This Old House: Planning and Ideas

Southern Living: Home and Garden

Sunday, May 31, 2009

How To Choose an Outdoor Fire Pit

It always pleasurable for all the family to assemble together and chill out al fresco on balmy summer evenings but what do you do in the fall or spring when evenings are chilly but you still want to be outdoors? You could put up a backyard fireplace but this can be quite a considerable job and you can’t take it with you if you move. One solution could be to use an outdoor fire pit. Fire pits produce the look and warmth of a campfire to your deck or garden but in a very controlled and protected way. Additionally a lot of fire pits are transportable, so you can take them on trips or if you move address, or move them around on your terrace or backyard to a more suitable point.

Fire Pit Styles & Designs

Fire pits can be purchased in a diversity of distinct styles including a fire bowl design, camping rings, chimney style or tabletop fire pits. Also they come in a range of sizes from about 25 inches in diameter, medium up to 35 inches, and extremely large up to 50 inches which are just about as big as a patio table! Of course your finances and the area where you are going to position your fire pit will determine which size you should buy. Low-cost fire pits for approximately $99 are obtainable but they may not survive for any length of time, two or three seasons at the most. Metal in these economical models tends to be thin and prone to rusting and often screens are not very well-made and can disintegrate. At the other extreme there are fire pits powered by gas from roughly $500 to more than $2500 which will keep going for many years.

Fire Pit Accessories

In addition to your outdoor fire pit you may also want to acquire a number of accessories. As a rule fire pits are supplied with a screen to prevent sparks from being a danger but they often become twisted and broken down through use. An added accessory that is functional is a grill so you can cook on your fire pit! If you are going to leave it outside then you certainly must have a fire pit cover to shield it from the elements. Some also come with tables.

Fire Pit Safety

At all times study the manufacturers directions before you make use of your fire pit. It is not a good proposal to use an outside fire pit on a wood deck, a cement or tile floor or outside on the ground is much safer. You ought to also make certain you don’t use it near to anything that is inflammable such as fences, trees or other wooden items. Piled up dry grass or other dried plant material is also flammable so be cautious if you have just mowed the lawn!

Fire Pit Portability

When you choose the type of outdoor fire pit to buy consider if you want it to be portable. Some of the outdoor gas fire pits are weighty and not really effortless to move. Smaller, lighter fire pits can be transported around or taken with you on trips or to the beach

For more information and some good deals on fire pits visit Outdoor Fire Pits or Outdoor Gas Fire Pits.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Furnish Your Backyard With Modern Outdoor Furniture

As you want to spend leisure time outside your home with your family and friends, there will be no other place that can give you a comforting ambiance than having a well furnish backyard. Balconies, backyards and deck can be the focal point of your house extension. Having a good and appealing indoor furniture, it will not be hard on your part to think of the furniture that you can have as your outdoor furniture.
An outdoor wicker deep seat sets are the latest trend in complementing your backyard. The wicker is made of poly resin which is very durable under the different weather elements. Wicker sectional has been very popular as modular pieces can meet the customer’s needs. Many people are choosing intimate wicker deep seating to set in entertaining with style and comfort.

Cast aluminum is rust free and can be left outdoor for all year round. This material is far from that plastic furniture that bleached with the sunlight. Cast aluminum is clearly the choice of most people because of its durability with the test of weather and proven to be long lasting.

Sunbrella fabrics are the most sought after outdoor fabric perfect for any cushion. These fabrics are mildew resistant and can protect you from UV rays. . The fabrics of your sunbrella come in different color without worrying to fade quickly. Cushions are can be left outdoor and can withstand to any elements. Sunbrella has hundreds of designed fabrics to choose from, it will depend on you which you want you want as your outdoor furniture.

Now there is newly introduce reticulated cushion foam. This foam provides drain ability while maintaining its form and comfort. It can avoid the traditional problem with moisture being stuck in the foam after the rainfall. It is manufactured with virtually emission free VPF technology that is proven to be environmentally friendly way to produce polyurethane foams worldwide. With this environmentally friendly and durable, it gives the outdoor furniture cushion a longer life span.

Most people stay with the indoor fireplace every chilling night, what if you want to stay outside your home? Now there are outdoor fireplace that are available in electric, natural gas and ethanol. This has the ability to provide warm to the grand areas and are greatly fit the area as you do the furnishing of the space.

As you list all the needed outdoor furniture you will come up with endless listing. Having outdoor furniture that is durable to any type of weather is the best thing to consider in furnishing your backyard. And with the latest design trends and durability you will end up having a well organized patio where you can spend your leisure time.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Picking The Perfect Patio Furniture

As we spend increasing amounts of time at work, many people have less opportunity for play. Creating a pleasant environment right at home with your patio furniture affords the perfect place to unwind. The simple pleasure of hosting a barbeque, watching a sunset or relaxing on your new patio furniture can serve as a fantastic escape and inject some much needed peace into your busy life.

With this in mind, you should pick patio or deck furniture that you will truly enjoy. As an extension of your home, your patio furniture needs to be held to the same standards of selection as your living or kitchen furniture. The patio is generally immediately off of a main room and can be viewed from the home. For this reason, try to pick patio furniture that will blend with your tastes and existing d├ęcor. The major difference, of course, is that your patio furniture is subjected to more extreme conditions than your settee. Muddy shoes and shedding cats are no match for sleet and snow. The following criteria can aid in your decision making process.

First, you must think about the purpose of your purchase. Do you want a small table and chairs for quiet reflection? Do you enjoy entertaining and hope to invite twenty of your friends on a summer afternoon? Will the eager grandchildren frequently climb on the patio furniture? It is important to consider how you use your patio and what expectations you have for your patio furniture before making any purchases.

The location of your patio is another key in the selection process of porch swings are a whimsical way to relax and create serenity. Novelty chairs, like Adirondacks and rocking chairs, liven up a patio while providing extra space for relaxing.

There’s no need to fly to Paris for a week in order to get away; you can get all of that enjoyment right in your own backyard with the right patio furniture. Follow these guidelines and you should be relaxing shortly with all of the essentials for a beautiful, perfect patio.

Get great tips for furnishing every room of your house. Leah Perry provides insightful advice on purchasing the right patio furniture, caring for your cedar furniture, and much more. Review hundreds of creative ideas at

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Types of Backyard Fire Pits

Having a backyard fire pit is an idea that has been around for years. Backyard fire pits have definitely evolved from the original hole in the ground type. They are now decorative accessories that create an outdoor living area that you can share with family and friends. There are many options available for you to choose from and produce the ultimate warming glow of firelight in your backyard.

Metal Fire Pits

The basic model for a metal fire pit is a large steel ring with decorative cutouts for ventilation and flame viewing. The steel rings can be purchased at most home and garden centers for less than $100. The ring is placed on the ground or in an area that has either sand or stone and the fire is built in the center of the ring. The ring is designed to contain the fire. You could also choose a metal bowl that sets on legs. The bowls are approximately 2 to 3 feet in diameter and are made from copper, steel or aluminum. A metal bowl backyard fire pit ranges from $100 to $500 and can be set anywhere on the patio or lawn. Be aware that the metal bowls will get extremely hot and models with shorter legs could pose a fire hazard if set on a surface that is flammable, such as a wood deck or dry grass. Some of the metal bowl models will come with grills for cooking or wire mesh screens to keep the burning embers from flying around and inside the bowl.

Masonry and Stone

If you want a more permanent, formal backyard fire pit than you might want to consider going with a stone or masonry pit. These fire pits can be as small or as large as you desire or what your backyard area can comfortably support. The fires that you have in these fire pits should never be more than 3 feet in diameter and 2 feet high. You'll want to check and see if there are any specific building or fire codes that you need to conform to prior to building a permanent fire pit. Because brick, concrete block, slate or sandstone is a porous material they can get hot enough for moisture inside the material to cause them to crack or even in extreme cases, explode. You can prevent this from happening by using granite or other nonporous rock to construct stone backyard fire pits or make an inner ring of firebrick that is several feet inside the brick or masonry outer ring.

Gas Fire Pits

You should consider a gas fire pit, which is like a gas barbeque or grill, and runs on either propane or natural gas. Most gas backyard fire pit kits will come with faux logs, lava rocks and sometimes even decorative colored glass. You should avoid inexpensive backyard fire pit gas models that have nothing more than metal tubes with holes for the flames. Typically these types of gas fire pits are not UL-approved and could cause you problems. The nice thing about gas fire pits is that they don't need as much clearance from flammable surfaces as the open flame fire pits and they can usually be used in suburban or urban areas where wood fire are restricted. Backyard fire pits that are gas can be turn on and off instantly. Clean up is also minimal because gas fire pits don't produce ash or embers. There are so many different styles to choose from that you surely can find one model that fits into the backyard fire pit design you have in mind. The disadvantages of a gas fire pit is that you can't cook on them, you typically have to have quite a bit of gas to get the same affect as a wood fire and they are generally more expensive. A gas backyard fire pit can cost between several hundred to several thousand dollars and doesn't quite have the same effect or smell as a wood fire.

Regardless of which style of backyard fire pit you decide to go with, there is no denying the effect of a crackling fire in the great outdoors. It is not only beautiful but there is no way to wind down from a long day than to gaze into a glowing ember, cozy within the warmth of a backyard fire pit.

Jayme Hanson operates an information site about Best Landscaping Ideas. Articles include information on Container Plant Ideas, Small Backyard Designs and Patio Deck Ideas.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Simple Deck Designs

There are several different styles and shapes to a deck design that can easily be incorporated to add a great deal of enjoyment to the outdoor living area. The simplest type of deck design that can be built is a concrete deck or patio design that leads off the back off the house or from a set of deck stairs and steps. Concrete decks are best suited for those houses which are level with the ground as you walk out to the backyard. Of course the only problem with a concrete deck is that it does not offer a great appeal to the eye and does not add much to the look of the backyard landscaping design.

Instead, many home landscaping owners who would really like a deck that adds value and character to their home, spend time and money investing in a wooden deck. Depending on how far your house is set above or below the ground, a concrete slab can be placed there to bring the deck up to level or deck stairs and steps can be added to bring the deck down to the house level. Wooden decks also offer the opportunity for expansion later on, if you or a future homeowner should decide to make the deck wrap around to another part of the house, or to extend further out into the yard.

Before you get started with big landscaping plans for your wooden deck, it is best to check with your city or county zoning laws. Most counties will have rules and regulations regarding how large of a deck you can create, what the dimensions need to be and if there are any other regulations such as attaching the deck to the house or having a freestanding deck. Keep in mind that you will most likely have to require a building permit for your deck, which will result in additional charges before you can get started building your dream deck or even add on a small deck railing.

Of course the easiest solution to building a wooden deck would be to hire someone to do the work for you. Unfortunately prices for building a deck can start out at $500-$1000 for a small deck design but can escalate to a few thousand dollars or more for an elaborate deck with multiple seating areas and a deck railing or deck stairs and steps. Keep in mind that hiring a professional to do the job usually means getting quality work and having the deck finished in a matter of days. On the other hand, if you have at least an entry level knowledge of carpentry, have extra time available during the spring and summer months and would like to take on the project yourself, there are many knowledgeable sources available that can help you through your successful landscaping ideas. One of the first decisions you need to make before starting a do-it-yourself deck project is to determine whether or not you will add a freestanding or attached deck. Often those who choose to do it yourself will choose a freestanding deck because they do not want to deal with the matter of attaching the deck to the vinyl siding or the brick sides of the house, although an attached deck offers easier access from the house.

Another important decision will be talking to hardware stores to determine what type of wood will work well outdoors and be able to withstand possible rain, snow, sleet, or even windy conditions throughout the years. Of course, no matter what deck design you select, you will need to varnish, stain and put a finish on the wood to protect it from the outdoor elements, but there are some types of wood that will do better outdoors than others. Along with determining what type of wood to use, you will also want to research landscaping software programs, landscape articles or deck design books to have an actual plan or design in mind before you begin cutting and nailing boards together. This will help you to visualize the project before you get started and will give you something to help keep you on track as you go through the summer working on your deck project.

For more landscaping advice, tips, and information visit

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

How To Build A Fire Pit – Tutorial

Most of you will already know that a fire pit is just a small pit that you start your very own fire in and sit around enjoying it with friends and family. Fire pits are not a new phenomena and have been enjoyed by families for centuries the world over. There is no denying that a fire pit is great for any family or social gathering, you can all sit around and chat with the warmth and radiance emanating from the fire pit. Not only that, you can even use your fire pit for cooking, when camping with friends or family.

However, how do you go about creating the perfect fire pit? That is probably one of the most asked questions whenever anyone is contemplating how to build a fire pit. The key is to learn the basics about how to build a fire pit and the rest will come naturally. When searching for the perfect place to build your fire pit, look for areas that are not surrounded by other combustible materials that could easily set alight. Look for an area where you can build your fire pit in an open space so you can take full advantage of what the fire pit has to offer.

You need to be sure that wherever you choose to build your fire pit you have found the most idyllic and safe position. Now you can really start considering how to build your fire pit. Next, you need to decide upon how wide you want your fire pit to be, this will all depend on the size of the fire you are trying to create. Make sure you do not decide upon a fire pit that is too big otherwise it will create many problems for you. Most times, it is sufficient to make your fire pit with a circumference of around one to two feet.

With the size selection and measuring out of the way you can start building your fire pit. You will need some marking equipment and some digging equipment. Firstly mark out the shape of you fire pit then start digging away at the dirt and make sure that you go deep enough to accommodate the fuel source you are going to use. With this done you can now get some brick pavers to surround your fire pit this is just for added safety.

Now it is time to get the fire pit ready for use. Add some pea gravel and sand into the fire pit hole. This will form the basis of your fire pit. Let this settle overnight and then tomorrow you can get started on concreting the foundations around your fire pit to give the fire pit the permanency that you are looking for. It is that simple, and to think it was only yesterday that you were wondering how to build a fire pit. Now you have your very own fire pit and you can tell your friends how to build a fire pit for themselves.

Learn how to build a fire pit. Shop the largest selection of fire pits online at

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Basic Deck Building

If you want to learn basic deck building, there are three steps you need to know. They are plan, build, and trim. I will explain these concepts in this article and show you how to build that deck you always wanted.

The first step in basic deck building is to plan. Determine where the deck is to be located and what the finished product will look like. Take measurements to determine the exact size you want, where the steps are going to be, if there are any doors to consider and where you want the railing to go. Now decide where and how everything will fit together.

Draw a plan showing dimensions, including the details such as the direction the deck boards will run. Is the new deck to be attached to the existing house or not? It is much easier if it is not attached. There will be fewer problems in the future.

Now plan the foundation, including supports. If you have any questions about how to size the support beams, someone at your local lumberyard with access to span tables can assist with the answers. ALWAYS make the beams large enough to support the load you anticipate.

The second step in basic deck building is to build the deck. Dig the holes for the support posts. Be sure to measure carefully as the posts are difficult to move after the concrete has set. Place the header joist at the ends and connect the joist to them either with joist hangers or by nailing through the header joist.

Make sure everything is square and level. Nail the deck boards to the joist, keeping them 1/8 inch apart. Start at the outside edge and work toward the house. Always get the first deck board straight and fit all other deck boards to it.

Nail every deck board with two nails at every joist to help keep things straight and keep the boards from cupping and warping. Cut the ends of the deck boards even with each other by using a chalk line to determine a straight line. The floor now is complete.

To make the railing, take the support post and trim them to a height of 35 inches or whatever the local requirements are in your area. Cut two supports to fit horizontally between the posts. Now cut balusters to fit from top to bottom. Nail the balusters into the previously cut support pieces 3 ½ inches apart. Stand them up and toe nail into the post.

Cap off with a clean (no knots) deck board on top of the post. Cut the corners at a 45 degree angle for a finished look. The third and final step in basic deck building is to trim. Put some lattice around the bottom to keep critters and children out. Stain or wood sealer should be applied after the deck has cured.

If you follow these basic instructions of plan, build, and trim, you should be able to build a wood deck at your home. Check to determine if permits are required. If they are required, the building inspector will make sure you are in compliance with local building codes.

For more in depth instructions on basic deck building, including diagrams, please visit today.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Building Decks: Essential Elements That You Should Know

For many homeowners, extending the living space is one of the best ways to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors and at the same take advantage of an extra space for entertaining friends and family members. Decks are among the popular choices these days, as it effectively gives the home exterior a more interesting and welcoming dimension, and allow homeowners to simply laze around and spend the day in comfortable leisure, especially during spring and summer seasons.

However, before you make plans on building decks, there are a handful of considerations that you need to carefully take into account. To help you in making the necessary decisions, there are the important factors in building decks:

Location – ask yourself, where should your decks be constructed? One common characteristic of a sound is when the design is stylishly blended with the rest of the backyard environment, all without being overly visible and obtrusive. If you are lucky enough to have a wonderful view in your yard, then make sure to take advantage of this and showcase its beauty through the strategic placement of your decks. If you have some privacy issues with your neighbors, or want to avoid the traffic noise, then make sure to take all these factors in consideration of your location to eliminate possible problems in the future.

Construction - another important aspect that you need to deliberate on is to whether to have the deck directly connected to your home or not. To help you decide, you need to consider the possible amount of traffic in the said area. This is especially critical when decks are directly connected with the living, as people who walk in an out may disrupt people in the living room, or soil the flooring systems. Some people prefer connecting decks to the kitchen for easier access and enhanced convenience. You can also consider making two connecting doors that will lead to different rooms in the house for a more efficient solution in managing house traffic.

Usage - ask yourself what is the primary reason for building a deck. If you have a rather limited space or if are not really fond of throwing large parties, then a smaller sized deck would be a more practical option for you. Build a deck that would best suit your needs, in consideration to the size of your family, house dimension, as well as the land area of your property.

So now that you know the important elements to consider in building decks, you can now go ahead and make all the necessary plans in stylishly extending your living space.

Get more information about Patio Decks and Home Improvement at

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Benefits of a PreMade Fire Pit Patio

DIYers, landscapers, and landscape architects now have a unique and innovative outdoor living item to quickly and affordably enhance their fire pit areas and outdoor living projects. The pre-made fire pit patio. Recently premiered at the Backyard Living Expo, held in Orlando, FL, the response to pre-made fire pit patio was simply overwhelming.

Pre-made fire pits, also known as “pre-cast” fire pits, are produced year-round indoors, under controlled conditions, to ensure the highest quality and consistent product strength.

Each pre-cast fire pit is 10-1/2 feet in diameter, 1-1/2 inches thick, made of reinforced 5,000 PSI concrete, and is cut into eight segments. The 8 segments fit onto one pallet. The standard pallet size is 48" x 48" and approximately 26 inches high. Estimated weight of the pre-made patios is 1550 lbs.

Make the most out of your outdoor living area with this unique and affordable outdoor flooring makeover. The pre-made patio’s patented construction and design will serve you for years to come.

“Pre-Cast” Fire Pit Patio Benefits:

1) Overall costs for these patios will be lower than comparable “poured
in place” concrete patios.

2) Requires less labor and reduced skill levels.

3) Overall faster install time.

4) Can be installed in virtually any weather, year-round.

5) Does not require permits as with permanently installed concrete.

6) Existing landscaping is not destroyed upon installation.

7) No heavy equipment required.

8) Can be easily removed and relocated.

9) Can be installed in inaccessible locations.

Each segment of the pre-made patio can be easily handled by two people and no special tools are required for installation, just ordinary garden tools.

Environmental Benefits:

* Reduced fire hazard from sparks and stray cinders.

* Eliminates erosion around existing fire pits.

* Guests will be drawn to the fire pit area, saving surrounding landscaping.

* Fire pits can be easily relocated, as this product is modular.

* Increased accessibility for handicapped or physically challenged guests.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Modular Outdoor Flooring Deck Tiles

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