GETTING YOUR DECK READY FOR THE SUMMER SEASON

As things green up and the air gets warmer, our thoughts turn to the summer months, and to sprucing up our yards and entertaining guests.  If your home has a deck, now is the time to tend to any repairs it may need, and to decide what kind of upgrades you might want to have in place before you invite company to your first outdoor get-together of the season.

The harsh colder months can take their toll on patios and decks, so begin with a preliminary inspection of how well everything came through winter.

Check all wooden surfaces for discoloration, which can be a sign of rot, mildew or mold, issues which need to be addressed immediately if they are found.  Look for loose or broken boards and any nails or screws that protrude.

Conduct a tour of your yard, walkways and decks as if you were a stranger, visiting your home for the first time.  As a resident, you may have become accustomed to the quirks and potential hazards that a guest to your home wouldn’t necessarily notice, so try to view the area through a newcomer’s eyes, looking for the places someone might stumble or trip.  Is there any uneven planking or are there other possible hazards?  Are there crumbling flagstones, bricks or other rock work that could cause an injury?  Is there something on which an unwary guest might bump his head? How well-lit are your yard and deck?  Install a few solar-powered lights along paths and near any possible tripping locations. You want to make sure that everyone who visits will be safe and can enjoy your hospitality to the fullest.

Reseal your wood, if you haven’t done so in a year or two.  Or consider a good power wash to remove accumulated grime and stains.  Once all of the maintenance tasks are out of the way, you can decide what new touches to add so that your deck presents a welcoming and comfortable place to relax. Power Washing_285

Old furniture can look new with the addition of a few throw pillows or cushions.  Strategically placed flower pots add a pop of color a nice fragrance.

String lighting not only brightens an area but lends it a look of enchantment.  Hurricane candles achieve the same effect; just take care to position them where they aren’t likely to get knocked over.  Tiki torches can illuminate an entire yard, adding to the entertainment space.

The sun remains high in the sky until late in the summer months, so provide ample shade with an umbrella table or canopy for you and your guests.  By the same token, the temperature drops rapidly when the sun does the same, so consider ways to ward off the chill.  Deck heating units come in a variety of options—table units, free-standing propane-powered ones, or electric wall-mounted radiant heaters.  You might want to look into adding a fire pit.  Fire pits add charm and atmosphere and provide a great gathering-around spot.

Rather than a portable grill, think about installing a stationary unit.  They’re larger, more attractive, and can generally cook more food at a time if you are entertaining a bigger group of people.

Finally, remember you are designing the deck for yourself and your preferencesAt the end of the day, it should be the place you want to kick back and enjoy yourself, incorporating those special touches that make it a place you want to spend time every summer evening and weekend.

Need assistance in making your yard and deck look its best?  You can always count on the Craftsmen at Handyman Matters to give it exactly the look you would like it to have.

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THINK CAREFULLY ABOUT PROCEEDING WITH DO-IT-YOURSELF HOME PROJECTS

It’s true that a lot of home repair and home remodeling projects are going to require a financial outlay, and the immediate impulse may be to say, “Why pay someone else to do these things when I can tackle them myself?”

It’s a fair question to ask.  But the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) recommends you ask yourself a few more questions.  They offer a quiz on their website that helps homeowners gauge whether undertaking the job themselves really pays off in the long run.  Among them are such points as these:

  • Do you have reliable work habits? Once the project is started, will it get finished?
  • Do you have the time available required to complete the job?
  • Is it a job you can do completely by yourself, or will you need assistance?
  • Are you familiar with local building codes and permit requirements?
  • Do you have all the tools needed, as well as the skills required?

And perhaps most importantly:

  • Will it matter if the project remains unfinished for a period of time?
  • Are you prepared to handle the kind of stress this project will create in your family relationships?

The quiz asks several more questions, but even these few should give you a good idea of the things you should consider before committing to a do-it-yourself project.

You want to keep your home in good shape, not just for comfort and safety, but also to maintain its value.  If your skills are “passable” and your attitude is “I can fix this in the short-term,” or “It may not be pretty, but it’ll work,” then you are approaching a project with the wrong attitude.

A professional handyman has access to many things a homeowner doesn’t: tools, a qualified and dedicated team, and the ability to purchase materials wholesale, to name a few.

Many jobs, like those involving plumbing and electric work, must be performed by licensed professionals in order to be up to code.  Contractors know what kinds of permits will be required and are practiced at getting them quickly; they’ve done this before, many times.

Professional work comes with a warranty, giving you both security and recourse should something not be up to par.  If you’ve done the work yourself and something goes wrong, the time and money you’ve invested is simply gone, and you’re still looking at a job that remains unfinished.

Bottom line best advice:  Be realistic.  This is your home—and the safety of your loved ones, your pets and yourself we’re talking about—and if you have the slightest hesitation or doubt about your ability to complete the job safely and in a timely fashion, it is better left to the professionals.

You’ll come away with a peace of mind that outweighs the cost involved.

Contact your local Handyman Matters office and speak to their Customer Service Representative.  They and their dedicated and professional Craftsmen can help you decide how best to proceed with your home repair and remodeling projects.

There are any number of small jobs that most of us can tackle.  If it’s painting a room, pulling up old carpeting, changing door and drawer handles, rehinging cabinet doors, sanding and staining, landscaping or refinishing wooden furniture, these are things the average homeowner can tackle, and aren’t something that needs to be done on a strict timetable.

But if you’re looking at jobs that will leave an area of your home in disarray for an extended period of time and create any kind of ongoing inconvenience, or if they pose any kind of hazard.

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MAY IS NATIONAL PET MONTH –  FOUR HOME PROJECTS FOR THE PET YOU LOVE

Your pet or for some of you pets are members of your family.  May is the month set aside to Celebrate your Pet and the joy and happiness they bring. There are easy projects around your home you can do to show your pet how much you love them!

Project #1: Install a Pet Door
Adding a Pet Door is a great way to improve the life of your pet and at the same time remove a bit of stress from yours.  When it’s time to go, it’s time to go.  Installing a Pet Door provides the freedom your pet needs (and most likely wants!), to let himself out when the time comes!

There are many types, sizes, brands and qualities of Pet Doors.  You should do your homework to find the right one for you and your home and your pet.  We recommend a quality door, such at Hale Pet Door, for most homes.

When the time is right, consider the Pet Door Package from Handyman Matters.

Project #2: Build a Fence or Repair a Dilapidated one
Constructing a fence around your yard or ensuring a current fence is capable of keeping your pet from wandering away is key to owning a pet.  All pet owners want to ensure their pets are not only safe from getting out and possibly getting lost, but a nicely fenced backyard or pet area also offers your pet their own space as well.

When considering a fence, there are plenty of options, with wood and vinyl being two of the top ones. As always, do your due diligence and choose what’s best for you, your home, your budget, and your needs.

Equally as important, ensure any fence and gates you have are properly taken care of, and any repairs needed are done immediately.  Fence installation, repair and gate maintenance helps to ensure the investment you made in the fence is protected!

Project #3: Update your flooring
Your home’s flooring is another area to consider when owning a pet.  Pets, specifically dogs, can put quite a bit of stress on flooring.   Installing hard surface flooring, like laminate, tile or wood floors is a top choice of a lot of homeowners.

Flooring choices are numerous, so from installing new or repairing your homes current flooring, keeping them up is not only good for you but safer for your pet as well!

Project #4: Build a Ramp
Specifically, for those aging pets, an easy way to make life easier is to build a ramp from a patio or deck so getting to a back yard or pet run is easier on older joints and bones.  When planning for a ramp, always try to consider where to build one, the ramp slope (so it’s not to steep!), and construction materials needed.

To do it myself or hire a Professional?
There are times and places to DIY a project and others when its best left to a professional.  For the sake of your pet, ensure any of the projects listed are done with high-quality craftsmanship and attention to detail.  Your pet will thank you!

Sometimes it’s the small things between being done right and being done that matter the most!

Dog Door- BEFORE
Dog Door- BEFORE
Dog Door- AFTER
Dog Door- AFTER