Posts Tagged With: outdoor refresher

Refinishing – How to Breathe New Life into an Old Deck

Is your deck looking a little shabby? Is it in need of a makeover? Battling the elements can take a toll on your decking which is why regular maintenance is a must. Refinishing is an easy DIY project that will help extend the life of your outdoor space. After a good scrubbing and a fresh coat of stain, your deck will look like new.

Go Beyond Clean with a Pressure Washer

Remember, you aren’t just cleaning your deck but prepping it for a new coat of stain and protectant. You need to remove as much dirt, grime and old stains as possible. A pressure washer
with a fan nozzle works great for this. Use caution when trying to remove tough stains, the force of the water can gouge wood if focused in one spot too long. So keep it moving!

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5 Tips for Cleaning Your Deck:

  • Cover your plants with plastic – This will help prevent chemicals from getting on them. Rinse the foliage off afterwards as an added measure.
  • Pressure wash – Use a cleanser that is specially formulated to clean decking materials. This keeps the wood from drying out. The most commonly used cleaners have TSP (Trisodium phosphate) in them but may be too harsh to use around plants.
  • Apply some elbow grease – Instead of trying to get tough stains up with the pressure washer, use a scrub brush.
  • Clean between boards – Use an old broom or brush to loosen debris from cracks and crevices.
  • Scrub railings and overhangs – All decking surfaces should be cleaned and refinished to protect them too.

Look for Needed Repairs

Now that you’ve finished washing the deck, allow it to dry for 24 hours. Use this time to inspect and replace any damaged boards. Look for popped nail heads and hammer them back in place.

Once your deck is completely dry, you can sand down rough spots and get ready for the stain.

There are four basic types of stain finishes:

  •  Clear – No tint or color but serves as a protectant for the wood.
  • Tinted – Wood colored tints allow for a uniform, natural appearance.
  • Semi-transparent – Gives some color but still allows for wood grain to show through.
  • Solid colors – Opaque paints hide the wood grain and provide ample color.

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Protect Your Deck from the Elements

Some new exterior paints/ stains can actually fill in small cracks and splits. Due to the thickness of these products, you will need a larger amount to cover your deck but multiple coats won’t be necessary. You can also find stains that contain skid resistant materials (like fine grit/sand) for added safety and still remain comfortable on bare feet.

Advice on applying stain to a deck:

  • Use a roller for larger areas – Paint brushes are great for railings and recesses.
  • Keep your color uniform – For a large area, mix all of your stain together to keep it consistent. Color may vary slightly from can to can.
  • Paint sprayers can clog – Read the label on the product you are using. Some stains are too thick for sprayers.
  • Avoid overlap marks – Work on a few deck boards at a time and paint lengthwise.
  • Let dry at least 24 hours – Test the surface before putting furniture back out. If it is tacky to the touch, give it more time to dry.

Give Your Deck a Makeover

If you’ve been thinking you need a new deck but can’t afford it, try refinishing first. A perfectly good entertainment space may be hidden beneath all that dirt and grime. All it needs is a little do-it-yourself TLC. Let’s face it, we can all use a little makeover from time to time.

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Expert Advice

From pressure washers and paint sprayers to sanders and nail guns, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment for your next outdoor DIY project. Looking for additional information on maintaining your deck? Check out our previous blog “Seal and Stain Your Deck in 3 Easy Steps” for more helpful tips. As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

Categories: Choosing Equipment, DIY Projects, Featured Products, How-To's, Renovate, Restore and Renovate | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Outdoor Refreshers: Install Decorative Outdoor Lighting

How to Install Decorative Outdoor LightingFirst and foremost, outdoor lighting adds safety to your property. A well-designed exterior lighting plan increases visibility around your home, along paths, sidewalks and stairs and in your yard, eliminating darkness and shadows. Investing in outdoor lighting certainly pays for itself in the long run and enables you to extend your outdoor activities well into the night. So, are you looking for an intermediate-level do-it-yourself project that will also enhance your exterior lighting plan in the process? Reward yourself – and your landscape – with decorative outdoor lighting.

Sunshine at Night

Solar and low-voltage lighting for outdoor use is economical, safe and easy-to-install and operate. Usually sold as lighting systems, both are shock-less, safe for children and pets. While low-voltage lighting includes a power pack, cable and lamps or fixtures that can be adjusted to your liking, everything you need for solar lighting is contained in the fixtures themselves. Low-voltage lighting is brighter than solar lighting. Also, avoid using any solar or low-voltage products labeled “interior only.”

Choose solar lighting in areas:

  • that get lots of direct sun
  • that are large or remote, such as the corners of your property
  • that are located far away from a power source
  • that are near water, such as a pond, swimming pool or hot tub
  • that are rough terrain, such as rock gardens
  • that require very low light

Choose low-voltage lighting in areas:

  • that are near the house
  • that are on smooth terrain
  • that are shady
  • that need to be illuminated, such as landscaping features, decks, patios, architectural surfaces or features, statues, walls, fountains, pathways, walkways, steps, destination areas in the garden or house signs
  • that are in need of a border

How to Plan Exterior Lighting

Survey your property to determine areas in need of illumination. Bring along a measuring tape and take measurements, especially to exterior power outlets.

Look for dark spots and corners that might need lighting for safety reasons. Note hazardous steps or curbs that could use light. Make a sketch detailing landscape features and their location, such as the house, pathways, driveway, water features, gardens, trees, shrubs, garden art. Be sure to include each location of any outdoor electricity source.

Decide which areas would benefit from solar light installation, keeping in mind these areas need no wiring. Choose the types of low-voltage lights you want in each area – downlights, backlights, uplights, and softlights (see below). Be sure to check your plan against local codes. You might need a permit before you begin work.

Lighting Effects and Techniques

Getting creative with your exterior lighting plan is as simple as choosing different light effects that pack a powerful visual punch.

Downlighting directs light toward the ground and is used to create safe pathways and stairs.

Backlighting directs light onto a wall or fence behind the desired subject to be highlighted and is used to feature trees, artwork or architectural enhancements of your house.

Uplighting directs light up, illuminating the underside of a surface, and is used to feature address signs, statue, foliage or fountain.

Soft lighting directs light in all directions for an atmospheric effect and is used to create mood, romance and ambiance.

Shop for Light

Low voltage halogen lights range from about 4-50 watts. The higher the wattage, the higher the level of brightness. Choose light fixtures first, then add up the wattage. You’ll need a power pack that supplies enough wattage for all lamps. It takes 110 volts. Divide a large lighting system into smaller ones if necessary, using a power pack or transformer for each. In addition, you’ll need cable and cable connectors to support the wattage. As mentioned earlier, solar lighting is all-inclusive.

DIY-ing It All Together

  1. To install your lighting system, keep safety in mind at all times.
  2. Place the power pack within 1 foot of the outdoor electricity source – 110 volt standard US household current with a GFCI receptacle. Use a waterproof cover to protect the receptacle and plug-in. Do not install the power pack indoors.
  3. Attach the low voltage cable(s) and turn on the power pack. Always read power pack instructions.
  4. Lay the cable to your lighting fixtures according to your plan. Keep it above ground rather than burying it. You can use cable connectors to join two or more cables, or to change run direction. For runs of over 150 feet or if you’re using 10 or more lamps, use heavier cable.
  5. Attach the individual light fixtures to the cable with the power on.
  6. Make sure the fixtures produce light when connected. Follow the instructions provided with the light fixtures.
  7. Set the timer on the power pack to the ON/OFF times you desire.
  8. Do not use extension cords.

Wait Until Dark

Do the lights come on? How do they look? Make adjustments by resetting the timer or moving lights around. After you’re satisfied with your decorative outdoor lighting design, bury the cable with dirt, mulch, sod or rocks. You can also hide it behind foliage.

Illumination Transformation

Now that you’ve installed your decorative outdoor lighting, you home and outdoor living spaces, landscape and gardens will feel inviting and magical. Summer nights are made for this! Come holiday time, consider switching out light bulbs for color and charm.

By the way, you’ve also provided safety and security for your home. How practical of you!

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with gardening projects. From ladders and other equipment to event lighting and more, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-tos, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

Categories: DIY Projects, How-To's | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Outdoor Refreshers – How to Install a Sprinkler System

How to Install a Permanent Sprinkler System

Dragging garden hoses around the yard and setting up sprinklers is one summertime chore no needs to sweat over. Keep the lawn, flowers, trees and shrubs looking their best by installing a dedicated sprinkler system in your yard.

Do Your Homework

If you’re an intermediate do-it-yourselfer, installing a sprinkler system yourself will take several days, yet the extra planning and set-up on the front end of the project will be worth it as the growing season progresses. Before heading to the hardware store, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you need a building permit to install a permanent sprinkler system?
  • Do I know where the underground utility lines are located in my yard? If not, what’s the number for your utility company?
  • Are any local watering restrictions or ordinances in effect?
  • Do your state/ local regulations require a licensed professional to help with part of the installation? Some require professional electricians and plumbers to handle the technical stuff.

Once your homework is done, focus on the details of your sprinkler project. First, set an overall budget that includes the use of professional service people to connect the timer box or tap into the main water line of the house. Also, if you are adding a system to an existing lawn, then factor in what it will cost to fix the damage that trenching may leave across the grass, such as additional sod, grass seed, fertilizer, etc.

Use a Sprinkler Template

Many sprinkler manufacturers can create a customized design for your landscape. They offer templates for you to map all of the features in your yard like shrubs and flower beds, areas of sun and shade, and hardscapes like retaining walls. From this, they will help you design a sprinkler plan with the correct number of zones and suggest the materials needed to install your system. This service may cost a nominal fee but it is worth it to have the details worked out so you don’t have to.

Turn on the Waterworks in 13 Steps (It’s Lucky, We Tell You!)

  1. Mark the location of all the trenches and sprinklers with stakes or plastic flags.
  2. With a gas powered trenching machine, dig trenches 4-12 inches deep according to your plan. The manufacturer will have taken into consideration the area you live and how deep the water lines need to be to keep them from freezing.
  3. Turn off water to house at meter.
  4. Cut into the main water line. This may be where you want to hire a professional plumber to make sure that the work is done properly and your water pressure is maintained. They can also install a backflow prevention device.
  5. Dig a trench from the main water line to the valve box location. At the end dig a hold about 18 inches deep and 2-3 feet long. Line hole with 2 inches of gravel and set the valve box into it. The box lid should be flush with the grass.
  6. Next glue together the manifold and attach the zone valves. Set manifold in box.
  7. Dig a shallow trench from valve box to the location you want for the timer. Lay the 24 volt underground wire in the trench and connect it to the wires leading from each valve.
  8. Place pipes in trenches leading from the valve box. Whenever a pipe branches off you will need to splice a tee fitting to the main pipe and attach a short length of flexible pipe.
  9. Using 90 degree PVC elbow joints join pipes in trenches to the valve box. Turn on the water and flush the pipes to eliminate dirt in line and avoid clogs. Turn water back off.
  10. Install pop up sprinkler heads to each of the flexible pipes.
  11. After mounting the timer box where you want it, attach the 24 volt wires from the zone valves to the timer. You may want to hire an electrician to run power to the timer box.
  12. Set timer and run tests on the system to see where sprinkler heads need to be adjusted. Check lines to make sure there are no leaks that can cost you money down the road.
  13. Fill in trenches with soil and repair the lawn with sod or seed.

Take Time for the Timer

You may want to save money doing the job yourself, but that’s no reason to skimp on the quality of the parts you use. Sprinkler heads take a beating from day to day use and getting mowed over. Putting money into quality sprinkler heads will cut down on you having to go back and forth to the hardware store. Also, research the features you want on your timer. You may want one that allows you to test the system without having to disrupt your programmed schedule. You may also want features like rain sensors or frost sensors so the system doesn’t run during those times.

Homework, folks, will help you avoid any headaches and get you the sprinklers you want. Now sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor and forget all about those stupid garden hoses – except, of course, if you like watering your prize roses by hand. Then by all means, find a great water hose at Runyon!

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your yard and garden projects. From landscaping tools to a trencher, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-tos, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

Categories: DIY Projects, Gardening and Lawn Care, How-To's | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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