4 Home Fix-Ups for Fall

With cooler days and temperate weather, fall is a good time to get outdoors and tackle some larger home projects, as well as prep your home for winter.

“Cold weather can wreak havoc on your house, leaving you with a long list of repairs,” said Cathy McHugh, director, brand management at DAP. “It’s important to take preventative action now so you can enjoy the coming weather change, rather than making costly repairs later.”

Don’t know where to start? Here are the top four “must-do” repairs from the experts at DAP.

Refresh around windows and doors

Temperature fluctuations and weather extremes can cause cracks and crumbling in sealants around windows and doors. The resulting gaps allow air to creep inside, putting your energy bills on overdrive. In addition, if current sealant has any dirt build-up, the hot and humid weather of summer can foster mold and mildew. Protect your home and give your windows and doors a refresh and waterproof seal that stands up to the elements by applying a new exterior sealant that will provide long-lasting all-weather, waterproof protection, resisting dirt build-up and water absorption. It also comes with a lifetime mold-, mildew- and algae-resistant guarantee. It’s easy to apply and is paint-ready in just an hour, allowing you to quickly repair problem areas.

Repair imperfections and surface damage

It’s important to take a walk around your property and inspect your home and outdoor living areas for surface damage issues caused by hail, wind and heavy rain. Common damage includes cracks in sidewalks and driveways, as well as chips in siding. Address problem areas like these with an exterior filler, which can fill in exposed, vulnerable areas and prevent further damage. To save time and money, choose a multipurpose filler designed specifically for exterior repairs like Platinum Patch Advanced Exterior Filler, formulated with innovative Weather MaxTechnology for long-lasting, all weather protection. The mold-, mildew- and algae-resistant formula creates a durable bond that prevents discoloration, as well as cracking and crumbling over time. It is sandable and paintable and offers superior adhesion to porous and non-porous building materials such as brick, concrete, metal, composite or wood decks, vinyl or fiber cement siding, PVC trim board and more.

Inspect your roof

Start by making a simple visual inspection of your roof. Before hauling out the ladder, use binoculars or zoom in with a smartphone camera to spot obvious damage. If your roof has a relatively flat surface and you feel comfortable on a ladder, then go up for a closer look. Shingles that are cracked, buckled, loose or are missing granules need to be replaced. And of course, while you’re up there, be sure to clear any clogged gutters to prevent potential water damage.

Prepare your furnace for fall

Now is the time to prepare your furnace for fall. Change the filter, clean vents and remove any dirt or dust that has settled on the unit and connections. If you suspect problems, schedule a professional to check it out now – rather than wait until temperatures drop.

Courtesy of Brandpoint Content

3 Stylish Ways to Personalize Your Kitchen

From cooking to conversing to entertaining, the kitchen truly is the heart of the home. It’s also one of the spaces that homeowners most often dream of renovating. A growing trend in kitchen design is personalization, where thoughtful updates go beyond stainless steel appliances and standard cabinetry to incorporate a host of interesting design elements.

By adding splashes of personality to your kitchen, not only will you make the space one of a kind, but you’ll also enjoy it more because it will reflect your unique preferences and style. Consider these key ways to breathe new life into any kitchen.

Switch up your cabinets

Want to give your cabinets a fresh look and add some pizzazz without refacing them or installing new ones? An easy place to start is to replace existing hardware. Just as jewelry completes an outfit, hardware adds a finished look to cabinets. The availability of a variety of styles and materials for drawer and cabinet pulls — metals, ceramics, crystal, glass, stone — makes it easy to update your cabinets with little cost and effort. Don’t be afraid to mix-and-match hardware styles or experiment with different shapes to add character.

Another idea for freshening up your kitchen is to update a few key cabinets. For instance, you can paint the cabinets above or directly beside the stove in black chalk paint, allowing you to add fun words and phrases — or even a favorite recipe — with chalk markers. You could also remove the face of several cabinets from the frame and add a clear or opaque glass insert for added visual interest and an unexpected touch of beauty.

Finally, don’t forget about the often overlooked toe kick space — the recessed area just below the cabinets — which can be enhanced with subtle styling. Consider painting this area a fun statement color or adding tiles for a clever update you won’t see elsewhere.

Add vintage style appliances

While stainless steel appliances are popular in modern kitchens, colored appliances are a great way to add personality if you’re feeling the desire for something a little different. Elmira Stove Works offers several vintage-inspired appliance lines in a variety of styles and colors. Whether you opt to update all your appliances or choose a single statement piece, your kitchen will feel inspired.

For those who lean toward a retro or midcentury modern look, the Northstar line adds conversation-worthy color to any kitchen. Perfect for basement bars, bonus rooms and man caves too, this line combines throwback style with modern conveniences. Add a fun pop of color with classic hues like tropical blue, mint green and candy red, or choose from an array of custom colors.

If retro doesn’t suit your fancy, consider the Antique line, which features intricately detailed appliances with historic styling. These distinctive appliances are available in a range of traditional and custom colors, and can complement any vintage home design, including a rustic cabin, country cottage or lake house. For a turn-of-the-century feel, the Fireview stove is especially stunning, with a visible wood-burning component that can also be used to heat rooms.

Light up the room

Proper lighting is essential for performing kitchen tasks, but that doesn’t mean it has to be boring. Lighting provides an opportunity to get creative and bring touches of personality to the kitchen. By blending practical task lighting with decorative ambient lighting, you can inject the right balance of function and fashion.

Overhead and under-cabinet lighting make it easy to chop, cut, cook and more. Add a bit of flair by using a layered approach — for example, strategically mix pendant and wall lights with recessed lighting. The globes that surround light fixtures are another great place to sprinkle in some character. From glass designs in vivid hues to textured metal looks, these surrounds come in myriad shapes and sizes.

You can find your favorite kitchen lighting options at local home improvement stores or boutique lighting shops. For something truly one of a kind, visit antique shops, flea markets and home decor reclamation stores. Whether an amazing art deco chandelier or an adorable Victorian decorative table lamp, you’ll discover unexpected gems for your kitchen.

Your kitchen should be as unique as you are. When you add personal touches, you’ll enjoy an updated, customized space that will have you cooking and entertaining in style.

Courtesy of Brandpoint Content

5 Latest Trends in Bathroom Design

Today’s homeowners are increasingly expecting their bathrooms to mirror some of the spa-like features that were previously seen only in hotels, resorts and luxury vacation rentals.

Home television shows and websites like Better Homes and Gardens (bhg.com), ElleDecor.com and Houzz.com have showcased these once aspirational luxuries, while technical advances have made them more attainable.

With the baby boomer population among the most active of renovating groups, those wanting to remain in their current homes longer have an eye toward safety and accessibility, but also luxury and style when upgrading their bathrooms.

Here are some of the latest features transforming modern bathrooms.

Towel warmers

On a cold morning, nothing would be more pleasant than reaching for a warm towel as you step out of the tub or shower. To help make your bathroom feel more like a luxury spa, a heated towel warmer keeps towels at just the right temperature for optimal comfort. If you don’t have enough space for a towel warming drawer or cabinet in your bathroom, space-saving towel warmer racks are also available. Some are free-standing, while others are wall-mounted.

Heated floors

Another option for warming up on a cold morning is to install a heated bathroom floor. Radiant floor heating can supplement your home’s overall heating system, making you feel warmer when standing on a tiled floor in January. Because these systems warm objects and people in a room, radiant floor heating systems are more energy-efficient than conventional forced-air. In fact, more people are comfortable with radiant floor heating at a lower thermostat setting than with forced-air heating at a higher thermostat setting.

High-tech mirrors

From mirrors with automatic, built-in LED lighting options or fog resistance to magic-like mirrors incorporating built-in clocks, TV panels or digital assistant-connected features, the bathroom mirror has gone way beyond a simple place to shave or check your look. Bathroom mirrors with automatic sensors light up as your face approaches the mirror. Some high-tech mirrors include touch-screen controls, some are controlled by remotes while others are responsive to voice commands. If it’s connected to an advanced security system, you can use a smart bathroom mirror to check who’s at the front door while brushing your teeth. With a smart mirror that connects to the internet, you can watch tutorials on your favorite makeup app while getting ready for that big date. You can also check the news and weather or tell your digital assistant to turn on your coffee maker while you’re fixing your hair. The latest mirror features make all your simple grooming tasks easier.

Standalone bathtubs

Homeowners with the space and resources are increasingly choosing to separate the bathtub from the shower, opting for a much larger and more stylish soaking tub. While whirlpool-type spa tubs are not as popular as they have been in recent years, larger tubs for luxury bathrooms — disconnected from the shower — are considered much more desirable.

Curbless showers

As showers are increasingly separated from tubs in modern bathrooms, curbless showers with linear drains are gaining in popularity. A curbless entrance makes showers easily accessible for all ages and abilities, in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. They can also accommodate a freestanding bench, wheelchair or other mobility aid because they require no center drain where water may pool or make users feel unbalanced. Usually located against the edge or back of the shower, linear drains are more hygienic, as they are most often designed with larger format tiles, reducing grout joints and seals where mold, mildew and grime can accumulate. Because of the larger tiles and the elimination of a center drain, more diverse materials can be used, including ceramic, porcelain or stone tiles, plus a range of solid surface materials like marble, granite or engineered stone products.

Courtesy of Brandpoint Content

How to Keep Your Home and Family Safe From Fires

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), three out of five home fire deaths result from fires in properties without working smoke alarms — often due to missing alarm batteries or expired alarms.

Fortunately, a new generation of home safety technology — combined with tried-and-true safety practices — can help keep homes and families safer from the threat of home fires. First Alert offers the following tips and products to keep your family safe and healthy:

Be safe, replace: If you can’t think of the last time you installed a smoke alarm, chances are, it’s time to replace your old ones. All smoke alarms — including battery and hard-wired models — are tested to function for 10 years. Installing new alarms ensures you are protected with the most advanced smoke-sensing technologies and the latest safety features available. Conversely, by neglecting to replace alarms, you could be putting yourself, your family or tenants at serious risk.

Go for a 10: One of the greatest advancements in smoke alarm technology in recent years has been the development of new 10-year sealed battery smoke alarms, such as First Alert’s 10-Year Atom Smoke & Fire Alarm, which consumers have used to add fire protection to their homes. The Atom features an advanced smoke entry system designed to reduce the chances of false alarms, along with a loud, penetrating siren. In addition, 10-year alarms provide hassle-free protection so homeowners, property owners and renters no longer need to remember to replace costly batteries for the life of their alarms. They also eliminate the risk of ever having an alarm deactivated due to battery removal.

Double-up on safety: There are two main types of smoke alarms — photoelectric and ionization — which utilize different technologies to sense smoke and fire. Ionization smoke alarms are generally more responsive to fast-flaming fires, while photoelectric smoke alarms are generally more responsive to fires that begin with a long period of smoldering (called “smoldering fires”). Rather than relying solely on one, install both — or a dual-sensor alarm — to maximize your protection. The NFPA and other safety advocates recommend having dual-sensor alarms because they provide the best potential for early detection of all types of common household fires.

Cover your bases: Even if you have smoke alarms in your home, you and your family may not be sufficiently protected if you don’t have enough devices. To ensure the highest level of protection from smoke and carbon monoxide, the NFPA recommends installing smoke alarms at the top of each staircase and one in every bedroom or sleeping area. To put this into perspective, the average-sized home in America — a two-story, three-bedroom house — needs a minimum of five smoke alarms.

Courtesy of Brandpoint Content

The Homeowner’s Guide To Reading Your Roof – What’s Normal And What’s Not

How to tell when your roof needs repair

Four out of five homes in the U.S. have asphalt shingles on their roof. And it’s easy to see why. The wide variety of available colors and styles, combined with durability and affordability, has made asphalt shingles the leading choice for residential roofing in the country.

But, like all exterior building products, asphalt shingles start to age as soon as they are exposed to nature. Buildings experience aging factors differently, so it’s difficult to predict how long shingles will last. With storm chasers and insurance adjusters claiming roof damage or defective shingles after major weather events, it’s important for homeowners to arm themselves with information about what type of roof aging is normal, and most importantly, what type is not.

What is normal?

It’s natural for a roof to age, and the process begins as soon as shingles are exposed to nature. The sun can raise rooftop temperatures as high as 50-70 degrees above the ambient air temperature. Ultraviolet radiation from the sun and heat have been shown to accelerate roof aging, as have pollution, hail, snow, ice, falling tree limbs and people walking on a roof.

Here are a few common signs of aging shingles:

Curling is a common phenomenon in some shingles and is not considered a defect. It is natural for asphalt to age and shrink with time, which may result in a slight curling of the shingle edge.

Minor cracks may also appear on the shingles as they age, but industry experts say it is a normal weathering characteristic and not cause for alarm, as long as the cracks do not penetrate through the shingle and the roof is still performing the intended purpose of shedding water.

“Minor cracks may not be noticeable from the ground, but people often spot them while hanging their Christmas lights,” said roofing industry expert Rick “the Roofer” Taylor, a longtime roofing contractor now working as a traveling trainer for shingle manufacturer TAMKO Building Products. “The intense heat from the sun can deplete some of the protective asphalt oils, and that can cause minor cracks.”

Dark brown or black streaks down the roof are common in particularly moist or humid areas of the country and are the result of algae growth on the shingles. While not particularly attractive, these stains should not affect the shingles’ ability to shed water.

Some granule loss on the shingles is to be expected, especially if a roof has been recently repaired or replaced, since extra granules are a part of the shingle manufacturing process. Loose granules are usually noticed collecting in roof gutters after the shingles are installed. This type of granule shedding is common and not a cause for concern.

What is cause for concern?

While minor curling, surface cracking, closed blisters, algae stains and some granule loss can all be signs of normal roof aging, some more serious roof wear and aging could be indicative of a potential problem and should be examined and monitored.

These roof issues may need attention:

Blisters, or small circular raised areas, are often the direct result of under-ventilated attics or excessive use of plastic cement — both of which are installation errors. If the blisters are closed and are not affecting the shingles’ performance, they are not a cause for concern. But if the blisters are open, exposing the asphalt, the roof is vulnerable to water penetration and requires immediate attention.

Buckling, a distortion of the shingles, can be a possible sign of inadequate roof ventilation, issues with the roof deck or other installation errors and may require attention.

Deep cracks that penetrate through the fiberglass mat should be investigated, as they may compromise the roof’s ability to shed water and make it susceptible to leaks.

Excessive granule loss that exposes the shingles’ asphalt layer is a reason for concern and requires immediate attention.

Armed with this basic information, homeowners should be able to distinguish between natural processes that are no cause for alarm and issues that do require attention and repair.

Courtesy of Brandpoint Content

5 Steps To Prepare For Natural Disasters

Whether it’s hurricanes, tornadoes or snowstorms, natural disasters can occur anywhere at any time. When they do, it’s often sudden, so being prepared ahead of time is key. However, only 39% of Americans are prepared for an unexpected natural disaster, according to a study by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“It’s important to always follow official evacuation orders. But if you are able to remain in the home, amplifying your safety now can help you and your family keep calm during an emergency,” said Tarsila Wey, director of marketing for First Alert. “Save yourself from potential stress by taking these steps to prepare for any natural disaster.”

Plan for a natural disaster. Emergency disaster drills are often conducted in schools, but rarely in the home. Plan for potential emergencies with your family before they strike. To stay safe during a tornado, for example, have your family choose a windowless safe room in your home and designate a family member to open windows. For added protection get under something sturdy, such as a heavy table, or cover your body with a mattress.

Create an emergency disaster kit. Keep a well-stocked emergency disaster kit ready at all times. Fill your kit with first aid items such as bandages, gauze, tweezers and cleansing wipes. Additionally, include a flashlight, transistor radio, a portable phone charger, extra batteries, a fire extinguisher and enough bottled water and perishable food items to last at least 72 hours.

Help protect your home and family. Natural disasters can cause long-lasting power outages and lead to a spike in carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning incidents, often because of improper generator use. It is extremely important to never leave your generator inside your home or the garage, as they are a source of CO. CO is an odorless and colorless gas, making it impossible to detect without an alarm. To protect your family from the threats of smoke, fire, and CO, consider installing a First Alert Combination Smoke and CO Alarm with a 10-year sealed battery, which eliminates the need to replace batteries for the life of the alarm. Test your alarms monthly and be sure all smoke and CO alarms have a battery backup if hardwired. Install alarms on each level of the home and near every sleeping area.

Know fire safety. Damaged powerlines, gas lines and other electrical systems pose a dangerous fire threat. If a powerline falls, don’t move or drive over it and immediately contact local authorities. Another potential danger is using candles during a power outage. Never leave any open flames unattended. In the event of a fire, a well-planned and practiced escape plan will be invaluable. To design a fire escape plan, identify multiple exits out of each room and choose a meeting spot for your family away from the home. Practice this plan at least twice a year.

Store your valuables safely. Important documents such as insurance papers, birth certificates, and passports are necessary when dealing with the aftermath of a disaster, so be sure they are safely stored. For maximum security, protect these documents as well as any family heirlooms or prized possessions by storing them in a waterproof and fire resistant safe.

“Being prepared for extreme weather often isn’t on a homeowner’s mind until it’s too late,” said Wey. “Make safety a priority in your home by planning for any natural disaster so that your family and your property are as protected as possible.”

For more information, visit www.firstalert.com

Courtesy of Brandpoint Content

5 Smart Ideas To Refresh Your Deck

As the seasons turn, your focus begins to shift to the outdoors. Your deck or patio becomes your new living room — an ideal setting for memorable moments with friends and family. If you look at these spaces and long for a refresh, the time to start planning is now. You have options, and many you can do yourself with minimal effort.

To start, if you don’t have a deck or patio, research materials carefully before making an investment. One prevalent building trend involves making the smart choice toward natural, environmentally friendly materials that will never end up in landfills. As such, more homeowners are choosing Real Cedar because it is naturally resistant to rot, decay and insects. It’s low-maintenance and easy to work with, being durable yet lightweight, laying straight and taking fasteners easily. Plus, nothing looks, feels or smells quite like cedar.

To refresh your deck with style and functionality, consider these five-trending outdoor-living projects:

Planter boxes: If you want to add beauty and functionality to your deck, construct planter boxes and put them in sunny spaces. From small boxes that house herb gardens to larger boxes that allow vegetables to thrive, you can have a bounty of fresh flavors right outside your door. No need for a garden plot! Planter box designs come in a variety of sizes and can be built low to the ground or at waist height for easy tending.

Outdoor sectionals: Built-in sectionals are becoming a focal point and favorite hangout spot on the deck. Perfectly set into a corner, these multi-directional couches can be built as large or small as you desire. Use Real Cedar for your project because it is pitch- and resin-free, so accepts and holds a wide variety of finishes beautifully so you can customize the look to your tastes. Finish with cushions for that decorator touch and you’ll have your new favorite cozy outdoor corner.

Water features: As homeowners look to make their decks and patios a true retreat from the stress of everyday life, they want to add elements of Zen, which is why fountains and water features are becoming so popular. New decks are often built to incorporate these features, including pathways where water provides a calm ambiance. If a pond is too significant an undertaking, fountains provide a more affordable alternative that can be used in any size space.

Pergolas: These beautiful semi-shelters can be built in a number of useful configurations depending on how much shade you require, what you wish to situate beneath it (A dining set? Outdoor couches and chairs? Grilling equipment?) and whether you want to incorporate climbing plants. For complete project plans and instructions on how to make your own pergola over a weekend, visit www.realcedar.com.

Lighting: When the sun goes down that doesn’t mean the fun should stop. Add lighting to extend the functionality and enjoy special moments under the stars on your deck or patio. Stair, railing and pathway lighting add a necessary safety feature, while under-table lighting and deck-post sconces provide the perfect illumination for the space without being overwhelming. For a touch of twinkle, add a few outdoor string lights in white, or for a more festive atmosphere, go for the color of your choice.

These five outdoor living ideas are sure to enhance any size deck or patio space. Make plans today so you can enjoy many seasons of fun outdoors with loved ones.

Courtesy of Brandpoint Content

9 of the Biggest DIY Flooring Mistakes Homeowners Make

Installing new floors is a great way to update the look of your home while adding fresh appeal. While style and design are key components of the decision-making process, homeowners often neglect other areas that should be taken into consideration. Whether you choose hardwood, vinyl, or laminate flooring, be sure to do your research, especially if you’re planning to do it yourself. Otherwise, the cheapest flooring options can become more costly in the long run.

Here are 9 tips to help you avoid common flooring mistakes.

  1. Overestimating DIY Skills

While DIY projects can reduce overall project costs, many homeowners don’t have the advanced skills required for the installation. Poor installation may lead to countless problems down the road and can be quite costly. First, it is important to understand the complexity of the installation project. Flooring manufacturers’ websites offer DIY skill level information for each flooring type or a certified flooring retailer can provide information on the difficulty with installation. Second, be honest about your DIY abilities and, if needed, consider hiring a professional installer.

  1. Underspending on “Cheap” Flooring

Everyone likes a good bargain and finding attractive flooring at a low price can feel like hitting the jackpot. However, the old saying “you get what you pay for” often rings true with flooring. Be sure to have a good understanding of the floor’s construction, especially if it’s being placed in high-traffic or moisture-prone areas such as the kitchen or bathroom. Lower quality flooring is prone to scratches, scuffs, and stains. Purchasing flooring that is well made will keep your floors looking new longer and is worth the additional up-front investment.

  1. Failing to Research Prior to Installing

Be sure to look at the whole picture before selecting your flooring. Does the room you are installing the flooring in need enhancements such as mold and trim? Will you need a transitional piece between rooms? Is a subfloor needed? Be sure you have an understanding of these potential necessities, so you can install your flooring properly the first time.

  1. Preparing the Subfloor Incorrectly

After removing your old flooring, it’s critical the subfloor is properly prepared. The subfloor should be smooth, flat and dry. Taking the time to correctly prep your subflooring will help to ensure proper installation while increasing the longevity of your floor.

  1. Measuring Incorrectly

As the saying goes, measure twice, cut once. This wise advice is sometimes overlooked when prepping for new flooring. Homeowners should pay extra attention if they’re planning on installing flooring themselves, so they don’t end up ordering too much or not enough.

  1. Using Products that are Not Recommended for Installation

With any installation, you’ll need certain products to make sure the floor is properly installed. Depending on the type of flooring you’re installing, you may need adhesives, tile trowels, seam treatments, or grout. Be sure to read the manufactures installation guide for a list of necessary tools and products. This is also not an area to take shortcuts since buying less expensive products can result in an inferior installation.

  1. Not Considering Moisture and Humidity

Moisture is a commonly overlooked factor in DIY flooring, especially in hot and humid areas. Moisture and humidity can cause wood flooring to warp, leaving it looking way different than when you installed it. Be sure not to install the boards too close together so they have room to expand. If in doubt, consult with a professional.

  1. Ignoring the Manufacturer’s Recommended Care Instructions

Different flooring types require different cleaning methods. Be sure to carefully read the cleaning and maintenance instructions for your flooring type. For example, using a steam mop on wood or laminate flooring could cause long-term water damage and is something you definitely want to avoid.

  1. Disregarding Maintenance Recommendations

Much like your car, your floors need to be properly maintained to extend their longevity. Improper maintenance of your flooring can lead to unnecessary wear and tear and can even void your warranty if you use a product that is not recommended for your floor type. You can find this information on the manufacturer’s website or by calling their customer service hotline.

Follow these tips when purchasing your flooring and you’ll avoid the headaches of poor installation and improper maintenance, so you can receive the maximum enjoyment from your home improvement investment.

Author bio: Jennifer Karami is a writer at Redfin, a technology-enabled real estate brokerage whose mission is to redefine real estate in the customer’s favor.

Trend Watch: 2019 Outdoor Living And Design Trends For Every Homeowner

Outdoor living continues to grow in 2019 as homeowners dream of adding spaces that provide tranquility, connection and touches of nature. More than just a home enhancement, these spaces are meant to inspire people to set digital devices aside and find moments of calm while making memories with friends and family.

Now is the perfect time to plan updates to outdoor living areas so as the seasons turn, you’re ready to enjoy your outdoor space to the fullest. Joe Raboine, director of residential hardscapes at Belgard, offers his expert insight into top outdoor design trends of the year that you should consider for your home.

Blurring of indoor and outdoor areas

Beyond windows and patio doors, home designs are truly blending indoor and outdoor areas thanks to features like folding walls and collapsible screens. For example, imagine a family room that opens up completely to an outdoor patio for easy entertaining, made possible by retractable walls plus smart lighting and strategic heating and cooling sources for seasonal comfort. These types of integrated spaces make the backyard a one-of-a-kind extension of the home.

Clean lines and contemporary style

Modern lines are a top interior design trend and it is expanding into outdoor living spaces, offering a seamless visual transition. Contemporary style with clean lines, textures and shapes have taken over more traditional styles, particularly among younger homeowners. Modular, large-format pavers embrace this trend and are expected to continue to increase in popularity, with smoother textures gaining traction.

Monochromatic and “greige” tones

The contemporary trend also leans toward monochromatic color schemes. Gray continues to be popular, with the growing trend of “greige” – blends of gray and beige tones – poised to take off in 2019. These muted hues blend seamlessly with the landscape, plus they allow homeowners to use strategic pops of color with furniture and flowers to create customized spaces that reflect their personalities perfectly.

Outdoor kitchens and fire features

In an effort to make outdoor spaces an authentic extension of the home, livability is a priority. That means outdoor kitchens and fire features continue to be a top trend. Kitchen additions like pizza ovens are reflective of the foodie movement, while fire features using gas fuel rather than wood are reflective of the desire for convenience, plus they are a good fit for many municipal regulations.

Sustainability is king

As more homeowners are prioritizing green living, outdoor designs that become a part of the local ecosystem are in high demand. This could include planting to support pollinators and integrating edible landscape into the design. Water features are growing in popularity, used to add a tranquil element to outdoor spaces while masking unwanted sounds, such as traffic or other noise pollution.

Visualization of designs

Partnering with the right designer is key to achieving the outdoor space of your dreams. More homeowners are asking for 3D designs in order to properly conceptualize a space before it is brought to life through construction. Belgard Design Studio can take a simple sketch with dimensions and a few photos and turn it into a 3D rendering or virtual reality experience so homeowners can see the true potential of their outdoor space.

Small footprint designs

Outdoor living isn’t just for homeowners with large properties. Houses with small footprints are adding impressive outdoor spaces in surprising places. This could be maximizing alleyway access, adding a courtyard to a small backyard, or shifting the focus by utilizing the front yard to create a patio and fireplace area. If you long for an outdoor living space, don’t let space constraints limit your dreams.

These 2019 outdoor living trends, in effect, will prove to create a year full of innovative outdoor projects that fit the needs of every homeowner.

Courtesy of Brandpoint Content

An Easy Spring Guide To A Green, Weed-Free Lawn

The rich green color, the soft feel beneath your feet and the iconic fresh-cut smell – thriving grass enhances your property in countless ways. Spring is the ideal time to focus on your lawn, so by taking steps now, you can enjoy lush, green grass for many months to come.

These four areas will help you focus your efforts where they will make the biggest impact.

Equipment prep

The first step to a successful spring lawn-care routine is to properly prepare equipment. After sitting in storage during the cool months, equipment may need a tuneup or replacement.

The lawn mower is your go-to piece of equipment. If it’s gas-powered, make sure fuel hasn’t gone bad by starting it up and letting it run for a while. Add fresh fuel as needed. Additionally, consider bringing your mower in for a tuneup. For a modest fee, a trained mechanic will go over all the mower components and make sure everything is in tip-top shape, including blade sharpening so your mower can cut efficiently.

Lawn trimmers are another popular tool for maintaining a yard. Again, start this piece of equipment up and see how well it runs. Add fresh line to the trimmer head so you get a clean cut. Finally, gather all other lawn-care tools and designate a convenient spot in the garage or shed to store them for easy access.

Mowing advice

A great-looking, weed-free lawn requires proper mowing. Experts agree you should mow as soon as the grass starts to grow to remove any brown tips and encourage healthy growth.

Keep the grass mowed to 3-4 inches tall. At that height, grass shades out weeds, develops deeper roots and cools the soil. Some grasses – such as Kentucky bluegrass, fescues and perennial rye grass – grow faster in cool weather. That means you mow more frequently in spring and early summer to keep it in the 3-4 inch range, and less frequently in mid to late summer and into fall.

Want an insider tip to a great lawn? Leave clippings on the grass. As they break down, they return important trace nutrients to the soil. If the grass is tall when mowed, spread out any large, heavy clumps so the clippings don’t smother the lawn.

Essential treatments

Seek out combination lawn-care products to get better results with less work. A product such as Preen One Lawncare, that can provides three treatments, so you save time while laying the foundation for a thick, green, weed-free lawn.

First, the application prevents crabgrass seeds from sprouting and – unlike traditional weed and feed products – also kills crabgrass seedlings up to 4 weeks after germination. Second, it kills dandelions plus 250 types of tough broadleaf lawn weeds on contact, down to the roots. Finally, it feeds the lawn continuously with a slow-release 20-0-6 formula that promotes even greening and strong roots for maximum heat and drought resistance.

Watering guidelines

Once your lawn starts growing, water becomes an essential component for it to thrive. A healthy lawn needs about an inch of water per week to stay strong. This can be a combination of rainwater and water you apply yourself. To reach the entire root structure, water should soak the soil 6 to 8 inches deep.

The morning is the best time to water grass. Temperatures and winds are typically lower in the morning, which means less evaporation. Strive to water grass before 10 a.m., but if you must do so later, wait until after 4 p.m., when the sun is less intense.

How do you know the amount of water your lawn is getting? Invest in a rain gauge to monitor precipitation. When using a sprinkler, set out a few empty tin cans in different places to measure water application. Unsure if you need to water? Try the footprinting test. Walk across your lawn and if your footprints are still visible after 30 seconds, it’s time to water. Healthy, well-watered grass will stand back up quickly after you walk on it.

Set the stage for great grass this spring with these four easy tasks. A little effort now will ensure a lush lawn through summer and beyond.

Courtesy of Brandpoint Content