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Comparing the Different Types of Patio Covers

A patio offers the perfect area to host parties, barbecues and other outdoor gatherings. Rather than staying cooped up indoors, you can go outside to enjoy the fresh air. But it’s difficult to fully enjoy your patio when it’s exposed to direct sunlight. Without some form of protection, the sun will beat down, creating an uncomfortably hot environment. Thankfully, there are ways to protect your patio from the sun’s glaring light, including the use of a patio cover.


An inexpensive and easy-to-install patio cover is lattice. Also known as latticework, it consists of a crossed patterns of wood that offer moderate cover with an emphasis on aesthetics. Some light will still shine through, so it’s not going to completely protect your patio. With that said, some homeowners prefer lattice because of this, as the light helps to illuminate the space without relying on artificial lighting.

You can buy lattice at most home improvement and gardening stores, though costs vary depending on the specific material from which it’s made (e.g. wood, metal, etc.). Before investing in lattice, compare prices at multiple stores to determine which one offers the best deal for your patio project.


Vinyl patio covers have become increasingly popular in recent years. Made of polyvinyl chloride — the same material used to make PVC piping — it’s strong, durable and able to withstand countless years of use. Like all vinyl materials, vinyl patio covers are completely waterproof and rustproof. So, you don’t have to worry about it succumbing to the elements after just a few months.

A disadvantage to using a vinyl patio cover, however, is its lackluster appearance. Many people believe it looks cheap and tacky, so they choose other patio covers instead. Of course, not all vinyl covers look the same; some definitely have a cheap look, whereas others are designed to look more high-end. If you’re worried about the cheap appearance of a vinyl cover, consider choosing one in a dark color. A premium gray or taupe-colored vinyl patio cover won’t look like vinyl at all.


A third patio cover option is wood, which is also the most common type. Wood covers offer an unmatched level of aesthetics, enhancing the home’s exterior decor while creating a more attractive patio in the process. Wood covers can also be painted and finished in just about any color, giving homeowners such as yourself more freedom over customization.

But wood is also susceptible to rot and decay. Unless it’s treated with a water-resistant finish, wood covers may rot away due to moisture exposure.  Water particles seep into the wood’s pores, at which point they encourage the growth of mold and mildew. This, in turn, causes the wood to slowly decay — and that’s not particularly safe when it’s hanging over your patio. You can still use a wood patio cover, but make sure it’s coated with a water-resistant finish to prevent this from happening.


Metal is a popular alternative to wood patio covers, with the most common metal used for this purpose being aluminum. It’s strong, lightweight, doesn’t rot and highly effective at reflecting heat away from your patio.

Unfortunately, aluminum patio covers can become damaged due to falling debris. This isn’t limited strictly to aluminum, however; all patio covers can sustain damage from falling tree limbs. But aluminum is particularly prone to such damage because of its thin, lightweight construction. The bottom line is that if you’re going to choose an aluminum patio cover, make sure there are no overhanging tree limbs.


Another patio cover option is cloth. Typically made of a fabric blend containing both natural and synthetic materials, cloth covers are easy to install and look great over all patios. They are available in countless colors and styles to match your home’s exterior.

A benefit of cloth patio covers that’s not found elsewhere is the ability for them to retract. Granted, some cloth covers are fixed and stationary, meaning you can’t move them (not easily, at least). Others, however, are installed with a retractable device. If it’s warm and sunny outside and you want to get a tan, you can retract the cloth cover. But if you want to read a book without the sun glaring in your face, you can pull it back out.


If installing a patio cover sounds too difficult or expensive, you can always use an umbrella as a quick solution. There are free-standing patio umbrellas available as well as table-mounted umbrellas. Once installed, it creates a small but effective area of shade while enhancing your patio decor in the process.

As you can expect, an umbrella isn’t going to offer the same protection as an actual patio cover offers. The good news is that umbrellas are easy to set up, and they cost a fraction of the price of an actual cover.

If you have any questions regarding how an S&S Fire Pit can enhance your outdoor living space; We can help.

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Brighten Your Patio with These Lighting Ideas

It’s hard to enjoy your patio in the evenings if it’s dimly lit. Without lighting, you won’t be able to cook, relax or simply enjoy this extension of your home once the sun goes down. Thankfully, there are several different patio lighting options from which to choose, some of which we’re going to discuss.

String Lights

String lights offer the best of both worlds in terms of aesthetics and function. As shown in the image to the left, they look like regular Christmas tree lights, featuring long rows of individual light bulbs. You can run them across your patio, the side of your home, or even across the top of your yard. Once activated, they illuminate the surrounding area with a touch of style. Because of their stylish appearance, string lights are a popular lighting choice by homeowners when hosting outdoor parties and gatherings.


Uplighting is a relatively new outdoor lighting option that’s becoming more and more popular among homeowners. Uplighting receives its namesake for the direction in which it projects light. While traditional fixtures project light down, uplighting projects it up. Therefore, it’s often used to enhance and highlight specific areas around a home, such as gardens, flower beds, sides and windows. It’s even used by real estate agents to increase curb appeal and make homes more attractive to prospective buyers.

Uplighting is best when used in conjunction with other lighting solutions. A traditional overhead fixture, for instance, will illuminate the areas where uplighting can’t reach.

Wall Lanterns

Assuming your patio is directly adjacent to your home, you can use wall lanterns to illuminate it. Wall lanterns are installed on the side of a home, creating uniform lighting for the surrounding area. The only real downside is the fact that they are somewhat difficult to install, which usually requires the experience and skills of a professional electrician. Nonetheless, wall lanterns are a viable lighting option for the patio, especially if you want a long-term solution.

However, you should consider the following things when choosing wall lanterns for your patio:

  • Material of construction
  • Size
  • Ease of installation
  • Ease of replacing bulbs
  • Cost
  • Durability

Track Lighting

We can’t talk about patio lighting options without mentioning track lighting. Track lighting involves the use of a fixed track on which individual fixtures and bulbs are installed. The great thing about track lighting, however, is that lights can be moved on the track. If you want to illuminate the center of your patio instead of the outside, for instance, just move the light towards the appropriate area.

As explained by Lightology, track lighting has become an increasingly popular lighting solution for patios, gardens and other outdoor living spaces. It offers an unmatched level of flexibility, allowing homeowners to adjust the lights according to their needs. You should check to see what bulb types the track light supports. Some use standard incandescent bulbs, whereas others use energy-efficient CFL or LED.

Tiki Torches

With its natural bamboo design with a flaming top, tiki torches are a fun alternative to traditional patio lighting options. While they’ve been around for centuries — originating from the Tiki culture — they experienced a newfound revival in the 1930s and following years, during which homeowners began using them in outdoor decor. The standard tiki torch design features a bamboo stick with liquid fuel and a wick on top. Once the wick is lit, it continues to burn while drawing fuel from the container below. Tiki toches can be free standing or mounted in the ground.

Granted, tiki torches don’t provide the same level of lighting as the solutions previously mentioned, but many homeowners prefer them for their unique ambiance and stylish appearance. The subtle flame burns slow enough to enhance the decor without being overwhelming.

Fire Pit

Of course, a fire pit can also illuminate your patio when it’s dark outside. As long as you leave the lid off, it will brighten your patio decor without relying on electricity.

If you choose tiki torches, a fire pit or any other fire-burning method for illumination, however, you should supervise it all times. Leaving a fire unattended — even if it’s for just a few minutes — poses a serious risk of property damage and injury. While the risk may be low, this isn’t something that you should take a chance on. Always supervise your fire to ensure it’s controlled and contained.

These are just a few patio lighting ideas to consider. If you’re still undecided after reading this, take a trip to your local home improvement store to browse other solutions. With a little work, you’ll find the lighting option that’s perfect for your patio. And remember, you can always remove and replace any lighting solution if you aren’t completely satisfied.

If you have any questions regarding how an S&S Fire Pit can enhance your outdoor living space; We can help.

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8 Important Tips to Protect and Maintain a Wood Deck

A wood deck is the perfect outdoor extension to your home. When the weather is mild, you can go outdoors to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air.

#1) Remove Leaves and Debris

First and foremost, you should get into the habit of removing leaves, pine straw, tree branches and other fallen debris from your wood deck. Allowing debris such as this to accumulate can cause discoloration while also promoting mold and mildew. Using either a push broom or a leaf flower, try to get into the habit of cleaning your wood deck on a regular basis.

#2) Use a Grease Catcher

When grilling on your wood deck, use a grease catcher to collect the grease. Not all grilled foods produce grease. If you cook vegetables, fish or even chicken, you’ll probably have little-to-no grease. Red meat, on the other hand, produces a fair amount of grease, which can cause stubborn stains when dripped onto a wood deck. Using a grease catcher with your grill, however, will protect your wood deck from such stains.

#3) Shovel Snow

If you live in a region that’s prone to snow, be sure to shovel it off your deck. There are several problems associated with a snow-covered deck: it saturates the wood with moisture, contains dirt and debris that may stain the deck, and it prevents you from fully using or otherwise enjoying your deck. Shoveling show isn’t particularly fun, but it’s a necessary step in maintaining a wood deck if you live in a region that’s prone to snow. So, after the winter storm has passed, take a few minutes to shovel the snow off your deck.

#4) Place Fire Pit on Top of Fireproof Material

Assuming you have a fire pit on your wood deck, you should place some type of fireproof material between it and your deck. Normally, a fire pit shouldn’t cause a wood deck to ignite. It can, however, scorch the bottom if placed directly on it. There are several solutions to protect your wood deck from such damage. You can create a fireproof area on which to place your fire pit using brick pavers, or you can buy a special “fire pit pad.” Either way, you need some type of material or substrate underneath your fire pit to protect your deck.

#5) Inspect for Rotten Planks

When was the last time that you inspected your wood deck for rotten planks? Regardless of species or variety, all types of natural wood are susceptible to rot. Wood contains thousands of small pores that constantly absorb or release moisture. When your wood deck is exposed to moisture — even small amounts of airborne moisture (humidity) — it may cause it to rot. The good news is that a few rotten planks can easily be replaced without demolishing and rebuilding your entire deck. To do so, however, you’ll need to inspect your wood deck regularly; otherwise, rotten planks may go unnoticed.

#6) Pressure Wash

You can only do so much when using a garden hose to clean a wood deck, which is why it’s a good idea to pull out the pressure washer on occasion. With your pressure washer set to 600 to 800 psi, you can revitalize the appearance of your wood deck. The pressurized water will easily remove stubborn dirt, mold, mildew and grime.

Even if you don’t own a pressure washer, you can still rent one from your local home improvement store. Home Depot and Lowes both rent out pressure washers for about $35 bucks per day, which is a small price to pay considering the convenience and cleaning power it offers. Just remember to wear the appropriate safety goggles, and to keep the nozzle at least six inches away from the surface of your deck at all times.

#7) Seal Your Deck

Perhaps the most important tip to protect a wood deck is to seal it. Sealing your deck prevents the intrusion of moisture, which as stated above, can lead to rotten planks. Furthermore, some wood sealers are designed with special UV-protectant ingredients, adding another level of protection for your deck. In addition to protecting against water, these sealers also protect against the sun ultraviolet (UV) light.

There are dozens of different wood sealers available for sale, so choose the one that’s best suited for your deck. You can also check out this article by Lowes for step-by-step instructions on how to seal a wood deck.

#8) Avoid Trapping Dirt and Moisture

Finally, use caution to avoid accidentally trapping dirt and moisture in your dirt. If you have furniture on your deck, for instance, move and clean underneath it regularly. If a table or flower pot is left in the same place for months on end, it will probably accumulate moisture underneath. And too much moisture can damage your deck by promoting rot and mildew.

Following these tips will help to protect and preserve your wood deck.

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What is an Adirondack Chair? Get the Facts

The Adirondack chair consistently ranks as one of the most popular types of outdoor chairs. Also known as a Muskoka chair in Canada, it offers the perfect blend of style and comfort, with an emphasis on the latter. But what exactly is an Adirondack chair, and what should you look for when buying one?

The History of the Adirondack Chair

The Adirondack chair receives its namesake from the Adirondack Mountains. Located in northeast New York with a peak elevation of 5,344 feet, the Adirondack Mountains have been a popular tourist destination for over a century. Within the mountain’s ecosystem are swamps, marshes, bogs and rolling hills of glacier-carved rocks. Statistics show that roughly 60% of the Adirondack Mountains are covered with hardwood forest, making it a prime habitat for birds like the great blue heron, gray jays, boreal chickadees, crossbills and more.

Some people assume the Adirondack chair is a relatively new invention, but this isn’t the case. The Adirondack chair has origins dating back to 1903, during which amateur American inventor and amateur woodworker Thomas Lee created the first prototype. According to various reports, Lee was vacationing with his family in the Adirondack Mountains in 1903 when he encountered a problem: a lack of seating. With some family members being forced to stand, Lee sought to find a solution, which led him to designing his own chair.

Lee soon discovered, however, that traditional chairs didn’t fare well on the mountainous terrain of the Adirondacks. Because the land was sloped instead of flat and even, chairs were either tilted forwards or tilted backwards, resulting in discomfort and poor balance. Until now, there wasn’t a solution for the uneven terrain. So, Lee began to design his own chair with a focus on making it comfortable and balanced when placed on uneven terrain.

After countless hours of hard work, Lee developed a chair with an angled seat and angled back (see image above). Both the seat and back sloped back to accommodate the uneven terrain of the Adirondack mountains. With a 25 to 35-degree back slope, the chair could be placed on an uneven terrain to create a more balanced and stable seating area. This later became known as the Adirondack chair.

You might be surprised to learn, however, that Lee didn’t receive full credit for his work. After creating the first prototype, Lee took the chair to a carpenter in upstate New York named Harry Bunnell. Lee asked Bunnell to recreated the chair for him. But Bunnell went behind Lee’s back to file a patent for the chair, calling it the Westport Chair. Bunnell even received a patent for the Westport Chair, which Lee didn’t contest. But while Bunnell ultimately won a patent for the chair’s design, most people today recognize the mountainous chair as being the Adirondack chair.

Adirondack Chair Benefits

With its unique design, the Adirondack chair offers several noteworthy benefits. First and foremost, it’s important to remember that the Adirondack chair was specifically made for uneven terrain. So, if you’re looking to invest in new seating for an outdoor living space on a sloped hill, there’s no better choice than the Adirondack chair. With its sloped seat and back, it offers a superior level of comfort and stability.

Regardless of whether it’s placed on a flat or sloped surface, however, the Adirondack chair is arguably one of the most comfortable outdoor seating options on the market. Today, most Adirondack chairs feature an adjustable back, and some even have adjustable armrests. Therefore, you can easily adjust the Adirondack chair for optimal comfort on a flat surface as well.

Another benefit of the Adirondack chair is its ability to minimize stress on the back. The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) reports that nearly eight in 10 Americans will experience back pain at some point during their life. With its angled design, however, the Adirondack chair eases pressure on the spine while subsequently reducing the risk of pain back and other related problems.

Choosing an Adirondack Chair

When choosing an Adirondack chair for your patio or outdoor living space, there are several things to consider. First and foremost, check to see what material it is made of. Lee’s original design was made of natural hardwood sources from the surrounding Adirondack Mountains. Today, however, you can find Adirondack chairs made of a variety of materials, including beech, ash, oak, maple, teak and plastic. Hardwood materials typically offer the highest level of quality, though they also come at a premium price.

You should also consider the color of the Adirondack chair and whether or not it matches the outdoor decor where it will be used. Ideally, the color should match or otherwise flow cohesively with the rest of your decor.

Of course, the Adirondack chair is just one of many seating options to consider. But with its unique angled design, it’s the perfect choice for sloped landscapes.

If you have any questions regarding how an S&S Fire Pit can enhance your outdoor living space; We can help.