Backyard deck overlooking amazing nature landscape

Tips to Improve the Garden of Your Home

With some inspiration and a plan suited to your budget, you can achieve a real transformation to the exterior of your home.

One thing you may want to keep in mind is to install a deck. It provides an excellent area for you and your guests to relax, socialize and admire the rest of the garden. The deck is particularly useful when it comes to uneven areas or parts of the garden that have previously been unusable. This is because it is built on support posts with cement in the ground and therefore can be adjusted appropriately to provide a stable area for your garden.

You can also use a deck to put a barbecue in a fixed location, a place to sit a seat or a storage area.  You might want to also add outdoor furniture and a table for your guests to sit. This helps to protect the lawn and also makes the area a little more interesting and attractive.

Creating an arrangement with stones in the garden can turn out to be another great idea to make sure the garden looks beautiful. The use of suitable plants, stones and gravel will help add color and decoration to any garden.

You can use a garden with stones to create a border between the garden areas or you may want to turn this into a small arrangement that you are sure to be able to admire throughout the year. Rock gardens are also particularly good for drainage.

The soothing sound of the water while relaxing in your garden is unsurpassed. Having your own water fountain is a luxury and can become an impressive addition to your garden. In addition, there are endless design options, which means you can get a nice arrangement that matches the rest of the garden design. Check out several posts posted with many inspiring ideas for home gardens by following this link to the associated blog.

This can include fountains, waterfalls, pools and ponds of any shape or size. These arrangements will not only help produce a quiet and attractive environment, but also add dimensions to your garden as they are usually built or excavated on the ground.

A final addition you may consider is an arch pergola. This is a very popular choice in modern gardens and creates a unique and attractive walkway through the garden.

Arbor pergolas can be put in the place that best fits your garden. Creepers help add even more to the intricate decoration pergolas arches. They are very effective when used to separate sections of a garden or you may also want to use them as a private arrangement with seats below.

Hardwood outdoor furniture allows you to enjoy the patio and the garden in the warm seasons.

How to choose the right table for use in open spaces.

A good way to give your yard a makeover is to purchase a picnic table, since it will allow you to organize parties outside your home. It is also possible to use it as a study furniture or for children’s enjoyment. If this is the first time you plan to purchase an outdoor table, research in stores before buying the first thing that catches your eye.

A very important factor is the size of the picnic table, for this you should consider how many members your family has and how many friends or people you want to invite to your gatherings. Another relevant aspect is the design, as well as the material of the table. This type of furniture is available with different shapes and styles, the choice is completely yours. If you do not know what material or color to choose, consult with your family members to agree one.

Cost is another important factor, never get the picnic table that goes out of your budget or compromises your finances. If possible visit several specialty stores and ask for advice from a trained and trustworthy person.

Do not act impulsively as you might end up buying something you do not need or want. With some research and patience and checking out offers, you will find the perfect outdoor table to accentuate the look of your garden or backyard.

masonry word done in Baltimore area

Make Improvements to the Outside of Your Home

When you look at the exterior of your home, you want to see a beautiful and striking facade. It is not easy to maintain the exterior of your house, but by improving the façade of your home you can even increase its property value. Everything depends on you.  Maybe you want to sell your house in the future. Here are some tips to get started. Before spending thousands of dollars on plants and gardening items, make sure you start with the basics first.

Pay attention to the roof of your house. The roof is an important part of your house and it’s often forgotten when improvements are made. Check that there are no missing tiles and that the roof is sealed everywhere. A fresh coat of paint is never a bad idea. Also check the gutters and make sure there are no blockages or cracks.

Check the gates. If there are wooden gates, use a layer of varnish to make them look like new. If they are electric, make sure they work without any issues. Check the rails of the gate and that grass or plants do not block the road. Iron or steel gates also need a coat of paint from time to time.

Check the windows and door frames. Ensure that they are not broken. Varnish or paint the wooden frames so they do not rot or break. Place shutters on the window frames to protect the wood from the sun.

Fix cracks in walls and clean them before applying paint. Use the correct paint for your walls so it lasts a couple of years. All you need is a paint roller and paint. With a little patience you can perform this task yourself.

Check the garage doors. Varnish or paint the doors if necessary. The hinges have to be oiled or lubricated if they do not move well or make a bad sound.

Try the water spickets. Check that they work well and that they do not leak. Brass or silver spickets can be washed with soap and water to remove dirt and grime that accumulates. You will also spend less by just cleaning them.

Take out the trash and clean the yard. Everything you do not use can be sold or thrown away. Clutter can give a bad impression of your home and makes your property look dirty and poorly maintained.

Clean exterior windows if they are dirty. You can clean them with water and vinegar if you do not have cleaning products. If they look bright and clean, your house will look better. Check them regularly, especially if you live near a sandy or dirty area.

Maintain the grass and yard.  Make sure the grass is cut and not long. Rake out the leaves and water the plants.

Tips

  • Now you can spend more time and spend money on your garden and lawn to create the garden you’ve always wanted. It does not make sense to have a nice garden if you have walls with cracks or broken shutters.
  • It is important to achieve all the basics first and make sure everything is in perfect condition.
  • Each step mentioned above can be done with effort and time. With patience and care, you can improve the exterior.
  • If you have time and resources, you can do the steps slowly until the entire property is well maintained.
masonry-8

Building a Patio

For most, a patio is a small garden area covered by pavers, instead of an area filled with grass and flowers. However, a patio can be more; It can be used for many purposes, from a playground for children when the grass is too wet, to an entertainment area for barbecues during summer nights. It can also be an ideal place to relax. When creating a patio, the focus is on the pavement and texture of the wall, both topics are discussed individually in this article.

Courtyard style

Imagine how you want the patio to look. A patio does not have to be flat. You can combine pavers, walls, steps, plants and different things that will make this space unique. You can also consider a courtyard in layers, if having one or more levels makes it easier to use the available space.

  • When you work on the design, start by measuring the space and take into account the existing obstacles. Determine how you will use the available space and what you will do with the obstacles.
  • Turn obstacles into attractions. For example, if there is a small native tree, you could incorporate it instead of knocking it down. This can be the starting point of the entire design. You can place the pavers around it and make it a focal point, instead of an obstacle.
  • Plants can be part of the patio or can be added later. If you are going to include them as part of the patio, you must include plant beds as part of the design. If they are to be added later, use containers to create an additional design element.

Use pavers and blocks to create different possibilities of the patio layout.

Try to do it by yourself. Actually, placing pavers and building walls for the garden are not complicated tasks. You do not need to be an expert to perform them.

Planning

Prepare. Most people have an idea of ​​how they want their yard to look, but they may find it difficult to do it. The secret is in planning.

  • Using a sheet of graph paper, and the measurements you have taken, draw to scale the part of the garden you want to develop.
  • Point out the immovable objects, such as the back wall of the house, the garage, the limit of your property, large trees and everything you want to keep.

If the patio is going to be built on a high part, or will have more than one level, indicate the place where you will place the steps.

Consider the color scheme of the pavers. Make the layout of the patio more interesting by mixing different colors of cobblestones, or you can leave empty spaces between them to allow the growth of plants and shrubs.

  • Consider decorating empty spaces with colored gravels.
  • You can include a water source or pond. It is important to note that if there are children at home, the water sources should not be very deep. Make sure the water does not stagnate and drains quickly.

Calculate the electrical and drainage needs. Plan the position of lighting and electrical and drainage services (for drainage, consult the relevant building regulations, or ask for the advice of a plumber or architect). Both the wiring and the drain must be installed and protected underground before starting.

  • Keep in mind that electrical installations must comply with the rules and regulations of your county. Consult a professional or ask for advice at the appropriate government offices. If you have any questions about electrical systems, consult a certified electrician.

Form patterns with cobblestones. Paving stones do not always have to be placed side by side. They can be placed as steps on grass, or as a path next to a wall. All these ideas should be outlined on the scale map.

  • In addition to drawing the design on a plan, you can buy some paving stones to evaluate what the chosen pattern will look like. Sometimes, doing this can change your ideas about the design, since you can see and feel the texture, color and depth.

Embed the design on the site

 

Once the plans are drawn, capture the design in full size, in the place where you will build the patio. Use ropes and stakes to mark the arrangement of all objects. This will allow you to verify that everything coincides with your original idea, and that the design does not take up too much space. The technical information needed in the design phase is the size of the pavers to be used, so this parameter must be included in the plans. Whenever possible, use full-size cobblestones to avoid cutting them constantly.

  • Keep in mind that the same applies to perimeter walls. You need to know the dimensions of the blocks to be able to make the plans with reasonable precision (remember to consider the space for the mortar). Using precise drawings, you can easily calculate the material requirements.

Consider the two essential rules you must follow if the patio will be along one wall of the house:

  • The level of the patio must be at least 15 cm (6 inches) below the level of the house.
  • The patio should have a slight inclination with respect to the wall, to ensure that the rainwater moves away from the house. A slope of 2 cm by 3 meters (2 inches by 10 feet) is the acceptable minimum.

Use the correct tools. If you need to cut the pavers or the blocks of the wall, it can be useful to rent cutters designed to cut paving stones and blocks from a hardware store.  If there are only a few cuts, you can make them with a hammer and a chisel.

  • If it is required to harden the surface under the pavers, you will need to flatten it very well with a compactor, which you can rent.
  • You will also need a good level of at least 60 cm (24 inches) in length.

Prepare the budget

It is always good to quote the cost of the materials required in metric units (you can change units using an online unit converter). This is an example of a list of materials for a patio of 3.6 X 2.7 m, using square cobbles of 45 cm and a wall of 3.6 m in length by 0.76 m in height. Use this list to calculate the material requirements:

  • As a guide of the required quantities we have: you need 5 pavers of 45 X 45 cm per square meter. 47 blocks of 30 X 10 X 6.5 cm for the wall, including the space for the mortar.
  • A bag of sand and cement will be enough to place 30 wall blocks of 30 x 100 x 6.5 cm. Two bags of cement and 13 bags of sand will be necessary and 5 per 5 square meters of paving stones.
  • Consider adding between 5 and 10% extra material to cover errors.

Add a plasticizer additive to the mortar to build the wall. This will improve your grip, resistance and handling during installation. There are three stages.

  • Construction of the wall
  • Preparation of the patio surface
  • Placement of paving stones

Construction of the wall

Unless you are building on concrete or firm structures, you will have to make adequate foundations before building the wall. The concrete part of the foundations must be at least 30 cm (12 inches) wide and not less than 7.5 cm (3 inches) thick. The blocks will rest on the concrete surface.

Dig a ditch Under the concrete, you will need at least 10 cm (4 inches) of a bonded surface. Therefore, you must dig a trench 18 to 20 cm (7 to 8 inches) deep in the place where you will build the wall.

  • Use stakes and ropes to mark the trench. Place 30 cm (12 inch) wooden stakes in the center of the trench, spaced at intervals of 120 cm (47 inches) to 180 cm (71 inches). Stakes should be projected from the base of the trench up to 2.5 cm (1 inch) below ground level.
  • Use a level and a ruler to ensure that the stakes are level. The stakes will be your guide when pouring the concrete, indicating the level of the surface.
  • Pour the concrete into the trench (whose surface must be well compacted) until it reaches the top of the stakes. Let the concrete dry.
  • You should remember to cover the trench with plastic to protect it from the rain, or prevent it from drying out too much in hot weather. Lay a rope along the concrete, on the side where the inside of the wall will go. This will ensure that the first row of blocks is aligned. The blocks will always be placed in the center of the concrete. Beginning at one end of the wall, spread mortar to a depth of approximately 1.2 cm (0.5 in) behind the rope. The mortar must be malleable, but not watery. Place the first block in place and press lightly, compressing the mortar around 9 mm (0.35 in). Check that it is level.

Continue placing the first row of blocks with approximately 9 mm (0.35 inches) of mortar between them. Make sure that the mortar does not stain the faces of the blocks.

  • Keep in mind that, for a straight wall with no return corners, the next row starts with half a block.

To cut a block, make a crack in the line of the cut with a chisel and a hammer. Leave the marked block on a sand bed, place the chisel in the crack and hit it firmly with the hammer. Alternatively, you can rent a cutter or a saw at an angle (especially if you have to make many cuts).

If a wall has a corner (return), then the second row will start with block 90 degrees from the first row. Keep building the wall row by row, making sure that the blocks are level, aligned vertically and horizontally, and that they contain 9 mm (0.35 inches) of mortar.

  • Remember to remove the excess mortar immediately, so that it does not stain the face of the blocks. Once it begins to dry, you can remove it using a rounded log or rake, or you can cut approximately 6 mm (0.2 inches) from the face of the block, using a shovel. This is a job that can be postponed, depending on the temperature, until the mortar has dried. Place the stone covering over the finished wall, using a layer of mortar.
  • The foundations are supported on footings and blocks of concrete that rest on the compacted surface. The shoes of the two walls are separated to allow drainage.

Prepare the floor for the patio

The way to prepare the floor to install pavers depends on the conditions of the place, the thickness of the paving stones, and what you want to do.

Note that some types of pavers, especially thin and fragile ones, can only be placed on a firm layer of mortar 25 mm thick, and joined with a layer of 8 to 10 mm (0.3 to 0.4 inches) of mortar. The use of any other technique, such as dry adhesive, could cause these pavers to break.

If the paving stones are strong enough, the soil is firm even when it is wet, and you are only going to place the paving stones, you only need to remove the grass and a little of the superficial earth. You just need to dig enough to ensure that by adding a layer of between 38 to 50 mm (1.4 to 1.9 inches) of sand and cobblestones, the top of these is just below the level of the lawn. Then you can cut the grass by the edges of the cobbles.

If the subsoil is less stable (for example, if it contains clay or peat), you have to dig deeper to place a layer of 100 mm (4 inches) of well compacted soil, before placing the sand bed. In both cases, the sand should be mixed with cement (1 part of cement for 9 parts of sand) and moistened with a little water. This mixture should be applied just before placing the pavers.

  • If thin pavers are to be laid, there must be a layer of at least 100 mm (4 inches) of compacted earth, then the pavers are placed on a 25 mm layer of mortar.
  • Very few areas are level enough to apply the cobbles directly. In some instances it is necessary to excavate, while in others it is necessary to add material in order to level them.
  • Never reuse clay or peat soils to prepare the ground (since these materials tend to settle). Always apply a well-compacted layer of soil.

Prepare the soil in advance. The time spent on good soil preparation is time well spent. If you do not make sure to prepare a firm base, it is likely that the paving stones do not maintain the level. A poor preparation of the land will cause the collapse or breakage of the paving stones, which will have to be replaced in about a year.

Place the pavement

Apply a layer of sand

After preparing the floor, the pavers can be placed on the cement and sand mixture mentioned above. This layer should have a thickness of 38 to 50 mm (1.4 to 1.9 inches). As with the wall blocks, you must make sure that the first row of cobblestones is perfectly aligned. You can use the walls of the house, or the perimeter wall to align the cobblestones.

Solid bed

Depending on the type of soil, as indicated above, dig a trench in which a layer of compacted soil can be placed, a layer of 25 mm (1 inch) of mortar and the cobblestones. The trench must be deep enough so that, once all these elements are placed, the paving stones are just below the level of the lawn.

Before placing the pavers, pour and level a layer of 25 mm (1 inch) of mortar over the compacted earth. Remember that the mortar tends to dry quickly in hot climates, so you should apply it in a single attempt. Work away from walls and other structures, and leave a gap of 8 and 10 mm (0.3 and 0.4 inches) to place the mortar.

  • Thin or brittle pavers should be placed on a mortar bed 25 mm (1 inch) thick.
  • Remember that if the pavers will be placed adjacent to a wall of the house, they should be 150 mm (6 inches) below the level of the moisture protection system. In addition, the pavers should be placed with a slope that takes the water away from the wall.

To ensure that the tilt is maintained, place 6 mm (0.2 inch) pieces of plywood or similar material. Place them on the end of the cobble that is farthest from the wall of the house.

  • Place the level on the plywood and the opposite end of the cobble. If the level bubble is centered, the slope is correct.
  • Leave 9 mm (0.35 inches) of space between the pavers. You must have prepared a good supply of spacers for this purpose, which you can make from pieces of plywood.

Make sure that the cement and sand bed, on which the pavers have been placed, is a stable base. If necessary, increase or remove the necessary amount of mixture to achieve a uniform base. You may find a slight variation in the color or hue of the cobbles of different boxes. If this happens, combine the pavers.

If you need to cut the cobblestones by hand, mark the cut line with a pencil. Place the cobblestone on a sand bed and make a groove along the mark, using a chisel and a hammer. Keep chopping the cobblestone until the groove reaches a depth of about 3 mm. Hit, with the handle of the hammer, the area of ​​the cobblestone that is going to be discarded. The cobble will separate along the groove marked by the chisel if it is deep enough. As mentioned above, it is better to rent a cobble cutter if you are going to make several cuts.

Do not walk on the cobblestones for at least 24 hours after installing them. After this time, you can remove the spacers and fill the spaces with mortar (avoid staining the cobblestone face with the mixture). This work can be tedious, but not doing so results in the growth of weeds between the cobblestones, and that they move from their original position.

  • If you do not have much time, or are not interested in filling each space individually, use grout to fill spaces larger than 5mm in width and 25mm in depth.
  • The paving stones are made with materials that contain natural salts. When getting wet, the salts can appear on the surface of the paving stones forming crystals or giving an appearance of discoloration (this phenomenon is known as “outcrop”), which is perfectly normal. Never try to clean the surface using more water, as you will only make more crystals appear. Let the pavers dry and brush them with a dry patio broom. Repeat this process for a while and the salts will stop appearing.

Build rungs in the garden

If you are going to build the patio in a slanted place, or if you plan to do it with 2 or more levels, you may need to build steps. This is a relatively simple task that involves placing wall blocks on concrete footings at the lower end (at ground level), and then placing pavers over the block, following the normal procedure for installing them. The paving stones will be the treads of the rungs, while the blocks will be the risers.

If there are more than two levels, the second block must be placed on the surface covered by pavers. Therefore, the paving stones should be on a firm surface of compacted earth and a layer of the mixture of cement and sand (in this case, the mixture should be around 1 part of cement for 6 parts of sand) slightly damp.

Make sure you get a permit for construction. It is necessary to obtain this permit to build garage access with waterproof surfaces, because they make rainwater percolation difficult and cause it to flow towards the roads.

Choose one of these three options when replacing or installing a garage access in the front of the garden. The appropriate option depends on the soil conditions and the regulations that apply in your area. It is advisable that you seek the advice of a competent authority, to guide you in the selection.

  • Build a waterproof surface and request a construction permit from the responsible authority in your area.
  • Build a waterproof surface and make sure that the rainwater is directed to an absorption well, which you must build inside your property.
  • Build a permeable surface, which does not require a building permit.

Removing Vinyl Siding

Over time, vinyl siding in your home can become deformed, damaged or stained. Does the exterior of your house desperately need a renovation? There are many reasons why it may become necessary to remove or replace the vinyl siding on the outside of your home. The good news is that, with the right knowledge and tools, in addition to a little time and energy, removing the existing vinyl siding will be a fairly simple project that you can do yourself. Read the following article to learn how to remove the vinyl siding from your home

Prepare the work area.

  • Eliminate any obstacles or debris that may interfere with the correct use of a ladder.
  • Find a large space where you can handle and manipulate large sections of vinyl siding once you have removed it from the house. You may have to temporarily move patio furniture, large pots, etc.

Find the specific coating section that needs to be removed or select your starting point to remove it from top to bottom. In addition, you should look for the flange above the selected section.

Raise the selected section of vinyl siding to expose your anchor nails.

  • Use a tool to remove vinyl siding or a zip tool to lift the siding by sliding this tool between the space of the selected section and the section just above it.
  • Pull the vinyl top section firmly down to unlock it from surrounding pieces, particularly the section selected below it. Continue pulling gently along the entire piece until the liner hangs freely.
  • Lift the separate part of the siding to expose the top of the siding section you wish to remove. The anchor nails of the selected section should now be clearly exposed.

Remove the anchor nails with a hammer. Do it from left to right, being careful not to miss any nails.

Remove the part no longer anchored from the coating and discard it properly. If the lining does not come off easily, you may have to slide the piece through the molding of the channels at each end.

Repeat the process row by row until all other sections of vinyl siding are removed.

Tips

  • If you are going to remove more than one section of vinyl siding, start from the top and continue down.
  • Remove the moldings of the left, right and top channels, as well as the lower initial strip.

Things you will need

  • Zip tool
  • Hammer
  • Ladder
  • Work gloves

Creating the Perfect Patio Layout

A patio can add an additional room in your house, an outdoor place where you can spend a large part of your free time. To make it feel like a comfortable space in which you want to spend time, you’ll have to arrange the furniture on your patio to fit your lifestyle.

Find a focal point in your yard. This could be your deck, a garden or stone grill. The focal point will be what you will arrange your furniture around.

Measure the area you will use for your furniture. This will ensure that you buy furniture of the right size for the space you have.

Decide how you will use the area. Will it be to relax, eat or host friends? Deciding this will help you determine the type of furniture you will put in the space.

Place your largest piece of furniture, like an armchair or loveseat, against the longer wall or empty space. Accommodate chairs around this large piece of furniture to form a conversation area.

Use side tables and coffee tables the same way you would use them in a room. This way your guests will have a place to put their drinks.

Keep the kitchen area separate from the living area. The table and chairs can go in an area close to the grill if you have one. However, you do not want to put them too close for safety reasons.

Think about how you will use the space and add accessories to make the patio more comfortable. They could be lamps for the evenings spent on the patio, or a firepit to keep you warm when it’s cold.

Add decorative touches to accompany your furniture, such as rugs and cushions. You can even add pictures or art to add color to the area.

Tips

  • Keep in mind the scale when you buy furniture. If you have a small patio, you will not want to use large furniture, or the space will look smaller.
  • Use color in your accessories to make the patio feel more like another room in your home.
  • Consider the style in your home, especially the room you walk out onto the patio. Try to keep the same style in your yard so that it feels fused.

Warnings

  • Use a dolly or furniture gliders to move furniture or ask someone to help you when moving heavy things in order to avoid injury.

Painting the Exterior of The House

Calculate the size of each wall you plan to paint by multiplying the height by the width.

  • Add all the measurements to get the total.

Measure the height and length of each door and window of the room you are going to paint.

  • Multiply the height and length to know the measure in square feet of each one of the windows and doors.
  • Take the sum of the measurements and take that away from the wall total from the first step.
  • The average size of a window is 16 square feet and a door 21 ½ square feet.

Check if you are going to paint the ceiling.

  • To obtain the measure in square meters multiply two adjacent walls.
  • Keep in mind that painting the ceiling consumes 85% more paint than the walls.

Paint with a spray gun

For a very large house, reduce costs by painting with a spray gun.

  • If it is a small job, a gun might not be the best option, since they are somewhat expensive.

When calculating costs for painting, keep in mind the following if you’re using a gun.

  • When you paint with a spray gun or leave a light layer on the wall and waste a small amount of paint that falls off the floor and remains in the filter of the gun.

Calculate the cost per square foot of spray painting, taking into account the loss in the transfer.

Warnings

  • If the walls are textured, you will need more paint than a wall without decoration.
  • Most experts suggest using brand paints to be able to have a single-layer coating.

How to Paint a Cement Patio

Cement is a tough material for an outdoor patio, but common cement can look monotonous and out of place in a back or front yard. Although it is possible to paint a cement patio, it requires special care. Painting cement can cause some specific problems, but if you take the proper precautions, you can paint your patio without issues and you will not spend time or additional money.

  1. Clean your cement patio

Check the moisture content of the cement. Before painting the patio, first make sure the paint adheres. Cement is porous and absorbs moisture, but if your cement patio contains a lot of moisture, you will not be able to paint it until the moisture content is regulated.

  • Take a square of aluminum foil or 45 by 45 inches (18 by 18 inches) thick plastic and glue the four sides, sealing the square to the cement with tape.
  • Wait between 16 and 24 hours. Once this period has elapsed, carefully remove the square and check for condensation or moisture in the cement and the lower part of the square.
  • Continue cleaning and painting if the area is dry.

Clear the surface. Remove all furniture, decorations, plants, pots, toys and any other items in the yard. It is necessary to work with a clear surface to ensure that the patio is well cleaned and painted homogeneously.

Repair cracks in the cement. Clean the cracks with a wire brush. Aspirate or blow dust and dirt or use a broom to make sure the cracks are clean. Fill them with a crack fill. Depending on the brand, apply the filler with a scraper or caulking gun (if necessary). To fill deeper or wider cracks, fill them up to 1/4 inch (6 mm) at a time and allow to dry between each application.

  • Let the product dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Apply grout or cement-based fillers with fine sandpaper (do not sand latex-based sealers or self-leveling sealers).

Remove moss, roots and vines. Get rid of anything that has grown on the surface of the cement and spray the patio with a pressure washer if you have one. If you do not have a pressure washer, remove everything you can manually, sweep the yard and water it with a hose to remove excess clumps of grass, dust and debris.

  • Ask a neighbor to lend you a high-pressure cleaner or rent one at a tool rental company or a cleaning equipment store if you do not have one of these tools. The pressure washer will be very useful to clean and rinse the cement patio before painting it.

Clean the cement surface. Cement absorbs and traps dirt and grease. To ensure that it is clean and has a fresh surface for the paint to adhere, rub the cement with a product that extracts substances, such as trisodium phosphate, muriatic acid or phosphoric acid. These products also remove old paint, which must be removed before repainting.

  • Rinse the cement so that the surface is moist.
  • Apply a cleaning solution (acid, trisodium phosphate or other cleaner) according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Rub the cement with a stiff brush.
  • If you use muriatic or phosphoric acid, this process is called pickling and will ensure that the cement has a texture similar to sandpaper so that the paint adheres better. You must perform the pickling before painting new or bare cement.

Rinse the surface. It is best to use a high-pressure cleaner, as this will remove excess debris, old paint and efflorescence, a deposit of whitish salt that forms on surfaces such as cement and stucco. If there are still traces of paint on the cement, rub them with a wire brush and continue using the cleaner until the paint completely disappears.

  • If you used an acid solution to remove cement, neutralize the pH of the surface by sprinkling bicarbonate on top before rinsing it.
  • Especially after pickling, be sure to rinse the cement with water until no more calcareous dust comes out of the surface when you touch it with your fingers.

 

  1. Prepare to paint

Choose the painting. Since you are going to paint cement in an exterior area, any paint will not do. It is likely that common exterior paint will crack on a cement surface and peel shortly after application. There are several types of paint that will work for your cement patio and these include:

  • Cement paints containing sealants or waterproofing qualities which are made to withstand water, salt, oil and grease. These are a good choice because they are specially designed for outdoor cement and to resist various substances and elements.
  • Latex paints, water-based or oil-based for exteriors that are designed for floors, patios or porches. They are also a good option, since they are created for outdoor use and are specific to withstand pedestrian traffic.
  • Masonry paints containing binders and additional epoxy resin. Although they can adhere well to cement, they will not necessarily protect the concrete from adverse weather conditions.

Choose a color. To help you decide what color to paint the patio, consider the color of the exterior of your home and the color of the patio furniture. Take samples of color with the paint shop so you can compare the existing decoration with your painting options. Do not be afraid to ask a painting specialist for advice.

Think about using a primer. A primer for cement will allow you to work with a homogeneous and pleasant surface, instead of the irregular and porous surface of the cement without priming. It will also reduce the number of layers needed to adequately cover the surface.

  • If you are going to use one, choose an exterior primer and make sure it is designed for cement. These primers are often called concrete primers, masonry or binders.

Determine the amount of paint you need. Once you have chosen the type of paint you are going to use, it is necessary to perform some basic calculations to determine the amount of paint cans you need to cover the surface of the patio. Check the paint can or manufacturer’s website for how much coverage a can provides and compare it to the surface in square meters of the concrete area.

  • To determine the area in square meters, multiply the length by the width of the area in which you are going to work. Do not worry if the patio is not perfectly square or rectangular: you only need a basic idea of ​​the area you are going to cover.
  • Do not forget to take into account if you plan to apply several layers. The primer will reduce the need to apply more than one or two coats of paint.

Gather your tools and equipment. Before you start, gather all the tools you need to paint. The most suitable tools for this work are: a masonry brush, a high capacity roller or a texturizing roller.  The equipment you will need may include:

  • A primer (optional) and paint
  • A roller and a roller brush to paint
  • A tray for painting
  • Extensions for rollers and brushes
  • Painter’s tape
  • Thick and thin brushes

Protect surfaces. Tape the surfaces near the cement patio, such as the edges of the platform, exterior walls, doors or windows, and other areas that you do not want to paint accidentally.

Choose the right day. The ideal is to start painting on a dry day when it has not rained 24 hours before and rain is not expected in the long-term weather forecast. The best temperature to paint outdoors is 50 ° F (10˚C).

  1. Paint your cement patio

Apply the primer. Make sure the patio is completely dry before you start painting or applying the primer. Pour the primer into a paint tray. Take one of the finest brushes and wet it in the primer a few times. Clean the excess inside the paint tray and verify that the brush has a homogeneous layer of paint.

Start by applying the primer with the brush around the edges or places where the patio comes in contact with other structures or parts of the house.

Use a thicker roller or brush and an extender to apply the primer to the rest of the area.

Let the primer dry. Although it should dry more or less in two hours, wait at least 8 hours before starting to paint. However, do not let more than 30 days pass.

  • If you reuse your brushes, rollers and trays, make sure to clean them thoroughly and allow them to dry before reusing them.

Pour the paint on the tray. The tray will allow you to easily cover the brushes or rollers evenly, therefore, it will be easier to apply even coats of paint to the area.

Paint around the edges of the patio. Use a small brush to apply a coat of paint around the edges, joints or other very difficult areas that the larger roller or brush won’t be able to do. Make sure to use a small brush to apply paint anywhere in the areas adjacent to the patio where you placed adhesive tape to ensure that no paint falls on the walls, platforms or windows.

Apply the first coat of paint. Choose a starting point, such as an interior corner that faces the house and progresses from there. Do not paint in a corner or center where you cannot go back out without stepping on fresh paint. Use even passes with the roller or brush to apply a thin and homogeneous layer of paint.

  • Connect the roller or brush to an extender so you can continue standing while you paint. In this way, you will avoid injuring your back, knees and wrists.
  • If you use a brush instead of a roller, make sure it is large enough to cover a large area, so that the paint does not dry before finishing a section.

Let the first layer dry. Cement and exterior paints may take more than six hours to dry before they are ready for additional layers.  Therefore, be sure to check the manufacturer’s recommendations.

  • You should always let the most recent layer dry before deciding if you need to apply another one.
  • Depending on if you used a primer, you may need one to three coats of paint.

Apply the necessary layers. Follow the same steps as indicated above. Use a small brush around the delicate or difficult edges and a large brush or roller to complete the layer. Apply a sufficient amount of layers to achieve the intensity of color you want for your patio.

Let the paint dry and cure. Although you may be able to walk on it 24 hours later, you should wait about 7 days before placing the furniture back.

Tips

If you are going to paint a newly installed cement patio, verify that the cement has hardened before cleaning and painting it. Although some suggest you should wait 30 days, others recommend that you make sure that the cement is exposed at least 90 days before painting it.

How to Build Deck Stairs

Normally you wouldn’t have to build some deck stairs, but if you end up having to, you don’t need to take a class to do it. These tips will help you build the stairs you need to access your deck.

Check with local requirements to determine the measurements you should use.  An example is a minimum width of 36 inches, the depth is 10.5 inches and the height is 7 to 8 inches in its design. The stringers should not be greater than 16 inches apart. Foot adjustments should be 6 x 6 inches of treated wood or roofing paper to prevent rotting.

  • Ideally, the staircase should be constructed with a material designed for exterior use.

Measure the height of the stairs from the bottom of the deck to the ground. Then divide that measurement between 7 or 8.  This will give you the number of steps you will have to make.

  • Adjust the height to achieve the necessary balance. Take the number of steps and multiply them by 10.5 inches. This will give you the length which includes the stair stringer. Take that length and project it out. Now you have the location for the feet of the stairs.

Place the steps on the crossbar, by means of 2 x 12 inches of treated wood, with a square. Adjusts the height to the determined height.

Cut the high with a circular saw. Use a handsaw to finish the cut.

Install the stringers by placing them on top of the overlay, outside the metal frame. Set up vertical cards using 1-inch thick screws in the treated wood.

  • By placing the stringers and bands in place, the installation of the rungs begins. Secure all with screws.

Tips

  • Check frequently the stringers with the T-square.
  • Place the boards face down to avoid tripping.
  • The wood may require you to make holes before drilling the screws in to make it easier to screw.
masonry

Applying Stucco on Concrete or Masonry

Prepare the surface of the wall. You can apply stucco directly on rigid and solid surfaces, but only if the surface is more or less rough and absorbent. If the wall does not absorb even a little water, or if there is surface contamination, wash the surface evenly. If the wall is covered with paint or sealer, or if it is too soft to withstand the stucco, try some of the following methods.

  • Acid etching
  • Sandblasting
  • Roughing machine (for unpainted and smooth surfaces).
  • Apply an adhesive agent, consult the specific instructions of the product. Do not use over water-soluble paint.
  • If you have doubts about whether the wall will support the stucco, follow the instructions in the section of the stucco wall, add the metal strip and apply plaster on top.

Moisturize the surface. Moisten the wall just before applying the first coat or plaster, preferably with a sprayer. This improves adhesion and reduces the amount of water that the wall absorbs from the plaster, preventing it from drying out prematurely. The surface should be wet, but not soaked.

  • Delay work if in the following week the temperature will be cold, warm (above 32 ° C / 90 ° F) or have strong winds. These conditions will interfere with the drying process.

Mix the scratch layer. This should be 1-part cement (with lime) and 2¼ to 4 parts sand. Plastic cement, premixed with lime, is usually easier to mix and work with. Combine it with gypsum sand from a dry material.

  • Just add the water needed to spread the plaster, otherwise the wall could fall or fall apart.

Apply and mark the scratch layer. Spread on a ¼ inch (6.4 mm) thick layer. Mark the surface with horizontal lines using a palette with slots and keep the tool perpendicular to the wall. These grooves will allow adhesion of the next layer on the surface.

  • The etching surfaces (among others) cannot be rough enough for good adhesion by this method. Instead, hit the scratch coat with a gunner, or shake it with a fiber brush or swab. This releases the air to create a more resistant adhesion.
  • Some builders combine the striped layer and the brown layer into a single base layer. If you choose to do so, plan a total thickness stucco approximately 3/8 inch (9.5 mm) for concrete, and ½ inch (13 mm) for masonry. Leave a thickness of about ¼ inch (6.4 mm) for the final coat.

Apply the brown coat after a few hours. With modern cement on a rigid surface, there is no need to wait for the scratch coat to dry completely. For good adhesion, spread over the second “brown” layer as soon as the scratch coat is rigid enough to resist cracking, usually after four or five hours. Soften this surface until it is level and ¼ inch (6.4 mm) thick.

  • The mixture of the brown layer must contain 1 part of cement and 3 to 5 parts of sand.
  • It may be useful to compact this layer by softening it with a splint.

Preserve the moisture of the brown layer while it dries. During the next 48 hours, it is important to maintain the stucco humidity. If the relative humidity of the air is below 70%, you will have to spray or moisten the surface once or twice a day. Wait at least seven days for the brown coat to dry, moisten it periodically if it begins to dry prematurely. Some organizations recommend 10 or even 21 days for drying for greater resistance to cracking.

  • In extremely hot conditions or with strong winds, place a windshield or umbrella over the area. You may even need to cover the surface dampened with polyethylene.

Apply the last layer. The last decorative layer contains 1 part of cement and 1½ to 3 parts of sand. Optionally, it can include a pigment and color. Soften it into a thin layer about 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick. Let it dry completely before painting (if desired), follow the same moisture drying instructions described above if the weather is warm.

Tips

While stuccoing a house, work on the back and sides before starting with the front. It will allow you to improve your technique before working on the walls of the facade that faces the street.

Things you will need

  • plywood
  • galvanized nails
  • nail gun
  • construction paper
  • mesh ribbon
  • nails with coating
  • hammer
  • adhesive agent (optional)
  • large bucket
  • masonry cement
  • Portland cement
  • medium grain sand
  • pigment (optional)
  • palette
  • Stucco spray (optional, but necessary to save time)

Traditional Garden Structures to Add to Your Garden

Adding a structure to your garden is an excellent way to incorporate color, style and even practicality. The right garden structure serves as a focal point to tie together a landscape. Many cultures have developed their own traditional garden constructions, so if you’re looking for functional or purely aesthetic features, there are many to choose from.

Functional structures

Many traditional garden constructions arose from practical needs, making it possible to grow plants that do not survive if fully exposed to the open air. For example, the Conservatory was initially built as an interior garden room, intended to display and store plants or even food. Like many greenhouses, it has a glass and metal structure. However, unlike a greenhouse, the main function of a conservatory was not to grow the plants, but to store them. This function is evidenced by the etymology of the word, derived from the Italian “l”, to store or preserve. As early as 1650, the word refers to food and product storage structures.

Decorative buildings

Traditional garden structures often draw their extreme designs for pure decoration. Often the constructions are designed in a specific style, very ornate, like those that evoke ancient ruins. A pergola is also a structure that serves mainly to decorate a garden. It consists of pillars that support a horizontal lattice overhead. While vines can grow on the structure, their open design offers little shade. Originally erected in ancient Egyptian gardens, modern pergolas come from Italy, where they were used in gardens during the Renaissance.

Traditional buildings of Asia

Asian gardens often feature traditional constructions. For example, a Japanese garden may feature a tea room, intended to practice the cultural tea ceremony within a tea garden. The structure has a very special setup, with certain elements related to the ceremony – including a pair of shoji doors, which must remain closed during the ceremony. One of the corners of the teahouse has a hole called a tokonoma, to hold a parchment, incense and an arrangement of flowers. The pavilion, another traditional garden structure, comes in many forms. Chinese gardens may have outdoor or enclosed pavilions; an outdoor, six-sided pavilion is a traditional design.

Unique structures

Several traditional garden buildings have unique shapes or made of unique materials. For example, the strombrella consists of a covered structure with a swing below, designed for two people. The Stromboli often has intricate “gingerbread” style carpentry along its roof line or support beams. The wattle is unusual, not because of its design, but because of the construction materials it uses; popular in medieval gardens, it implements small branches, branches and reeds to create a woven framework for walls and ceilings. A slightly more substantial version of the structure uses mud to hold the branches in place.