Archive for the ‘Home Improvement’ Category

Tigerwood Dock

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Do it right the first time. Building a dock, which will be exposed to water and weather on a regular basis, requires careful planning of the construction and material choices to use. Docks are naturally difficult to construct because of the water surrounding them and pilings to which they  attach. This is why building a dock right the first time is so important. If you choose the best materials the first time around, then you can rest easy knowing it will outlast inferior materials. You will avoid costly and incessant repairs year after year. If you invest more on your dock the first time around, but it lasts twice as long and you do not spend your spring and summer every year on nagging repair work, then you are much better off. Time is money; free time is invaluable!  Save yourself the headache and do it right the first time. In addition to  the benefit of enjoying longer-lasting materials,, these materials also are much more beautiful.. Tigerwood is just such a superior choice for this application. Tigerwood’s density makes it an ideal choice material for marine applications. It will outlast softwoods, even pressure treated, by leaps and bounds. You can see from the pictures below how much more beautiful it is than a lower quality pine or pressure treated deck. Aside from its beauty, you will enjoy Tigerwoods integrity as it will outlast inferior materials two fold. It also provides a safer walking surface for tender feet as a result of its tight grain and resistance to warping and splintering.

Majestic Tigerwood Deck on Texas Lake copy

tigerwood dock

Gazebo Vs. Pergola

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

What is the difference between a Gazebo and a Pergola? Maybe you know the difference but are trying to decide which you prefer for your home. While both offer a stunning edition to your outdoor living area, they possess slightly different characteristics  that impact the lifestyle and use of your new addition. Historically, the gazebo was commonly mentioned in Chinese and Persian literature. Gazebos  are commonly seen today in England as well and date back as far as the late 1800′s. Gazebos  generally have fully roofed tops and open sides. Gazebos offer more protection from rain and sun than pergolas. Gazebos are commonly built with an octagonal design and  a raised deck in the center. Benches around the inside of a gazebo and screens for the sides are simple enhancements to make your living space more comfortable and to keep pesky insects away..

Pergolas developed around the same era and, like gazebos, some built in the 1800’s still exist today The  word “pergola” comes from the Latin word “pergula” which meant “lecture room, school with protruding roof with vines.”. Pergolas often extend from one building to another and are closely related to gardening as many pergolas provide a path for vines to grow along. Pergolas are generally less robust then gazebos and only provide limited concealment from sun and rain. Although they could, pergolas do not normally have a deck constructed below like the gazebo. Lattice is an inexpensive solution to create a perforated canopy on top of the pergola. The construction of a modern pergola that most directly comes to mind is a four post style with outer beams and cross members in the center. Along a poolside or over a green and meticulously managed outdoor living space are two of the most beautiful locations to construct a new pergola. Some are constructed of wrought Iron, some of brick or concrete and some of wood. Wood is the most common and is a green alternative to other building materials. Below are several pictures of gazebos and pergolas.


ipe pergola





Top 10 Outdoor Room Design Ideas

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

Top 10 Outdoor Room Design Ideas


One of the hottest trends in home decorating lately is the outdoor room.  An outdoor room provides an ideal location to enjoy fresh air, cool breezes, and pleasant conversation with family and friends.  Sun porches, patios, and balconies make great starting points but a hidden room tucked away in a quiet spot in the garden is a treasure, too.  Explore these top 10 outdoor room design ideas to discover ways to bring the indoors out at the place you call home.


1 — Outdoor Dining



People have enjoyed dining al fresco for ages but it’s only been recently that we started creating very well-appointed dining areas outside.  Every outdoor dining area will have table and chairs, of course, but some come with complete outdoor kitchens now, too.  An umbrella cover over the dining table keeps the sun at bay for mid-day dining and creates a cozy canopy for entertaining under the stars.  Outdoor dining’s not just about picnics anymore.


2 — Screened-In Porch



A screened-in porch is not entirely outside but it’s not entirely a part of the home’s interior, either.  This peaceful retreat combines the best of both worlds and can be as exposed to Mother Nature as desired.  Since it’s protected from the elements, feel free to decorate elaborately but do stay mindful that dampness and temperature extremes will have an effect on upholstery, linens, wood furniture, and other delicate furnishings.


3 — Rustic and Cozy Porch



No screen required for a rustic and cozy porch like this one.  Furnish an open-air porch with things that will stand up to whatever the wind blows in.  A few comfy chairs for friendly conversation and a table or two to hold a good book and a glass of wine are all that’s really needed.


4 — Garden Shed Oasis



Turn your garden shed into a peaceful oasis by extending it on one side to accommodate garden furniture and container plants.  Make sure the shed has a door to close off the work housed inside so the mind can relax and escape every care while thinking of nothing at all.


5 — Hideaway in the Woods



Escape even further with a garden retreat built into the back of the garden.  Make it a library and reading room or an artist’s studio.  Or a workshop.  Fill it with music and crank it up loud, knowing you’ve got enough privacy that volume won’t annoy others.  Install a hot tub or Jacuzzi.  The possibilities are endless for a hideaway in the woods.  Once its reason for being is determined, enclose it as much as need be or leave it open and airy.


6 — Watch the Clouds Roll By



Install a hammock in the yard somewhere, crawl in, and watch the clouds roll by.  Or the moon and the stars.  The weightlessness of a hammock makes it almost impossible to resist the temptation of a good nap, like sleeping on a cloud.  Careful, though; hammocks can be habit-forming.


7 — Terrace with a View



Turn a balcony into a lush, plant-filled terrace with garden furniture arranged to take full advantage of a breathtaking view or fiery sunset.  A balcony off the bedroom provides a tranquil way to face a new day, cup of coffee in hand as the sun rises.  Arrange garden furniture, plants, and screens for added privacy.

8 — Balcony Basics



Opulence can be a nice place to visit but some people prefer elegant simplicity for everyday living.  To relax after a long busy day without a lot of gardening or tidying up to do, a few simple pieces of comfortable garden furniture provides the ideal setting to escape life’s hustle and bustle on a quiet, private balcony.  Stick to high-quality basics of good design to create a serene setting and let the wonders of nature chase your cares away.


9 — Tea Time in the Garden



Garden enthusiasts love getting their hands dirty but they also enjoy time to sit back and survey the fruits — and flowers — of their labors.  Create a simple spot in the midst of the garden to sit back, observe the scene, and figure out what to plant next.  Tea time in the garden is a most inviting event when a few simple pieces provide a cozy, colorful place for contemplation.


10 — Pool Time



A private swimming pool of any size is a backyard delight.  Surround it with water-resistant furniture and umbrellas to block the sun.  Include tables to hold food and drink since nothing seems to work up an appetite quite like a good swim does.  Include some deck chairs for sunbathing and outdoor storage to keep towels and sunscreen handy.


An outdoor room of any style is a delight during the daytime and can be equally enjoyable after dark.  Be sure to have plenty of lighting situated where it enhances the mood and provides just enough light to keep after-dark enjoyment free of accidents.  Be sure to plant some white flowers around your outdoor room, too.  White flowers pop to life in the moonlight when more vibrantly colored blooms fade into shadow.


Author bio: Rebecca is an author and blogger from London. He often writes about outdoor entertainment and how outdoor furniture, garden benches, patio furniture & sun loungers can create the perfect environment.

Building Green Recourses: Homes Interior



Wainscoting with Ipe

Monday, November 26th, 2012

We always associate this dense hardwood with decks, pergolas – you know, outdoorsy things. Joe, it ain’t so. Ipe (EE-pay) is also a perfect material for use inside the house. For instance, wainscoting. And wainscoting is what?


The dictionary defines wainscoting as “A facing or paneling, usually of wood, applied to the walls of a room.” Yeah, right. That helps a lot. We could write a couple thousand words explaining the embellishment, but why, when we could simply tell it with a few pictures. Don’t be shocked if you already knew the look even though you didn’t know the word.

You get it now.

Wainscoting on a Weekend with Your Lover

Not so fast, Spunky. First you want to test the wall you’re going to be adding this sweet feature. Ipe is hard and heavy. If the stuff you’re covering is weak, you may need to extract that part of the substructure with at least a ½ inch of strand board. But let’s assume that everything’s A-O.K.

You can wainscot high-or-low, but mostly you’ll find it installed to the surface below 60-inches in height. Anyway, whatever tickles your fancy (whatever “your fancy” means) you’ll want to mark-up the wall at the appropriate heights every-so-often, ensuring that everything’s level. If your floor is crooked, you’ll need to account for that when snipping the ipe.

Ready to launch? On the backside of the hardwood, zigzag a fat series of streaks using whatever adhesive was recommended by your lumber-guy. Push the slat on the wood and immediately remove it. Let the wall and the wood rest apart for about 3-minutes. Then press ‘er back on the surface.

Why in the Blessed Mother of God’s name would you do this? Regular old adhesive needs a little air to stick the ipe to the wall.

Since you can clamp the hardwood to the surface, tap a finishing nail to the top and the bottom of each slat of wood. Don’t worry, as long as you hammer them close to the upper and bottom parts of the ipe, you’ll end up covering them with the cap and the baseboard.

Start at one corner and build out.

Plug in your table saw again to slice your ipe to a widths of 6-inches. Rip enough for the baseboards. These babies you’ll nail into the wood.

As for the cap and the apron, rip a 3-inch wide strip. Make sure you maintain a level install along the top edge. For the cap, same process.

The last part is to either paint or varnish the wood. With ipe wood, neither is recommended. A poly coat is the best. Did we mention that you should do this before you start the project?

Our bad.

Add a Roof to Your Deck

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

The invitation read: “We’re having a wine tasting party this Saturday. Meet us on our deck at 3 PM.” The problem is the crackers are getting soggy, the cheese is becoming gooey and the wine is watered down. No, your hosts aren’t psychopaths. They just didn’t anticipate that the weather was going to turn terrible.

Rain can put a damper on any plans that involve your deck. There is a way out, though. Build a roof over the outside space. What we’re going to do is give you a way to keep some of the wetter elements of Mother Nature off you and your friends.

Before you begin to assemble the stuff you’ll need to create this thing, you need to find out what the building codes are in your area. There’s also the off-chance that you’ll require a permit and pay for an inspection after the thing has been erected.

Now That You’re Legal

Let’s head to the tool shed and the Big Box Hardware Store to pick up what we need to have on hand to do the deed:

  • Screwdriver
  • Hammer
  • Wrench
  • Electric saw
  • Tape measure
  • Plywood
  • 2-inch by 4-inch boards
  • 4-inch by 4-inch posts
  • Metal flashing
  • Metal corner brackets
  • Tin roofing
  • Wood screws
  • Roofer’s nails
  • Lag bolts
  • Roofing paper

What are the dimensions of your deck?  Transfer that information to the 2-inch by 4-inch boards. Cut a pair of side pieces and a couple of end pieces. Make sure the end ones are about a quarter-inch shorter than the deck’s width, as they’ll be nailed to the edges of the side panels. Keep cutting. You’re going to collect as many plywood panels as you need to cover the surface of what will becomes the deck’s roof.

Put the two-by-fours on a flat surface to form a box. Bring out the wood screws and metal brackets to connect this part together.

Going back to the saw, cut some more 2-inch by 4-inch boards. These will be employed to add support to the frame. Rule: Create one joist (connected to the inside of the pieces on the side) every two feet.

Grab a pair of 4-inch by 4-inch post. Cut them to be the same height as the roof of your house. For the other two, cut them about a foot shorter. This is to give the roof a slight decline so rain can run-off the structure. Use the lag bolts to connect the taller posts to your house.

You’ll need an extra set of hands for this part: Lift the frame of the new roof to rest on the corner posts. Connect the frame using the lag bolts. In place, screw the plywood panels to the frame.

Roll-out the roofing paper, attaching it to the plywood with roofer’s nails.

Almost done. Hammer down the tin roofing material. Marry that with metal flashing to the roof of your home.

It’s now time to send out those invitations to friends. You’re going to do much better than host a frou-frou wine and cheese dealie. Your buddies will be guests for some beer and brats.

Ipe Siding

Monday, October 15th, 2012

Mention ipe and most folks who are into hardwoods will immediately conjure up a nice looking ipe decking or flooring that rarely scuffs. There’s another use for the trumpet tree. Siding for your house. This elegant lumber is not just one of the hardest woods known to humanity; it takes a stain to further enhance its luxurious look.

Choosing this material to install a deck, connoisseurs find its near indestructibility a necessity because of the ravages set up by Mother Nature. Since siding is likewise an exterior material, ipe fits right in. If you were under the impression that you had to use vinyl or another wood like cedar, stuff from the Tabebuia tree is practically maintenance-free after it’s been installed.

While most folks would think that a natural resource that’s plucked from a rainforest, like ipe, would not be the first choice of environmentalists, they’re wrong. Ipe is renewable as a resource. Because of more growers, harvesters and consumers heightened awareness, the industry has become more responsible. As demand for ecologically-positive wood expands, the marketplace has moved toward sustainable forestry practices. As a consumer, just make sure when you purchase ipe wood you look for a seal that tells you the product has been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). This group has the support of organizations like the World Wildlife Federation and Greenpeace.

Using ipe for siding lets you put-up a very rich-looking rainscreen cladding. What’s that?

Rainscreen cladding is when you install a second, outer skin to the structure. Siding. The ipe acts as a barrier to keep out water. It also gives to another layer of thermal insulation. Between the two, the actual foundation is blocked and protected. Moisture doesn’t enter any unintended openings because the rainscreen lets-off the pressure, since it’s placed as an outside panels to the structure. That means there’s nothing pushing the water through any joints.

Roll Call

  • Employing an ipe cladding system will increase the lifespan of the original structure. Check out some of the older churches in Europe. You’ll find that even though some are 500-to-600 years old, if they used rainscreen technology, they’re still standing.
  • With that in mind, since ipe is on-the-scene, it’s much more cost-effective in the long haul over other alternative cladding materials. It rarely needs to be replaced.
  • As we mentioned above, ipe lumber is sustainable. Just make sure you purchase the product from responsible growers. Look for evidence that the wood has the backing of the FSC.
  • Installing ipe, you can rest assured that you’re not going to experience warping or bulging as the decades roll-on.
  • Face it. Ipe is simply the prettiest and nearly the hardest wood on this planet. Looking for a stylish solution, three letters: Ipe.

Super Guide to Hardwood Flooring – Part 2

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

Recently we talked about some of the varieties other than ipe, jatoba and tigerwood. These three choices for flooring are among the hardest, most durable and beautiful wood surfaces you can get.

Let’s drill down even further and get into finishes you can apply to your new hardwood floor. Get this treatment pre-finished which will lop-off hours of labor. It also severely cuts-down on failure because you’re not applying it. Not to say you’re a dum-dum, but … well, you know.

O.K. non-dum-dum, we’ll first hone-in on the two types of hardwood finishes: Penetrating or surface:

  • Surface Finishes.
    These treatments always win the popularity contest. You’ll start by carefully putting on the desired stain followed by a coat of varnish or polyurethane to seal the transaction. You can pick from this quartet of choices:

    • Conversion.
      This one has the potential of making a glue-sniffer out of the person who slaps it on – very strong fumes. Leave this one to the professionals. They’ve got masks that keep them from a huffing high.
    • Moisture-Cured Urethane.
      Another one that’s best left to the pros. It’s very durable, more so than the other options.
    • Water-Based Urethane.
      Using this substance is very DIY-friendly. It dries fast, is low on the toxic smell scale, won’t yellow over the years and cleans-up splendidly.
    • Oil-Based Urethane.
      You’ll work the hardest on this guy. It’s very common, but you’ll have to brush on a couple of coats – waiting up to 8-hours for the stuff to dry before you reapply. Unlike the water-based variety, expect yellowing as it grows old.
  • The penetrating finishes go deep into the grain of the wood. After it’s sponged-up by the flooring you’ll need to wax the surface. And wax again. And again. And-again, periodically. Since it’s such a stuffy product there are only certain kinds of cleaning materials you can use on the surface.

Lastly, let’s talk a little about sheen. Not that loser. Sheen as in the shine on the floor – satin, low or high gloss.

  • High gloss looks really professional. Check out the floor on David Letterman’s stage when you watch the Late Show. Shiny, yes? Sure is but it shows scratches like a proud poppa.
  • Satin or low-gloss finishes are recommended for your home just because they are easier to maintain and less-likely to show scuffs.

Armed with all this data, how about some great news? By installing a hardwood floor you’re going to be adding thousands of dollars in value to your home. Don’t throw away the vacuum just yet.

Your next project will be to find some swell throw rugs, giving your floors a bunch of attractive toupées.

Super Guide to Hardwood Flooring – Part 1

Monday, October 8th, 2012

We talk a lot about exotic hardwoods like ipe, jatoba and tigerwood. These choices for flooring are among the hardest, most durable and beautiful wood surfaces you can get.

As you know, there are many other types of lumber you can pick when it comes to putting your finger on what’s right for you. The woods mentioned below won’t last practically forever as the ones mentioned above.

In other words, style needs to team-up with substance. Is the floor being installed for a formal setting or a casual room? What type foot-traffic do you expect in the area?

One thing that should top the list: Never base your decision entirely on budget. Your floor is something that needs to last a long time. Don’t scrimp on this matter. Ipe, jatoba and tigerwood are the best; not to mention that these are also great as hardwood decking. Now here are the rest.

  • Cherry.
    Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to have your entire home adorn cherry wood flooring? Actually, no. This is a soft wood that’s best employed as an accent. The color of cherry wood is light brown which makes it ideal for staining.
  • Red oak.
    Looking for the most popular flooring material in America? Go no further than red oak. It has the ability to resist wear, but white oak should be your hands-down choice if you’re in the market for something a tad harder. Color-wise, it’s reddish.
  • Pine.
    This yellow-brown wood is about as stiff as red oak. Pine is also naturally resistant to bugs and burrowers. The substance is quite smitten with knots and swirls, though.
  • Douglas fir.
    Douglas-fir should retain its role as Christmas-tree fodder. When it comes to flooring, it dents very easily. It’s half as soft as red oak. The color is in the yellow-tan range.
  • White oak.
    As we mentioned earlier, this stuff is more durable than red oak and considerably harder. You’ll get lots of swirls in this brown with a grayish cast lumber.
  • Birch.
    Not a weakling but softer than red oak. The color ranges from dark, brown red to light yellow.
  • Beech.
    This wood is a great choice because of its uniform grain. It’s mostly dent-resistant and long-lasting. It comes in a red-brown shade.

Once more, we don’t recommend choosing based solely on price, but here are some rough estimates of what you can expect when testing the waters.

Flooring is priced by square foot and whether it’s prefinished or unfinished. Commonly, unfinished materials will chop prices in half, but double the work-time because you’ll have to correctly stain and seal the wood.

Without naming names, the above wood (when finished) will put you out anywhere from 4-to-10 bucks per square foot.

Stay tuned. In part two, we’re going to get into finishes and more!

House Siding

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

Those folks who are trying to crank-up their curb appeal to a capital “C” need to look no further than slapping some siding on their homes. In one fell-swoop you’ll be able to increase the value of your house and make the place look like it was just constructed.

You have quite a choice when thinking about house siding. Some are very low maintenance. Some are not. Here’s what’s on the plate:

  • Cement fiber siding
  • Aluminum siding
  • Vinyl siding
  • Wood siding
  • Hardboard composite
  • Fiberglass

Hardboard composite siding and fiberglass materials are still used, but the smart money goes with cement fiber or vinyl siding.

What do you say we explore the more popular ones?

Cement Fiber Siding

Go for the “green” with this stuff. Made from recyclable materials, cement fiber siding is almost a true match to those seeking a “wood look.” It’s a little costly, but most manufacturers give a great warranty – like 50-years worth. That should tell you that this stuff will outlive just about anything else on the street. Details …

  • Cuts and installs the same way as wood siding.
  • Never any issues with insects damaging the material.

Aluminum Siding

This stuff gained a lot of credibility as an alternative to wood siding. The boost was because it is very low maintenance. Not “no maintenance,” though. Sure, it’s durable, but not dent-proof. Prefinished product will chalk and fade after a while. There’s more …

  • Check out the new vinyl coated finishes if you’re concerned about future paint issues.
  • This substance is not that friendly toward any complicated or detailed trim work.

Vinyl Siding

For the economically-minded, this is a no-brainer. You can get vinyl siding in all kinds of textures and colors. It is not indestructible, but strips are easily replaced once you match the shade. A few characteristics …

  • Cold weather is its enemy. Below zero temps make it ripe for cracking if anything is thrown at the siding.
  • Call on a pro to ensure that it’s put up correctly. You don’t want it to buckle or warp by installing it when you don’t know jack about the process.

Beveled Wood and Wood Plank Siding

Consider this an oldie but a goodie. It’s a mainstay for historic residences. The biggest issue with this is that it’s pretty high maintenance. You’re going to need to regularly scrape, caulk and paint the exterior. Drilling down …

  • Rot, warping, insects and splitting can occur with this material.
  • It’s not too easy to install if you already having siding on your home.