The Correct Way to Paint the Exterior of Your Home

If you are planning a makeover for your home or simply do not like the exterior color of a house that interests you, knowing the right way to paint the outside of a house can save a lot of money in the long term. Not only will you be able to complete the project yourself, you will be able to do it with confidence. Once you know the steps to follow, you can complete the project yourself without having to spend additional money on a professional.


  1. Check local building codes to determine if there are any restrictions on the use of oil-based paint. These types of paints contain higher levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or solvents.
  2. Choose between oil-based supplies or latex supplies. Whichever type of paint you choose, make sure it matches the same type of primer. In order to determine what type of material you are going to use, first determine the type of coating material your home is made of. If you have vinyl siding, you should always use an acrylic latex primer and topcoat, but with aluminum siding, you should use an oil-based primer with a top layer of acrylic latex.
  3. Apply a coat of primer to areas of bare wood or areas where you have removed the paint so that the top coat adheres better to the surface.
  4. Immerse a brush in the paint so that no more than half of the bristles are submerged in the paint. When lifting the brush, make sure you clean the bottom of the brush on the edge of the can, and keep the bristles up while moving towards the house.
  5. Paint the house from the top towards the bottom, starting from the pediments and moving on to the main siding, windows, moldings and doors, in that specific order. Make sure that the paint is removed periodically to prevent mixing.
  6. Paint the siding with the 5-inch brush 2 to 3 inches from the edge of the corners, windows and doors, making sure to paint three to four boards at a time and move the brush with a back and forth motion. Make sure to paint in the direction of the coating.
  7. If you’re painting under the edge of the boards made of wood, use a 3-inch brush; If you have wood shingles, paint around the edge or perimeter, making sure to work the paint into cracks and seams.
  8. Repeat steps 4 through 7 until the entire house is painted.
  9. Clean the brushes when you have finished working, using soap and water for latex paint and paint thinner or turpentine for oil-based paint. Make sure you have the paint thinner and turpentine in a tightly closed glass container.
  10. Allow the first coat of paint to dry for eight hours, or the amount of time recommended on the paint label, before applying the second coat and repeat steps 4 through 7.

Tips and warnings

  • Let the house dry for two or three days if it has rained recently.
  • Paint the east and north sides of the house in the afternoon and the west and south sides of the house in the morning to prevent the paint from drying out too quickly.

Patio Lighting Ideas

Patio lighting is all about creating atmosphere. “Think of the lighting at McDonald’s,” says TJ Wilcoxson of Alexon Design Group in Gilbert, AZ. “They purposely light it that way to encourage customers to leave as soon as they’re done eating. Now imagine the lighting at your favorite Italian restaurant. It’s romantic, it sets the scene. That’s the goal of lighting for your patio,” he says.

To encourage friends and family to relax and enjoy themselves, use subtle down lighting. Gerry DuBreuil of Belknap Landscape Company, Inc. in Gilford, NH suggests attaching lights to trees and aiming them downward through the foliage to get a moonlit effect. If you don’t have mature trees nearby, another prime opportunity for down lighting is to install fixtures in a patio cover or pergola. The pergola acts as a ceiling and can support many different styles of light fixtures as long as they are made for outdoor use. Learn more about patio cover lighting options.

Another way to light a patio is to add fixtures to a wall or column at the edge of the patio. This is an option for new construction because the fixtures have to be integrated into the structure of the wall itself. Sometimes the fixtures are hidden underneath the wall cap so that the source of the light cannot be seen. This type of lighting helps to illuminate the surface of the patio in a similar fashion to how path lights illuminate walkways. Often down lighting is used in conjunction with wall lighting.

Landscaping Tips for Large Commercial Spaces

Ample outdoor space is a hot commodity. As a business owner, it gives you the chance to spread out, expand, and get more out of your property—not to mention, it looks pretty good, too!

All that space comes with a need for mindful space management: ways to seamlessly improve the look and flow of your property. In today’s blog, we will be sharing a few such ways to do just that. Take a look.

Link spaces together with visual cues

Your landscape may be large, but who says it can’t be cohesive? To create a sense of unified space, use similar visual cues throughout your property: landscape enhancements, like signs and benches, sidewalk borders, water features, etc. By implementing this element of repetition, employees or customers can explore the extent of your landscape while still feeling “at home,” surrounded by familiarity, wherever they roam.

Remember sound design

Sounds can carry over large, empty spaces. To prevent people on one side of your property from being distracted by traffic over on the opposite side, utilize the help of sound design: the carefully-planned addition of water features and other sound elements that help soften unwanted noise.

Break up the visual landscape

A rich, grassy lawn is beautiful, but it can sometimes seem boring if your landscape is nothing but one shade and style throughout. Break up the visual field by adding elements of varying shapes, sizes, and colors. Something as simple as a pair of palm trees, a rain garden or topiary can help add interest to your space and prevent it from looking uniform all the way around.

Create separate spaces that work together

Think about your favorite theme park—more likely than not, the large property is broken up into separate “lands” or areas, separate spaces that combine to form a more cohesive whole. Even if the park itself is enormous, it doesn’t feel intimidating because each separate space lets you take one “bite” at a time. You can apply that same idea to your commercial landscape! Create separate spaces that work together, like a designated sitting area for lunches and picnics, a reflective pond or fountain area, a shady tree section perfect for walking through, and more. When you break it down like this, your landscape is a lot easier to manage!

Make it walkable

Above all, be sure to make your landscape walkable. In most cases, you want people to be able to freely explore the space without needing to trample over grass or walk through obstacles to get around. Providing abundant sidewalks and passageways can help you achieve a more pedestrian-friendly space.


Install Gutters with Nails or Screws?

Gutter to nail

Dean Johnson of Time Home suggests that gutters be driven “in the rafters and under the tiles so that the nail head is not exposed.” It also suggests that roofing cement be applied around the head of the nail to prevent leaks and for cement around the raised tiles to prevent it from coiling.

Instead use screws

Ron Hazelton calls Ron Hazelton home suggests that to mount the gutters, you can drive a screw in each bracket and in the face plate in the eave.

Final score

Gutter experts advise the replacement of gutter nails with screws. Since the channels expand and contract with temperature changes, the nails have a tendency to loosen over time. In the article Channels drop and hang professional Gutter works explains that although a screw will not keep the gutter from expanding and contracting, the screw cannot be removed as easily like a nail.

Cleaning Paint Brushes and Rollers

Brushes, pads and rollers should be cleaned immediately after use to last as long as possible without spoiling. In fact, brushes improve over time and provide a smoother finish if they have been properly cleaned and stored. During short periods, for example to go to eat or at night, some utensils can be stored without cleaning.

When you apply chemical products, such as paint stripper or decolorizer for wood, you must use inexpensive brushes that can be cleaned and stored exclusively for these tasks, or you will have to throw them away once used.

Clean the painting utensils

When you buy the paint, consult the manufacturer’s instructions regarding cleaning and purchase the recommended solvent next to the paint. Glazes are removed from brushes and rollers with turpentine, rosin or paraffin (kerosene).

Plastic paints are removed by washing with water, while other special solvents are removed, as diluents or other preparations.

To finish cleaning brushes, pads and rollers you must use a household detergent (dishwashing, for example) to remove the last traces of paint before storing.

Plastic paint and glaze

To clean the plastic paint brush:

Scratching: Clean the brush on several sheets of newsprint by gently flattening the bristles and scraping the paint with the edge of a flat knife.

Rinse: Separate the bristles under a stream of warm water, making sure that no paint remains on the back of the brush. Finally, add detergent and rinse thoroughly.

Enamels are removed as follows:

Remove the paint: Clean the utensils with the edge of a knife, as in the previous case. Then, put them in a jar with turpentine and stir quickly.

Wash: Remove the solvent from the brush by washing it with detergent and water. Rinse thoroughly and shake to dry, trying not to distort the brush.

Cleaning rollers and pads

To clean this type of utensil, the steps consist of:

Remove the paint: Roll the roller firmly on several sheets of newspaper until the paint is removed. Also, go replacing the sheets so that the roller is not saturated with paint.

Rinse: If possible, remove the sleeve from the roller drum and wash it with the appropriate solvent. Next, wash the roller or pad with detergent and warm water. To finish, rinse them with plenty of water and shake them to dry.

Types of Weeping Willow Trees

The willow genus (Salix spp.) is composed of a wide variety of deciduous trees and shrubs commonly grown in the garden of your home as ornamental plants. The weeping willow (Salix Babylonia) is a particularly common species of willow that features a weeping, cascading branch. Numerous weeping willow cultivars and hybrids are available at nurseries.

Weeping willow

The weeping willow can grow up to 50 feet in height, with a similar extension. The tree has a short trunk with dark gray, deeply crusted bark. The tree crown features fallen branches and yellow-green stems covered with olive-green spear-shaped leaves, which turn yellow before falling in autumn. The flowers appear in April or May and are followed by brown fruits, with a capsule shape.

Wisconsin weeping willow

The Wisconsin weeping willow (Salix 3blanda) is a cold-resistant hybrid made between the weeping willow tree and the brittle willow (Salix fragile). The tree grows to between 25 and 30 feet in height with a crown width in cascade. The leaves are dark green or blue-green and smaller than the leaves of the weeping willow species. The twigs and branches of the tree are particularly fragile and break easily.


A variety of weeping willow cultivars are available, showing unique foliage habits and growth. The cultivars include the known Tristin; Crispi, a willow that produces braided, corkscrew like foliage; Area, a cultivated variety that offers bright golden yellow stems; and Babylon, a robust variety with a particularly large crown. Gold Curls is an unusual cultivar that offers golden yellow bark and leaves and corkscrew branches.


Weeping willows are adaptable to a wide range of habitats, surviving in most types of soil as long as they have a lot of moisture. Weeping willow develops best in a bright, sunny place. When grown in the shade, the plant produces poor, long-legged growth. Exact resistance varies depending on the cultivar, although, in general, weeping willows are suitable for areas of USDA resistance 4 to 9. The tree can be grown in zone 10 if it is given a lot of water.

How Much Does a Paver Patio Cost?

Clay bricks or cobblestones are still one of the most durable types of outdoor accessories for your home. When properly installed, a paver patio will last a lifetime, which guarantees the value of your home, as well as your enjoyment in the years to come. A number of factors that can influence the price of the construction of a paver yard, including the type of pavers you use, the pattern, its geography and more.

Type of paver

The cost of cobbles depends on the type of cobblestone you want to work with. Concrete pavers are still the cheapest, with prices ranging from $ 5 to $ 10 per square foot. You’ll find clay and brick pavers in the same category, although they stretch upwards of $ 15 per square foot, depending on the type you buy. Natural stone cobblestones, on the other hand, will cost between $ 10 and $ 30 per square foot, since the suppliers have them quarried instead of from molds. All price estimates are as of July 2011.


Because the type of material that affects the installation, as a general rule, customers pay roughly the same amount per square foot in the installation as they do for real stone. While this may vary a bit depending on your area, the more expensive of the paver, the more expensive the cost to install it. Special tools and skills, although often required, add to the cost of installing more unique stones. As of July 2011, you pay around $ 25 per hour for inexperienced artisans, and upwards of $75 per hour for a master craftsman with 25 or more years of experience.


A normal straight-lay pattern, in which the cobblestones are simply stacked against each other to the right along the entire length of your yard, costs you a little more than the basic installation price. Special patterns, on the other hand, cost significantly more, depending on the speed of the contractor. For example, circular and diamond patterns require more planning in advance, as well as specialty cuts and measurements during the installation process. Since “time is money,” you’ll have to pay more when the pattern is more complex.  The hourly rate depends on the contractor.

Type of soil

Since cobbled patios require drainage for the sand or stone dust used between the cobbles and as a base layer, the type of soil that you deal with directly affects the costs of building your patio. Although normal, arid soil can simply use sand or stone dust as a base, if you live in an area where your soil looks more like clay and holds water with ease, you need to include a layer of stone or crushed gravel under the stone or sand in order to provide adequate drainage. As of July 2011, sand and gravel cost between $40 to $60 per cubic yard of purchase, depending on your location.

Can I Prune Cedar Trees in Hot Weather?

When Can I Trim a Deodar Cedar Tree?

Unlike deciduous trees, cedars and other evergreen conifer trees typically need pruning only when their branches have been broken or damaged. If you prune your cedar properly when it is young, trimming it will likely be unnecessary when it matures. In deciding when to prune, the pruning goal and the time of year is more important than whether it is a hot or cold day.

Pruning to Thicken Cedar Foliage

Cedars are random-branched conifers as opposed to firs, pines and spruces, whose branches grow in spirals. To thicken the canopy of a cedar or other random-branched conifer, prune it in early spring. The new growth will mask the wounds you make by pruning. Whether it is a hot or cold day is irrelevant.

Pruning to Maintain Size

Pruning the interior of a cedar carefully to limit its size is best done in early to mid-summer when the weather is typically hot. Do not prune in late summer or early autumn because pruning can stimulate new growth that will not have time to turn hard before the freezing autumn or winter weather.

Pruning Broken Branches

If the branches of your cedar are broken by a storm or accident, prune it immediately; never mind the time of year. Infection on the tree and damage to your property from falling branches can occur in any season, so don’t wait for hotter or cooler weather to take care of the situation.

Pruning to Limit Height

Removing the crown or top of a cedar will destroy its beauty. While you can prune one-third of the top part of a cedar crown in the summer, do not prune the lower part. Select a cedar that fits your space. The deodar cedar (Cedrus deodara), known for its drooping branches, grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7 to 9. While the deodar cedar can grow up to 150 feet tall, the cultivar “Pendula” (Cedrus deodora “Pendula”) only grows 10 feet high. The graceful, rich green western red cedar (Thuja plicata) will grow from 50 to 80 feet high in USDA zones 5 to 8. The Atlas cedar (Cedrus atlantica) grows 40 to 60 feet tall in a Christmas tree pyramid form when it is young, but it grows horizontal branches at the top of its crown as it matures. It will grow in USDA zones 6 to 9.

The Best Way to Clean Oil Paint Stained Brushes

If you have ever done a painting project in your house, then your paint brushes have gotten some good use out of them. Oil-based paint can be difficult to remove from brushes, but if you use the best methods and act quickly, you will be able to clean the brushes without damaging the bristles.


  1. Pour three inches of paint thinner into a metal can, such as an empty coffee can or paint can. Always use gloves to handle paint thinner.
  2. Hold the brush handle and place the paint covered area of the brush in the paint thinner. Shake the brush around, pressing against the bottom of the can to help remove the paint.
  3. Pull the last of the paint and the excess of finer paint on the inside edge of the can.
  4. Dry the paint thinner in the brush with a cloth. Rinse the brush with water and dry again with a new cloth.
  5. Hang your brush upside down to dry without disturbing the bristles.

10 Gardening Tips for Beginners

Never gardened before? No problem. Make your grow-your-own dreams a reality with these 10 easy-to-follow tips.

Site it right.

Starting a garden is just like real estate; it’s all about location. Place your garden in a part of your yard where you’ll see it regularly (out of sight, out of mind definitely applies to gardening). That way, you’ll be much more likely to spend time in it.

Follow the sun.

Misjudging sunlight is a common pitfall when you’re first learning to garden. Pay attention to how sunlight plays through your yard before choosing a spot for your garden. Most edible plants, including many vegetables, herbs, and fruits, need at least 6 hours of sun in order to thrive.

Stay close to water.

One of the best gardening tips you’ll ever get is to plan your new garden near a water source. Make sure you can run a hose to your garden site, so you don’t have to lug water to it each time your plants get thirsty. The best way to tell if plants need watering is to push a finger an inch down into the soil (that’s about one knuckle deep). If it’s dry, it’s time to water.

Start with great soil.

When starting a garden, one of the top pieces of advice is to invest in soil that is nutrient-rich and well-drained. Achieve this just-right blend by mixing 3 inches of Miracle-Gro® All Purpose Garden Soil into the top 6 to 8 inches of existing soil if you’re planning to plant in the ground. If you’re planting in a raised bed, use Miracle-Grow® Raised Bed Soil, which is the perfect weight and texture for raised bed growing.

When space is at a premium, look to containers. You can grow many plants in pots, including vegetables, herbs, flowers, fruit trees, berries, and shrubs. When gardening in containers, use a pot that’s large enough for the plant it’s hosting, and fill it with Miracle-Grow® Moisture Control® Potting Mix. Not only is it specially formulated to help plants in pots thrive, but it also helps protect against over- and under-watering.

It’s important to select plants that match your growing conditions. This means putting sun-loving plants into a sunny spot, choosing heat-tolerant plants in warm climates, and giving ground-gobbling vines like pumpkins and melons ample elbow room (or a trellis to climb). Do your homework and pick varieties that will grow well where you live and in the space you have. And to get a step up on success when growing veggies and herbs, start with vigorous young plants from Bonnie Plants® instead of trying to grow from seed.

Discover your zone.

Knowing your “hardiness zone” can help you choose the best plants. Simply put, it describes the coldest place a plant can grow. The higher the zone number, the warmer the climate. So if a plant is “hardy to zone 4” and you garden in zone 5, that plant will survive in your yard. If, however, you’re in zone 3, it’s too cold to grow that particular plant. Find out your hardiness zone.

Learn your frost dates.

Planting too early (or late) in the season can spell disaster for your garden. You need to know the last average spring frost date for your area so you don’t accidentally kill plants by putting them out prematurely. It’s also good to know your first average fall frost date so that you get your plants harvested or moved indoors before late-season cold damages them. Discover the average first and last frost dates for your area.

Add some mulch.

Apply a layer of mulch that’s 2 to 3 inches deep around each plant. This will help reduce weeds by blocking out the sun, and reduce moisture loss through evaporation, so you have to water less. For a polished look, put down a layer of Scotts® bagged mulch. Or, you can put down straw, shredded leaves, pine straw, or some other locally available material.

Feed plants regularly.

We’ve already talked about the importance of starting with great soil, but that soil works best in concert with regular boosts of high-quality nutrition for your plants. In other words, amazing soil + top-notch plant food = super garden success! So, a month after planting, begin feeding your garden with plant food like Miracle-Grow® Water Soluble All Purpose Plant Food. Be sure to follow label directions.

One last word of advice: Stock up on the basic tools you need to make it easier to grow. Happy growing!