Thursday, June 26, 2014

Patio Furniture Legs that Will Define Your Style!

Patio chairs  are typically made up of a back, seat, legs and, at times, arm rests. Chairs come in various shapes and forms, from simple to ornate, and are made from various materials.  With patio chair furniture it is the  leg that gives the most  information about its character - like its style and the period where it came from or was inspired from.
  • Cabriole Legs. These are shaped in two curves: a convex upper curve and concave lower curve. The front of the legs might be a ball and claw or a club. The knee is usually carved with an ornament like a scallop shell. This is originally from the ancient Greeks and Chinese, but in the 18th century, European chairs and tables were popularly fitted with cabriole legs. An example is the Fleur de Lis Cast Aluminum Bistro Set by Alfresco Home.

  • Marlborough Legs. These are straight legs that are heavy, fluted and fitted with a block foot. These types of legs were used in English and American furniture, especially during the mid-18th century. The leg’s name is derived from the Duke of Marlborough for furniture designed for him. Thomas Chippendale favored this style of legs for his furniture.
  • Spiral Legs. These are straight and carved so they look like a twisted or spiral rope with a winding groove or flute. Their roots originate in India and Portugal, and were popular during the Restoration period in the late 17th century.
  • Hock Legs. These are a variation on the cabriole leg, and feature a broken curve on the inner side of the knee. This means that the legs feature a straight, perpendicular section between the upper convex section and their  foot. An example is the The Djursholm Arm Chair by Control Brand.

  • Lyre-Shaped Legs. These two legs come together to form the shape of a lyre, a hard-like instrument used in many French and English designs. The lyre motif is also used extensively in back chairs. These were popular among chairs in the early 19th to mid-19th century during the Empire Period;  often referred to as the Classic Style.
  • Tapered Legs. These are wide at the top, gradually becoming narrower at the bottom. English furniture designed by George Hepplewhite in the 18th century usually had tapered legs. Shield back chairs made by Hepplewhite had tapered legs, as were many of the early-classical style chairs.
The tips that cover the feet of your patio furniture might seem insignificant, but they provide  a lot more than just extra flourish. Depending on the size of your chair’s feet and its construction, there are many available options for tips.
  • Nail Head Glides. Wood and wood frame wicker furniture with rectangular or square feet may use nail head glides. These glides put a PVC plastic head on a nail that is driven into the foot’s bottom. When installed on larger feet, they are completely hidden and will not spoil the design of the furniture while protecting the chair and your patio.
  • Plastic Leg Inserts. Steel and aluminum furniture made from hollow tubing usually use plastic inserts as tips on their feet. These inserts pound into the open end of the chair leg with an overlap on the top that covers the leg’s metal edge. Because these feet attach to legs through friction, you should size them exactly to  the chair’s leg.
  • Teflon Glides. Traditional felt glides soak up moisture and do not give the protective barrier to maintain your furniture against the elements, but Teflon versions of stick-on glides work well in an outdoor environment. Available in many sizes, opt for a low-profile teflon glide smaller than the leg so it is hidden underneath the leg while the chair is placed on its feet.
  • Crutch Tips. Rubber tips that slip over the outside of a chair leg, they are available in several styles and colors, and are sized to match the leg size of the furniture.
  • Forever Glides. They combine  the sliding and durability aspects of teflon glides with a self-leveling foam pad.  Forever Glides directly affix to the base of your chair legs and are available in shapes that fit inside recessed leg tips or screw directly into wood or the plastic bottom surface if the feet.
Aside from protecting the surface of your deck or patio, chair tips also help keep your furniture off the ground, preventing the quick deterioration or oxidation that come in constant contact hard surfaces.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Outdoor Firepit Planning Essentials

Homeowners were always content with just a wood deck and a barbecue to enjoy their outdoors. Today, outdoor living is all about flower beds, ponds, outdoor kitchens, and fire pits. In fact, the  outdoor patio firepit has become so popular that some builders make them as part of the package for high-end residences. But, of course, you can still get one without spending all that much.
Firepit Buying Considerations
With the various styles, sizes and materials available, your choices should be based on your available space, budget, and local ordinances. Here are some important things to consider before planning a fire pit and dreaming of cool nights enjoying  s’mores with family and friends.
How Much to Spend. You can spend as little  as $100 if you want a small fire pit by buying your own stones and digging the hole yourself, or by buying a simple unit at a big box store. They can also creep up  to several thousand dollars, especially when seating is added. Still, they are less expensive than an outdoor fireplace which can be as much as $10,000, depending on width, height, method and materials.
Permanent vs. Portable. A great way to start planning is to think in terms of permanence is to think if you want a fire pit that is built in, or something that is lightweight and potentially portable, so you can take it where you want. Regardless of which way you go, you need to make sure that you are using the proper materials. Make it proportional to the size of your yard, and make sure you have room for seating and circulation.
For a built-in design, you would want to match materials to  the garden or house. You can go “DIY”  and assemble the materials yourself; use a pre-made kit from a big box store; or go custom, with a contractor or landscape professional doing the design and building it.
Portable fire pit options are just as varied. There are fire bowls that come in varied materials; copper and stainless steel like the Stainless Steel Urn Fire Pit by Well Traveled Living are mostly lighter, but cast iron bowls do a great job of radiating heat. Fire tables are the same as bowls, but are usually made at coffee table height. There are also chimney-style options.

Wood or Gas. There are many alternate fuel types like the Nest Firetable - Square by American Fyre Designs, that is wood, which is the most common choices. There are those who prefer a true outdoor experience, but this requires flames to keep it  going. It also requires a steady supply of firewood.

An alternative is to use propane or gas for an instant fire, although it is not as hot as a wood fire and you do not get the same smoke and crackle. There are some dual-fuel fire bowls and tables that will let you do both; and you can design a built-in fire put to do the same if you have the budget and inclination.
What to Set It On. It is best that you set a portable fire pit on to of a natural surface like slate, concrete, gravel, brick or stone. Putting it on a wood deck can be dangerous if embers fly. A permanent fire pit is mostly built on a base of gravel somewhere in your  back yard.
Where to Set Up. Many communities require at least a 10-foot distance from your house and neighbors’ yards. Some do not require a permit if the fire pit fits meet the set size requirements; while others require a site inspection from local fire officials to ensure that your proposed location is safe. In some communities, there is an outright ban on open fires. Check with your local officials before getting going with your plans.
How to Create the Ambience. To get maximum night enjoyment, consider installing outdoor lighting near the pit. Make it subtle so you do not destroy the camp-fire mood. You can plug energy efficient LEDs into a nearby outlet without making it necessary for you to hire an electrician. Also consider seating, like metal Adirondack chairs, or a low stone wall.
In some parts of the United States, like those prone to wildfires, disclosing your fire pit might be required for your homeowners’ insurance policy. It might also be a good idea to check in with an insurance agent to understand any potential impact a fire pit may have on your coverage.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Garden Accents: 7 Tips for Successful Container Gardening

Even if you do not have a yard or access to a community-garden plot, you can still enjoy a bountiful produce harvest all on your own. Planting a container garden is a great option if you have temporary or limited space. Another plus with using planters for a container garden is that they can be very effective garden accents, adding color and life to your outdoor space. Here are seven tips to help you get successfully start a container garden.
Tip #1: Use a Big and Deep Container
Do not be tempted to get those cute small containers, as these are mostly for ornamental purposes; plants require deep root space for them to grow properly. If you use a small container, your plants will end up stunted and unhealthy. Look for containers that are at least 10 inches wide and 10 inches deep, like the Large Rectangle Rolled Rim Planter - Pietra by Alfresco Home. You can get away with smaller containers for lettuce and other salad greens for as long as they are harvested at an earlier stage.

Tip #2: Give Good Drainage for Your Plants
Plants require oxygen for respiration in their root systems. There are many containers that do not have holes in the bottom, so they slowly fill up with water. Almost all plants will suffocate or even die of root rot if their containers get filled up with water. If you are using plastic, wooden or metal drums, drill some drainage holes in the base. To prevent soil loss, cover the holes using screen mesh or landscape fabric before you will your container with soil.
Tip #3: Keep Your Plants Well-Watered
There are some kinds of planters that let a lot of air in the sides. The airflow will end up drying the soil quickly, so you will end up watering often. Additional, keep an eye on plants placed on walkways, patios and other surfaces, as these can quickly heat up during sunny days. If there is still space at the top of the planter, add a layer of mulch like coconut fiber, straw, compost or shredded paper to help seal in moisture and prevent rapid evaporation. This way, you can extend the time needed between waterings.
Tip #4: Pick a Light, Airy Soil Mix
Look for a potting mix that has plenty of organic matter, like coconut coir, bark fines, peat or compost. At least one of these should be the first ingredient written in the mix. The potting mix does not have to have soil, although such a word may be used. Organic material absorbs more water than native ground soil, and will give plant roots the structure and aeration that they need. Potting mixes with pumice, perlite or vermiculite also ensures proper aeration.
Tip #5: Fertilize Your Plants Regularly
Unlike their ground-based counterparts, container plants depend on you completely of their nutritional needs. Use a balanced organic fertilizer that contains both macronutrients and micronutrients. If you are growing bushes or small trees in containers, look for a specialty fertilizer that is appropriate for that kind of plant. Scratch the fertilizer into the top few inches of the soil surrounding the plants, so direct contact is avoided with the stems and roots.
Tip #6: Refresh Your Soil Every Year
Every spring before planting, remove the top few inches of soil from the planter, add new soil mix, and fertilize again. Doing so will keep your soil new and fertile. Permanent container plants, like bushes and small trees, has to be removed every few years and root pruned so they do not strangle themselves. As much as possible, do this while the plant is dormant. Use a utility knife to cut off a few inches of root material from every side of the plant, add new potting mix, return the plant to the container and water it well. Regular root pruning prevents plants from being root bound.
Tip #7: Get Some Wheels
Containers that are filled with wet soil can be very heavy, but you might have to have to move your plants to overwinter them, or take advantage of the shifting sunlight patterns throughout the year. You might also want to move them if you are going through a redecoration of your garden plants. Planter stands that come with wheels are widely available in many nurseries, and they will prevent you from breaking your back when moving time comes.
Planters are widely available today, and you can take your pick from a wide variety of materials, styles and colors. One popular style are the double-purpose planters, like the Table Top Planter & Beverage Cooler - Cognac by Alfresco Home, which work as both a planter and a beverage cooler.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

How to Refinish Your Black Fireplace Screen

Brass is an alloy made by mixing zinc and copper. There are so many kinds of brasses that can be made by mixing together different proportions of these two materials. These different brasses also come with different properties. Brass is usually a muted yellow and its similarity in color to gold makes it commonly used for decorations. It is also relatively tarnish-resistant, making it durable. Brass is usually used to make fireplace screens, like the ones below.

Because they are exposed to so much heat, a brass black fireplace screen can sometimes require refinishing. Here is a guide to help you do this on your own.
Cleaning and Polishing
Remove stains from brass by mixing lemon juice and salt on a sponge. Clean it with small, circular motions to not damage the metal but still take off any spots. Rubbing alcohol on a soft, non-metal sponge can also help get rid of tougher stains. Low-abrasion cleaner can also work on stains if applied with a damp sponge.
Polish brass by rubbing yellow oil on the metal to maintain the finish. Make sure that you do not use too much oil. After oiling, buff the metal with a soft cloth. This will cause the brass to shine and also create a smooth finish.
Homemade Brass Cleaner
The proper method of cleaning your brass fireplace screen will largely depend on whether it is lacquered or non-lacquered. However, such a distinction is unnecessary if you are intending to re-lacquer the screen.
Lacquered brass should not be cleaned with a cleaner; wiping it with a soft, damp cloth should do. Non-lacquered brass is more versatile and can be cleaned with a dollop of ketchup on a rag. Wipe of any remaining ketchup and buff the surface. For another homemade brass cleaner, combine salt, vinegar and flour to make a paste. Rub this paste on the brass, let it sit, and rinse off to remove stains.
Refinishing Brass
If you doing a massive refinishing job, re-lacquer your screen first. This is usually only necessary if the original lacquer has broken or become cracked overtime. Before you re-lacquer the fireplace screen, remove the original layer.
The next lacquer can be removed with acetone. Next. Polish the brass and remove and excess polish using acetone. Finally, once the polish has dried, spray or brush on a new coat of metal lacquer. This will give the brass fireplace screen a new finish that shines and looks great.