Tips to Prepare your Deck for Outdoor Entertaining

Getting your deck structurally sound and safe is just the first step to having a great outdoor space for use in the summer. There are a lot of things you can do to make sure that your deck is not only safe and functional, but that it also becomes the envy of all your friends, and the center of your neighborhood’s summer cookout season. These simple ideas will ensure that, rain or shine, your deck, patio, or porch is ready for anything you, or Mother Nature, throw at it.

1. Enclose your deck with mosquito netting. Netting is ideal for climates that are warm and humid – especially during the hot summer months – because they help keep out insects and pests.

2. Install a fire-pit. Fire pits act as a center focal point for your deck, and they also allow for year-round use during the early spring and fall months when the weather starts to get chilly.

3. Build tiki-torch brackets. Soft outdoor lighting is great for setting the mood and atmosphere of your outdoor space. Brackets allow for a safer way to utilize this fun and alternative form of lighting.

Here’s one option for tiki torch mounting

4. Consider covering, or partially covering, your deck, patio or porch. This will help prevent furniture and outdoor appliances from getting ruined by weather or sunlight.

5. Outfit your deck with comfortable seating and gathering areas. Decks are a place to socialize and congregate – outdoor couches and lounge chairs are a stylish and comfortable way to relax outdoors.

outdoor patio set
There are many options for outdoor seating

6. Build in plenty of storage/counter space. When cooking and grilling outside, storage becomes key for keeping your food and utensils within arm’s reach. Build counter-tops, cabinets and even install a small refrigerator for convenience.

7. Build levels into your deck. A great way to divide your deck space into separate sections for cooking and lounging is to create levels connected by small stairs. This creates not only an eye-catching layout, but adds the illusion of additional space.

8. Turn your deck into an outdoor cinema. A popular choice nowadays for many homeowners is installing a large television into a covered area (in case of rain or bad weather) on the deck.

9. Make space for sound. Installing a surround sound system is a great deck addition for throwing parties and entertaining people..

outdoor speaker in rock (looks like a rock)
Here’s one outdoor speaker option that blends in

10. Upgrade to a stationary grill. A regular grill is a great addition to any deck, yard, or porch, but to really impress the neighbors and cook top-notch food for large gatherings, consider designing your deck with a built-in grill from the start. Not only are they better at cooking than portable grills, they are often larger and can accommodate more food.

Call Handyman Matters today at 1-866-FIX-MY-HOME to schedule all of your outdoor projects or enter your zip code above to find a location near you!

Need-to-Know Repairs to Prepare your Deck for Summer!

Large barbecue cooker on cedar deck

One of the best aspects of owning a home is the yard that comes with it.  What is better than sitting out on your deck, relaxing, and enjoying the scenery?  Absolutely nothing.  Having an inviting outdoor space this time of year can’t be beat.  Whether you’re looking to relax in the sun and read, host a BBQ, or perhaps throw a backyard wedding or graduation – here are some repairs to consider so you can enjoy all the summer days ahead…

Power Washing

Decks can often look weathered by the end of the winter season.  When grime builds up it can be hard to tell what areas of your deck need to be repaired.  Perhaps your boards are discolored – this doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to sand or re-stain your deck.  Start this process with power washing.  A high pressure cleaning is unbeatable when revealing what is a smudge and what is a stain.

powering washing live

Checking For Wood Rot

Checking for rot is as easy as wielding a screwdriver.  With your screwdriver, drive it into the wood, and pop up a splinter.  If the splinter snaps and reacts with the quality of dry wood, you’re in the clear; if it bends and doesn’t really snap, you will need to replace that board.  Make sure to check in the surrounding areas to see if the rot has potentially spread.

Areas of the deck that are in direct contact with the ground underneath are more likely to experience rot because of ground moisture.  If your deck isn’t elevated, it may be worth looking into to avoid future, costly damage.

Panel Replacement

Is your deck surface even?  Walk around, notice if you have any uneven steps, or if you find yourself tripping over cracks.  Warped wood is a common problem for most decks, and can ruin outdoor get-togethers.

You don’t want your company tripping and falling and neither do we.  Luckily this problem has a quick fix, as deck panels screw in individually and can be easily swapped out.

Sanding and Sealing

When it comes to wood decks, maintaining a consistent stain can have a drastic effect on the value of your home.  If you’re noticing discoloration this will help bring it back to its natural color.

  • First, sand your deck to help break down the variance in tone.
  • Next, instead of painting the wood, try a sealant.

Sealing does exactly what it sounds like as it absorbs into the wood to seal in color as opposed to covering it up.  This process will also help to protect your deck from the elements during next year’s winter.

 

Enjoy the sun, and let Handyman Matters do the rest.  We specialize in a variety of exterior maintenance projects, from deck repair or additions, to landscaping, to gutter cleaning… Let us be your ally in achieving the perfect summer home.

How To Install Inox Stainless Steel Cables For Stairs & Decks

Indital’s Inox stainless steel product line is “modular”, meaning there is no welding needed.  All that is needed to connect our various components such as handrail supports into the top of the newel posts or various radius elbows to the handrail is just a few drops of our #E4054 high adhesive glue.

We provide many varieties of products to meet just about any cable application desired whether for stainless round or square posts, or even wood posts.

Indital can provide custom pre-drilling and/or tapping of our Inox stainless or Steelnox galvanized posts to meet your desired project specs.  We would require a drilling form to be filled out in order to know hole size, hole spacing, post height, and type of post. Indital can also provide takeoff assistance helping you determine which parts you will need to complete your project as long as we are given a drawing with accurate dimensions, including the rise/run of your stair.

Recommendations

  • We recommend that newel posts for cable applications be spaced no more than 4 feet
  • Keep cable spaced roughly 3” to 3-1/4” a part as there is always some flex with cable and this will make sure you pass code of 4”.
  • Cable hardware is technically only needed at the beginning and ending of a run, and the cable can run through the predrilled intermediate posts.
  • Indital recommends ending a cable run at 20-25ft to allow the most strength and tension
  • Anything over 20-25ft, it is recommended to use a mid-run tensioner coupling (ET06 w/ETM05DX & ETM05SX) to allow additional tension for the long run of cable. We do not recommend going over 50ft.
  • Our cable comes standard in spools of 328ft, in either 4mm, 5mm, or 6mm. Our 5mm (13/64”) is our standard and most popular size due to the rigid offering and having more hardware options available for it.
  • Our cable and cable hardware are all 316 exterior grade, however, please be aware that we offer both 304 interior and 316 exterior grade for our posts, handrail, and components so please make sure to purchase the correct grade material for either your interior or exterior project.
  • If drilling your own stainless posts, use drill bit intended for stainless so it doesn’t create burn marks due

Cable Hardware Options

Options That Require Crimping (through-the-post)

  1. Our ETM05DX male terminal (right hand thread) or our ETM05SX male terminal (left hand thread) to work with our ED06 female dome nut (right hand thread) or ED06SX female dome nut (left hand thread)
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  2. Our ETF05DX female terminal (right hand thread) or our ETF05SX female terminal (left hand thread) to work with our ED07 male rounded head screw (right hand thread) or ED07SX male rounded head screw.

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  • These 2 options are recommended for our stainless posts; however, if using with wood end posts (through-the-post), make sure to source a heavy duty washer to keep the cable hardware from pulling through the post.
  • If utilizing either of these options on a stair rake, use a sloping washer (EB071 for example) on each outer end post at the start and stop of the run. This helps align the angle.  Please refer to our Inox stainless schematics to see the example.

Drilling For Flat & Rake Angles (through-the-post)

    1. If deciding to drill “straight” holes in your end posts for a stair rake, you can utilize a few options.
      • Use our ED05 (pivotable terminal connector) along with the ED07 and ETM05DX but only in right hand thread offered.

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      • Use our ED06 dome nut right hand thread and ETMT06DX right hand thread (pivotable turnbuckle) with our ETFF05. Available in both right and left hand threads.

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  1. If deciding to drill “offset” or holes at an angle for a stair rake, you can utilize a few options.
    • Determine the correct angle needing to be drilled by calculating from the rise & run.
    • Use our ETM05DX male terminal (right hand thread) or our ETM05SX male terminal (left hand thread) to work with our ED06 female dome nut (right hand thread) or ED06SX female dome nut (left hand thread), and make sure to include the sloping washer (EB071 for example). See Inox stainless cable schematics on website for example.
    • Use our ETF05DX female terminal (right hand thread) or our ETF05SX female terminal (left hand thread) to work with our ED07 male rounded head screw (right hand thread) or ED07SX male rounded head screw, and make sure to include the sloping washer (EB071 for example). See Inox stainless cable schematics on website for example.

Drilling Sizes

  1. Our ETM05DX, ETM05SX, ETF05DX, ETF05SX for 5mm (13/64”) cable are 7.5mm O.D. (0.295”) with M6 (0.236”) threads.

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  1. We recommend for creating your hole sizes that you use:
    • ¼” or 17/64” hole for your intermediate posts allowing the cable to run through with minimal gap since the cable size is 13/64” (5mm)
    • 19/64” to 8mm (0.315”) hole will allow proper clearance for cable hardware to fit snug within the end posts.

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Wood Post Options

When drilling into wood newel end posts, we recommend first to pre-drill with either a ¼” or 17/64” bit to allow our ETW05DX or ETW05SX wood lag screw terminals to be properly driven in without accidently cracking the wood post.

This can be installed straight or at any angle into wood post.

  • 8mm deep socket will allow you to drive the wood lag screw terminal into the wood post properly

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Another option for mounting cable to a wood newel post is utilizing an external pivotable anchor terminal such as our: EMMF06DX/EMMF06SX or EMM05

  • Perfect for both straight runs and angles, without having to predrill into the posts

inox pivotable anchor terminal on deck

Installation & Tension

Creating tension with our cable comes down to accurately cutting your cable at the correct length.

    1. Predrill your posts to desired specifications utilizing the #E40580 drilling template…..or Indital can predrill your posts (drill form required and found on indital.com)E40580 drilling template
    2. Mount your posts in place along with the flange canopies to cover the hardware
    3. Add your cable terminals through your end posts at the start and finish of your run
    4. Don’t fully tighten the terminals down
    5. Then measure the length between each end post from where the cable slips in at the farthest point of each cable to the other post doing the same

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  1. From there you will cut your cable at the pre-measured length using the shearing tool (#E40690)inox shearing tool
  2. Crimp the inner cable terminals to the cable using the E40685 manual hydraulic crimper (instructions are included with each tool)
    • Make sure to use the correct crimper die size that matches the O.D. of the cable terminal (The cable dies are included in the tool kit)cable crimper
  3. Recommended to use a left hand terminal on one end and right hand on the other end of run
  4. Before you begin to thread on the cable crimped terminals to the posts, make sure you begin at the middle of the post and end at both the top and bottom. This allows the tension to be evenly distributed.guide cable installation sequence
  5. After cable is crimped to terminals, thread the crimped terminals with the end dome nut or rounded head screw depending on which option you preferred. As you’re tightening them on each end of run it will begin to pull the cable fully tight.  If cable was measured and cut properly you will feel the cable tension and feel firm.  Overly tighten and it will pull too heavily on the posts.

Crimpless Terminal (no crimping tool required)

#ETSM300 (#E019760063) – (Offered In Right Hand Thread Only)

crimpless terminal guide

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Post written by the team at Indital.

How To Install A DIY Deck Gate


Hanging out on your deck is an amazing way to pass time during the summer.  You can soak up some vitamin D all within the comforts of your own home.  It’s occasionally even nice to have company; but when you invite company, you must also account for their potential needs.  Some of the cuter companions require a little more reinforcements.  If you have kiddos and/or family pets in your life, deck gates can be a wonderful solution.  Handyman Matters has come up with a quick and affordable guide to installing your own deck gate!

Step 1: Measure (& Measure Again)

Before buying supplies for any DIY home improvement project, make sure you know the scope of the area that needs to be covered.  Know the height, the width, and the depth.  Write it down, and take it with you (or for an easier phone hack, jot it down in your notes app and go paperless).

Step 2: Find A Matching Gate

You may feel inclined to head to the lumber department, but if you redirect your route to the deck and railing aisle there will be some handy, pre-made options.  Select a gate that fits the color and feel of your current deck railing system.

Step 3: In or Out?

Which direction do you want your gate to open?  This will affect the overall positioning of the hinges, so try them and pick your favorite!

Step 4: Line It Up

DIY home improvement projects are always easier with a partner.  If you have a right hand man with you, have him line up and hold the gate with the rest of the railing.  Or for the lone wolf handymen out there, use scraps to line up the bottom of the fence with the bottom of the railing, and position your c-clamp to hold it in place.

Step 5: Attach The Gate

Hinges before latch.  Make sure your hinge is level and on the appropriate side for either to open in or out, and then screw it in (make sure it’s on the correct side).

Step 6: Choose Your Latch

There’s a couple of different kinds of latches.  There’s the sturdier gate latch, a step down from there is the bolt, and another step down there’s the hook and eye.  Consider how much tension may be put on the gate to decide which will fit your needs the best.  If you have a larger dog, you may want to go for a latch or bolt instead of the hook and eye.

Step 7: Relax & Enjoy Your New Deck Gate

Looking to make your deck even safer?  Handyman matters specializes in all sorts of mobility and safety specific fixes.  Call us today for your free estimate 866-FIX-MY-HOME!

How To Keep Your Deck Clean

Are you the kind of person who does nothing to clean the deck unless you are holding a barbecue? And, even then you clean the grill and the furniture but ignore the deck. With warm summery days in, you will be holding a lot of barbecue parties, and if you want your deck to look presentable and last long, you should make an effort to keep it clean.

Are you the kind of person who does nothing to clean the deck unless you are holding a barbecue? And even then, you clean the grill and furniture, but ignore the deck. With warm summery days coming you’ll be doing a lot of entertaining and you’ll want your deck to look it’s best.

Here’s how to do it:

1. Get A Cover For The Umbrella – Keep it closed when you are not using it.  Left open, dirt, debris and leaves can stain the umbrella.  If you don’t want to close it, consider getting a cover.  This may seem like extra work and expense, but you won’t be dealing with a dirty umbrella at the end of the season or having to think about replacing it.

2. Store All Chair Cushions – If you want the chair cushions to remain in good condition, put them away. Store them and take them out only when you are going to use them. Otherwise, exposure to the natural elements will stain them or the cushion fabric will begin to look old and faded. If you are not going to store them when not in use, make sure that you invest in a good waterproof fabric.

3. Clean Your Deck Weekly – Debris accumulates under the furniture and around the planters.  Schedule a regular time to clean the deck, preferably weekly after you have mowed the lawn.  Remove dried leaves and other debris into a pile some distance away to prevent it from blowing or getting tracked back again.

If the planters are heavy, then it may be difficult to move them. Get planters with wheels, so that you can wheel them aside and clear the moisture trapped beneath them. Letting moisture accumulate will be harmful for the deck, especially if it is wooden.

Buy lightweight furniture for the deck, so that you can tilt or move it and let the rainwater run down. Remove the moisture and all traces of water to protect the furniture and the deck.

4. Keep Paper Towels Handy – Use paper towels to clean stains on the deck, furniture, umbrella, tablecloth or the cushions, as soon as you see them. This will prevent the stains from becoming permanent. And the quicker you blot the stains, the easier it will be to remove them.

Don’t forget to wash between the slats, the underside, and the intersections when you are doing your weekly deck cleaning. Use a mild detergent and water to wash the deck. Following these tips will ensure that it is always clean during the summer and spring months. This will also help extend the life of your deck.

For more information on maintaining or even repairing your decks, contact Handyman Matters, at 1-866-FIX-MY-HOME or enter your zip code above to find a location in your area.

Prepare Your Deck For Winter!

Winterize Your DeckAs the last days of summer slip away, the last thing you want to contemplate is the arrival of another winter. But now is the time to look into preparing those exposed areas of your house for the colder months ahead. And “winterizing” your deck or decks needs to be at the top of your list (or close to the top at least). Here are some things to take into consideration:

Weathered gray wood, rust spots, and stains from mildew, moss, algae and tannin-bleed can ruin the looks of your deck. Even newly built decks require cleaning to remove invisible surface barriers and prevent the adhesions of stains and sealers.

Even simple sweeping and clearing away debris helps prevent mildew, fungus and algae growth. A further rinsing with a garden hose will remove dirt and grime. More stubborn buildup can be removed by scrubbing the deck with a nonferrous bristle brush and a solution of warm water and a mild detergent.

Be wary of power-washing, however. At the wrong settings, a power washer can damage decking.

There are commercial cleaning solutions that also brighten and restore a deck’s original color and beauty. Check with your local home improvement store or hardware for suggestions.

You may also want to seal your deck with a water repellent finish before the onslaught of colder, tougher weather. Water repellents stop rain, sleet snow and ice from penetrating the wood’s surface and causing warping or cracking.

Finally, walk your deck and carefully observe its vulnerabilities. Move furniture to check for loose or cracked planks. Tighten any loose screws and replace any decking that’s cracked or showing signs of excessive wear. Tackling these small repair needs now will prolong your deck’s life and help you to avoid major repairs later on. And remember, you can always give one of our trusted home repair professionals at Handyman Matters a call at 866-FIX-MY-HOME, and we’ll take care of the job for you. Guaranteed!

Wood Or Synthetic? Selecting The Right Type Of Decking

Selecting the right kind of deckingDecks have traditionally been made from wood, and even now, the vast majority of decks are built from lumber. But in the last several years, there has been a shift to synthetics, including composite and PVC decking. The chief reason for this has been homeowners’ desire for low-maintenance.

Improved technology has led to reliable synthetic products that look just like wood, and the increased popularity of these is due chiefly to the fact that composite and PVD decks need only simple cleaning to keep their brand-new look. Wood requires periodic repainting or re-staining to retain its color and prevent rot.

From a cost standpoint, wood remains significantly cheaper than composite, however.

The current trend is toward smaller decks, as well as customized decking and a greater variety in choices for balusters and railings. There are additional options, as well: multi-levels, design insets, built-in benches and glass with deck boards as a top rail.

Many homeowners are now specifying newer tropical or exotic synthetic decking that emulates the look of tropical hardwood without the upkeep. Those who want real tropical hardwood but who have environmental concerns can select wood species that originate from well-managed and sustainable forest which operate under strict government guidelines.

Pressure treated wood has had preservative chemicals forced into the wood under pressure. This treatment extends the life of wood against decay and termite attack. It is available in a wide species including southern yellow pine, red pine, Douglas fir, eastern hemlock and sub-alpine fir, to name just a few. It is important to note, though, that because of the chemicals that pressure treated wood contain, they must be disposed of properly and never burned.

Whether to install synthetic deck materials or wood decking depends on the homeowner’s budget, how the deck will be used, and personal preference. As when you undertake any remodeling or repair job, a little up-front research will produce the best long-term results.

(with information gleaned from “Inside Out,” by Jean Feingold, in Professional Remodeler Magazine)