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How to Create an Outdoor Living Space On a Budget

70% Seventy percent of all homes in the United States have an outdoor living space, and roughly 70% of these households use their outdoor living space at least once per week, according to a study conducted by the American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA). An outdoor living space allows homeowners and family members to enjoy the beautiful outdoors. Rather than staying cooped up indoors, they can go outside to cook, host parties or simply relax.

However, one of the most common reasons cited by homeowners for not creating an outdoor living space is the cost. Some homeowners assume that outdoor living spaces are too expensive to create. Like most renovations, it usually requires an upfront monetary investment, but there are ways to reduce these costs. So, if you want to create an outdoor living space without breaking into your savings account, check out the following tips.

Create a Privacy Screen with Lattice

You don’t have to spend a fortune on an expensive privacy fence for your outdoor living space. An easy do-it-yourself alternative that costs a fraction of the price is a lattice fence. You can typically buy large panels of lattice for about $10 to $50 bucks a piece. Using just a few of these panels, you can create an attractive privacy fence that’s perfect for your outdoor living space.

When choosing lattice for your outdoor living space, make sure it’s pressure treated to protect against rot, decay and termites. Additionally, consider the color and how it conforms to the surrounding decor. The color of the lattice should flow cohesively with the space’s decor.

Use a Portable Fire Pit, Not a Fireplace

No outdoor living space is complete without a source of fire. When the sun goes down and the temperatures drop, a fire will allow you and your family to continue enjoying this space. If you’re on a budget, though, you should choose a portable fire pit instead of a fireplace.

As explained by ImproveNet, the average cost of a professionally installed outdoor fireplace in the United States is between $1,400 and $20,000. A more budget-friendly solution is a portable fire pit. High-quality fire pits are available for just a few hundred bucks. As an added bonus, you can easily move them to different areas — something that can’t be said for an outdoor fireplace.

Clone Plants

You can enhance the decor of your outdoor living space by adding some potted plants to it. Before buying new plants at your local gardening center, however, try cloning some existing plants in your landscape. Cloning involving cutting a steam off a parent plant and placing it in damp compost, either with or without growth hormones. When done correctly, the stem will grow into a new plant. It may sound difficult, but it’s actually pretty easy. And best of all, it allows you to grow new plants for your outdoor living space without paying a dime (except for the pots and containers).

Patio Umbrella

If your outdoor living space isn’t shaded or covered, consider investing in a large patio umbrella. This otherwise simple accessory will protect you and your family from the sun’s blinding rays as well as rain, snow and falling leaves.

You can find patio umbrellas available in free-standing models or table-attached models. Free-standing patio umbrellas are designed to stand upright on their own, without the need for additional support. A table-attached umbrella, on the other hand, is designed to sit atop a table, covering the surrounding space. Both styles are perfectly fine, though the former usually costs more than the latter.

Seating

Perhaps the most important element of an outdoor living space is seating. Without seating, neither you nor anyone else will be able to enjoy this extension of your home. You can check out some of our previous blog posts for more ideas on outdoor seating, though some of the top choices include wicker chairs, teak lounges, benches, hammocks, Adirondack chairs and swings.

Use Tall Decorative Accessories

According to the decorating experts at HGTV, you can enhance the decor of small outdoor living spaces by using tall decorative accessories. Tall vases or bamboo plants in a container, for instance, create the perception of a larger and more open area. Furthermore, tall decorative accessories such as these add color and vibrancy to the surrounding space.

Paint or Finish Furniture

If your existing outdoor furniture is approaching the end of its lifespan, you might be able to squeeze a little more use of out it by painting or finishing it. Buying an new set of outdoor furniture can be expensive. However, painting and finishing is a cheap alternative to revitalize your old, aged furniture. Just remember to choose a color that matches out outdoor living space’s existing decor.

If you have any questions regarding how an S&S Fire Pit can enhance your outdoor living space; We can help.  https://ssfirepits.com/contact/

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9 DIY Projects to Improve Your Home’s Exterior

If you want the best looking house in the neighborhood, you need to spend some time cleaning and improving the exterior. While there are plenty of professional service providers out there, there are also projects you can do yourself. Here are the top nine do-it-yourself projects to improve your home’s exterior.

#1) Create an Outdoor Living Space

Assuming you don’t already have one, create an outdoor living space on your property. According to the Spring Houzz Landscaping Survey, 56% of homeowners plan on improving their yards for entertainment. You can instantly improve the aesthetics and functionality of your home’s exterior by designing an outdoor living space. For instance, this may include a basic lounging area with chairs, benches and a fire pit.

#2) Clean Gutters

When was the last time that you cleaned your gutters? Experts recommend cleaning them between two and four times a year, depending on the surrounding trees. If you have lots of overhanging trees, you should clean them four times a year; otherwise, twice annually should suffice. Failure to clean your gutters will result in the accumulation of leaves and debris on your roof. While this may seem harmless enough, all of that debris can hold moisture can contribute to rot/decay.

#3) Clean Windows

Cleaning your home’s windows can instantly improve its curb appeal. Over time, windows will attract dirt, mildew and grime. Thankfully, this won’t harm the windows’ structural integrity, but it will leave your home looking dirty. Using a half-and-half combination of hot water and distilled vinegar, thoroughly coat your windows and wipe them down. For tall, hard-to-reach windows, use an squeegee with an extension handle. Don’t just clean the outside of the windows; be sure to clean the inside as well.

#4) Install a Ceiling Fan

If you really want to create a comfortable outdoor living space — and enhance your home’s exterior in the process — install a ceiling fan on the patio. Aside from any electrical wiring costs, you can buy a basic ceiling fan for about $50 bucks. Once installed, it will make your patio cooler and more comfortable. And since it’s placed near the front door, a ceiling fan will boost the aesthetics of your home’s exterior, possibly even raising its value.

#5) Finish the Deck

Finishing a wood deck offers several benefits. First, it reinvigorates old, sun-faded decks with new color. Secondly, it protects the deck from mold and decay. There are several different finishes from which to choose, however. If you prefer the current look of your deck but still want protection from mold and decay, you can use a clear finish. On the other hand, if you want to darken your deck with a new color, you can use a stain finish. When staining a deck, the most important thing is to keep it dry and dust-free. If it’s wet, the finish won’t stick. If it’s dusty, imperfections will show.

#6) Pressure-Wash

Pressure-washing the siding of your home can make a world of difference in its appearance. Whether the siding is vinyl, brick, stone, synthetic stone, fiber cement, etc., it’s a simple and effective way to improve your home’s exterior. Also known as “power-washing,” it involves the use of a pressurized water to remove stubborn dirt and debris.

#7) Paint Exterior Trim

Painting your home’s exterior may sound a bit too tedious and time consuming. However, you can still improve your home’s exterior by painting just the trim. It’s not uncommon for homes to feature white trim with an alternate color for the siding. Going over the trim with a fresh coat of paint is a simple and inexpensive way to make your home look cleaner and more attractive.

#8) Replaced Damaged Shingles

If you have damaged or missing shingles on your home’s roof, consider replacing them. Granted, a single missing shingle shouldn’t cause any serious problems. If your roof is missing several, however, water may seep through the roof and into your home. Of course, this can lead to a world of other problems, including mold and structural damage. This is why it’s recommended that you inspect your roof for damaged shingles on a regular basis. And if you discover any, replace them as soon as possible.

#9) Patio Furniture

Finally, updating your patio with new furniture can enhance your home’s exterior. You can check out some of our previous blog posts for outdoor furniture ideas, though some of the most popular choices include teak lounge chairs, Adirondack chairs, benches and wicker furniture. Just remember to stick with a cohesive theme when choosing patio furniture.

Following these tips will help you create a more attractive home. Best of all, you can do these projects yourself. So, the next time you’re sitting around the house with nothing to do, head outside to perform one of these projects.

If you have any questions regarding how an S&S Fire Pit can enhance your outdoor living space; We can help.  https://ssfirepits.com/contact/

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Guide to Outdoor Teak Furniture

Outdoor furniture is available in a wide range of materials, including bamboo, wicker, cast iron, plastic, concrete, wood and more. However, one of the most versatile materials in which outdoor furniture is made is teak. Found throughout Southeast Asia, teak (Tectona grandis) offers some qualities and characteristics that simply aren’t found in other materials. To learn more about teak and why it’s the perfect material for outdoor furniture, keep reading.

About the Teak Tree

Teak is a deciduous tree that grows up to 131 feet tall. It has gray and brown branches with green leaves and white flowers. The flowers of the teak tree are believed to be pollinated by insects. A study conducted in 1996 found that Ceratina bees were the main pollinator of teak flowers in Thailand.

The wood harvested from the teak tree is brown and red, usually with various spots of darkness and lightness. It’s a hard, porous wood with a density of approximately 720 kg/m3.

Different Types of Teak Furniture

Teak is used to make a variety of outdoor furniture, some of which includes:

  • Tables
  • Dining chairs
  • Benches
  • Chaise lounges
  • Adirondack chairs
  • Stools
  • Umbrella frames
  • and more…

Teak is also commonly used to make boats. Its buoyant characteristics combined with a natural resistance to mold and rot make it a viable material for constructing boats.

Why Choose Outdoor Teak Furniture

So, why should you choose outdoor teak furniture over other types? First and foremost, it offers a premium, high-end style that’s guaranteed to enhance your patio or outdoor living space. As shown above, teak is a clean, structurally intact material that looks amazing. Regardless of your personal style, there’s no denying the innate beauty of genuine teak. It’s the perfect way to upgrade your patio and create a more vibrant, aesthetically pleasing environment. However, the stylish appearance of teak is just one of many reasons why it’s such an excellent choice of material for outdoor furniture.

Teak furniture is also long lasting. It’s not uncommon for teak benches, chairs and other furniture to last for 70 years when properly maintained. In comparison, a similar type of furniture made of wicker may only last five to 10 years. If you want furniture that’s going to withstand the hands of time for countless years to come, you can’t go wrong with teak. Granted, plastic and various synthetic materials will also last a long time, but they don’t offer the same stylish appearance as teak.

Perhaps the most notable benefit of teak furniture is its natural resistance of mold, mildew and decay. Usually, only synthetic materials are protected against fungi and subsequent rot. Teak, however, is unique because it’s a form of hardwood. Teak wood contains natural oils that allow it to survive in tropical, humid climates. In addition to helping it survive harsh climates, these natural oils protect it from mold, mildew, decay and even certain types of pests. As a result, you can leave teak furniture outside year-round without fear of it becoming damaged.

Sun Fading

If you plan on buying teak furniture for your patio or outdoor living area, you’ll need to decide whether or not to treat it with a finish. While teak doesn’t rot or otherwise sustain damage when left outdoors for long periods of time, it will fade when exposed to sunlight. Over time, the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays will turn its rich brown color to a soft grayish silver. Again, this fading doesn’t affect its strength or structural integrity; it only affects its appearance.

Some people prefer the vintage look of naturally aged teak. Others, however, prefer the original color of teak. If you want to keep your teak furniture looking new and protect it from sun fading, you have one of two options from which to choose: you can either store your teak furniture under a covered/shaded area, or your can apply a finish to it. Visit your local home improvement store to find a finish or varnish for your teak furniture.

Caring for and Maintaining Teak Furniture

Teak furniture requires little maintenance, which of course is one of the reasons why it’s so popular. With that said, you should still perform some basic cleaning to preserve its pristine appearance. You can usually clean teak furniture by wiping it down with a damp washcloth and a small amount of dish soap. Avoid power washing

There’s also teak oil that’s designed specifically for teak furniture. Teak oil, however, is not the actual oils contained in teak wood. Instead, it usually consists of linseed oil. When applied to teak, it adds a barrier of protection over the wood, further protecting it from damage as well as sun fading. You can buy teak oil at most furniture stores and home improvement stores.

If you have any questions regarding how an S&S Fire Pit can enhance your outdoor living space; We can help.  https://ssfirepits.com/contact/

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How to Winterize Your Patio

Is your patio prepared for the upcoming winter season? With winter comes cooler temperatures, drier air and the possibility of snowfall, all of which can affect your patio. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to stop using your patio for the season. Rather, you should take the necessary steps to “winterize” it beforehand. Doing so will allow you and your family to enjoy this outdoor extension of your home throughout the year.

Clean It

The first step in winterizing a patio is to clean it. Using a broom or leaf blower, remove any lingering leaves, pine straw or branches that have fallen on your patio. Neglecting this otherwise simple step can result in a stained patio deck. Moisture will accumulate in this debris, causing colored compounds to leave onto and into your deck.

Cover Grill and Fire Pit

If you have a grill or fire pit on your patio (or both), you should cover it with a protective tarp. Depending on where you live, you may not receive much rain during this time of year. However, you may still receive some snowfall — and that snow can cause metallic objects like a grill or fire pit to rust. Covering them with a vinyl tarp prevents the intrusion of water while protecting against rust and corrosion.

Alternatively, you may want to bring your grill or fire pit indoors for the winter. Bringing a large grill indoors isn’t always feasible, though. But if you own a small, portable fire pit, you can certainly bring it indoors. Just remember to wait a full 48 hours after lighting it to ensure it’s fully cooled before bringing it inside.

Stain with Water Repellent

You can further protect your patio from damage by staining it with a water repellent product. Most home improvement stores, including Lowe’s and Home Depot, sell a variety of water-repellent stains. You typically apply them just like paint, and once they are finished drying, it creates a waterproof barrier over your patio. Staining a full-sized patio is somewhat tedious and time-consuming, so be prepared to invest a full 1-2 days to this project.

Protect Patio Furniture

When winterizing your patio, you’ll need to take measures to protect your furniture from damage. Generally speaking, the material from which the furniture is made will determine the best method of winterizing it. Here’s a breakdown of some of the most common patio furniture materials and how to winterize them.

  • Plastic: the most “robust” material, plastic furniture requires little maintenance, nor does it need any protection from the winter elements.
  • Wicker: susceptible to damage when left outdoors for long periods of time; bring wicker furniture indoors for the winter.
  • Teak: whether it’s treated or not, furniture made of genuine teak wood is naturally protected against the winter elements thanks to its concentration of water and rot-repellent oils.
  • Aluminum: furniture made of aluminum should either be brought indoors or coated with a layer of automotive wax.
  • Fabrics: unfortunately, fabric furniture is highly susceptible to damage when left outdoors, so bring it indoors for the winter.

Take Down Umbrellas

Patio umbrellas offer an excellent source of shade. Whether they are secured to a table or to the patio deck, it’s a great way to enhance your patio. For the winter, however, you should take down any umbrellas overhanging your patio. If it happens to snow, excess snow may accumulate on the umbrella, causing it to buckle and sustain damage.

Bring Potted Plants Indoors

If you have potted plants on your patio, go ahead and bring them indoors. While different plants are more tolerant to cold weather than others, it’s usually best to err on the side of caution by bringing them all indoors. Placing them in a sunny location next to a large window will ensure they stay warm throughout the winter season.

Winterize Outdoor Plants

Of course, you may not be able to bring all of your plants indoors. Assuming you have plants growing in the ground near your patio, you should follow some basic precautions to help them survive winter. Adding a layer of mulch around the base of your flowers, plants and trees, for instance, is a simple and effective safeguard for the winter weather. Mulch acts as natural insulation, reducing the loss of heat while subsequently protecting against frost shock.

For evergreen plants, consider making a burlap shield. Evergreens are particularly susceptible to cold weather damage, as sub-freezing temperatures prevent the roots from absorbing water. And if they aren’t getting water, they will likely turn brown and die. To prevent this from happening, set up four stakes around your evergreens, securing a burlap screen to the stakes. In addition to keeping your evergreens warm, this also serves as a windbreak, protecting your plants from strong winds.

If you have any questions regarding how an S&S Fire Pit can enhance your outdoor living space; We can help.  https://ssfirepits.com/contact/

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8 Ways to Improve Your Home’s Curb Appeal

Curb appeal refers to the collective landscape, colors, furnishings and other visual elements of a home’s exterior. By investing in a little time and energy into your home’s curb appeal, you’ll create a more pleasing outdoor environment for you and your family to enjoy. Furthermore, studies show that home’s with an attractive curb appeal have a higher selling value than their counterparts with little-to-no curb appeal. So, whether you plan on staying in your home or selling it, you should follow the tips listed below to enhance its exterior.

#1) Repaint the Front Door

A fresh coat of paint on the front door can make a world of difference in your home’s curb appeal. Over time, paint will fade due to sun exposure, resulting in a lackluster appearance. Your home’s once fiery-red front door may now have more of a dark maroon tone. With a gallon of paint and a brush, however, you can revitalize it with new color.

#2) Create an Attractive Entryway

In addition to repainting the front door, you should also decorate the area around the front door. If you have a wooden patio deck, ensure that all boards are secure and not loose or otherwise damaged. Next, place a doormat in front of the door, using a color that corresponds with the surrounding decor. You can also enhance your home’s entryway by adding attractive light fixtures, door knobs and planters.

#3) Touch Up the Mailbox

A commonly overlooked element of curb appeal is the mailbox. While it may seem insignificant compared to the front door and entryway, the mailbox still plays an instrumental role in setting the tone for your home’s exterior. The real estate experts as Zillow recommend using a heavy-duty “premium” mailbox along with statement house numbers. A high-quality mailbox should only cost about $150 to $300, while house numbers run about $5 to $10 a piece. For the price, it’s a smart investment that will pay off in the form of a better looking home.

#3) Lounge Furniture

While there are dozens of different seating and furniture options from which to choose when designing your home’s exterior, lounge furniture is arguably one of the best. According to the 2017 Houzz Landscape Study, lounge furniture is the most popular outdoor living element among homeowners. As the name suggests, lounge furniture places an emphasis on comfort and relaxation. A chaise lounge, for instance, features a long and adjustable reclining back. Often made of premium teak hardwood, it’s the perfect addition to any patio or outdoor living space.

#4) Add Mulch to Flowerbeds

Adding a layer of mulch to your flowerbeds will create a cleaner and more complete curb appeal while also protecting your flowers from frost. In winter, the sub-freezing temperatures can send flowers into a state of shock, causing them to either go dormant or die. With a layer of mulch, however, your flowers will have an extra layer of protection from the winter weather. Mulch acts as insulation, reducing the rate at which your flowers lose heat. Most importantly, though, mulch prevents the growth and intrusion of weeds; thus, creating a cleaner and more attractive landscape for your home.

#5) Firepit

In addition to lounge furniture, another accessory to consider using on your patio or outdoor living space is a fire pit. According to the same Houzz Landscape Study cited above, fire pits are the second most popular outdoor living element; they are even more popular than grills and patio heaters. Installing a fire pit on your patio will create a more “lived in” appearance while also providing functional benefits in the process. With a fire pit, you can cook, roast marshmallows or simply enjoy a quiet evening with friends or family.

#6) Manicure Shrubs

Of course, you should also manicure any shrubs and trees in your home’s landscape. Neglecting this basic form of lawn maintenance will result in overgrown brush, which doesn’t exactly help your home’s curb appeal. Whether you do it yourself or choose to hire a professional landscaper, you need to manicure all trees and shrubs on your property.

#7) Container Plants

A few strategically planed container plants can brighten your home’s curb appeal. Even if you have flowers or plants growing around your home, you should still consider adding container plants next to the front door. Doing so adds color and vibrancy, which can help define your home’s exterior decor.

#8) Pressure-Wash It

Finally, consider pressure-washing your home’s exterior. Depending on the material of which it’s constructed, it may develop mildew, dirt and grime. A simple solution, however, is to pressure-wash it. The pressurized stream of water will make easy work of even the dirtiest siding. And for stubborn areas, you can pre-treat it with soap or detergent for maximum cleaning power.

If you have any questions regarding how an S&S Fire Pit can enhance your outdoor living space; We can help.  https://ssfirepits.com/contact/

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Guide to Wicker Patio Furniture

If you’re planning to update your patio with new furniture, you’ll need to choose the right material. Patio furniture is designed using a wide range of materials. However, one of the most popular is wicker.

What is Wicker?

While most people have seen or at least heard of wicker, few know what the material really is. As shown in the photo to the left, wicker furniture is characterized by a woven design, typically using natural cane materials like rattan, reed, bamboo or willow. Because of this, wicker isn’t a material itself. Instead, it’s a type of furniture featuring a woven design with one or more cane-like materials.

It’s a little-known fact that wicker has origins dating back to Ancient Egypt, specifically around 3,000 BC. Archeologists have unearthed wicker furniture made of reed and grasses from the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs. The reed and grasses used in the wicker furniture were native to the surrounding Nile river. In addition to furniture, Egyptians also made wicker baskets, wig boxes, toys and other items.

Characteristics of Wicker Patio Furniture

While this doesn’t apply to all types of wicker furniture, most have some common characteristics, including the following:

  • Lightweight, often weighing just five to 10 pounds
  • Wicker chairs have wide armrests
  • White or neutral colors
  • Unique woven design
  • Stylish appearance

Natural vs Synthetic Wicker Furniture

Most wicker furniture is made of natural, organic plant matter, such as reed or rattan. However, some are made of a synthetic material. Also known as “resin wicker,” synthetic wicker furniture is made of PVC, nylon, polyethylene or a combination thereof. These are the same synthetic materials that you’ll find in other furniture, especially outdoor patio furniture.

To the unsuspecting eye, both natural and synthetic wicker appear similar. They have the same woven construction with similar-looking material. However, natural wicker furniture is made of organic material, whereas synthetic wicker is made of inorganic, man-made material. This is the fundamental difference distinguishing the two.

Benefits of Wicker Patio Furniture

So, why should you use wicker furniture on your patio? Wicker offers several noteworthy benefits, one of which is aesthetic value. With its woven construction, wicker furniture will enhance your patio decor to create a more attractive living space. This isn’t something you’ll find in other types of furniture either. On the contrary, only wicker furniture boasts this unique woven design, which is one of the reasons why homeowners choose it for their patio.

As previously mentioned, wicker furniture is also lightweight. It may take two people to move a heavy hardwood lounge chair, but wicker chairs are easily moved by just a single person. Therefore, you shouldn’t have a problem moving it. If you want to bring your wicker furniture inside, for instance, you can easily do so without straining your back.

Furthermore, wicker furniture is relatively inexpensive when compared to other types of furniture. If you’re looking to decorate your patio without spending a fortune, you should consider wicker for this very reason.

Disadvantages of Wicker Patio Furniture

There are also some disadvantages to using wicker patio furniture, however. Compared to other types of outdoor furniture, wicker is somewhat large and bulky. Assuming you have a large patio, this shouldn’t be a problem. But if you have a small patio with limited space, you may want to choose a different type of furniture.

Natural wicker furniture is also susceptible to damage. Granted, synthetic resin furniture can sustain damage too, but it’s stronger and more durable than its counterpart. Over time, it’s not uncommon for natural wicker furniture to become torn and unraveled. And when this happens, there’s usually no easy way to fix it.

Wicker Patio Furniture Tips

If you’re interested in using wicker furniture on your patio, you should first plan the design. In other words, determine what pieces of wicker furniture you want to use and where you want to use them. Wicker chairs are always an excellent choice, though you’ll also find wicker sofas and recliners as well.

Sitting on a hard wicker surface isn’t exactly comfortable. Thankfully, most manufacturers offer soft cushions with their wicker furniture. Depending on the company, however, you may have to pay extra for it. If you intend to use the wicker furniture for decorative purposes only, you probably don’t need the cushions. But if you plan on sitting and using the furniture — which you probably will — it’s recommended that you invest in cushions.

Whether it’s natural or synthetic, all wicker furniture is lightweight. And because of its lightweight properties, it may blow over during storms and bad weather. To prevent this from happening, you should either anchor it to your patio or bring it indoors before it storms. Hopefully, this gives you a better understanding of wicker patio furniture.

If you have any questions regarding how an S&S Fire Pit can enhance your outdoor living space; We can help.  https://ssfirepits.com/contact/