Lynn Rand's Blog
Beautiful railings, including the railing that surrounds your deck, plays a major role in your home's curb appeal. Even when it's not visible from the street, a strong, sturdy deck and the railing that surrounds it can still raise your home's resale value. That's extra living space, after all. Even if it is outdoors. But even more important, your deck and its railing need to be structurally sound for safety purposes. You don't want to take a fall off your backyard deck, and you certainly don't want your family, friends or guests to have a mishap. For these reasons, it's vital to keep railings in top condition. Here's how:
Choose the Right Material for Deck Railings
Today's homeowners have multiple options for creating a railing around a wooden deck. More popular ones include:
- Pressure-Treated Wood -- A popular choice for deck railing, wood is the most high-maintenance railing material on the market. Even pressure-treated lumber will need to be re-stained or re-sealed intermittently. This type of railing may also warp or twist over time, but for an upscale appearance, it's difficult to beat.
- Vinyl --Vinyl is lightweight and requires little-to-no maintenance other than an occasional cleaning with the garden hose. Vinyl won't rust or rot, but the color may fade over time.
- Aluminum -- Aluminum is a lightweight, durable material that can withstand corrosion, rust and rot. It can be painted any color and is typically cheaper to install than heavier options such as pressure-treated lumber.
- Composite -- Composite deck railing is made from PVC and recycled wood. It combines the best of both worlds because it's impervious to warp, rot and rust. It doesn't need staining or sealing, it's available in many colors and can easily be painted.
Once you've decided on a material, professional installation is best. Unless you're confident in your construction abilities, weight-bearing structures, such as deck railings, should be built to code. You'll likely need a permit, as well. Adding a well-built, professionally installed railing to your deck will impress future homebuyers. It will also delight your friends and family when the weather turns friendly.
Maintaining Deck Railing
The best advice for maintaining your deck railing over time is simply to inspect it regularly. Take a good, long look every spring, and if you see issues -- nails that are popping up, boards that are weakening -- have them repaired right away. Clean your deck and railings annually, regardless of their composition, and make sure to stain and seal wooden railings at least every other year.
The condition of the trim around your home, including railings, affects your home's value. Take the time to keep them in top condition to maintain their value and their safety.
Most everyone would love to gain some extra room, especially those in small homes with limited space options. Here are three home interior DIY projects to help you maximize your space.
1. Transform a Closet into Workspace
If you’re lacking the room for a home office, transform one of your closets into a mini-office. This is a relatively easy and inexpensive way to give yourself a dedicated workspace.
- Remove the door and hinges.
- Empty the closet and give it a good wipe down.
- Disassemble hanging rods.
- Touch up or repaint the closet’s interior.
- Add two to three shelves—a deep one to serve as your desktop and additional ones for storage.
If you prefer a traditional desk and your closet is wide enough, slide one in and eliminate the need for a deep shelf.
2. Mount Your TV
Modern styles are all about minimalism and entertainment centers don’t exactly fit this look. Besides, media consoles take up a ton of floor space. An easy way to reclaim this useful space is to mount your TV to the wall or above a fireplace.
- Choose a mount for your TV—this will be a tilting mount, low-profile mount or full-motion mount.
- Select a location and determine the best viewing height—be sure you have sufficient outlets and access to cable connections you need.
- Cut out a piece of TV-sized cardboard or poster board and tape it to the wall to get a “visual” of your TV’s position.
- Locate a stud and mark it. (If mounting to a fireplace use masonry anchors.)
- Before you drill, use a level to ensure the wall mount is even.
- Drill holes, attach your mount and secure it so it doesn’t collapse.
- Add a cord cover to hide unsightly wiring.
Media consoles were useful before flat-screen TVs became the norm, but most people today can easily get by with a wall-mount and a shelf to hold cable boxes, media players or game consoles. If you need additional storage, add a small table with cabinet space.
3. Build Window Seats
Adding window seats to any room eliminates the need for extra seating on the floor, gives a cozy look and offers additional storage space.
- Buy two wall cabinets about 30 inches wide by 15 inches high. You can purchase new or, to scale back costs, check secondhand stores, such as Habitat for Humanity’s Restore, for used cabinetry.
- Use plywood (2x4 or 2x6) to serve as a perimeter base, nailing these pieces of wood into the floor to create a toekick. Be sure your outline’s depth is large enough to hold your cabinets, and leave a little extra room to pull your cabinets away a few inches from the wall beneath the window to save space for your seat.
- Place cabinets on top of the toekick and clamp the two cabinets together. Be sure your screws are strong enough to hold the units together.
- Clamp and screw cabinets to the toekick.
- Place hardwood plywood on top of the cabinets to widen your seating area. (Sand and paint, if necessary.)
- Add cushions and pillows.
Tip: Be sure to avoid positioning your seat over an HVAC vent or baseboard because you don’t block out your heat or A/C.
If you’re working with some tight spaces, you can better utilize it by transforming your existing space.
- Make a list: If you don't have a to-do list that you revise and update on a daily basis, then many of your objectives and goals will fall by the wayside. When you commit something to writing and place it high on your list, it has a much stronger likelihood of getting done. Maybe it's the "squeaky wheel" principle or just the power of suggestion, but when you're reminded to do something on a daily basis, you almost feel compelled to take action and get the process underway. (The exception to that would be if you're opposed to doing it for any reason, or you're being nagged.)
- Invite friends or relatives over: For some people, nothing motivates them to mow the lawn, paint the bathroom, or clean the house more than knowing that company's coming over in a few days! Since most of us have been conditioned to care about what other people think of us, then why not use that impulse to your advantage? (Maybe that's the reason some people tidy up before the cleaning person arrives.) Schedule an upcoming dinner party, family gathering, or backyard barbecue, and watch how fast that lingering project gets prioritized, acted on, and completed!
- Announce your intentions: If you tell your spouse, your parents, or your best friend that you're going to tackle an overdue project, this weekend, then you almost have to do it -- or your credibility will be at stake. When you share your intentions with someone else -- especially a person whose opinion you care about -- you're taking accountability for your plans. It's a technique that's often used for getting started on an exercise program or diet, but it could be equally effective for motivating yourself to fix the back steps or clean the garage.