most affordable or the most expensive option, depending on the species. Composites and plastics can be easier to maintain. Latitudes composite decking, for example, is backed by a 25-year stain and fade warranty.
Here's a simple overview of how a few popular decking materials stack up.
Tradition says wood decks get wood balusters and composite decks get composite balusters, but it doesn't need to be that way. Here are a few popular alternatives and reasons why mixing materials might be a better choice:
Lighting and other accessories
Deck owners can enjoy their decks well into the evening by adding solar or low-voltage lighting to posts, railings and steps. With products like the Deckorators lighting line, lighting is more than functional; it adds stylish accents that can be enjoyed during the day. For example, Deckorators offers Tiffany-style lighted glass post caps, as well as non-lit choices such as post cap planters.
Building codes and zoning
Although most of the options described above should be permissible, check with the local building authority to see if there are restrictions and approvals to consider.
To get a better sense of how various materials and accessories look and mix, try the Latitudes's and Deckorators' Deck Visualizers. They are simple online tools for creating a customized, virtual deck.
Latitudes® decking and railing products, will unveil an all-new Latitudes decking product at the International Builders Show in Las Vegas.: Latitudes Wave™, which will offer many of the superior features of other Latitudes decking lines, at a more affordable price.
Like superior Latitudes products, Latitudes Wave™ features Strandex technology that’s extruded with a contour profile and slotted edges to be used with the Equator hidden fastening system. Latitudes Wave is available in Gray and Walnut, and opens the door to homeowners who want the beauty and endurance of a wood-composite product with simple elegance of a hidden fastener system, all at an affordable price.
Also at IBS, Latitudes is to launch a new color for its elegant Latitudes Captiva™ decking: Willow, which joins Gray, Cedar and Walnut in the Captiva palette. It will be available in 12’, 16’, and 20’ slotted lengths with solid boards available for use as perimeter boards or stair treads. Captiva decking features Strandex technology and is capped with an ultra-low-maintenance surface. That means Captiva delivers exceptional resistance to fading, water damage, staining and scratching — leaving a smooth, beautiful surface on your deck. Plus, it’s backed by a 25-year limited warranty.
Also at IBS, the Company will unveil 12-inch fascia boards to match all Latitudes decking options. These boards feature Strandex composition and, because they match all Latitudes colors, they eliminate the need to paint or stain a deck’s wood structure.
“By listening to our customers and the consumer, we continually enhance our popular Latitudes decking products to provide even more options for creating outdoor living environments that complement every look and style at many price points, and that meet the distinctive tastes of homeowners and designers,” said Senior Product Manager Chris Camfferman.
Visit Latitudes decking and railing at booth #1431 at the International Builders Show, January 22-24, 2013.
Temperatures in many parts of the country have been quite warm this fall; if this trend continues, your family could be treated to bonus time outdoors together over the long Thanksgiving weekend. So get ready to throw on a sweatshirt or heavy coat if necessary, and be sure to take advantage of the last pleasant days of autumn while you still can.
Try a few new ideas for outside fun this holiday. You never know: you could start new family traditions!
- Let the kids create the Thanksgiving centerpiece – If your area hasn’t yet experienced a hard frost, chances are good your landscaping or deck planter boxes are still intact enough to offer a surprisingly beautiful and unique centerpiece for your holiday table. Send the kids into your yard to hunt for remaining flowers and herbs, tall grasses, interesting looking weeds, strangely shaped sticks and thin branches from bushes. You’ll be delighted by what their child’s-eye finds beautiful and inspiring. Take their offerings and bind the stems together with twine, then find a spot to hang the bouquet upside down to dry until Thanksgiving. While you’re busy with meal and house preparations, let the kids arrange their dried foliage in a low vase for your holiday table. They’ll be so proud of their one-of-a-kind contribution to the festivities.
- Play a friendly game of football – Nothing’s more American than passing the pigskin around in the yard.
- Let the lawn games begin! – Corn toss, bocce, croquet or ladderball are fun for all ages, and many players can participate — an added advantage on a holiday when friends or family may be visiting.
- Shoot a few baskets in the driveway – Instead of H-O-R-S-E, why not G-R-A-V-Y? Play a game of your favorite Thanksgiving dish.
- Have an outdoor fire – Enjoy your pie on your deck around your fire pit (sitting atop Latitudes Deck Stones for safety!). Get cozy with pillows and blankets, then take turns sharing what you’re each thankful for — a beautiful way to end a special day.
Though the nights may be getting chilly, autumn is a special time to get outside with your family and enjoy your deck in a whole new way: in the dark.
Kids can’t resist exciting, outdoor experiences past sundown and on the safety of your own deck with all the conveniences of your house still available — grabbing more blankets, making hot chocolate, etc. — nightfall allows you to snuggle up around a fire or a movie before the clock strikes the school-year bedtime.
Roasted hotdogs and s’mores toasted over your fire pit — Latitudes Deck Stones protecting your deck, of course — will create happy memories for everyone. After dinner, dressed warmly, cozied up in blankets or sleeping bags and everyone surrounded by comfy pillows or snuggled into soft chairs, an outdoor movie caps off your special evening.
· Hang a sheet on the side of the house or over a clothesline. Or, get fancy and buy or rent a movie screen or a giant inflatable screen.
· Watch old home movies on either an old-school 16mm movie projector or an LCD or DLP projector hooked up to your laptop or DVD player. These can be bought, rented for about $40/day, or even checked out from your local library
· Not tech savvy? How about simply moving your television outdoors and plugging it in with an extension cord? Even gathering around a laptop can work!
· Have snacks. Popcorn, caramel apples, hot chocolate, warm apple cider, a candy corn/salted peanut combo, etc. are all fun, seasonal treats.
Updating your deck to enhance its appeal doesn't mean replacing the entire structure. A few easy steps and simple additions to refresh your deck’s appearance can give your outdoor space a new personality.
Clean the entire structure
When is the last time you cleaned your deck? Even if you don't use your deck frequently, nature's elements leave layers of dust, dirt and grime that detract from the appearance. The easiest way to clean a deck is with soap and water. Once it dries, you'll be amazed at how fresh and clean your outdoor space appears. For deeper cleaning and more detailed information on cleaning both composite and pressure treated decks, see links below.
Update railings and balusters
If your deck structure is still in good shape, but you want to add a new look with a bonus element of safety, consider updating the railings and balusters. Deckorators railings come in a variety of styles and finishes for any railing need, as well as a selection of balusters to suit your personal taste. From classic designs that feature beautifully bent metal to glass balusters that provide an uninterrupted view of the outdoors, there are many options to choose from.
Add post caps
Decorative post caps are one of the first things people notice about an outdoor deck or patio, but many people forget about them when designing a deck. Why not upgrade your current outdoor space with some elegant post caps from Deckorators? For example, copper post caps provide the finishing touch a deck needs and forms a wonderful patina over time. Glass post caps provide a sophisticated look with Tiffany-style glass. Solar post caps provide visual appeal during the day, and soft lighting at night for impressive evening entertaining.
Light the night
If your deck doesn't have adequate light, you're missing out on some of the most beautiful times to be outdoors - when the sun goes down. Watch the stars, have a bonfire or simply enjoy the cool fresh air when you add low voltage lighting solutions from Deckorators. With a variety of options to choose from, each features LED lighting, making the system energy efficient while softly illuminating stairways and railings for both style and safety.
Incorporate flowers and seasonal items
One of the reasons more people are expanding their outdoor space is to bring them closer to nature. Whether your deck opens up to the mountains or overlooks a concrete jungle, you can add a natural element with fall plantings and decor. By potting plants such as mums and hanging window boxes for other fall foliage, you'll add visual appeal and a calming natural element no matter where you live. Incorporating pumpkins, various squash or gourds, and dried floral wreaths can add a pop of color for the fall season. You can view ideas like this on our Pinterest pages for Deckorators and Latitudes.
Deck care and cleaning links:
Latitudes Decking Care & Cleaning
Fall is the Time to Clean Your Deck
How to Clean Latitudes Composite Decking and Railing in the Spring
Maintenance Plan for your ProWood Project
You've decided to add a new composite deck to your home. A wise investment. Composite decking, such as natural-looking materials from Latitudes Decking and Railing , brings visual appeal to your home and expands your living space. The first step is to decide what design best fits your use. While the size of your house and yard, along with your budget, will impact your design options, there are still a multitude of choices to be made during this important planning phase.
Basic Composite Deck Designs
If you have a smaller backyard, a limited budget or simply prefer a minimalist approach to outdoor spaces, you'll likely choose a basic deck design. Square and rectangular designs still rein as the most popular options. The most common dimensions include a 10-by-10-foot square or a 10-by-14-foot rectangle. Both shapes provide adequate space for basic outdoor entertaining and relaxation, plus they can be adjusted larger or smaller depending on your needs.
Custom Shapes Using Composite Materials
For homeowners who want to invest in a more personalized look, a custom design is a good option. The sky is the limit when it comes to shapes, sizes and styles. From incorporating multiple levels, grill corners and outdoor kitchen spaces, covered areas to provide shade and even pools or water features, modern custom decks add value to a home and are impressive to guests as well as potential buyers.
Composite Deck Floor Patterns
While the shape of a deck is a major consideration, another factor that adds to the look and feel of your outdoor space is the pattern in which the composite decking is laid. If you want to go beyond the basic horizontal or vertical, consider a more visually appealing pattern such as herringbone, hexagonal, V-shaped or sunburst. Even a basic deck shape can appear upscale when the wood is laid in an interesting pattern.
When designing a composite deck, you have a broad spectrum of options. Perhaps you want a basic deck with a water feature, or maybe you want an elaborate deck with an intricate inlay pattern. To experiment with different designs and help solidify your vision, visit the Latitudes Deck Visualizer. The key is to decide what's right for you, your home and the investment you want to make.
Boaters and folks who live on the water — whether it’s an ocean, lake or river — know better than any of us the toll the elements take on almost anything left outdoors unprotected. And structures, such as docks, intended to be wet most of the time, don’t last long unless the proper materials are chosen to begin with. So when residential or business owners invest in something as substantial as a new dock, they want durability, sustainability, low-maintenance, and above all, longevity — ensuring years of easy use and enjoyment.
With Latitudes composite decking and composite marine decking, you’ll find the perfect product for your new dock. Whether it’s for personal, commercial or municipal use — a standard dock or a floating dock — whatever you need, we have you covered.
The question of which Latitudes composite material is best suited to your needs depends on what type of water you live near and what kind of dock you require. Consider the following recommendations based on your particular need.
● Seacoast residents are most likely to be marina-users. Latitudes Marine Decking is the best choice for marinas because of its superior water- and UV-resistance, as well as slip-resistant finish. Marine deck boards are a robust 1-1/4" thick by 5-7/16" wide, designed for 24" on-center joist spans common to marine construction. This makes them ideal for marina use where these permanent docks that are not taken in and out of the water each season.
● Lakefront property owners with private docks would do well to use one of Latitudes standard decking products, such as Capricorn composite board. This decking is fortified with the same proven Strandex technology used in all Latitudes products, making it a diverse, attractive, user-friendly product for home docks. Proven not to splinter, split or rot, Latitudes Capricorn is barefoot-friendly and provides long-lasting performance with no sealing, painting or staining required. This decking is available featuring the patented Equator® Hidden Deck Fastener, uniquely designed to deliver automatic, consistent alignment of deck boards for superior results year after year.
● Homeowners living along a river or tidal area where the water levels continuously rise and fall should consider a floating dock using Latitudes Intrepid boards. Floating docks are typically built by constructing the underframe first, which is then secured to a series of 50 gallon plastic barrels running the length of the dock. Latitudes deck boards would be installed as the top walking surface. With the dock anchored to shore, piers made of pressure-treated lumber should be installed every 12’ to prevent drift. The dock should then be attached to each pier by a durable, loose-fitting ring that allows the dock to move up and down with the motion of the water and the changing level of the water.
The ultra-low maintenance of Latitudes composite board requires washing just twice a year — once at the beginning of season and once at the end — to avoid the buildup of debris. (See previous blog on How to Clean Latitudes Composite Decking and Railing in Spring) Plus, Latitudes decking comes with a 10-year limited warranty for commercial applications and a 25-year limited warranty for residential applications. The Capricorn and Captive boards carry an additional 25-year limited warranty against staining and fading. This give a Latitudes dock a life expectancy that far exceeds any typical wood dock. Select the Latitudes composite board best suited to your needs, and you’ll have years of relaxing, low-maintenance waterfront living in your future.
There’s no better time than the present to prepare your deck so you can be the grill king or queen of the neighborhood. Consider these tips to set up the ultimate barbecue space while safely enhancing your outdoor environment.
First, decide what type of grill you want. Grills come in many shapes and sizes. Propane is the most popular for deck grilling, but depending on your preferences, you may like charcoal, electric or even a smoker. Modern grills have many features to choose from, including multiple tiers, side burners, prep space and even mini-fridges. Whether buying a new grill or rolling out the one you already have, you can set up your deck with the ultimate grilling space.
Your deck needs protection and your cooking space needs defined boundaries. Once you know the grill size, you'll want to install a solid foundation for it on your deck using Latitudes Deck Stones. These stones are great for virtually any area on the deck and are well suited for outdoor kitchens, grilling spaces and raised fire pits. Available in durable 16-inch-square granite or slate tiles, deck stones are interlocking and do not require mortar.
When deciding on the configuration, make sure to leave adequate space between the grill and any combustible objects. For example, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends grilling at least 10 feet away from your house or any building. This will reduce the chance of an accidental fire.
Once you have your space established and your grill in place, it's time to light it up. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for lighting the grill. If you have a propane grill, be sure to check for leaks regularly. Simply apply a light soap and water solution to the gas tank hose. If bubbles appear, seek professional maintenance.
After you finish grilling your tasty creations, it's important to clean up the grill space. After the grill has cooled, scrub the grates with a wire brush and wipe down the external metal. If you have any food that was dropped onto your deck, it's easy to rinse away with water because the Latitudes Deck Stones are self-draining. Clean up is easy, and you'll be ready to enjoy the next beautiful summer day on your deck, grilling with family and friends.
It's August already, and the first week of the month is National Simplify Your Life week. We thought it would be a great time to announce our new Lifestyle Blog to be introduced this month with our new blogger, Denise Cripps. We already share stories around decking, construction, energy savings and more, but thought we could round it out with the addition of some lifestyle stories on how to enjoy these things and how they may affect your everyday life or style perspective.
To give you a taste of what's to come, Denise wrote the following story in honor of National Simplify Your Live Week. Hopefully, there's a tip or two in here that you'll find useful and you'll come back soon to visit her new blog. Enjoy!
Have you heard? It's National Simplify Your Life Week!
Then perhaps your life could use a dose of simplification because you're obviously too busy to be aware of news as important as this.
You may be wondering: what does one do in honor of National Simplify Your Life Week?
You give yourself a break. Lessen your stress by lowering your expectations of what you can accomplish this week. Try, for a change, not to push yourself to the absolute brink of what's humanly possible while clinging frantically to the last fraying strands of your sanity. That's not good for anyone.
Instead, sit down for just a minute each day and do nothing but breathe. Soak up the moment and try to connect with yourself. Close your eyes and notice what you hear, both near and far away. What sensations do you feel against your skin? What scents are on the breeze? You'll be amazed by the sensory input the world sends you every second that you automatically block out.
And, just like your mother always said, "GO TO BED!" Shoot for 10 pm. After just two or three nights of seven to nine hours of sleep, see if you feel better throughout your whole day. And once you're thinking a bit more clearly, consider what you can do to lighten your household duties and family responsibilities this week. Push some things out on your to-do list that can be done next week instead.
Now, reschedule a few events so your family can sit down to dinner together more than once or twice. A fun, healthy and simple dinner is grilled shish kabobs. Prepare a few skewers with meat and veggies and a few others with fruit. Start a little brown rice simmering on the stovetop for a healthy hit of whole grains, and your family will soon be enjoying the food pyramid on a stick!
Nab more family time when you enlist the help of the kids to prep the kabobs. For those old enough to safely wield a knife, cube your family's favorite meats or use whole shrimp, then chop the veggies you like best such as tomatoes, mushrooms, bell peppers, zucchini or summer squash. For the fruit kabobs, try pineapple, peaches and strawberries. When the prep work is done, form an assembly line to skewer your meal onto the sticks. Younger kids will love making patterns with the food shapes and colors and they'll be excited to eat what they've helped "cook".
When fully assembled, take everything out to your grill (yup, grill the fruit, too!) and dinner will soon be served. Cleanup will be minimal in your kitchen and even easier outdoors. Drips or spills on your deck can be rinsed away with water, especially if you've installed a foundation of Latitudes Deck Stones beneath your grill. These 16" square granite or slate tiles snap into place for easy installation, then anything that drops onto them just rinses away.
After dinner, make time to relax together. Light the dusk with Deckorators Low Voltage Lighting products so board games, cards or yard games can go into the night; or roast marshmallows in your fire bowl which can also be placed on Latitudes Deck Stones to protect your deck boards from any intense heat.
Are you thinking to yourself, "Simplifying my life sounds great, but how can I actually make this happen?" Baby steps. It's only a goal and it's only for a week, so if you try even one or two things and you like the results, see if you can keep it going. And if not this week, plan ahead a bit and declare a different week your Simplify Your Life Week. If you do, you're sure to be shocked by how much calmer and more connected to yourself and your family you'll feel.
It’s that time of year when homeowners are lured outside by the warm, sunny weather. Is your outdoor space ready to be enjoyed to the fullest? If your deck or patio needs updating, catching up on the top design innovations and trends will help you create an inviting area that will add value to your home investment.
This year’s leading trends focus on blending functionality with beauty to construct a stylish and usable space that requires little maintenance. To create the best outdoor space on the block, consider these popular ideas for your home.
Decorative post caps
A big trend in decking is beautification – taking your functional space and adding stylish elements that produce visual appeal. One easy way to incorporate this trend is by installing post caps. Mounted at the highest point on the railing, post caps are one of the most prominent features of any deck or patio. Deck and fence post caps like Deckorators VersaCaps give a polished, upscale look for your outdoor space. These one-size-fits-all caps have nested inserts that are compatible with wood, composite and vinyl posts, making installation simple. They come in a variety of colors and many are available with a built-in solar light. These unique post embellishments are sure to fit your color palette and will enhance your overall outdoor design aesthetic.
Corner joints can separate over time, creating unsightly gaps. If you're looking for an easy way to spruce up your current deck, consider adding decorative fascia corners. Simple and unique, decorative fascia corners are an elegant way to adorn deck skirting and cover corner joint connections. Deckorators also offers two black powder-coated fascia corner designs - ridge and leaf - that install easily with screws. Fascia corners are an easy way to capture your own personal style while complementing your home's architecture.
Incorporating lighting into your deck area is a big trend because it extends the time you are able to spend in your outdoor space. It also adds an element of safety in a visually pleasing manner. Look for solar powered lights to continue to be popular - you'll find this sun-powered option on numerous outdoor items such as string lights and fountains. Recessed deck lights are another popular lighting option - perfect for stairs because they softly illuminate steps once the sun has gone down.
Furnishing outdoor space is essential for creating a relaxing, comfortable environment, but it is also a big investment. That’s why more people are looking for multifunctional options that provide a variety of benefits. For example an outdoor sectional can serve as a large couch or be separated for multiple sitting areas. A small table serves double duty when it opens for hidden storage. An outdoor umbrella with solar lights provides shade during the day and soft light at night for easy all-day entertaining.
Composite lumber decking
If it's time to replace your whole deck, you might want to consider using composite lumber decking in your new design. Composite decking continues to grow in popularity due to its low maintenance and durability. Today's composite decking is much different than past options because the designs closely mimic the natural look of wood. Latitudes composite decking, for example, features a more natural-looking surface with a realistic grain pattern available in a variety of colors. Plus it's backed by a 25-year stain and fade warranty, so it's guaranteed to look great on your home for a long time,
making it a wise investment.
By incorporating these top trends not only will you have a great outdoor space this year, but for many years to come.
With temperatures on the rise, does your mind often wander to the sunny days of spring? Maybe you long for the activities only warm weather can provide, such as outdoor barbecues, sharing ice cream with the kids, or watching the sunset from your favorite Adirondack chair. Many of these cherished activities center around one area of the home: the deck.
If your house doesn't have a low maintenance composite lumber deck, or perhaps the old wood deck you have leaves something to be desired, now is the perfect time to take action and make a plan. That way, when warm weather arrives, you're ready to start building and can enjoy every moment outdoors.
If you're not quite sure what your dream deck should look like, you can find inspiration by looking through photo galleries of different decks. Explore the treated lumber decking and composite lumber decking photo galleries and deck railing images to see a sampling of the options that are available.
For the past couple years, Deckorators has held deck design contests, drawing entries from across the country from both builders and DIYers. Submissions for those contests can be viewed on the Deckorators Flickr page for even more idea generation, as well as motivation to enter your new deck into this year’s contest.
Additions to Latitudes Composite Decking and Railing products and Deckorators deck railing and deck railing accessories products for 2012 have been added online, so there are plenty of new things to incorporate into your final dream deck design.
Periodic washing with soap and water is necessary to remove surface dirt and chalk that accumulate on the surface of a composite deck. This will also prevent the build-up of pollen and debris that can cause mold and mildew growth. Pressure washers should be used for wetting and rinsing only. Pressure washers should not be used to “blast-off” soiling agents; attempting to do so can drive the dirt deeper into the material. Test on an inconspicuous area before washing the entire deck.
Basic Deck Cleaning Agents:
Deck wash/cleaners usually contain sodium percarbonate and a detergent, which is effective on normal dirt and grime and bleaches out mold and mildew stains. Oxalic acid cleaners are effective on rust stains from metal furniture. Commercial degreasers contain propylene glycol, sodium hydroxide, and various detergents for removing grease and oil stains.
Spot removers/thinners can be used sparingly on particularly stubborn grease or oil stains but should be washed off quickly with water, as it will attack the grain pattern. They normally include petroleum distillates, xylene, methanol, acetone, or other organic solvents.