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How to Buy the Right Patio Furniture for Your Home

patio furniture 2

THERE IS NOTHING BETTER than being able to relax on the perfect patio furniture with a nice cup of coffee first thing in the morning. The sun is shining, there's a beautiful cool breeze blowing, and the world is just starting to wake up.

Sounds good so far, right? But, how do you know if you are buying the right patio furniture? Do you just go by looks, comfort, materials, expected life expectancy? Since choosing the right patio furniture is just as important as choosing the materials you built your deck from, to a certain degree, all of these should and will play a part in your final decision.

To make things a little easier for you in your search for the right patio furniture to turn that empty deck and patio from an empty and hostile spot into a warm, comfortable place to enjoy a family meal in the late evening as it cools down.

Let's Start with Materials

When buying patio furniture, your choice of materials sets the look of your entire patio. While you are shopping for furniture, you need to not only look for furniture that is pleasing to the eye but is also comfortable. Who wants to have patio furniture that looks amazing but is about as comfortable as sitting on a brick?

Wood Patio Furniture

Those who love the natural look tend to be more interested in wood furniture. If you are going to invest in wood patio furniture, look for furniture that is made from center-cut hardwood that has a consistent grain. Also look for furniture that uses stainless-steel or zinc-plated. Not only will this help reduce corrosion, but with a simple wrench, you can keep your furniture nice and tight. So, all of this being said, let's look at the four most popular types of wood used to make outdoor furniture.

Natural Cedar and Pressure Treated Pine

Both cedar and pressure-treated pine are very popular and perfect if you plan to hang on to your patio furniture for any number of years. If you are trying to work on a tight budget, I recommend you go for the pressure treated pine as it is typically significantly less than cedar. However, both of these woods age similarly, turning silver or gray. You can preserve their color by sealing the wood annually.

Teak

Teak is an expensive tropical wood that is typically quite expensive. However, if you want wood outdoor patio furniture that is going to last, teak is the way to go. Even under the harshest of weather conditions, you can expect to get 50 years out of furniture made from teak. You can let it age naturally or use teak oil twice a year to keep its natural beauty and preserve it for a longer life (Your grandkids could inherit your patio furniture).

Natural Wood

For the most part, natural wood patio furniture is made from tree branches that have been rough-cut. This type of furniture has a couple of major drawbacks. The first is the being made from branches instead of the trunk, this furniture tends to be very flimsy in nature, with a very short lifespan. The second is that it doesn't do very well under harsh weather conditions. While you can seal using something like Thompson's® Water Seal, doing this can cause it to lose its natural rustic charm. If you just “have to have” this furniture, it is best kept in a sun room or under the roof of a covered porch.

Jarrah from Australia

Jarrah is native to Australia is another sturdy wood, similar in strength and durability teak. It has a very similar reddish color that makes it ideal for your patio. Like teak, there are specific treatments available to help it retain its natural color.

How to Buy the Right Patio Furniture - metal patio furniture

Metal Furniture for Your Patio

Metal patio furniture offers a sturdy look that so many people love. Metal furniture made from aluminum, cast iron or steel (if you want a retro-painted look) can provide you with versatility, comfort, and of course durability.

Aluminum Furniture

Aluminum patio furniture comes in two different forms:

Extruded Aluminum Furniture

Extruded aluminum furniture is ideal for those who like strap or sling strips. Being made from aluminum, this furniture is quite light and easy to stack. The webbing or slings come in a very diverse range of colors to help you create the porch of your dreams. Prices range from relatively inexpensive in your local department stores to quite expensive in some specialty stores. Aluminum does not corrode over time, but you may have to replace the strapping or sling after a few years
Image courtesy FamilyLiesure

If you are in the market for something a little less flimsy than extruded aluminum, but without the weight of cast iron, this is the way to go. With cast aluminum patio furniture, you can enjoy all of the ornate décor you might find with cast iron, but in a material that will not rust or corrode. You can expect to pay more for this type of aluminum furniture, but you might find the extra cost well-worth it.

Cast Iron Patio Furniture

The looks of today's cast iron can be traced all the way back to the Victorian era with every swirl and twist. The heavy weight of cast iron is ideal for those who live in windy areas (cast iron is pretty hard to carry let alone be blown around by the wind. The more complex the design, the more elegant it might look on your patio or deck. The drawbacks, it is heavy and hard to move around, and it can be very hard to sit on, so cushions are almost a must. Typical colors are black, white, or green. You will need an anti-rust oil treatment to keep it from rusting.

Retro-Metal Patio Furniture

If you are trying to give your patio that bygone era look, then retro-metal may be just what you are looking for. Some brands come with beautiful artwork on the backs of the chairs, others come in a wide array of corrosion proof colors. However, you should plan to add some form of colorful padding or cushioning to make the seats more comfortable and to make sure you don't scorch your bum during the hot summer days.

Wicker Patio Furniture

Wicker has long been one of the most popular forms of patio furniture. It comes in two styles, natural wicker and “all-weather.” While they look very similar to each other, they differ significantly in lifespan and the amount of maintenance needed to keep it in good shape. All-weather furniture requires little more than a good wash down with a hose from time to time. Whereas natural wicker must be cleaned properly and then treated with the proper wicker oils to keep it from molding or dry rotting.

Traditional Wicker Patio Furniture

Traditional wicker furniture can be made with Rattan vines, bamboo, or cane. Because wicker is a natural material, it is best suited for use under cover porches or patios. You should avoid using natural wicker furniture when it is wet as this can cause the individual strands to stretch. If the wicker is painted, you can keep it looking good by simply adding a fresh coat of paint as needed.

All-Weather Wicker Furniture

This type of furniture is made from synthetic fibers that are twisted into sheets of wicker mounted on steel or aluminum frames. While it will fade over time, synthetic wicker will last for many years, even in harsh summer weather (you should store it out of the snow and ice). You can buy all-weather wicker furniture in an incredible array of styles and colors to match your décor and tastes.

Plastic or Resin Patio Furniture

Plastic/resin furniture has a few things going for it such as it's inexpensive with lots of styles and colors to choose from. But, like most other types of outdoor patio furniture, it's not without its own set of drawbacks. Most designs are very simplistic to keep the cost down, everything looks like a clone. The pieces are very lightweight and generally do not hold up well in harsh weather conditions.

How to Buy the Right Patio Furniture - patio furniture

Buying Outdoor Patio Furniture

Now that you have a pretty good idea of the different materials used to make outdoor patio furniture and their good and bad points, let's take a look at what you should be doing before you spend a dime on your first piece.

How You Plan to Enjoy Your Outdoor Patio Furniture?

How you plan to use your furniture can make a huge difference in what you buy. For example, if you plan to lounge around in the shade on a hot summer day, a chaise lounge might be worth looking into. Do you plan to add a fire pit for family gatherings, a set of comfy chairs and maybe a love seat might be a better choice? Think very carefully about your projected use and then move on to the next step in the buying process.

Colors Count

Color should be the next thing you think about as you are the only one who truly knows what you have in mind regarding the final result you are trying to achieve. Basic white, natural wood, black, you name it and you can find it out there somewhere.

Do Your Homework

Spend some time looking online and in brick and mortar stores looking at the different types and styles out there. Sit in as many of them as you can. Heck, take pictures of the ones you like the most and take them home with you. Hold them in front of you and place the picture in the right spot. It's a good way to get a rough idea of how each type of furniture would look.

Be Patient

While you might feel the need to “insta-buy”, this is never the way to buy anything. It has never been more important than when you are buying furniture for your patio. Look for similar items on sale or at lower prices. Take your time and make sure you are getting the best possible deal on your new patio furniture. While you may pay more for quality furniture, you will find the investment more than pays for itself.

Eleven Hot Points You Need to Keep in Mind When Buying Your Patio Furniture

  1. As you start your shopping foray into buying patio furniture, here are ten important things for you to keep in mind to make sure you are making the right purchase:
  2. Measure the size of the area you have to work with. This will help ensure you don't end up with patio furniture that is too big for the space.
  3. Decide on the style of patio furniture you want. The style you choose will set the tone for the rest of your patio. Do you want a to create a vintage look, a bistro, or something with a little more rustic charm?
  4. Consider looking for discount or sale furniture. If you are patient, you may find exactly what you are looking for at a great low price.
  5. Look for and if you can test any furniture you are considering for durability and most importantly for a manufacturer's warranty.
  6. If possibly take each piece of furniture for a test drive. The last thing you want is to end up buying uncomfortable furniture, no one is going to want to sit in.
  7. If possible, try to protect your new patio furniture from the sun's UV rays with an awning, pergola, or even an umbrella.
  8. When buying cushions, be sure they are mold, mildew, and water resistant.
  9. Be sure the patio furniture you buy has the right weather resistance protection to prevent rot and rust.
  10. Be sure you understand both delivery and assembly requirements to avoid surprises when your new furniture arrives.
  11. Finally, double check that the furniture you are about to order is going to be the right fit for your home. The functionality of your porch will depend highly on your choice of patio furniture. A few extra days of short-term thought beats years of long-term regret.

Conclusion

It can't be said enough that you need to take your time deciding on the type of patio furniture is going to be the best possible choice for your patio and your family. Keep in mind that you will be using the same furniture for many years to come. It pays to do your homework and make the right decision. I hope that the information I have put together here for you helps you find the right furniture for your patio and that you and your family enjoy many lovely evenings together.

Buying Guide to Solar Waterproof Step Lights for Your Deck, Porch, or Steps

solar step lights - a set of stairs illuminated

THERE IS NOTHING QUITE LIKE sitting out on your deck with a nice glass of wine at the end of the day. Unless, that is, of course, it is walking down the steps, down the steps into your garden. The only problem is the steps are so dark at night, you can't see them well enough to risk it. So, instead of being able to walk down your garden paths, you are stuck to the deck.

Why live like this, when the only safe time to go wandering in your yard, is when the sun is shining, you are missing out on half the fun. Why not invest in solar step lights to make that trip down into your garden safe without having to go to the expense of hiring a contractor to install all the electrical wiring need for standard lights.

Solar Power Is the Answer

Let's take a look at the many benefits of solar powered step lights and then we'll take a look at what to look for when buying a set for the steps on your deck.

solar step lights - a man standing in front of switchboard looking confused

1. No Wiring to Run

One of the biggest reasons why many people don't go to the trouble of adding step lighting to the steps on the deck, on the porch, or in the garden, is quite simply they don't want to go the expense of wiring them in. While some of us can handle our wiring, not every city allows you to do so. Some require your work to be inspected once complete before signing off on your permit, some simply require all electrical work to be done by a certified electrician. Be sure you check with your local codes if you plan to wire in the lights. Or you could save time, money and effort by installing solar step lights.

2. Simple to Install

Installing solar powered step lights is very simple. First, you need to determine which side of your steps gets the most sunlight during the day. Then, using the screws or mounting kit provided, you install the light. It just doesn't get any easier than this. No holes to drill (except maybe pilot holes, no wires to run, just a light to install.

3. Last for Many Hours

When used in conjunction with LED bulbs that consume very little energy, you can expect your solar step lights to burn for several hours. Be sure to check the specs for any lights you are considering buying. Each manufacturer has their own length of illumination time based on the type of batteries and solar panels used. Many can now last all night long providing there is plenty of sunlight during the day.

4. No Running Up Your Power Bill

If there is one thing you can count on today, it's that everything you add to the electrical circuits in your home will increase your bill. Yep, even those “low voltage” step lights that run on a transformer. It might not seem like they would add that much to your power bill, if they get left on all night long, every night of the week, the costs are going to add up. With solar powered step lights, the only energy you need is some good old-fashioned sunlight. This is still free and provides more energy than you could use in a life time.

5. Plenty to Choose From

When it comes to finding the right style and color, you may just find that solar step lights offer more styles and colors than standard 110V type lights. There are single lights, each of which has their own solar cell panel, strings of lights connected to a central solar panel, even individual dot lights that can be wired to a central solar panel.

They come with metal housings, plastic housings, clear lenses, colored lenses, antique styles, art Deco, art nouveau, and so many more. The color list is long enough to satisfy just about any tastes an outdoor décor.

What Should You Look for In Solar Step Lights?

Like most things for your backyard, you should never just jump at the first set of solar step lights you come across in the store or online. This is the worst possible way to buy anything and the best possible way to end up with solar step lights that don’t work as well as they are advertised to or simply don't work at all.

When you go out looking for solar step lights consider these things very carefully.

Charge

This is how long the batteries are going to keep the lights burning if they are left on all night long. Each manufacturer lists this in their advertising or on the package. If you come across any that don't pass them by.  With lithium ion batteries, they are typically rated in milliamp hours, for example, 600Mah, the higher the number the bigger the battery and the longer they will last.

Charge Time

Next up, how long it will take the batteries in the light to recharge on an average day. Charging times vary with the size and type of solar panel used as well as the batteries themselves. 4 to 6 hours is common, but try to avoid those that say they take over 8 hours to charge. Keep in mind most do have an initial charging time and then a day to day charging time.

Lumens

This is the standard measureofr light output, in many ways it is similar to the way we have rated household bulbs for years in wattage. Lumens, however, is a measurement of light output, while wattage is actually a measurement of power consumption. Most solar step lights tend to have the equivalent output of a 40W light bulb. Just enough to light your way up and down the steps without blinding you. Look for lumen ratings of 10-80 Lumens.

Auto On/Off

You might think this would be obvious, but there are still a few models out there that have to be turned on and off manually. Unless you feel like getting up every evening to turn them on and in the morning to turn them off, this is a very important feature.

Weatherproof

Outdoor lights are all supposed to be waterproof to keep out the rain and snow, aren't they? Such is not the case as many are listed as being water resistant. Which in turn means if you live in an area where you have a lot of snow or rain, those that are listed as being water resistant are just about useless as they are bound to leak. Be sure the lights you are considering are listed as being WATERPROOF if you want them to last.

Motion Sensor

This one is optional, but you might find having step lights that come on only when someone is by or on the step can come in pretty handy. Better yet, they won't keep your backyard lit up all night long. But, on the other hand, each time they come on, they should be at full illumination. If you do decide to go with motion sensor lights, look for those that allow you to adjust their range. This gives you far more flexibility with how you place them and how well they work for your needs.
Image courtesy Amazon

 

My Top Five Choices for Solar Step Lights

After looking at the many different solar step lights on the market, I found five that are worthy of your deck, porch, or garden path.

Mpow Solar Lights Motion Sensor Security Lights

These Mpow lights feature an updated solar panel. After only a few hours of daylight, they will keep these lights working throughout the night. In steady mode, they will last between 8 and 10 hours. They feature 20 LED for super white lighting, with three distinct settings, Strong Long Light Mode, Strong Sensor Light Mode, and Dim Light Sensor Mode. The dual-layer tightly -sealed loop makes these lights exceptionally water and heat resistant.

Pros Cons
Watertight Occasional quality issues
Long life batteries Switches are on back of light hard to reach when mounted
Three modes of operation Limited lifespan

 

Litom Solar Lights Outdoor 30 LED

These lights feature 30 LEDs and ultra-high 2200Mah battery that will keep these lights running for 24 hours on the dim setting with only 13 of the LEDs turned on. When the motion sensor detects movement, the lights will come on in full bright mode for 20/40/60/ seconds. Fully waterproof, with 120-degree lighting, and a maximum 39 foot sensor range, they will cover a wide area as you go down the steps and out into the garden.

Pros Cons
Extra-long sensor range No motion sensor adjustment
Multiple settings Light range is shorter than advertised
Low to instant max with motion sensor Battery Life short in full brightness mode

 

 

Solar Lights Outdoor, xtf2015 Copper Outdoor Step Light

Give your solar lights the day off with these copper lights. Not only are they auto charging, but they are auto on/off. Designed to look like a smile each light 4 x 0.2W brightness SMD beads with spotlight reflector. Maximum brightness is 100 Lumens per light. They come complete with double-sided stickers, screws, and stopples to help you mount them virtually anywhere.

Pros Cons
Nice copper appearance Timer is too short
100 Lumens max output Batteries have a short lifespan
Auto on/off Bright LED illuminates the sensor

Solar Deck Lights, iThird 3 LED Solar Powered Step Lights

These solar step lights are made from a mixture of stainless steel and ABS plastic. They take 4 to 6 hours to charge and will run for approximately 8 to 12 hours. They produce 24 Lumens at 6500 to 7000K daylight. Each of the lights 3 ultra-bright LED chips. Power is supplied via a 200 mAh, 3.2V Li-FePO4 battery. Easy to install, simply screw them to the steps. These lights are IP44 waterproof rated.

Pros Cons
Short charge time Some quality control issues
Long battery life Low light range
Upgraded monocrystalline solar panels

Kinna Waterproof Solar Step Deck Lights

Each light in this four-pack provides a full 6Lumenss of light. They are 100% weatherproof, making them perfect for outdoor use. Easy installation with a pair of screws (included). Uses the latest in monocrystalline solar panels and a 1.2V 500 mAh Ni-mh battery. Offers 300k warm white light.

Pros Cons
8 hours of working time Ni-mh battery instead of life
Compact size and shape Need a template to mount
Come as a four pack Battery longevity questionable, but can be replaced

Other Options

Here I look at your best option if solar step lights are not going to get the job done for you. In this particular instance, I picked a very popular 110V LED step/wall light.

Sunco Lighting, LED Mini Outdoor and Indoor Step/Stair Light

Rated as one of the top LED step lights on the market. Comes with both vertical and horizontal. Easy to install using a single gang box. Safe for both commercial and residential use. These lights are UL listed and approved for use in wet locations.

Pros Cons
UL Listed waterproof Use electricity, running up your power bill
Come with both horizontal and vertical louvres Metal top covers more than it should
Bright enough to light most sets of steps Leads come out of the side making harder to install

 

Finally, the Light Comes On

At the end of the day, finding the right solar step lights for your deck or garden is more about personal choice as far size, color, design, etc. But what you should be looking for is maximum Lumens, long lasting lithium-ion batteries, fast charge time and a certain level of waterproofing.

Me I have a set of the Litom Solar Lights Outdoor 30 LED keeping the steps on my deck lit at night. I hope the information I have put together here helps you find the perfect solar step lights for your deck, porch, or walkway.

If you can think of anything you would like to see added here, please contact me here.

Ideas

16 Great Patio Ideas for Any Home

Outdoor Patio Ideas - wooden chairs and stairs

Patios turn what would be grass into a usable entertaining or relaxing space

ADDING A PATIO TO YOUR yard is a great way to make use of what might otherwise be a section of your lawn. Having a patio gives you a place to relax in the sun, enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning or a chilled glass of wine in the evening. But, just knowing you want a patio is only the beginning. Do you know what size patio you want, what you want to be able to do on your patio, how to build it, or what amenities you want on your patio?

It took me a while to determine how I wanted to build my patio. In the end I settled for a large brick patio with a roof. The roof keeps the sun and rain out. It also protects my outdoor kitchen that can feed my family and friends on the weekends. To help you with your outdoor kitchen ideas, here are some examples of what others have done.

Also see: Landscaping Ideas Around Patio and Paved Areas

Small Patio Ideas

Make the most of your small space

Image courtesy of ArchitectureHD

Just because you have a small patio to work with, doesn’t mean you can't make the most of the space you have. Consider adding furniture and a fire pit to give you somewhere to spend evenings year-round. Maybe add a pergola to keep the rain or sun at bay. If you live in an area where it gets cold in the winter, you can always add a patio heater along with the fire pit to keep everyone comfortable.

Patio Cover Ideas

Put a Roof Over Your Head and Stay Dry All Year-Round

Image courtesy of Outdoor Furniture Design and Ideas

Adding a patio cover is a great way to make your patio usable year-round in sun, rain, snow, and more. There are several options including a pergola, which you can build from scratch yourself, buy in a kit form, or buy ready built and install yourself. In recent years the use of retractable awnings as porch coverings. These can be great as you only extend the patio roof when you need it, the rest of the time it can sit retracted against the wall

Brick Patio Ideas

Bricks Are One of the Most Versatile and Beautiful Materials for Patio Construction

brick_patioImage courtesy of Antique Brick Warehouse

Brick is one of the most popular materials to be used in building a patio. Not only does brick look amazing, it can be arranged in a wide range of patterns and better yet, bricks come in an incredible variety of colors, sizes, and shapes. While it might take you more time to build a top-quality brick patio, the resulting patio will last for many years and can look nothing less than magnificent when they are done. Consider using different colored bricks to create a mandala-like pattern or perhaps even an outdoor game-board the whole family can enjoy.

Cheap Patio Ideas

Creating a Welcoming Place Outdoors on a Tight Budget

cheap_patio_ideasImage courtesy of Pallets Designs

Just because you are working on a tight budget, doesn’t mean you can't still have a nice patio in your backyard. There are several ways you can keep costs under control and still end up with a lovely patio for your family. For example, with a little looking around, you might be amazed at how many places near you sell used construction materials such as bricks, pavers, lumber, railroad ties, and more. These are a great way to save money on your patio project. Alternatively, you might consider purchasing resin boards instead of lumber. Not only do they often cost less, but they require virtually no maintenance and will last for many years.

Concrete Patio Ideas

Concrete is Not Just for Driveways and Sidewalks Anymore

poured-concrete-patio-designsImage courtesy of Concrete Patio Designs

One of the wonderful things about today's concrete is that it comes in an incredible array of colors. Why not choose a color that complements the outside of your home? Many experienced concrete specialists can create different patterns in the concrete and make your patio look like it has been tiled, has a wood grain-like finish, or create unique patterns to your specs. This is your chance to create a long-lasting patio that will stay looking good for many years to come.

Creating Shade

No One or At Least Very Few of Us Want to Sit Out in the Endless Glare of the Sun

patio-furniture-1Image courtesy of JB Hostetter

While it is always nice to spend time out in the sun, your patio needs to be your shady oasis from the sun. There are a number of ways you can do this, including both temporary and permanent methods. For example, if you are looking for temporary shade, why not add a table with an umbrella or perhaps a free-standing umbrella. If you are more interested in creating permanent shade, you could build a roof over your porch or perhaps a pergola with or without a roof. Each of these ideas offers you a good way to add shade to your porch.

Not Your Ordinary Patio Cover Ideas

Putting a Lid on Your Patio Isn't Only Practical…

patio-coverImage courtesy of Invest-Remax Blogspot

There are many ways to put a lid on your patio based on where it is located, how big it is, and of course where you live. For example, if you live in Florida, your patio cover needs to be able to block the sun and rain, but it doesn't need to hold the weight of snow. Conversely, if you live in Montana, your patio cover better be strong enough to handle several inches of snow. The same applies to the materials you choose, corrugated fiberglass might work well in Florida, but unless you build a very strong framework under it, most likely would not survive a single winter in Montana.

Ideas to Light Up Your Patio

Put a Little Light in Your Life

patio_lightingImage courtesy of Mpression

If your porch is only usable during the daylight hours, you are missing. There are so many different ways you can add lights to your porch to choose from. Why not add string lights to your porch, they add plenty of light and atmosphere and come in a virtually endless range of colors. No power to your porch, why not try a string of candle-powered lanterns instead. Or perhaps battery-powered LED lanterns.  You can use landscape lighting like those lining your driveway, or spotlights to showcase your hard work, the possibilities are endless.

Different Styles of Patio Furniture

Make Your Patio a Comfortable Place for Everyone to Use​

asian-porch-with-hanging-egg-chair-i_g-IShzi91ts9tkss0000000000-qgILCImage courtsey of Zillow

You might be amazed what you can do with your patio with the right furniture. You can literally turn your patio into an outdoor living room, bedroom, play area, bar, or kitchen with the right furniture and accessories. Wicker and resin wicker are among the most popular types of furniture for outdoor use. Wood furniture is also very popular, in particular, Shaker style furniture.  You can add a few throw pillows and potted plants, even add an outdoor rug to define your porch space while adding in a few creature comforts.

The Different Styles of Patio Heater

Add a Little Heat and Create a Year-Round Place to Relax

patio_heaterImage courtsey of Lava Heat Italia

No matter where you live in the U.S. evenings can become chilly or cold, leaving you with a patio that can only be used during daylight hours and spends evenings empty. That is unless you add some form of heat to your patio. Patio heaters come in a wide range of styles, sizes, and forms of fuel. They can be freestanding, wall mounted, or site built. Porch heaters can be powered by electricity, propane, kerosene, natural gas, coal, or wood. Adding heat to your porch can turn it into a year-round place to spend quality family time or plan a few parties.

Ideas on How to Use Pavers

Unlimited Range of Colors and Styles

patio_paverImage courtesy of Pinterest

The most important thing about concrete pavers is that they come in an almost unlimited range of colors, shapes, and sizes. You can use them to create an incredible range of patterns and designs ranging from simple geometric patterns to adding bands of color to accentuate the rest of the pattern. Why not use strips of grass to add even more color to your patio? The best thing about pavers is you can choose the colors that best accentuate your home and the area you live in or go all out and create your own psychedelic mandala pattern.

Backyard Patio Ideas

Yes, You Can Do It Your Way


back_patioImage courtesy of Pinterest

Only you can truly know why you decided to build a patio in your backyard. There are so many different approaches you can take in the construction of your patio or work with the one you have. Maybe building yourself a secret garden, making it a formal outdoor space for hosting dinners and parties, or perhaps create a rustic chic space for your family to relax. To help decide what you want your patio to look like, you first need to know how you plan to use it, then start looking at furniture and accessories to fit in with this plan.

Ideas for Outdoor Patio Living

Create Your Own Outside World

outdoor_patio_ideasImage courtesy of Zillow

Just because your patio is outside, doesn't mean it should be nothing more than a flat concrete slab. Instead, it should be a place where you and your family can spend time together. One of the most popular outdoor patio ideas is to create an outdoor living room complete with a loveseat, two chairs, and a firepit. In fact, firepits have become one of the most popular patio accessories in the country. An outdoor patio is also the perfect place to build an outdoor kitchen that can be used for family events or staging a party for your friends.

Decorating Ideas for Patio Areas

Let the Decorator in You Come Out Redecorating Your Porch

patio_decorImage courtesy of Pinterest

Without adding your own personal decorating touches, your porch is little more than a flat slab that no one really wants to use. But, if you add potted plants, a little furniture, and perhaps a few lights, you turn it into a completely different world.  Rather than running out to your local furniture store, why not get creative and make use of unusual items to decorate your porch, make tables out of wood barrels cut in half with a sheet of glass for the top. There are plenty of outdoor rugs you can use, an incredible array of outdoor furniture to choose from, rain barrels, hammocks, flowers, plants, and more. Why not go crazy and let the interior decorator in you go wild.

Enclosed Patio Ideas

When in Florida

enclosed-porch-ideasImage courtesy of Design Babylon Interiors

Okay, so Florida is not the only state where people have enclosed patios. In fact, having an enclosed patio is a lot like having an extra room in your home. You can furnish it like a living room, a den, or even a study. I have a few friends who use their enclosed porches as bedrooms during the summer. Add a ceiling fan or two to help keep things cooled down in the summer. A wood stove can help in the winter. Carpet adds a nice touch as does plenty of comfortable furniture.

Patio Deck Ideas

Get Creative and Make Your Patio Into Something Your Entire Family Can Use

patio_deck_ideaImage courtesy of johnmcsherry.us

A patio does not have to be flat on the ground, in fact, there is no reason why you can't treat your deck just like a patio. I started out with a deck and turned it into an outdoor porch paradise over the course of a couple of summers. I started with a resin “lumber” deck that was pretty boring, added some raised garden beds, a firepit, and a center raised garden with several perennials in it. My next project is to build a roof over it and add an outdoor kitchen.

Turning Your Porch into Something Special

Having a porch out in your backyard can be seen as the start of something good. It gives you a special place to turn into an outdoor recreation space for your entire family to enjoy. The number of things you can do with this space is virtually endless limited only by your imagination… And your financial resources. My personal suggestion is to start with what you think your patio will be used for. Then draw up a few plans to work with.

  • I hope you have learned something about making your patio into something amazing.

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How to Build a Patio

How to Build a Patio - The No Nonsense Guide to Creating an Amazing Paved Outdoor Area

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Brick patio of suburban home

A patio can be the perfect place to entertain or relax on a nice day 

SUMMER TIME MEANS PLENTY of warm sunshine, barbecues, and being able to sit outside in the evening at the end of the day to enjoy a cool drink and good company. But, without a deck or patio for your grill, a few chairs, and maybe a table, where is everyone going to sit? Here I am going to cover how to build a patio for your yard you and your family can enjoy for many years to come.

A Plan of Action

The first step is the planning stage. Not only do you need to decide how big you want your new patio to be, but you need to decide what materials you will be using for the final top layer.

Size: When I was trying to determine the size of my backyard patio, I factored in room for several chairs, a chaise lounge or two, a small table, and a fire pit. Always allow for more room than you think you might need to ensure you have room for extra guests when the time comes.

Ideas: After you know the size, i think it's best to have a look at what others have done. Here are plenty of great examples of patios and the landscaping around them.

Materials: There are a few great materials to choose from, including bricks, pavers, and natural rock. Each of these has its own advantages and disadvantages based on looks, durability, and how much work you are willing to put into building your new patio. You should also consider how you plan to use your patio and whether you plan to use it all year round.

Choose Your Location

Now that you have an idea of what type of patio (size, materials) you want to build, the next step is choosing the best location for it. There are several things you should consider as you look for the perfect spot in your back yard to build.

How Much Shade Will You Get?

Unless you live in an area where the sun never shines or you have zero shade trees in your yard, try to pick an area that gets shade for at least part of the day. If you don't have anywhere in your yard that gets shade, consider planting a few shade trees, shrubs, and plants to help out.

Does the Area Drain Well?

The last thing you want is a patio that spends a large part of the time sitting in standing water every time it rains. Be sure to pick a spot in your yard that drains well to ensure your patio remains high and dry.

What Kind of Slope Are You Working With?

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Image courtesy of diynetwork.com

A small amount of slope, say around 1/4 inch per foot is just fine, it will help the water to run off and away from your patio. If the area has more slope than this, you may need to grade the soil or build some form of retaining wall that will let you set the appropriate slope.

Issues with Digging

Start by looking at any trees and their root structure in the area you plan to use, avoid building directly under the trees. Be sure to contact your local utility companies by dialing 811 before you start digging. Most will send a surveyor out to mark water lines, gas line, underground power lines and anything else you might damage by digging at no cost.

Plan Your Delivery Route

Most of the materials used to make a patio are very heavy by nature. You need to have a delivery route planned that will reduce the amount of manual labor needed to get them to the job site. The sand and gravel you need for the base will typically arrive in dump trucks that may be too heavy for your driveway or yard. If you are building a large patio, you may want to ask the supplier to deliver the materials in a smaller truck or palletized with a skid loader to help get them where you need them. This will be much better than having to haul everything one wheelbarrow load at a time.

Create a Working Plan

Now that you know where you are going to build your patio and how big it is going to be, it's time to create a working plan. Trace out the area you plan to use for your patio, including any trees, shrubs, buildings, walkways, and gardens.

Then experiment by drawing in different sizes and shapes until you are happy with your design. Doing this will not only help to ensure you are happy with the final shape and size, but it will also let you experiment with different pavers and bricks to see which one will work best. It will also let you try out different patterns.

Building a Solid Foundation

Just like your house and garden shed, your new patio needs a good solid foundation. Remember while the only thing you see is the final layer of pavers or bricks, it's what's hiding underneath, i.e. landscaping fabric, sand, and gravel, that is responsible for making it stable and holding it all together. If the place you are buying your pavers, bricks, or stones does not carry gravel or sand, you can find several suppliers in your local Yellow Pages.

Landscape Fabric:

Landscaping fabric performs two vital functions in the construction of your patio. The first is to help stabilize the layer of soil below the gravel by allowing water to drain through. Use the widest fabric you can find. Secondly, it helps to keep weeds from growing up through the gravel and sand before finding their way through your pavers.

Gravel:

Gravel forms the semi-solid base for your patio. It helps to ensure that any water buildup can flow into the ground rather than building up. Depending on the type of soil you have in your backyard, you may need anywhere from 4 to 10 inches of pea gravel.

Sandy soils tend to need less gravel than soils loaded with clay or organic matter. Gravel is typically sold be the cubic yard or ton. One cubic yard of gravel will provide you with a 6-inch layer that covers 50 square feet once it has been compacted. One cubic yard of gravel typically weighs in at around 1.5 tons.

Sand:

You will need a layer of "coarse washed sand" to cover the gravel to a depth of approximately 1 inch. This layer of sand is used to create a "setting bed" for the pavers, bricks, or stones you plan to use for the surface layer. You can also use the sand to fill in any gaps between them and provide a smooth final surface.

Tools You Will Need

Putting in a new patio takes a lot of effort and a relatively long list of tools to get the job done right. Here is a list of the tools you should have on hand:

push broom

rake

level (both 4-foot and line-level styles)

work gloves

rubber mallet

shovel

safety goggles

small sledgehammer

tape measure

shovel

tamper (rent a powered version from your local equipment rental store)

wheelbarrow

Materials You Will Need

As with any major project in your garden or yard, there is always going to be a list of supplies needed to get the job done. Here are the basics for you:

garden string

paving stones, bricks, or rocks

landscaping fabric

edging material

gravel (pea gravel is best)

stakes

sand

landscape spikes

Digging Your Patio In

Now for the fun part, it's time to mark out your new patio's dimensions on the lawn and start digging. There are a couple of ways you can go about doing this, use spray paint to mark the borders, use a series of stakes and string, or even an extra-long garden hose or two. The nice part about using any of these to mark the border of your patio is that they can be used to create virtually any shape.

You should also use a length of string running from end to end in the middle running down the slope you need for the water to drain. Remember, you will need a drop of 1 inch for every ten feet in length if you want the water to drain properly.

Now for the real fun, you need to dig a hole in the shape of your new patio that is about 10 inches deep to make room for the landscaping fabric, gravel, and sand, while leaving enough room for the final layer of bricks, stones, or pavers to sit just above the ground when set.

One last thought here, you are going to be digging out a heck of a lot of dirt and need to have somewhere to dump it sorted out before you begin. Not sure what to do with it? Why not create a raised garden or fill a few planters instead of paying someone to haul it away?

Building the Foundation of Your New Patio

worker compacting the sand bedding with mechanical rammer

The foundation of your new patio starts with tamping the soil down to form a smooth solid base. The best way to do this is to rent a gas-powered tamper. Not only will this make the job go faster, but it does a better job and you will find it easier to keep the necessary drainage slope.

Next, comes laying the landscaping fabric down to cover the entire "floor" area. If you need to use more than one piece, be sure to overlap by at least 6 inches to avoid bleed through.

Add your edging at this point, making sure that the top of the edging will sit just below the top of the final layer of your patio. Use aluminum edging if possible so that your string trimmer does not destroy it the first time you edge the lawn

Next, pour in the gravel and level it with a rake to create a smooth surface that continues to maintain the drainage slope. I recommend using pea gravel as it is big enough to allow for water drainage but small enough to be raked smooth. The layer of gravel should be approximately six inches deep.

On top of this goes a layer of sand that will be thick enough to ensure the bricks, stones, or pavers you plan to use sit about 3/8th of an inch above the edging. This way when you run the tamper over the final layer it will sink down to where it will be flush with the edging.

Laying the Final Layer of Bricks, Stones, or Pavers

How to build a patio with brick pavers

The final step in learning how to build a patio involves laying the bricks, stones, or pavers you intend to be the finished patio. There are several ways to mark out the pattern you plan to use, the most common of which involves using a number of stakes and a chalk line like you would use to mark sheetrock. The idea is to lay out the lines to match the pattern you drew out in your original paper plan. This could be a brick herringbone, paver checkerboard, or unique stone pattern. There are dozens of patterns to choose from online.

Finishing Your New Patio

You should have saved some sand aside for the final step. Start by using your rented tamper to bricks, etc. into place. Warning, (as I found out the hard way) if you are working with bricks or pavers that are less than 2 inches thick, DO NOT tamp them as they will crack and break!!!

The next phase involves spreading the sand over the top of the final layer and using a push broom to force it into the cracks. This will help to lock the surface of your new patio in place and help keep weeds from growing in the cracks.

Finally, add any shrubs, planters, trees, or flowers around your patio, set out the chairs, light a fire in the fire pit and relax with a well-earned cold one. You certainly deserve it and your family will enjoy the fruits of your labors for many years to come.

Living With Your New Patio

Once your patio is finished it's time to deck it out with furniture. To get the most out of it in all weather you might want to consider investing in a patio heater. These are great for giving you back your outdoor space when the weather cools down.

Final Thoughts

I hope you have enjoyed reading about how to build a patio as much as I have enjoyed putting this information together for you. Remember it takes time, planning, and hard work to build a patio that will last for many years to come, but once you and your family can sit out and relax on it, it will all be worthwhile.

  • I hope you have learned something about how to build a patio

  • If you have any information you would like to see here, please contact us here.

  • Thank you for reading this.

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[Guide] – Finding the Best Patio Heater for Your Outdoor Living Space

[Guide] - Finding the Best Patio Heater for Your Outdoor Living Space

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Finding the best patio heater can mean using outdoor space when you otherwise wouldnt

Finding a good patio heater can mean using outdoor living spaces at times when you otherwise wouldn't

ALTHOUGH THE MOST ENVIRONMENTALLY-FRIENDLY heater is a nice thick sweater, it isn’t always the most practical and comfortable.

Finding the best patio heater can really transform the way you use your outdoor space during the colder months. Not only does it let you host friends and family outdoors, can also do your favorite activities and still be nice and toasty on those chilly fall and winter evenings.

The Differences Between Patio Heaters

There are 3 main differences in patio heaters. Understanding these and answering deciding what you do and don’t want will help you find a good patio heater. The differences are:

  1. Fuel types

  2. Style types

  3. Size types


1. The Different Fuel Types

When it comes to finding the right patio heaters, there are three different fuel types to choose from, propane, electric, and solid fuel (charcoal, wood etc.). Each has their advantages and disadvantages, based on your particular needs.

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Image courtesy of Ebay

Electric Heaters

Electricity might seem like a low-cost form of heat that has the advantage of providing virtually instant heat. These heaters also tend to cool down relatively quickly. Electric heaters are further broken down into two sub-categories:

Long-Wave Infrared

These heaters tend to be quite expensive to operate, but are capable of covering a large area and heating it up quickly.

Halogen

Halogen heaters are significantly less expensive to use, but due to their limited range are not good for larger spaces, let alone the great outdoors of your patio.

A Propane patio heater with a dome cover in action

Propane Heaters

Gas powered patio heaters tend to be very effective and can produce significant amounts of heat that cover a large area. But of course, you have to have a ready supply of gas on hand. They are more expensive to operate than electric heaters but have the advantage of providing a steady supply of heat and covering larger areas.

A fire pit is an example of a solid fuel patio heater

Solid Fuels

This includes chimeneas, fire pits, and wood stoves. These patio heaters look great sitting out on your patio. They are relatively effective at proving plenty of steady heat that can cover a large area. But, you will need to have plenty of fuel on hand as they tend to go through it quite fast. Chimeneas stay hot for hours and can be hard to keep clean. They also produce smoke and may not be the best choice if you have smaller children.

2. Different Styles of Patio Heater

Freestanding Patio Heaters

Freestanding heaters are ideal for those who need to warm up larger areas as they considered to be the most powerful heaters on the market. Most measure between 7 and 8 feet tall and are offered in either a tapered or pyramid style.

  • Tapered heaters start with a heavy base that holds the tall shaft in place. At the top are a heating element and a metal umbrella cover.

  • Pyramid heaters are triangular in shape, much lighter and have a flame burning inside a cylindrical tube to produce heat.

Freestanding patio heaters can generally warm an area with a 9-foot diameter. These are the heaviest and can be hard to move around. Some require two people to move and they can be challenging to assemble, even for the experienced builder.

Mounted Patio Heaters

These are great if your patio is right next to your home as they must be attached to a convenient wall or to the ceiling. They are not designed to be portable. The good news is that these heaters are inherently space saving and put out a lot of effective heat.

Getting power to them is easy as they can be wired directly into your home's wiring. Top of the line models come with remote controls that make turning them on and off as well as controlling the temperature easier.

Be sure to check local ordinances to see if you must hire a professional electrician to wire your patio heaters in. Even if there are no laws to prevent you from doing the installation, you should be comfortable with all aspects of the installation for your own safety and that of your family.

Table Top Patio Heaters

These are made to heat smaller areas and are basically a smaller version of the freestanding models. They are lightweight and can easily be moved around your patio. Tabletop heaters are ideal for outdoor meals and family gatherings where you don't need to heat large areas of your patio. You can even take one of these heaters camping with you.

Hanging Patio Heaters

Designed to be hung from the ceiling these heaters are made for use in covered areas such as a gazebo, covered porch or patio, and any other covered area. They are ideal for use in sheds, garages, and other outdoor buildings. Since they hang above the ground, these heaters don't waste any floor space and provide even coverage for the surrounding area.

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Image courtesy of Amazon

Fire Pit Patio Heaters

Fire pit heaters look just like a wood burning fire pit but may be powered by wood pellets, propane, even electricity. You never have to worry about searching for firewood or the smoke that burning wood puts off. They tend to be quite expensive, are very heavy, and can be difficult to move around your patio.

3. The Different Sizes

As you look at patio heaters, one of the first things you should notice is that they come in a wide range of sizes, shapes, and styles. Bear in mind that the size of your new patio heater is definitely going to have a major impact on its price. But at the same time, you don't want to waste money buying one that is too small to get the job done.

Here is an idea of basic heat output:

  • Freestanding – 40,000 BTU – needed due to large areas they heat

  • Tabletop – 12,000 BTU – because they only have to heat a small area

  • Mounted – 3,000 BTU – for even smaller areas

But this is just a basic idea of their average maximum output, you should shop for a patio heater based on the size of the area you plan to heat.

How Do I Calculate How Many BTUs I Need?

If you are going to invest in a patio heater for the next cool night, you need to buy one that is going to get the job done. The best way to figure out which one is right for your needs is to do a little (ugh) math. Calculate the size of your patio – measure the length and width of your patio – multiply the two numbers together, this is the area of your patio.

Example: 25 feet x 13 feet = 325 sq. ft.

Now determine how many degrees above the ambient temperature you want the heater to increase the temperature. For the sake of argument, let's say you want to raise is by 10 degrees:

325 x 10 = 3,250 BTUs minimum.

Of course, you may want to buy one a little bigger than your calculations show just in case it gets colder outside than you planned for.

If you are using an electric heater you can calculate the number of watts by taking the radius of the area you wish to heat and multiplying it by 100.

Example: 15 feet x 100 = 1,000 watts

Here again, you may want to go slightly larger than the calculation shows to ensure you have plenty of heat on those chilly evenings.

A Quick Note About Those Domes

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Image courtesy of Amazon

You may have noticed that some of the freestanding and tabletop patio heaters have a single dome (the curved metal plate on top) and others have three of them stacked on top of each other. Those with a single dome are generally cheaper than those with three.

  • A single dome heater is designed to radiate heat downwards, heating a much smaller area, typically directly under the heater.

  • A triple dome heater is designed to radiate heat in three different directions to provide heat over a much larger area.

  • Triple dome heaters tend to cost more than single dome units.

The Top 5 Picks for the Top Patio Heater

Fire Sense Hammer Tone Bronze Commercial Patio Heater

Lovely to look at and puts out plenty of heat

fire_sense_patio_heater

Fire Sense Patio Heater

Rated at 46,000 BTUs, this freestanding patio heater from Fire Sense is available in a range of colors to suit your outdoor décor. It features piezo electronic ignition with stainless steel burners and a double mantle heating grid. There is a built-in shut off valve in case the heater gets tipped over. It comes with wheels to make it easier to move. Runs on propane with the tank hidden in the pedestal out of sight.

ProsCons
Choice of colorsSingle dome design keeps heat close by
46,000 BTU outputMade from flimsy metal
Easy to maneuver thanks to included wheelsSome manufacturing issues

Thermo Tiki Deluxe Propane Outdoor Patio Heater - Pyramid Style 

Fun to watch the flames while you stay warm

Thermo Tiki Patio Heater

Thermo Tiki Deluxe Propane Outdoor Patio Heater

This patio heater offers a tower of flame that is as much fun to watch as it is to enjoy the heat radiation from it. Made from high-grade steel and aluminum, this heater features a black power-coat finish that will keep it looking good for years. The 50-inch tall ceramic glass flame tube puts on a spectacular show while the pagoda style reflector reflects plenty of heat and firelight. A 20-lb. tank fits in the bottom where it is out of sight.

ProsCons
Glass tower puts out plenty of heat and firelightMost of the heat rises instead of being reflected
Powder coated to prevent rustPoor customer service
Push button ignitionIgnition system and burners have issues

KingMys 1500W Remote Controlled Carbon Infrared Indoor/Outdoor Patio Heater

Interesting design throws directional heat

KingMys_1500W_Indoor_Outdoor_patio_Heater

KingMys 1500W Remote Controlled Indoor/Outdoor Patio Heater

Silent directional heat that uses no fossil fuels, instead this patio heater provides 1,500 watts of heat using electric reflective heat technology. No gas lines or tanks to worry about, no running out of fuel in the middle of the evening. Comes with a convenient remote control and plugs into any standard 110/120V outlet. There are three heat setting modes that allow you to set the amount of heat to match the outside temperature.

ProsCons
No gas lines or tanksElectricity can be spendy
6-foot cord is a bit short for patio useFan is noisy
Can be used indoorsNot recommended for larger areas

ProCom PCTT15 Tank-Top Propane Heater, Single Burner, 15,000 BTU

Outdoor heat doesn't get much more basic than this

ProCom_PCTT15_Propane Heater

ProCom PCTT15 Tank-Top Propane Heater

All you need is a 20-lb propane tank and room to sit it on the ground. This heater mounts directly on the top of the tank and puts out up to 15,000 BTU of heat in any direction you point it. It has three temperature settings and comes with a regulator. Unfortunately, you need matches or a stick lighter to light it as it does not have a built-in ignitor.

ProsCons
InexpensiveVery directional heat
Space savingMax output is only 15,000 BTU
Runs up to 43 hours on a single tankOnly good for very small areas

AZ Patio Heaters Electric Patio Heater, Parasol

Perfect for use under that table umbrella

AZ_Patio_Heaters_Parasol

AZ Patio Heaters

This patio heater is designed to be used under an umbrella and can be used indoors or outside on the patio. It offers up to 1,500 BTU of directional heat. Made of stainless steel with a powder coated finish for long life. Comes with a variable temperature control and is IP certified waterproof. Designed to heat an area up to 15 feet in diameter.

ProsCons
Perfect for heating your table under the umbrellaMade just for use under an umbrella
Can be left in place all year longSmall heating area
Variable temperature controlsNot effective in very cold weather

One Last Choice

Outland Fire Table, Aluminum Frame Propane Fire Pit Table 

Stylish heating for your patio

Outland_Fire_Table

Outland Fire Table, Aluminum Frame Propane Fire Pit Table

If you are interested in a stylish patio heater that is going to get people talking while keeping them nice and toasty, this might be the perfect one for you. Propane powered with a 35,000 BTU output, this table was a Silver Medal Winner in the 2017 International Design Awards for Best Design in Outdoor Patio Furniture! Safe to use during most fire bans and offers easy lighting and adjustable flame height.

ProsCons
Beautiful to look atHeat is localized
Flames are fun to watchGlass top may not fit in frame
Provides plenty of heatCannot be used as a table

Down to the Last BTU

When it comes to choosing the best patio heaters, you need to first think about what you are trying to accomplish and where you plan to use the heater. Each different style is intended for a specific heating need. For myself, I have a Fire Sense freestanding unit on one end and the Outland Fire Table in the middle, together they keep our patio nice and warm on a chilly evening. I hope this information helps you find the heat your patio and family needs.

  • Thank you for reading this guide on finding the best patio heater for your outdoor living space. If you have any comments of questions, please contact me here


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