Tuesday, 24 July 2012

The Best Patio Furniture for All Seasons

Comfortable and practical four season patio living depends upon making smart choices for your outdoor furniture. The beauty and diversity of each unique season of the year can be enjoyed and highlighted with a comfortable and well-chosen outdoor living space. There are essentially five primary materials from which patio furniture is usually constructed. Choosing among these materials is easy if you know what to look for. Before you begin, decide on how much time you will spend outdoors during the year and select the budget you have to work with.

The sturdiest and most durable choice is furniture constructed from steel. The upside of this furniture is that it will last year after year and looks fabulous. However, unless specially treated, this material may be inclined to rust when left out during the winter. Easy to clean with warm soapy water, steel furniture is an excellent choice if your budget permits. In the other extreme, plastic furniture is the least expensive. It is also lightweight and very easy to keep clean. The trade-off here, of course, is that plastic furniture may tend to look less elegant than its pricier counterparts. Nevertheless, if you are on very tight budget plastic furniture can be a practical and attractive choice.

Perhaps the most beautiful choice of all is natural wood. Both Teak and Cedar look gorgeous, wear well and are very comfortable. However, even these beautiful woods have their drawbacks. Over time their rich colors will fade from weathering. Ideally wood furniture should be stored during the wet and cold winter months. Your lovely furniture should be specially treated with sealants to keep water damage and rot at bay. Do consider the surface upon which you place your furniture as well, since damp ground can facilitate wood rot. Wood furniture is best when set on concrete or tile patio surfaces.

Another lovely choice in the light weight category is weather resistant wicker. Wicker is both attractive and portable but can be pricey. Easy to clean wicker can be quickly renewed with warm soapy water and careful drying. Wicker also lends itself well to gaily colored pillows and cushions to match any decor you wish. Wicker also comes in colors as well as natural hues making it easy to mix and match.

Last but not least is the reliable standby of aluminum. Powder coat finish aluminum is low maintenance, light weight, and usually quite inexpensive. It is a great alternative to steel furniture when your budget is limited. Although top quality aluminum can also be pricey, it is durable, cleans up easily and is comfortable and attractive.

The majority of the year is best spent enjoying the beautiful outdoor seasons. You might even want to have more than one set of outdoor furniture such as wicker for spring and summer and perhaps steel or aluminum for fall and winter. Whatever your preferences or budget you are sure to find the perfect outdoor furniture for your patio or deck, given today's diverse choices. Add a few personal items such as charming candles, a birdfeeder or two and some decorative touches and you have your very own outdoor Shangri-La any time of the year!

Friday, 6 July 2012

What is the Best Type of Wood Stain for a Deck

If you have a wood deck on your home, or have recently added one, you may be wondering about the best way to maintain it. There are a number of good staining options based on the type of wood used. Some woods will need to be stained every year and others can be done every three to four years.

In the past, almost everyone used oil-based stains on their decks. They penetrated the wood better and lasted longer. This is slowly changing as technology becomes more advanced and people become more concerned about the environment. In fact, oil-based stains, because of their toxic chemicals, have been outlawed in over 12 states with more on the way.

One of the reasons that oil-based stains have been banned is because of the natural resins that are food for algae and mildew that need to be counteracted with toxic pesticides. There is new technology that uses synthetic resins combined with a water base that allow stain to penetrate just like oil. Next you need to decide which type of stain to use on your deck. A lot of this is based on preference, but the basic pros and cons are detailed below.

Clear Stains

Clear deck stains look really good when first applied, enhancing a wood's natural look. The problem is that they are not usually able to stand up to the sun's UV rays and do not last very long because of this. Your wood will also darken quickly because of this lack of protection.

Solid Color Stains

While solid stain is great for deck posts or areas that don't get sun or foot traffic, these stains tend to peel when used the flat surfaces of a deck. In order to reapply solid color stains when they start to peel, you must remove all the previous peeled stain in order to make it look good. Stain stripper is not usually effective and sanding and paint thinner is usually necessary. This is way more effort than is necessary and can easily be avoided by choosing a different stain type.

Semi-Transparent Stains

This type of stain is by far the easiest to maintain, reapply, and it lasts longer than other types of stain. Because of the tint, which can be had in a wide variety of different shades, your wood is protected from the suns harsh UV rays. This allows the stain to keep working longer than either solid or clear stains. Maintenance is as easy as using a low-pressure pressure washer once or twice a year. Reapplication is usually only needed every two or three years depending on the climate where you live and there is no need to strip the stain at all.

While the choice is up to you, if your aim is convenience and long life for your stain and deck, semi-transparent stain is the best choice for your wood. This option can save you a lot of time and money over the life of your wood deck.