Choosing an Outdoor Kitchen Design Worthy of Your Summer BBQ’s

There are certain sectors of the home that hold unprecedented potential for entertaining.

A billiards basement, the dining room, a large, open kitchen… It seems like that’s it, and then you step outdoors. For much of the year, a backyard is mostly defined by its taxing upkeep.  It can be hard to remember the glory days of summer, until spring arrives, and you find yourself spending more time outdoors.

With the right additions to your home, anyone can create an outdoor kitchen perfect for warm weather entertaining.  From affordable alterations, to entire upgrades, here are some outdoor kitchen designs for those summer BBQ’s.

Grills

The center of all outdoor kitchens is the grill. The grill that you choose will have the power to shape the rest of your outdoor kitchen design.

  • Charcoal Grill – If you’re willing to clean more and cook longer for the satisfaction of a smoky flavored meat, this grill is for you.
  • Gas Grill – For the less committed griller on the go, easy to use and clean, and fast.
  • Smoker – The crock pot of the back yard. These are for all day BBQ projects, and are ideal for the true foodies out there.
  • Wood Oven – Similar but different. This appliance is more expensive but perfect for the pizza enthusiast looking for a texture a typical grill cannot fully provide.

Seating

Envision a BBQ… where do you see your guests sitting?

Is there a standardized picnic table, or does your outdoor kitchen design cater toward something a little more built in?

Similar to their indoor counterparts, bar and bench seating can be a cozy way to border your outdoor kitchen with guests.

Counters & Bar

Ask yourself how much of the cooking process will take place outdoors.

  • Do you need extra counter space for prep work?
  • Do you want a spot for guests to relax and eat appetizers while you grill?

Counters also provide for a more traditional looking kitchen, building a grill into the rest of the kitchen set-up.

Appliances

The final amenities to your outdoor kitchen design.

  • TV – are you planning on watching the game outdoors? Installing a TV under an awning enables you to have the comfort of the living room, while grilling in the sun.
  • Heat Lamps – Nighttime BBQ’s can experience a drop in temperature. Or perhaps you’re looking to construct more of a year-round kitchen; heat lamps will allow you to grill in any weather.
  • Fire Pit – For the less traditional seating area in your outdoor kitchen there’s the fire pit. Roast marshmallows or have a controlled summer bonfire while eating your favorite grilled dinner.

Need Help?

Looking to create an outdoor getaway within your own home – Handyman Matters can help!

From deck installations, to constructing patios, counters, or cabinets, our craftsmen can work with you to plan the outdoor kitchen design of your dreams.

For a free project estimate just call 866-FIX-MY-HOME.

Complete Guide To Planning Your New Patio

There are more decisions that go into planning a patio than may be obvious at the start.

For example:

  • How important is privacy?
  • What about prevailing winds?
  • How about your gardening interest?
  • Do you want a picture-book effect with borders of colorful annuals, or do you want to spend time just sitting?

Imagine your patio as outdoor living space, not just somewhere to clean mud off your shoes or for haphazard deposits of bicycles, toy and garden tools.

Today, patios are planned as extensions of livings rooms, with sliding door between, providing a physical connection and ready access.

A small patio slab is seldom satisfactory.  Plan one of adequate size even if the project must be completed over a longer period of time.  Make simple sketches on paper and work toward this goal in small steps, if necessary.

The most common type of patio construction is poured concrete.  You can also use brick or other loose aggregates, but concrete is a pretty good step-at-a-time material, because the slabs are usually poured in the form of grids and therefore can be done in stages.  Concrete is durable and fluid enough to be cast in curves and flexible in surface texture and coloring. It’s also relatively easy to maintain.

Take time to consider all the surface options and then proceed with the one that seems most attractive and suited to your intent and the style of your home. Do you plan to entertain a lot of guests?  Will you be putting your barbecuing skills to the test?

Trends In Patio Design

patio design ideas

Here are five hot trends in patio design to help elevate your backyard patio from a nice patch of bricks to your favorite spot to entertain and relax this summer:

  1. Make the backyard a destination: More people are foregoing costly summer vacations in favor of sinking that travel money into creating a getaway spot in their own backyards. Enterprising homeowners are using decorative concrete to create mini theme parks with faux rock water features, sculpted pools with water slides and garden bridges.
  2. Cost-sensible, eco-conscious: Environmental awareness doesn’t have to take a backseat to luxury. Backyard oases must also emphasize eco-consciousness, incorporating environmentally-friendly materials like concrete, which is sustainable. But they also like the organic look and feel that the material can impart. Concrete patios can mimic the look of natural stone – even lava – without the eco-impact associated with quarrying the real thing. Plus, concrete costs considerably less than many natural stone products.
  3. Furniture built to last and last: Anybody can go to the local home improvement store and pick up a patio set. The truly trendy backyard designer turns to permanent backyard furniture, custom-made to fit your yard’s style. Custom concrete furniture can take on any shape, from pool tables and benches to patio tables and planters. It lasts a lifetime and never needs to be painted or refinished.
  4. Light my fire: When it comes to creating ambiance, few home improvements pack the wallop of a fireplace. Outdoor hearths are growing in popularity as homeowners continue to recreate all the appeal of their home’s interior in the backyard. Whether you choose gas or wood-burning, custom designed or pre-cast, adding a fireplace to your outdoor landscape is sure to light up its appeal.
  5. Size – and shape – matter: We’ve all seen patio disasters – the sprawling slab that totally dominates a tiny backyard, or the postage-stamp-sized patio that appears lost in a sea of grass. Homeowners are no longer leaving patio size to chance. Instead, they’re putting a lot of thought and planning into right-sizing their patio to create a living area that meets their needs and fits the profile of their backyard.  Determining how your space will be used and how much you have to work with before you undertake any remodeling will save time and avoid regret later on!

Patio Design Ideas

Whenever you are researching patio ideas there are numerous elements to look at: lighting, furnishings, heating and the types of functions you will want to utilize it for.

Will you be utilizing this outdoor space largely for relaxing or will you use it as an additional living and entertaining spot?

Fire Pit

Patio designs which include a fire pit could make the space not just cozy and relaxing but very exotic also.  A fire pit can be built into the outdoor patio with bricks or stones, or it may stand alone and still have the flexibility to be moved as needed. Most important is the fact that as soon as the sun goes down and the weather is cooler, the special event can still continue.

Water Features

You will discover quite a few patio ideas that also contain beautiful water features. A fountain or small waterfall can also be built with the use of the many unique and gorgeous rocks which are now offered and very easy for almost any homeowner to install. You can to find pre-built water features online or at home improvement stores that anyone can merely set in place, fill with water and plug in. The sound of trickling water sets the ambiance for relaxed entertaining.

Lighting

Light is another yet extremely significant element to think about in patio designs. There are many affordable choices of lighting on the market today. You’ll find several solar or low voltage selections that produce excellent illumination and create plenty of atmosphere for virtually any outdoor living space.

Shade

Shade is another factor to consider in patio design. The form and degree of shading you are going to want depends on the direction your patio is facing and the amount of natural light you want. Canvas awnings are a colorful and affordable way to manage both shade and temperature.

Patio Furniture

The finishing touch will be the pieces of furniture you choose.

Modern patio furniture is very weather resistant and can last for quite a few years. Almost all outdoor patio furniture can be casual and stylish at the same time.

Patios Canopies

patio-canopy

Patio canopies are particularly convenient for residences with a swimming pool, backyard deck, or other large and exposed areas.  For added comfort, privacy and security, manufacturers even offer screen attachments to close off a desired area.  For wide-open patios, canopies effectively allow an extension to the house or even a new room, giving the homeowner wider space and more comfort.

The exposure that patios have to rain, snow, sun and the elements has encouraged canopy manufacturers to come up with varying models of different materials, from retractable awnings to aluminum patio cover kits.

Some covers are made from heavy-duty vinyl and are available in various sizes.  Some companies offer lattice patio cover kits, created primarily for garden settings.  The market includes types made from aluminum material that feels and looks like wood, without posing any of the typical problems identified with wood, including peeling, warping, repainting, or attack by termites.

Other desired features include wind-release protection and awning flexibility.  There are portable and permanent models, created for every type use imaginable.  Combined with appropriate lighting in the evenings, patio canopies bring a festive air to a backyard party or barbecue.

An online perusal can provide a wealth of information regarding the styles and types of canopies available to homeowners these days.

Ready To Plan Your Patio?

Will your patio be a do-it-yourself event, or something elaborate enough to warrant utilizing profession construction services?  Be armed with answers to all of these questions before you undertake the process.  An outside area for relaxation and entertaining can be terrifically rewarding, and therefore deserves a good deal of consideration at the start of the project.

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.

Exterior Painting Mistakes To Avoid

If you are a veteran of painting projects in the past, you already have a pretty good idea of some of the pitfalls to avoid.  But here are a few of the less familiar things to keep in mind when undertaking that next paint job:

Pay close attention to the condition of the surface

Is loose paint cracking, or forming blisters?  Is the finish peeling only as deep as the previous film?  This could be an adhesion problem, or something that goes deeper.  In the places that appear dirty, is it actually mold?  A closer inspection will provide clues as to whether you might be dealing with leaks, condensation, or simply poor surface-preparation in the past.

Power washing prior to painting

When washing vertical surfaces, start from the bottom and work up.  This will help prevent streaks from drips.  Be sure you complete an entire plane/wall in one session, and then, before the surface dries, rinse from the top down.  Of course, once the plane/wall is dry and it’s time to paint, then start at the top and work down to brush out any drips.

Get the timing right

Factory-primed doors and siding must be painted within 30 to 180 days, depending on the product.  Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Stain or prime and paint bare wood immediately after installation.  Pressure-treated wood should be finished when drips of water don’t bead on the surface.

Don’t paint too early in the morning; a good guide is to wait until the grass is dry.  Don’t coat while direct sunlight is beaming on the surface.  This can cause wrinkles in the finish or premature fading of the color.  Paint west-facing walls in the morning and east-facing ones in the afternoon.

Allow time between coats for complete drying.  And don’t wait too long before the next refinishing, or you’ll have more surface prep work to do.

Pay attention to the temperature and elements

Believe the label’s instructions which prescribe limits on humidity and on the surface and air temperatures.  Liquids may crystallize on an uncured finish during frigid temperatures.  Be wary of painting if it’s particularly windy.  Not only can wind deposit debris on the wet surface, but it can also create blistering.

Be safe!

When working in high places, use reliable ladders, scaffolding or lifts.  Don’t trust the rickety ladder you’ve had around forever.  And just as contractors must now deal with stiff requirements while working on older homes, do-it-yourselfers should likewise exercise caution when it comes to removing old paint, which may be lead-based.

7 Ladder Safety Tips To Help Avoid Injury

You may not think of cleaning out the gutters as a high-risk task, but the fact is that any job around the house that involves climbing a ladder has the potential for injury. Statistics from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission show that each year there are more than 164,000 emergency room-treated injuries in the United States relating to ladders.

In the fall season, many homeowners are getting outside to clean leaves and needles as summer comes to a close. This commonly involves breaking out the ladder (or getting a new ladder that excels at gutter cleaning) and climbing on the roof. We want you to be safe this fall season so that you can enjoy the cooler weather and beautiful fall colors.

“There is a potential for injury any time someone climbs a ladder,” says Jeffrey Smith, MD, of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) and the Orthopaedic Trauma Association (OTA). “While setting up and using a ladder may seem like a simple, everyday task, there are definitely safe and unsafe ways to do it.”

To help avoid injuries due to falls from ladders, the AAOS has developed the following tips for staying safe on a ladder:

  1. Make sure your ladder is sturdy and in good shape. Before using it, inspect it for any loose screws, hinges or rungs that you might not have fixed before you put it away last time. Clean off any mud or other liquids that might have accumulated on the ladder.
  2. Be sure to place the ladder on a firm, level surface. Never place a ladder on ground that is uneven or on spongy, soft or muddy ground. Likewise, during colder weather, never set your ladder on slippery, frozen spots.
  3. Take reasonable safety precautions. Make sure to engage the ladder locks or braces before you climb. If you’re working outside, make sure the ladder will not hit electrical wires, tree limbs or any other obstructions when it is extended.
  4. Remember the 1-to-4 rule: The bottom of the ladder should be 1 foot away from the wall for every 4 feet that the ladder rises. For example, if the ladder touches the wall 16 feet above the ground, the feet of the ladder should be 4 feet from the wall. If you are going to climb onto a roof, the ladder should extend at least 3 feet higher than the roof. If you’re using an extension ladder, the upper and lower sections should overlap to provide stability.
  5. Always reposition the ladder closer to the work. Over reaching or leaning far to one side when you’re on the ladder could make you lose your balance and fall. Your belly button should not go beyond the sides of the ladder.
  6. Wear proper footwear. Ditch the leather-soled shoes when using a ladder – they’re too slippery. And make sure your shoelaces are tied and the soles of your shoes are free of any greasy, oily or wet substances. Pant legs shouldn’t be too wide or too long.
  7. Get help if you need it. Ask someone to hold the ladder while you climb, stay in the center of the ladder as you climb and always hold the side rails with both hands.

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.

Best Ladders For Gutter Cleaning 2017

If you’re looking for the best ladders for gutter cleaning in 2017 you’re in the right place.

You need to be careful when you use certain types of ladders for gutter cleaning because you can damage the gutters (or even yourself) if you’re not careful.

Check out our recommendations for the best gutter cleaning ladders so you can get things done quickly and safely:

Little Giant

little giant ladder in a frame configuration

Little Giant has 13, 17 and 22 foot models. They are made from aircraft-grade aluminum and is rated to hold up to 250 lbs.

The best feature of this extension ladder is that you can set it up in multiple configurations:

  • A-frame
  • Staircase
  • Extension
  • 90-degree
  • Scaffolding

This versatility allows you to use this ladder for much more than gutter cleaning. For most people, the 22-foot model is the best option.

There is also a lifetime warranty so you know the Little Giant will be with you for a long time and be well worth the initial investment.

Check Current Price

They also have a full range of ladder extensions and add-ons to expand your ladder’s capabilities. Check out the Wall Rack and Wall Standoff

DeWalt

dewalt dxl3020-28pt 28 foot ladder
Built-In Tool Slot On Top

DeWalt is a recognizable and reliable brand in tools. Their ladders are equally great.

We recommend the DeWalt DXL3020 Fiberglass Extension Ladder. It’s available in many sizes, starting at 16 feet and increasing by 4 feet until their 40 foot model. You likely won’t need one that tall so I would stick with the 16 or 20-foot versions.

It has a 300 pound capacity, non-marring top (so it won’t scratch), and a quick latch that ensures the ladder is secure when extending it to taller heights.

Xtend & Climb

xtend and climb telescopic ladder

The Xtend & Climb Aluminum Telescoping Ladder is a unique type of extension ladder that retracts compactly and can extend by 1 foot at a time.

It’s made from aerospace engineered aluminium alloy and is rated for safe use by ANSI & OSHA.

Bonus: Gutter Cleaning Ladder Attachments

Ladder-Max Stand-Off Stabilizer

Ladder-Max gutter cleaning standoff bundle

The Ladder-Max Standoff keeps your ladder off your gutters. It also makes them easy to access and within arms reach. Plus it adds extra stability so you stay safe as well!

Ladder’s Little Helper

Ladder's Little Helper for gutter cleaning

Ladder’s Little Helper is a neat accessory that actually sits inside your gutters and helps to secure the ladder from sliding.

It protects you and your gutters and is great for both painting and gutter cleaning. It works with nearly all types of gutters as well.

A Guide to Outdoor Christmas Lights

christmas lights

There’s a trend these days towards using outdoor Christmas lights as decoration throughout the year in gardens, porches, patios and walkways. There’s a wealth of novelty lighting available these days that can be switched out to serve as entertainment lights in the summer and as holiday accents in December.

In fact, more and more often, the regular mixture of holiday lighting schemes are being utilized all year round. In many instances, it isn’t even necessary to change the colors to observe a particular season. It’s really just the traditional red-and-green light configuration that needs to be confined to end-of-year decorations.

seasonal-lightingBy the same token, any kind of fairy light or colored light can be used at Christmas time to provide that holiday “feel.” There’s no real need to take them down at the end of the season, particularly the battery-pack operated types, when they can provide year-round accents for your yard and garden. LED lights are also energy-efficient and usable twelve months of the year.

For variety, you can change the configurations, wrapping them around tree trunks, illuminating walkways, or even creating a starry canopy underneath a tree. This can make a lovely seating area for you and your guests to enjoy long summer evenings under the stars as well as “stars” of your own making.

Star Holiday Light

The only guidelines you need to keep in mind are for safety and convenience sake:

  • Ensure that all walkways and paths to and from your home are well lit – and your guests won’t want to converse in poorly-lit areas where they cannot see one another’s faces.
  • Buffet tables and other snacking and cooking areas need to be properly illuminated – so that guests can admire and appreciate your culinary efforts by sight, not just taste!

You can also have a lot of fun with outdoor lighting inside your house:

  • They can be wrapped around banisters or draped in strategic places where the effect can be appreciated without being overwhelming.
  • Bedrooms can be adorned with LED- or battery-operated strings, twinkling in children’s rooms all night long in pastel or fairy lights that add a cheery sparkle throughout the holiday season. These types of string of lights have become increasingly versatile and inexpensive in recent years. There’s a wide variety to select from—your local home and garden outlet can provide a wealth of ideas. You only need to be restricted by your own imagination!

Have you decorated your house with or yard with lights year-round? Share with us in the comments!

Tips On Making Your Home More Secure

Your house is your home, your fortress of safety.

It’s a place where you keep your most important belongings: your checkbooks, your jewelry, your heirlooms, your important documents and most importantly, your family.

Everybody has the right to feel safe in their own home.

The saying goes that a man’s home is his castle, and of course the first purpose of a castle is to be strong and secure enough to resist would-be intruders, and prevent them from getting inside.

There are simple things you can do to safeguard your house, most of which you probably do already: lock your doors, lock your windows and keep lights on when you are away.

But there are also more extensive things you can do, things that are sure to leave you, and your house, feeling a little bit safer.

The following are some tips on securing your doors, windows, patio doors and more in order to make your home and valuables as safe as possible.

Conduct A Quick Scan Of Your Yard And Entryway

  • Are the yard and pathways free of sight-line blocking branches and shrubbery?
  • What kind of lighting illuminates your property?  Is it motion-senor activated?
  • Do the exterior lights you leave on in your absence all-encompassing?
  • Do your neighbors have a good view of your lawn and walkway, to discourage lurking intruders?

Secure Your Doors

Doors are a burglar’s preferred method of entry. A deadbolt lock will provide a good degree of security for your front door. Poorly secured patio doors or French doors can be an open invitation for burglars to break into your home, so it is vital to ensure they have reliable locks. As an added precaution, you can get a chain fitted to your front door, which should offer some further peace of mind.

If you have a letter slot in your front door, the slot should be no closer than 16 inches from the door lock, to prevent burglars reaching through and unlocking the door from the inside. If you are worried about mail theft, fit an internal cover plate or letter basket (with the bottom removed).

Get a Door Viewer

A door viewer, or peephole or spy hole as they are sometimes called, is an important addition to your home, particularly if you have children. By installing a door viewer, you are able to see who is at the front door before opening it.

ring-with-door

Companies like Ring have come out with modern versions of the door viewer that allow you to see who is at your door from anywhere with your smartphone. This is great for kids as well, because they can’t always see through the peephole.

ring-smartphone

If this sounds useful, check out our Secure & Monitor Package.

Here are a few more technology-based home security ideas.

Get a Wrought Iron Door

When it comes to security, two doors are better than one. Installing a wrought iron door in your house, whether it’s in the front, back, or side of your house, is a great way to create an added level of security.  A simple wrought iron door gives burglars another obstacle to overcome, and another reason to leave your house alone.

Secure Your Windows

Windows can be vulnerable to burglars, so it is advisable to have locking devices fitted, particularly for ground floor windows or ones which lead on to balconies.

Remember to close all the windows whenever you leave the house, however briefly you go out for.

Additional Security

motion-light

Motion or heat sensitive lighting is a good way to deter potential intruders, and such devices are now affordable and widely available. This is a great form of preventative security, as it means that burglars will be less likely to want to try breaking into your home in the first place.

You can also make things harder for burglars by keeping your garden open and trimming back bushes, meaning that they have nowhere to hide. Also, remember to put away any tools or ladders that might be outside, as it is important not to leave anything lying around that may actually help the burglar break in.

Finally, don’t be tempted to leave a spare set of keys under a plant pot or doormat, or hanging inside the mail box –burglars know all these tricks, and these are the first places they will check. Once they have your keys, a burglar will have an easy way to visit and re-visit your house at will until you have the locks replaced.

Make It Look Like You’re Home

Another easy preventative measure is to make your home appear occupied. Leave the lights on when you go out for an evening, or consider using some home automation if you are going to be away for a longer period.

Are there still people who go on vacation and allow mail and newspapers to stack up in front of their home?  Amazingly, yes.

Yet is there any clearer sign to passersby that people have been away from their house for an extended period than a collection of newspapers in the driveway, or envelopes jutting out of a mailbox?

You can contact both your postal carrier and newspaper delivery person to temporarily stop their service, but a better choice is to ask a friend or neighbor to stop by each day just long enough to collect the paper and mail and keep them for you until your return.

Get A Burglar Alarm

Yes, a burglar alarm may seem so “1980’s” but security never goes out of style. Not only do burglar alarms secure your house when you are away, such as on vacation, but they also keep you safe when you are home. Just telling others that they are there, such as with a sticker in your front door window or a sign on your front lawn, is a great deterrent.

Replace What is Broken

One of the most common reasons people are burglarized and assaulted is because of things that are broken and not fixed. Time after time, assailants are able to enter a house through a broken window or door that no longer locks. Do yourself and your family a favor and don’t wait to fix things: fix them immediately and sleep sound at night.

How To Clean Your Gutters Before Winter (6 Easy Steps)

Gutters

Having a lawn with a lot of trees is like having a dog with long hair: your house and lawn is destined to be covered with leaves.  Now that it’s mid-October, it is time to think about winterization and cleaning out your gutters before any heavy snowfall – my least favorite task.  It is best sometimes to just pull the band aid off quickly.  Don’t think, find something old and long sleeved, grab gloves, and let’s power through this.

What you will need

  • Long sleeved, work clothes
  • Plastic scoop
  • Heavy duty gloves
  • An extendable ladder
  • Trash backs
  • A hose

6 Simple Steps To Clean Gutters

  1.  Extend ladder and place it near the top of the downspout. If possible, buy a standoff stabilizer to attach to the top of your ladder.  This will make it so that you are balanced against the roof instead of on the gutter. Check out our recommended ladders and stabilizers for gutter cleaning.
  2. Fasten a trash bag to the ladder near the top, and begin scooping out leaves near the downspout and work backwards.
  3. After cleaning out the whole of the gutter, we will test for leaks and blockages using the host. Run the hose from the furthest point, towards the downspout. The stream of water will be a good indicator of what to do next.
  4. If the stream flows steadily towards the downspout but doesn’t drain, that means more attention is needed to clean out this funnel. Luckily, there is a hose attachment that can do this. Take the attachment and instead of running it top down, feed it in from the bottom and run water through it to try and clear the clog.  After a minute or so of this, try running the water from the top of the spout.  If it still doesn’t drain, repeat this step.
  5. If step three led to stagnant water in parts of your gutter, they may not be hung correctly. In order to drain, gutters need to decline at the rate of ¼’ per ever 10 ft towards the downspout.
  6. Finally, while preforming step three, keep an eye on leakage. Note the spots where you find a heavy drip.  If the leak is occurring at the seam of 2 gutter lengths, this is fairly easy to repair with gutter sealant along the crack.  Same goes for end cap leaks.  However, if the leak comes from a full on hole and not a crack the repair process will be more extensive.

Clean gutters are the first step to preparing your home for inclement weather.  Need help with the weatherization process? Give Handyman Matters a call at 866-FIX-MY-HOME.