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March 6, 2013
The Dow’s new high is “important from a psychological standpoint,” says Andres Garcia-Amaya, global market strategist for JP Morgan Funds. I agree! And with interest rates are at ultra-low levels, thanks to the Fed’s bond-buying program to stimulate borrowing and job creating, let’s hope for a boost in the home improvement market as well. Homeowners who have tabled their wish list may take it off the shelf, looking for outdoor projects to boost their spirits this spring. It’s a great time to re-visit those higher ticket items, like patios, decks, sunrooms, ponds or pergolas – projects that will improve your outlook and your lifestyle, but that people shied away from over the past several years. Home improvement companies, anxious to book projects through the building season, should have attractive pricing this month.
October 11, 2012
Betterliving’s new “Benefits of a Sunroom” infographic is based on customer survey responses and online research.
Summer may be over, but there’s always time to reap the benefits of a sunroom. Sunroom benefits go beyond just looks and appearance. To illustrate the various benefits of a sunroom, Betterliving Sunrooms, a Craft-Bilt Manufacturing Company that specializes in home improvement products, created the Benefits of a Sunroom infographic. Based on Betterliving’s customer feedback and industry leading websites, the infographic highlights several reasons why a sunroom is beneficial:
- Creates an affordable added living space
- Saves energy by capturing natural light
- Benefits health with fresh air, which can be a stress reducer
Sunrooms are an affordable way to add extra space to a home, thus increasing the home’s overall value. Sunrooms can also help save cost on energy bills by capturing the warmth and light of the sun. In addition, sunrooms benefit health by bringing in fresh air and sunshine which are natural stress reducers. Betterliving Sunrooms are the most affordable home improvement option, listed at under $20,000, when compared to a garage addition or a basement remodel.
Andy Stone, President of Craft-Bilt Manufacturing Company, says, “Very often, the first home improvement that is made by a home buyer is adding a deck. Once they have the deck, they rarely use it. Do they use it when it rains? When it’s too windy? Too sunny? Too cold? At night? When there is snow on the deck? So when can they use it? Only on calm clear days when the temperature is not too hot and not too cold. We can fix that for them. Everyone who has a deck needs a sunroom if they want to get significant use out of it. Why would you pay five or ten thousand dollars for something that you can’t use?”
Sunroom Benefits Infographic by Betterliving Sunrooms
October 4, 2012
Summer’s come and gone–and left its mark outside the house.
Outside the house tend to these autumn chores:
If you have a sunroom, no worries about storing your furnishings. But outside the sunroom, there is plenty to do.
Outdoor Maintenance Tasks:
- Clean and store patio furniture, umbrellas, and children’s summer toys.
- Touch up paint on trim, railings and decks. Use a wire brush to remove flaking paint; prime bare wood first.
- Check caulk around windows and doors. Follow manufacturer’s recommendations to re-caulk if needed.
- Inspect external doors and garage doors. Do they close tightly? Install weather-stripping, door thresholds if needed.
- Wash exterior windows. Store your screens, if you are able, to allow more winter light through your nice clean windows.
- Drain and store garden hoses. Install insulating covers on exterior spigots. In hard-freeze areas, have sprinkler systems blown free of water.
- Check gutters and downspouts. Clear of debris if necessary. In cold-weather areas, consider installing heating cable to prevent ice dams.
- Have chimneys and flues inspected and cleaned if necessary.
For more maintenance related articles, tips and advice, check out our home improvement blog posts.
September 5, 2012
Sunroom benefits go beyond the looks and appearance. Sunrooms are an affordable way to add extra space to your home thus increasing your home’s overall value. Sunrooms can also save energy and benefit your health. To illustrate the various benefits of adding a sunroom to your home, we have created the following infographic. If you like it, please share it with your friends and family members.
Like the Sunroom Benefits Infographic? Embed it on Your Site: Copy the Code Below and Paste it in to Your Website
January 11, 2012
Fran and her husband in New York were devastated to lose their house in the flooding following the hurricanes and tropical storms last fall…but were relieved that their sunroom (aka the “Man Cave”) survived. Contractors disassembled the sunroom and stored it until their damaged house was replaced with a new manufactured home. In a few days, the “sunroom that survived” will be re-erected on their new home. Our best wishes go out to Fran and her family, that their long ordeal will soon be over and that they have many new flood-free years in their new home – and their re-newed sunroom!
December 1, 2011
I was so pleased to see this note to Amy in our Customer Satisfacation Department… from a homeowner she assisted with a broken window …. It is our mission statement personified: Enthusiastic Employees….Flawless Performance…Delighted Customers!
As you are now aware, the glass is the “single”. I have it in my vehicle and will install when I get home tonight. Thanks again for all of your help. The quality of the customer experience I had from you and the other employees at the warehouse is impressive and appreciated. I debate with my friends that this level of service still exists and they tell me that I am full of it. You have given me solid proof that the customer perspective is first and foremost at Craft-Bilt. Thank you!
September 9, 2011
Time to Clean Your Deck around Your Sunroom
Since we have had beautiful weather this summer, I am sure most homeowners are using their sunrooms and decks to entertain. With this in mind, does your deck around your sunroom have stains from food and drinks or footprints from muddy shoes? Before using your power washer, here is some advice from Flat Andy’s structural engineer, Craig Joss, PE.
Meta Silicate and Sodium Hydroxide are commonly used to power wash decks, but these chemicals can be harmful to your sunroom. When power washing your deck, DO NOT use these chemicals, since they can soften the factory-applied coating and attack the mill finish aluminum at cut edges and screw holes.
So what materials are safe to use on pre-painted metal surfaces used for sunrooms? According to Nichols Aluminum Company, plain water is best. However, a basic detergent cleaning solution is ½ cups of detergent (Tide or equivalent) dissolved in one gallon of water.
If mildew is apparent, modify as follow:
- ½ cup of detergent (Tide or equivalent)
- 2/3 cups of tri-sodium phosphate (Soilex or equivalent)
- 1 quart of 5% sodium hypochlorite solution (Clorox or equivalent)
- 3 quarts of water
After using either solution, ALWAYS rinse thoroughly with clean water! For other possible solutions to clean your deck around your sunroom, consult maintenance professionals and the manufacture’s manual.
September 2, 2011
A sunroom does not have to be just for relaxing or entertaining purposes. Sunrooms can be an escape from your work desk, can create a space for your hobbies like scrapbooking, or can be a man’s cave with a pool table and/or a hot tub. To revamp your room, here are some design tips.
- Keep things light and bright. The idea is to create a space that is inviting for you. Take advantage of the outdoor seasonal colors by bringing them into the sunroom. You can purchase rugs with bold patterns, large floral print pillows, and an assortment of colorful accessories, like flowers or candles.
- Combine function with fun. Find different size baskets to hold your folders and writing materials or your magazines. It’s a great way to avoid clutter in your sunroom. Also, old teapots and fancy glasses and jars provide perfect containers to hold flowers, pens and pencils, markers, etc for your purpose of the room. Surrounding yourself with things you enjoy looking at can provide a momentary mental break from complicated tasks and offer you a brief pick me up before returning to your daily tasks. Baskets, teapots, and jars give a design touch to your sunroom.
- Be mobile. If you have a year-round sunroom, you do not have to worry about the weather with the ability to heat your sunroom. But homeowners with three-season sunrooms have to take in consideration the weather and the temperature during certain times of the year. Make sure that anything you buy to spruce up your sunroom is able to be repurpose when the weather turns and forces you back indoors.
July 20, 2011
With the start of summer, many people are preparing for graduation parties, pool parties, or outdoor dinner parties with their family and friends. And Flat Andy knows how to throw a summer party. His parties are known for weeks and everyone talks about his party weeks after. The best part of his parties is how he decorates his sunroom. Usually, his sunroom is overflowing with people trying to get in there to sit and relax during the party.
Before the party even starts, Flat Andy strategies on how to make his party the best that it can be. So before getting the supplies, you need to think about how you will set up your party and the food. Most times, the bugs and heat can spoil the food for you and your guests. A sunroom or patio room would be a great solution to keep the bugs and heat away from your food. As the host of the party, you can set up tables in the sunroom to place all the food on. The bugs will stay away, and the cool air will keep your food fresh for your guests to enjoy. Also by putting your food in your sunroom, it gives you and your guests more space to sit outside and enjoy the weather, while watching your kids play in the pool or backyard.
With all of the summer parties going on, the food becomes a second thought most of the time and usually the host goes with the safe bet of hamburgers and hot dogs. I am sure that you and your guests are sick of these same summertime menus. Maybe it is time to surprise your guests by spicing up your menu. Instead of having the usual hamburger and hot dog, offer a burger bar to your guest.
Here are suggestions on a simple and great burger bar to offer at your party:
- The most important ingredient is your meat. Make sure that you have plenty of meat for your guests to be plenty full when they leave your party. The usual estimate to count for your guest is 2/3 of a pound of ground meat per person. The best ground meat is 80/20. The more fat that your ground meat has the juicier and better tasting your hamburger will be.
- Forming your patties will determine the amount of time that you cook your hamburger. The best hamburger portion size is about 1/3 of a pound. This size gives you the room to cook the hamburger to the guests’ preference without over cooking it.
- The next two essential ingredients are the bread and the cheese. Having a couple different choices allows your guests to make their burger to their liking. Ciabatta, pita bread, potato roll, Kaiser Roll, English muffin, and regular hamburger buns are great options to provide. The pita bread and the English muffins are perfect for your guests that want to choose the healthier side. Now, some people do not like cheese on their hamburger, but I love cheese! Excellent cheeses for hamburgers are cheddar, American, pepperjack, Mozzarella, Muenster, Feta, and goat cheese.
- Next, comes the fun part. The Toppings and Condiments! Having a variety of toppings and condiments allows your guest to make the best burger for them. Provide different types of vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, sweet onion, lettuce, red and green pepper, and anything you want to set out. Also, put out jalapenos, green and black olives, avocado, fried onions, pineapple, slices of ham, banana peppers, sauté mushrooms, etc. Now for the condiments. Set out different types of mustards, ketchup, BBQ sauce, steak sauce, hot sauce, mayo, chipotle mayo, etc. This is where you can get creative and put out toppings and condiments that your guests might not like would be good on a burger.
- Now enjoy!
*Option: To make the burger bar a little more interesting, create a contest out of it for your guests. Who can create the best burger! Pick a judge from one of your guests. Whoever wants to participate, have them pitch in a couple of bucks to reward for the winner. Make a couple of extra burgers and cut them into quarters; one quarter for each participant. Have each participant put the toppings that they want on, plus choose the bread and cheese. Associate each burger with a letter, so the judge has no idea who made what. Now it’s time for the judge to choose the win!
Besides the food being spoiled by the bugs and the heat, many other problems can arise when having an outdoor party. For example, the heat becomes too strenuous for some of your guests and there can be unexpected rainstorms. In addition to solving the bug problem, a sunroom can be a great solution for these problems. Your guest can escape the heat and the unexpected rainstorm by coming into your sunroom to hang out in a dry, cool environment.
Having a burger bar within your sunroom will make your party stand out from the rest. Your guests will be talking at the end of the night about how much fun your party was and how great and useful your sunroom was. Whenever you have a party again, you will sure have people wanting to come!
May 26, 2011
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Choosing the right lighting makes a big difference in how you enjoy your outdoor living spaces.
Summary: Homeowners who have followed the growing trend toward outdoor living spaces are perplexed about the best way to light them. Outdoor porch lighting is something you really need to plan for no matter how you design your outdoor living environment. Whether you add a sunroom, a patio cover, a pergola, a porch, or an outdoor kitchen – you want to be able to enjoy the space at night as well as during the day.
For ambient light, try replacing traditional light bulbs on my outdoor patio with red light bulbs. The red light casts an eerie glow on the patio, but it allows you to see everything and not ruin your night vision whatsoever. White light, even when turned down with a rheostat, causes the pupils in your eyes to contract ruining your night vision.
Tim Carter, who writes the online blog “Ask the Builder” (www.askthebuilder.com), suggests testing a single red bulb in one outdoor light to see how it works. Don’t make your final decision until you’ve spent several nights relaxing outdoors. You may be surprised as to how effective the red light is in illuminating the space while allowing you to look out at the things beyond your porch.
If red light is too radical for you, then you need to use very soft lighting that’s either indirect or is pointed down towards the ground. The softer lighting will be easy on your eyes and not cause strain at night. Indirect lighting that bounces off the ceiling can help create a very cozy mood.
In a sunroom or patio room, enclosed by screen and glass, you can safely use lighting that is not specialized for outdoor use. You have a lot of flexibility with lighting for a sunroom, because the area is protected from the elements.
But the outdoor lights that you choose should match the overall feel of the space and the architecture of your home if at all possible. Be aware that inexpensive lights may have a finish that can pit or tarnish quickly. Pay attention to the warranty if you live in an area that has lots of pollution or salt mist that might corrode cheaper coated metal finishes.
Overall, find the light that will attract you to your outdoor living space at night. Whether you use a red light or a soft light indirectly, you are now able to enjoy the summer nights of entertaining or just relaxing in the comfort of your lighted patio or deck.