Outdoor Rooms Help Expand Homes

Posted by Héctor H. Zorrilla On 4.30.2009 0 comments

(NewsUSA) - If the economic downturn means a new house isn't realistic right now, consider adding an outdoor room to your home. You can extend your kitchen, expand the family room, create a meditation place -- the possibilities are endless. The best part? There's no need to take out a second mortgage, because you can do it yourself.

Outdoor room
"Most do-it-yourselfers will find that a brick patio is less expensive than a comparably sized wood deck -- and there is much less upkeep," said Laura Schwind, a registered landscape architect for Pine Hall Brick, America's largest manufacturer of genuine clay pavers.

To get started, place your outdoor furniture, the grill, kids' toys, and other objects that you will want on the patio in the area of the proposed patio. Outline the area with a garden hose to see how much square footage you will need. You'll also need to choose a pattern, keeping in mind that some patterns require more cuts than others.

To install, dig approximately eight inches down and six inches out beyond the area you will pave. Slope the soil about one-quarter inch per foot to allow for proper drainage.

Next, tamp the soil down with a hand tamper or a vibrating plate compactor.

Put down four inches -- eight inches for driveways -- of crusher run gravel, and compact it well with the tamper or plate compactor. Lay down two lengths of one-inch PVC pipe, parallel to each other and several feet apart. Cover the pipes with concrete sand, which is course and jagged, then use a board across the top of the pipes to screed the sand level.

Remove the pipes, and use a trowel to fill and smooth the voids. Lay the pavers in place. Then, install edge restraints, which can be metal or plastic; a row of finished pavers stood on end and buried to finished height; or troweled concrete that's later covered with backfill.

For more information on do-it-yourself home improvement projects using brick pavers, contact Pine Hall Brick at 1-800-334-8689 or visit www.pinehallbrick.com

Perfect Storm Brewing For Residential Awnings

Posted by Héctor H. Zorrilla On 4.21.2009 1 comments

(NewsUSA) - Could a perfect storm be brewing for residential awnings? Consumer awareness of the dangers of UV exposure has never been higher; everyone would like to save on energy bills; and the incredible popularity of spending time outdoors is reflected in decks, patios and outdoor rooms on millions of American homes.

So, where do awnings fit in? Awnings block the majority of damaging UV rays without blocking the view, and significant energy savings are achieved when awnings prevent heat gain inside the home. Awnings also allow you to enjoy your deck, patio or outdoor room no matter the weather.

"There have been high-performance awning fabrics for many years, but styling and durability have been greatly improved this year," said Hal Hunnicutt, vice president of marketing for Glen Raven Custom Fabrics, the makers of Sunbrella brand awning fabrics.

Glen Raven has introduced a "Next Generation" version of its industry-leading Sunbrella awning fabrics, which provide a 25 percent increase in water repellency with no loss of breathability. The new fabrics are so durable that Glen Raven has doubled the Sunbrella awning fabrics' warranty period from five years to 10.

The Sunbrella awning fabrics line has also received a makeover this season, offering an expanded array of styles to meet the tastes of all consumers.

"Our awning fabrics are closely coordinated with Sunbrella fabrics for cushions and market umbrellas so that homeowners can create outdoor spaces that are as beautiful as they are comfortable," said Gina Wicker, Glen Raven's design and creative director.

While fixed awning frames are the mainstay of residential applications, retractable awnings, which can open and close at the touch of a button, are attracting a new generation of awning aficionados who relish the flexibility.

It is also easier than ever for homeowners to learn all about awnings and locate an awning resource through Web sites such as www.outdoorspaces.com, which includes a nationwide dealer directory, and www.sunbrella.com, which features a broad array of Sunbrella performance fabrics.

Five Green Tips for Stylish Home Decorating

Posted by Héctor H. Zorrilla On 4.07.2009 0 comments

(NewsUSA) - You don't have to sacrifice great style to get a great, green look in your home. You can use these five simple design tips from the 2009 HGTV Green Home in Port St. Lucie, Fla. to make your living environment more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly. HGTV Green Home designer Linda Woodrum's ideas can also help make your green home more visually appealing.


1. Welcome Home. Create a welcoming entrance to your home by setting your foyer apart from the rest of the house with a shot of color. Use a fabric, tile, texture or decorative motif as inspiration, and use low-VOC paints and painter's tape to recreate the design on the wall. You'll get a lot of pow for very little money.

2. Reduce, reuse, recycle. Unique pieces make a room richer and a lot more interesting. Decorating green is about using antiques, repurposed items and salvage materials. Take a look at the 2009 HGTV Green Home for inspiration on how to use everyday items in unexpected and amazing ways.

3. Create a mood in your master bedroom. Capture all that's good about a place or location through your choice of color and décor, but keep it clean and natural with organic and recycled materials. The recycled glass tile in the HGTV Green Home master bedroom and the wall color in the bedroom evoke a retro-South Florida look, yet have a natural, clean feeling worthy of the finest spa.

4. Saturate with color. Using one color throughout a room creates a calm, cozy retreat. The HGTV Green Home sitting room carpet and walls are all the same inviting color. It's easy to recreate this look with low-VOC paint and environmentally friendly carpet -- a perfect example of how green living also means big style.

5. Use durable materials in high traffic areas. Your front and back entrances are subjected to a lot of wear. Using beautiful ceramic tile in both locations is a great way to set them apart from the living areas, yet tile is environmentally friendly and easy to maintain.

For more information on this year's HGTV Green Home Giveaway, visit www.hgtv.com

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