Decks are an outdoor reflection of the family’s lifestyle. While some are smaller and just used for relaxing, others will be extensive, may use several levels and include an outdoor kitchen, spa or sauna, and several seating areas.
Local building codes may have an impact on the size of the deck and the materials to be used. Check with the Building Department before making any purchase.
Slope of the property or level of the structure on which the deck is to be attached. Second and upper floor decks will require additional supports. Yard slopes will have an impact upon the supports to be used.
The activities to be conducted will have an impact on the materials used, the size and shape of the deck. If cooking on the deck, or installing a fire pit, preplanning is vital. The weight of a spa or sauna will require extra supports.
If the deck boards are to be installed in a pattern, consider that extra support may be required.
Family members and pets will be using the area, so heat and splinters produced by the deck may be a consideration.
Location on the property or on the structure is important. Consider privacy from inside and neighbors; shade may be important to the activities and will have an impact on the deck board materials.
Budget is vital. It will have an impact on the material used, the size, the installation methods, and the desired result.
Pressure-treated deck boards: The least costly and most often installed material for decks, Southern yellow pine is treated with one of several preservatives:
• Waterborne, copper based preservatives prevent termite attack and fungal decay. Copper Azole (CA) and Alkaline Copper Quat (ACQ) are used in exterior residential, as well as commercial and agricultural construction.
• Micronized Copper Azole (MCA) contains micronized copper and biocides, providing less copper leaching from the material. For use in outdoor and landscaping projects.
Pine must be kept clean and maintained frequently to reduce swelling, cracking, splitting and warping. Standing water also will cause the deck boards to deteriorate. Splinters may surface over time and use. Pine is a softer wood and will require supports at frequent intervals, such as 16” on center when using 5/4 X 6 boards.
Redwood has a natural color desired by many homeowners ranging from a light beige to a full red. The natural oils of redwood make it resistant to insects and rot so it will not be treated with chemicals, but note the beige outer areas do not contain the natural resins that resist insects and decay.
Redwood is graded for use by its appearance, with over 30 grades determining its use. Redwood’s red color is the heartwood; cream shades are the sapwood. Deck boards can be chosen from heartwood grades or sapwood grades, but if the redwood will be on or near the soil, heartwood grades — Clear All Heart, Heart B, Deck Heart, Construction Heart — should be used. If not coming into contact with water or soil, Deck Common, Construction Common, Clear, B Grade, Deck Common or Construction Common may work well.
A stable wood, redwood will not warp or split easily; although it should be kept clean and maintained every few years with a clear finish to keep its natural beauty and reduce moisture absorption. Redwood decks have a lifespan of about 20 years.
Cedar — Western Red Cedar — is frequently used as decking materials due to its beauty and natural resistance to moisture, decay and insect infestation. Cedar decks have a lifespan of 15 to 20 years. Dimensionally stable, Cedar does not warp; lightweight, it is easy to handle and install. Unfinished Cedar ranges in color from a light amber to a reddish brown with a satin luster. Cedar accepts stains and finishes easily.
Grades of Cedar from the Western Red Cedar Lumber Association range from Architect Clear — to be used when only the best will do — to Custom Clear — encompassing A & Better, B, C and D & Better S4S. Knotty grades include Architect Knotty and Custom Knotty, which is used as an economical choice when building knotty decks.
Hardwoods, especially tropical hardwoods are popular due to their durability and long life span. Hardwood decks, when installed correctly, can be expected to last from 25 years to 50 year, depending upon the species and regular maintenance. Tropical hardwoods naturally resist mold & mildew, insect infestation, and fire. Strong and dense, tropical hardwoods can handle heavy foot traffic. They also do not shrink and expand extensively in changing temperatures and climates.
Hardwoods can be more difficult to work with; dense, they do not cut as easily and may need predrilling for installation. Darker colors are hotter to bare feet. If natural fading colors are not desired, oil finishes must be applied to retain original colors. Hardwoods are more expensive than alternative wood decking materials.
Tropical Hardwoods should be kiln-dried. Cut ends should be sealed with a oily wax sealant and butted to the next cut end during installation. Ventilation around the deck boards and underneath the surface is important when using hardwoods. While hardwoods absorb less moisture and will expand less than softwoods, space is needed between and underneath so the boards to not cup.
• Ipé (pronounced e-pay) is the most popular of the tropical hardwood deck materials. A Brazilian wood, the color runs from dark brown to olive brown. It turns gray with age. Ipé does well in wet areas, such as around pools, Ipé is the densest of the tropical hardwoods and should be pre-drilled for screwing during installation. It is stronger and heavier than other hardwoods. . Available from some suppliers as pre-grooved or tongue and groove for installation with a hidden fastener system.
• Massaranduba is a Brazilian hardwood also known as Brazilian Redwood due to its dark brown color and straight grain. It is dense and strong, and works well in shaded areas as it will fade if not maintained. Available as tongue-and-groove or pre-grooved for installation with a hidden fastener system.
• Cumaru is called Brazilian teak for its warm golden to reddish brown coloration with dark grain accents, but is denser and stronger than teak. Cumaru is almost as hard and dense as Ipé.
• Garapa is a Brazilian hardwood with a yellow or amber coloring; known as Brazilian ash. It will gray over time, but the lighter color makes it less hot to bare feet. Regular maintenance should retain the natural yellow/amber coloring. Available in pre-grooved and tongue-and-groove boards for easier installation.
• Tigerwood is a Brazilian hardwood with light golden brown to reddish brown with dark brown streaks. Available from some suppliers as pre-grooved or tongue and groove for installation with a hidden fastener system
• Teak is one a fine choice for decking due to its natural oils, which eliminates the need for preservatives or sealants.
• Cambara is a South American mahogany with a light to medium brown coloration and course graining. While it looks like mahogany, it is harder and stronger than mahogany. Cambara can be stained or painted and should be regularly maintained for a long life. Cambara is not termite resistant. Available from some suppliers as pre-grooved or tongue and groove for installation with a hidden fastener system.
• Machiché is a tropical hardwood of reddish brown to dark brown hues with a large grain known as Caribbean Cherry and Black Cabbage. With a density similar to Ipé, it is easier to work with. It will patina to a silvery tone naturally. Available from some suppliers as pre-grooved or tongue and groove for installation with a hidden fastener system.
Composite decking is a product of combining wood fibers or recycled paper with recycled plastic. It will not splinter, warp, crack or peel. Due to the manufacturing process, the composite material will not attract termites. Low maintenance, it does not require much upkeep other than a sweeping and washing — be careful with powerwashers, though. If used on high, powerwashing may damage the surface of composite decks. Even though wood is contained in the product, these boards do not absorb significant amounts of moisture. Because they contain plastic, they will expand in high heat climates. The life expectancy on composite decks is at least 25 years.
Colors range depending upon the manufacturer, and surfaces may be smooth or grained to look like wood. Colors fade, as with natural wood. A plastic surface may be applied over the composite to resist staining and scratching and to reduce facing.
Profiles may be slotted or tongue-and-groove to assists in installation with hidden fastener systems. Boards are produced in several profiles, including scalloped, hollow, open flange, or textured both sides, smooth both sides or a combination of the above.
Each manufacturer will provide advice on installation systems. If boards are not slotted or flanged for installation, face screwing is recommended. Some manufacturers offer color-coordinated screws. Boards should be supported every 16-inches and space between board ends considered depending on the climate.
Since these boards contain plastic, several types can be heated and curved to provide design considerations not available with wood products.
Plastic deck boards are produced from pure plastic (PVC) with no wood fibers. PVC will not rot, stain or fade nor will it absorb moisture. PVC decking weighs about half of many composites. These boards can be installed at 24-inch joist spacing. Plastic deck manufacturers may offer a lifetime warranty on the decking materials.
Aluminum decks are created from powder-coated aluminum to reduce heat build-up on the material. Waterproof, stain and insect proof, the aluminum will not warp and is fireproof.
Aluminum decks are installed gapless making them appropriate for second and third levels of a building as they do not leak and provide a waterproof area below. Aluminum decks support 240 lbs per square foot live load so upper level decks are safer and snow loads will not damage them.
Finishes have non-skid surfaces and are created in several colors, even wood grain designs. No painting or preservatives are required, making them maintenance free.
Material choice will be the biggest portion of the budget.
• Tropical hardwoods, especially Ipé, are more expensive than the other materials; Cumaru costs about 2/3 of Ipé with the other hardwoods falling in the middle of those two.
• Pressure treated deck boards are the least expensive of the choices.
• Cedar is cost effective with Redwood, but Redwood heartwood will be slightly higher in cost.
• Composite decking varies widely depending upon the manufacturer, the profile, and the color. The price of composite materials is more than the softwoods available and less than the tropical hardwoods.
• PVC decking costs more than Composites but less than Tropical hardwoods.
• Aluminum decking will be more expensive than softwoods but less than Composites, PVC or tropical hardwoods
Maintenanceshould also be considered when looking at the budget:
• Composite, PVC and aluminum will need no or little maintenance. If the composites scratch, a sanding will remove scratches. Oily liquids should be wiped up immediately.
• Woods will need maintenance to maintain the beautiful colors. Scratches and stains can be removed by sanding. Penetrating oils will need to be applied every 2 to 3 years, or more frequently to retain the beauty of wood. If the deck is in full sun, annual application of preservatives will be necessary.
Installation costs can increase depending upon the method used. Face screwing is the quickest, least expensive option, but will leave a rough edge. Hidden fastener systems add to the time for installation and the costs due to the price of the system.
• Ipé is so dense that predrilling of screw holes is necessary. These can then be plugged with matching material to make them invisible. Other tropicalhardwoods are less dense but the price of the material suggests using a hidden system or plugging screw holes to maintain the beauty of the surface. Stainless steel screws should be used in tropical hardwoods.
• Cedar requires the use of stainless steel screws as other materials will stain the cedar. Screws should be one-third longer than those used in hardwood.
• Composite and PVC deck manufacturers will recommend specific installation systems. If face screwing, leave room from the edge of the board to eliminate damaging the edge face
• Aluminum decks are purchased with an installation system that permits the boards to hook into the next board, but an adhesive or sealant is required in the hook area to create a waterproof unit.
• Grooved or flanged boards will make using hidden fastener systems quicker and easier. These boards cost more to purchase, but save time in installation.
Lifespan is a consideration. How long does the homeowner plan to live in the house and use the deck? Pressure treated decks may need replacing in 15 years; tropical hardwoods last from 25 to 50 years; Composites will last at least 25 years and PVC decks are warrantied for the lifetime of the owners… Read warranties.
Designs in the deck, such as angling the floor boards or creating a medallion in the middle, will increase the cost due to time for installation and extra materials needed to create the designs.
A comprehensive guide on what you need to know before choosing the right "deck and decking material"
In terms of safety and aesthetics, nothing adds more flare than a deck. However, without a railing, the deck can be quite bland. Not to mention the fact that deck railings are required for decks located higher than 36 inches from the ground.
The most important features of any deck railing are style, material and performance. Railings come in a variety of colors and designs so it's easy to find the most elegant railing within the budget.
Speaking of performance, a deck rail should stand 36 inches or more from the deck boards. If your deck is higher than 10 inches from the ground, increase the measurement to 42 inches. Moreover, a deck rail should be strong enough to carry the weight of anyone who can potentially lean to it, or it will be knocked. Simply put, search for a deck that is hard to push over.
There are strict measurements that all deck railing manufacturers have to follow. The deck rail should be able to withstand the force up to 200 lbs. per square foot otherwise it cannot be sold. The balusters should be designed close to each other - so that a five inch ball will not pass through the railings. This is important if you have kids who can endanger their heads being stuck in between rails.
Composite Deck Railing
Composite Deck Railing is the most popular option thanks to multiple advantages of the material. Composite is a very durable material which makes it an easy to maintain option that can withstand any climate. This railing is made from a combination of wood particles, such as plastic, sawdust and mulch. Then everything is combined to create a maintenance free and high resistant decking material.
These railing boards look like the real wood but cheaper and do not require any additional maintenance. The textured wood grain is one of the key features of these materials, which allows for a beautiful but durable result. It will stay in place for many decades even in heavy foot traffic or under harsh weather conditions.
However, composite deck railings are not perfect. If a traditional wood is damaged, you can just perform a spot repair or restore, which is not possible with composite railings. If the damage occurs, you will have to replace the entire board. Moreover, color choice is also limited. They are paint like natural wood and have a stain finish. Manufacturers provide different colors that imitate wood tones but you cannot get pink or blue composite deck railing.
These railings are offered by the vast majority of companies. They only require occasional cleaning and provide deck uniformity that is harder to achieve with other materials. They can be expensive, though, so they are not the default railing selection. Some manufacturers combine composite railing systems with metal or natural woods to keep the price lower.
Installation is easy as these railings come in a kit that is no more than an afternoon project. You can install everything yourself with all pieces easily fitting together. The average price for this type of a deck is around $200 for the 6 inches railing.
Wood Deck Railing
Wood is a traditional material for deck railings. It is the most customizable and can fit any style. You can even create a new design by yourself by using different wood species and different finishes. However, different combinations will vary in cost. Consider wood railings as a blank canvas, these are the most versatile of all railing types available on the market.
• Pressure Treated Lumber: This material is commonly used for outdoor wood projects. Pressure treated lumber can hold up additional moisture and does not fade over time. This is the relatively cheap material that you can find in any home improvement store. These benefits make pressure treated lumber a common choice for homeowners looking to make a railing themselves. This material can be shaped, painted or stained to fit all kind of different designs. This wood material is more porous than those listed below and you can easily refinish it yourself to match the style of your deck. Pressure treated lumber can cost you around $20 per square foot.
• Cedar: Cedar is one of the most durable materials and this is what makes it so popular. If you want to see the beautiful wood grain as your deck railing design, this may be the perfect material for your wants. This material is naturally pest and rot resistant, so you do not have to care about its maintenance. Of course, you can also seal or stain the railing if you feel like doing it. However, cedar is not completely maintenance free. You will need to treat cedar railings every two years. It is more often than a composite railing, but cedar will hold up longer that an average composite deck railing.
• Mahogany: Mahogany is famous because of its unique color. However, it is also very durable and you can use it for outdoor projects. There are different species within this type of wood. Some of them are naturally rot resistant, others are not. Mahogany can give your deck a traditional look. As a rule of thumb, the richer and darker the color, the more resistant the material will be. If you need an advanced material protection but love the natural color of mahogany, use a clear sealant to keep the material from graying. The only disadvantage is that mahogany is not produced locally so it is more expensive and can cost you $35 per square foot.
• Redwood: Redwood is also pretty durable and can be used for outdoor applications. It can stand up against UV rays. It is also naturally insect resistant. Unlike other materials that grey over time in sun exposure, redwood will keep its rich red color and can be sealed for better protection. However, multiple benefits of redwood make it the most expensive option for your wooden deck relining. The average cost is around $60 but you are paying for low maintenance nature of redwood.
Metal Deck Railing
Sometimes you do not want to get a traditional look. Some homeowners prefer to go in a different direction with their deck railing designs. Metal railings are the most popular in industrial and contemporary style houses. However, this durable material can easily fit in a Victorian style house as well.
• Steel: Steel is the most common building material, but it is not the most popular when it comes to deck railings. It is very durable as you could expect from a metal but it is vulnerable to rusting with constant sun exposure. This can significantly affect the design and integrity of your deck. If you still want to use this material, there are ways to prevent rusting. You should use either powder coated steel or galvanized steel as they are less affected by UV rays and weather. They both coat your railing in a protective barrier that will prolong the life of your railing.
• Aluminum: When compared to the previous material, aluminum is much wider used in residential outdoor applications. Aluminum is rust resistant and can withstand harsh weather conditions without requiring any special maintenance. The most common finish for this material is powder coat. Whether you need a bright centerpiece or a subtle color, you can achieve it with aluminum.
• Wrought Iron: Wrought iron railings are often used in traditional style homes. They often have ornate spindles with designs molded into one another. Wrought iron railings look beautiful but they have the same maintenance issues as steel railings. There are not any effective protective finishes for this material which means you cannot avoid rusting with exposure to the sun. Wrought iron is more susceptible to corrosion and rust.
Glass railings have a lot of benefits and become more popular. They also offer security and safety for your pets and children and they are low maintenance. But because they are made of tempered glass, it will stay as beautiful as it was when you bought it even after many years.
Cable railings are also known as rope railings and they feature vertical or horizontal cables in place of glass or spindles. Frames can be built with steel, wood, aluminum and so on for different settings. Cable railings are the most expensive, but keep in mind that horizontal cables are not safe for young kids who may want to climb them.
The price will depend on different factors such as railing material, design, and installation costs. For example, grade 316 stainless steel railings are quite expensive but you can easily find a cheaper option that would be as beautiful and durable as stainless steel.
A comprehensive guide on what you need to know before choosing the right Deck Railings.
Hardwood Flooring adds an aesthetic desired by many homeowners and adds value to a house. Depending upon the space and location in which it is installed will determine which type of wood flooring should be used. While hardwood flooring can be used almost anywhere, moisture levels of the room may require additional consideration during installation. Solid wood will expand and contract with changes of temperature and moisture — always bring the flooring into the room three days prior to installation so the planks can acclimate to the room’s environment.
All hardwood floors require a finish to protect the surface against daily wear. Finishes can be done after installation in the building, or in the factory prior to installation. Choose to finish it on site if trying to match an existing floor or if a specific color is to be achieved. Factory finished flooring takes less time to install as it is ready for traffic immediately.
Hardwood floors come in a variety of species and range in thicknesses of ¾-inch to 5/16-inch. Wood can be installed above or on grade. And can be sanded and refinished several times during its lifetime. Wood floors are installed over a subfloor. Above grade usually calls for plywood subflooring while below grade and basements will have concrete. But a moisture barrier may be necessary over concrete. Always check manufacturer’s warranty.
Hardwood planks will range in widths, which create specialized designs in the room. The wider the width, the more of the wood graining is visible. Hardwood flooring is also the most expensive and will vary due to species, plank style and width, and installation methods.
Wood species vary from domestic to exotic. Choosing the species will be determined by taste, design required, and budget. Several domestic woods range in color, such as yellow oak or red oak, and the grain in the plank will be determined by the cut at the mill. Exotic woods may deepen in color as exposed to sunlight in the room. And surface texture may be smooth, distressed, scraped or wirebrushed. Consider all of the above when choosing the plank prior to installation.
Engineered Wood is manufactured from wood veneers that are varied in grain directions to provide more stability and strength. The same wood species may be used throughout, or several species may be incorporated into the plank. Since this is more stable, engineered wood can be used below grade on concrete without significant expansion or contraction. Finished in the factory, Engineered Wood Flooring may be sanded and refinished — depending upon the thickness of the top veneer. Check the manufacturer’s directions.
Engineered Wood flooring is less expensive than solid wood due to its construction — less of the wood species — and will vary in cost depending upon the species in the top wood layer.
Laminate Flooring provides a less expensive and very durable alternative to real wood. While it may look like natural wood and even have a texture of graining, laminate flooring actually provides a picture of wood, marble, stone, tile, etc, protected by a layer of a durable clear top sheet, on top of a high density fiberboard (HDF) core, and melamine base layer to provide stability. Because of its strength and durability, and look and feel of the real material it is imitating, laminate flooring is popular in rooms where the actual material may not be appropriate due to moisture or cost.
Manufacturers have developed beautiful photography of real exotic woods, with a variety of graining, or stones such as marble and granite. The top aluminum oxide layer can be smooth, grained, embossed, pebbled or high gloss. Installed as a “floating” system, the laminate planks, squares or tiles lock into each other and not onto a subfloor. An underlayment may be used to soften the feeling of the flooring, or reduce noise from one room to another next door or below. If installing over concrete, a moisture barrier may be required. Laminate Flooring is easy to install, and to change. Just pick it up, and even move it into another room…
Vinyl Flooring is known as Resilient Flooring, to distinguish it from the vinyl flooring of 50 years ago. Using advanced technologies, vinyl flooring is an affordable option for use in high traffic areas where durability and moisture resistance are important. It can be installed over existing floors. Available in a range of prices, vinyl flooring is manufactured as Printed Vinyl — a paper picture of the materials to be imitated is placed over a vinyl layer and topped by several protective layers of vinyl or urethane; or as Inlaid Vinyl — color and design is achieved by placing vinyl pieces on a backing, and pushing them up into the wear surface. Inlaid Vinyl is a more durable material, thicker, with the color all the way through the material, reducing scratches and chips from being seen.
Vinyl is sold as sheets, planks or tiles:
• Full Vinyl Sheet is laid down and cut to room size, around cabinets and closets, etc. If the sheet does not completely cover the width or length of the room, a seam may be required. By displacing the air under the vinyl flooring, it lies loosely on top of the subfloor or existing floor. Easy to install, it requires no glue or adhesive. The fiberglass backing on the sheet provides durability and moisture resistance, so it is an affordable option in bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, etc.
• Luxury Vinyl Tiles (LVT) are prepared with a photograph sandwiched between layers of vinyl and clear urethane. Manufactured in a variety of sizes and styles, these tiles/planks will mimic wood or stone. Glued to a subfloor or existing, clean floor — except over ceramic tiles. They may come pre-glued or require a glue basecoat over the subfloor. Tiles mimicking stone may be grouted to provide a more authentic look.
• Planks will come in a variety of widths and lengths.
Tile flooring usually is sold in squares of 12” by 12” or larger and is set with grout to a subflooring. Tiles can be fired, as in ceramic or porcelain, glazed or unglazed, or natural stones cut to shape for setting on the floor. Tile flooring is rated for strength — so it will not chip or crack — for use in wet areas and for slip resistance. ANSI standards are met by most manufacturers, but check with manufacturers test labels for proper usage before purchasing tiles for flooring. Slip-resistance, water absorption, strength, and amount of traffic will affect the choice of tile.
• Ceramic tiles are made from natural clays and minerals mined from the earth. Before firing, the material is formed, shaped and colored. Unglazed, such as terra cotta, will have the natural color all the way through. Glazed tiles can be created with a variety of colors and designs over a natural red or white body.
• Porcelain tiles are made from soft paste clays mixed with minerals and fired at higher temperatures. Making the paste, which holds its shape more consistently, provides a material that is less porous, denser, and better at moisture resistance. Because porcelain is denser than ceramic, it is more difficult to cut, but these factors make it more versatile for usage indoors and outdoors.
• Glazed porcelain tiles are even better at resisting moisture and staining. The microscopic pores are filled and sealed by the glaze. Unglazed porcelain tiles are consistently colored throughout making chips and cracks are less visible. Also, unglazed porcelain has a better slip-resistance.
• Stone tiles are created by cutting natural stones—marble, granite, slate, limestone, onyx, etc— into shapes, such as 12” by 12” inches or even larger. These tiles retain the natural beauty of the stone but will show variations in color in the stone.
Carpet flooring offers benefits not found in other flooring materials. Softer, it adds cushioning to footsteps. Due to its construction, it has a comfort level not found elsewhere; carpet also provides insulation and noise softening between the floors and rooms of a structure. Because carpets require a cushion and adhesive in construction and installation, the Carpet and Rug Institute tests the materials for indoor air quality. The Green Label Plus is a test for Volatile Organic Compounds and their level of emissions in use.
Maintenance: Regular vacuuming, immediate stain removal, and periodic shampooing will retain most carpet fibers for years if not decades. When choosing carpeting, consider:
• Room foot traffic
• Amount of sunlight that will reach the carpet
• Style of the room and color
• Life of the carpet
• Size of room and amount of carpet required
• Padding and installation costs
Terms to understand: • Fiber is the material used to create the carpet. Several different fibers may be twisted together and then woven into the backing.
• Pile is the height of the fiber when cut or woven.
• Twist is the number of times the fibers are turned in a 1-inch height of pile.
• Textures are the style of weaving, whether loop, cut, or twisted.
• Density is the closeness of the fibers to each other in the woven pattern. The higher the density, the more durable and expensive the carpet.
• Face weight records the ounces of surface fiber in one yard of carpet. The higher the number, the higher the quality. Total weight includes the backing and adhesive weight.
Construction methods are important to the life and quality of carpeting. Many carpets are created by punching the fiber through a backing, which then is finished by gluing another backing to the finished product. Backings are usually webs or plastic weaves; foam rubber backings may be found on indoor/outdoor carpeting or inexpensive kitchen carpets. Weaving fibers on a loom with a jute backing, but these are the most expensive options and used mainly for wool.
Fibers: • Nylon is sold based on its strength, resiliency, long life, and ability to hold colors. Use in high traffic areas as it retains its pile and is easy to clean. Nylon is the most expensive of the synthetic fibers.
• Soft Nylon refers to the gauge of the fiber — thinner, providing a softer feel — so more fibers are woven into the backing. Due to the amount of fibers needed, these soft nylon products are more expensive. Due to the softer fiber, footprints and vacuum marks may be more visible. Also, some manufacturers require specific vacuums be used.
• Polyester now is made of PET — recycled plastic containers — and performs better than the former polyester product. Stain resistant, and a higher abrasion resistance, PET fiber has about 50 percent of the residential carpet market. The fibers hold their twist better, produce a face weight of 40 ounces or more and have a higher melting point. Less expensive than nylon or soft nylon.
• Triexta is a polyester version, although it contains corn glucose so it is considered more environmentally friendly. Softer than nylon and polyester due to its chemical make-up, it holds its shape, even in shag pile.
• Olefin (Polypropylene) is the most color-fast synthetic, and stain resistant, but does not have a good record of holding its pile, except when cut exceedingly short. Great used for indoor/outdoor carpet. Considered a less expensive fiber.
• Wool makes an excellent and expensive carpet. Providing a soft look with its superior tuft, wool is naturally soil, stain, static, and fire resistant. It holds its pile well and is long lasting.
Pile: • Cut and Loop pile provides a pattern in the fibers by cutting some and leaving others looped. This pattern disguises footprint
and vacuuming patterns and provides a sculpture appearance.
• Cut pile can be accomplished in a smooth finish or textured. The height of the cut and the density of the fiber will determine the appearance and style. Velvet or Plush are denser weaves with a lower profile. These should not be used in high traffic areas as they will show footprints. Textured Plush is a dense weave with a patterned cut, which hides footprints so it is used in heavy traffic areas. Friezé produces a textured surface as the fibers consist of a high twist, minimizes footprints. Saxony fibers have a soft twist and may be straight cut or at an angle. The classic pile, it works well in most rooms, but can be considered to have less “personality” than other piles. Shag pile with its longer cut and lower twist in the fibers is realizing a resurgence.
• Loop pile is the original form of the woven carpet. The height of the loops provides the pattern, either and creates the look of the carpet. Berber is the most popular form of this pile, which is often used in high traffic areas, such as family rooms. Consider the height of the loop, though, as toys, furniture, and mechanicals can snag loops. This pile hides foot traffic the best.
When buying carpeting, the padding is an important component and must considered in the purchase and installation costs. Padding protects the carpet backing from rubbing on the subfloor and deteriorating. Also, the fibers will bounce back into shape more quickly with padding, extending the life of the carpet. Maintenance of the carpet is enhanced by the padding, permitting dirt that settles into the pile to be lifted out more easily with air circulation under the carpet.
Thicker is not always better. Manufacturers will provide recommendations for choosing the thickness of the padding.
Padding Materials to Consider: • Bonded polyurethane foam is a recycled material created by glueing and pressure bonding chopped or shredded pieces of foam into one solid piece. While this is an environmentally friendly product — it can be recycled — it can produce air pockets or hard spots underneath the carpet.
• Prime polyurethane foam is a type of cushioning created from two liquid chemicals combined to form a solid foam that is sliced into sheets of padding. Since it is a solid piece of foam, it is less porous, more moisture resistant, devoid of hard spots. This is a more expensive option to bonded polyurethane foam.
• Waffle Rubber Cushion produces a soft product of molded and heat cured natural or synthetic rubber. While it is hypoallergenic and mold/mildew resistant, it will lose its resilience with age.
• Flat Sponge Rubber has a dense, firmer and flat surface that creates a solid base. It has a long life and provides good support for carpet so it can be thinner than foam. It is one of the most expensive pads.
• Felt padding is created from virgin and recycled fibers such as animal hair or jute, or from synthetic fibers — nylon, polyester, polypropylene and acrylics. Felt padding frequently is used over radiant heat or in commercial areas because it is hypoallergenic, odorless, and mold/mildew resistant.
A comprehensive guide on what you need to know before choosing the right flooring
The railing is an important part of any staircase, as it provides necessary support for anyone on the stairs. However, the railing can do more than enhance safety: it connects the downstairs and upstairs areas and create a unifying line for the home that combines different distinct floors and creates a sense of logical continuity. It's possible for owners to take an advantage of railings and create a natural flow for their homes that's welcoming and stylish. But before buying railings, you should choose design and material as well as take other important things into consideration.
The first consideration in choosing a perfect railing is safety. Before purchasing any model, read if the manufacturer follows any safety standards. These can vary from state to state, but the basic rules are:
Baluster spacing or the opening between balusters shouldn't exceed four inches.
Railing height requirements vary significantly. The most commonly used minimum height is from 36 to 42 inches from the surface to the railing top. You can find information about it on a package or ask a salesperson for additional information.
Style, architecture and other design elements
It's highly recommended to match your railing to the design of your home because it is going to be seen from anywhere in your house, be it near or far, for better or for worse. Thus, railing is one of the most important decorative elements. The color, style and size of the railing usually have a huge impact on the feel and look of your interior, and can help blend several floorings together. As a rule of thumb, the railing should complement the other details of your house by having matching colors and being in the right proportion with them.
Possible exposure to sun, water and other elements
Environmental factors play a huge role in the appearance and function of your railings. Choosing a dark metal rail isn't the best decision for a deck that will be exposed to UV lights in a tropical climate. A glass railing within reach of dirt or dust will look just awful, and glass balusters can increase the temperature on the surface in hot climates while cutting down on airflow.
Choose the right color
Not all rail types are available in many colors, so keep in mind that it can be a tricky task to find a perfect model. For example, if you want a white railing it's better to first search for models that come in white and then look at their type. Some manufacturers have a limited color range, especially for expensive railings. However, cheaper options often have a nice variety of colors that allow you to match or contract with details of your home. Note that the darker the color of your railing, the clearer view through it will be achieved.
Before purchasing a railing, think how much time you can spend maintaining its look. Traditional wood railings are labor and time intensive to maintain, so choosing a different material (a metal railing, for example) can free up a lot of time. Glass balusters or panels may also require additional treatment to minimize spotting, but copper and several types of aluminum are maintenance free.
One of the most traditional railing materials is wood. However, modern railings are often made of metal, vinyl, or glass. The material you choose for it dictates the cost, so you should go through all available options.
• Wood is a traditional material for railings and it provides a homely, cozy feeling in many settings. Common choices are ash, oak, and pine, which are lighter woods. Darker woods such as mahogany are also popular but they can add a formal and stifling feel to small homes, so they are used on manors and period homes.
• Glass railings are a good choice if you want to open up a living space where other materials could be overwhelming and oppressive. The glass allows light to penetrate and creates a sense of an open area that is welcoming and airy. It's best suited to modern offices and homes, where it's paired with steel handrails for a contemporary look.
• Metal railings are wrought steel or iron. They are often more expensive than others, but don't require any maintenance and will last you a long time, making them perfect for exterior staircases. They give a house an industrial look that is often more suitable for big areas than for small warm homes.
• Wrought iron railings are an alternative to materials that break and age. Wood, for example, changes its look even when coated with waterproof formulations and other coatings made to protect its appearance. Wood ages, no matter how much you care about it. It can splinter, and it attractive grain fades. Metal, on the other hand, stays the same no matter what. The finish adds extra protection, helping withstand the heavy rain and the contraction of metal. Those finishes are chemical galvanization, epoxies or powder coatings with an ebony accent.
• Aluminum is a cheaper alternative to iron or steel railings. It is a strong material that has the natural resistance to corrosion and rust, making it perfect for both outdoor and indoor use. Aluminum railings come in many finish options, from satin finishes to more polished to soft-matted looks. While satin finishes can hide fingerprints, aluminum that is mirrored needs careful maintenance to keep smudges at bay. Many manufacturers offer painted rails in many different colors to suit your needs.
• Copper railings feature nice, warm color. Copper naturally develops a green patina, which helps protect it from corrosion. Copper is one of the most expensive materials for railings, making it less traditional choice for high-end homes. Copper railings are naturally anti-microbial and keep germs at bay.
While railings have a great potential to enhance your home decor and become a nice accent, they are there for safety and laws control their size and position. The handrail should be between 35-38 inches high, and there should be clearance, approximately 1.5 inches, between the wall and the railing to allow for gripping. Besides, the railing should extend more than 5 inches into the stairwell. Before choosing any railing, check if it follows safety standards.
Balusters/Balustrade - Balusters mean the railings with rails that are positioned vertically in railings and remind the pickets on a fence. When many balusters are connected at the bottom and top with a hand rail, they are called balustrades. The balusters can be decorative with different designs for an aesthetically pleasant look or left plain.
Belly Bow - Belly Bow is also called "The Romeo and Juliet Railing" and that's exactly how it looks. This is a railing that is used on windows and balconies to prevent falls. It's called belly bow because the bottom bows out or curved. They come in many finishes and manufacturers give belly bows a high pressure wash and bake them in a powder coat so that they maintain sophisticated look under harsh weather conditions. This additional coat leaves railing with a lifetime protection.
Footing - Footing is a term that describes the rail that runs horizontally along the bottom of balustrades and is often made of iron or wood. It serves to provide additional support and looks attractive and appealing. Not all railings have footing and it adds to the cost, but it's usually worth the investment. Speaking of added features, the top of the rail can also have a handrail cap. It's an additional feature that includes a rounded design over an iron or a wooden cap and emphasizes the railings.
Posts - Some railings have posts at the end of each section that look just like fence posts. They are there for two reasons: to provide extra support to the railing and ensure advanced stability. But they are also a nice decorative feature. Posts are often individually designed to match other design elements in the home. Some railings also have scrolls that are also known as curled balusters. Some railings have scrolls without vertical pickets while others can have several ones. Manufacturers often offer a customized design to match the railings and the interior design of your home.
Railings are available in a big range of materials and styles and are suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. Furthermore, enclosed staircases have wall-mounted brackets to provide extra support to the railings while open staircases have posts and spindles for this purpose. All these features influence the railing price. Prices vary significantly and a railing can cost as little as $200 or as much as $20,000 or even more for unique, hand forged railings. Thus, it's important to set up a budget that will help you define your goals clearly and limits the number of railings you can choose from. Whether you think that you want one more design element on your railing, check back to your plan and consider how the little change will impact the overall cost of your railing.
A comprehensive guide on what you need to know before choosing the right railings for your stairs
Properly designed landscape lighting can keep you safe, secure, and helps you to enjoy your garden flowers and plants for much longer. Whether you want a little warm light to create a safe path, soft mood lighting to have a nice evening with guests, or a pool of lights to highlight certain features, this guide has the answer for you. Regardless of the size of your patio, garden, balcony, or walkways, the right outdoor lighting will help you easily transform your space into a welcoming area that you’ll want to spend a lot of time in.
When it comes to landscape lighting, less is truly more. Lights will make a space special if you allow the play of light and dark, highlighting accents that you do not mention during the day and createing shadows using the plants and forms in your backyard. Think how you want to play with these elements to create drama, and a well-lit area will be a place where you want to stay longer.
Landscape lighting is an important element of your home’s overall design. Even if you have an awesome architecture and beautiful landscape, proper lighting is what really enhances your outdoor space, different objects, and the little details. There are multiple reasons why you should start updating your landscape lighting plan.
Make an Impression - Before your guests reach the front door, they‘re already forming an opinion about your home. All visitors and neighbors will make assumptions about the interior of your house based on your outdoor areas. From landscape lights to decorative lanterns, outdoor lighting can make (or easily break) the look of the exterior.
The perceived value of your house - When it comes to the landscape lighting, it can tell a lot about the perceived value of your home. Choose proper lighting that enhances the curb appeal of your home.
Safety - Properly lit driveways, walkways, and porches make it easy for everybody to securely walk through your garden. Highlight busy areas of your landscape for late-evening use.
Warm Atmosphere - Make your guests feel more comfortable and put them at ease as soon as they enter your property. There is nothing less inviting than a poorly lit entrance.
Outdoor Entertaining - Landscape lighting helps you extend the area for an outdoor gathering with friends. A well-lit space will help keep your party progressing well, long after dark. Many homeowners view their gardens as the main location for summer entertainment and relaxation, thus the functionality, efficiency, and the design of outdoor lighting has become quite important.
Before installing the lights, identify the features that you like. It can be a tree or a pond – highlighting those will make them pop. Besides, think of adding intrigue to places that do not stand out duting the day. A stone wall can get new personality at nigh when lit with proper lights.
A properly planned landscape lighting design with careful preparation can enhance the beauty, security, and safety of your home. There are different lighting options with different functions.
Path Lighting - A well-lit yard is a perfect crime-prevention option, and light fixtures designed for security, such as motion sensors, add extra convenience and protection.
Path lighting is a necessary step to welcome guests to your home. Path lighting enhances safety by illuminating dark areas that could otherwise lead to falls, and they’re a perfectoptionif you want to improve curb appeal. Lighting stairs, pond areas, and walkways help ensure a safe passage for all.
When selecting path lights, be sure to follow these tips for proper outdoor lighting that will be both functional and beautiful.
Proper Height - A nice warm glow can be easily achieved with path light fixtures installed about 15 inches high.
Define All The Edges - Ensure the best safety lighting with lights installed about one foot from both sides of the path.
Ditch The Bargain Bin - Fixtures with sturdy construction, glass lens, and water-resistant finish are a must-have for long-term use. A powder-coated finish can withstand harsher elements.
Go LED - Many believe that the future of landscape lighting will be LED lighting. LED bulbs reduce power consumption by almost 80% and are not hot to the touch. They also last longer than traditional lights.
Warmth is measured in Kelvinsand it varies from one product to the next and affects the visual appeal of your outdoor area. Fixtures with 3,000K (cool temperature) create a nice, warm, and inviting glow in your garden.
Landscape lighting plays a vital role in curb appeal and is a crucial part of any home’s presentation. There are multiple styles of lighting to choose from to match your taste, personality, and design of your home.
Contemporary - Contemporary lights feature minimal ornamentation with clean lines, simple features, angular frames, and bold colors, which is characteristic of the contemporary style. Popular finishes include Brushed Nickel or Polished Chrome.
Transitional - Transitional style lighting maintains the sophistication and warmth of a traditional design, mixed with the brightness of a contemporary style. Transitional lighting has multiple modern details, but maintains a traditional design and often includes casual, simplified details. Sometimes a modern form is abandoned to heighten the elegance.
Traditional - Traditional style lighting is all about familiarity and comfort. Outdoor lanterns with frosted shades, ornate details, and smooth curves evoke a nice, traditional feel. The most popular finishes include Antique Bronze and black.
Craftsman - Craftsman style lighting includes artistic accents that look like they were done by hand. Among the examples are seeded glass, hand painted finishes and classic profiles.
Rustic - Rustic style lighting means organic shapes and textures with innate warmth. Rustic lanterns are naturally stylish, featuring items that have been purposely worn out or repurposed to create beautiful objects.
Industrial - Industrial style lighting means a blend of urban edge with a utilitarian design. Paired with fine materials and nostalgic bulbs, this style usually includes metal or iron parts that take on a rich finish. Some of the most popular styles include cage, gooseneck, and barn lighting.
When thinking of your landscape design, consider the factors below that will ensure a well-established and beautiful landscape. Think about these tips when placing or selecting light fixtures.
Be Cohesive - Landscapes can help create the same overall consistency. When lighting separates areas – such as pieces of architecture, or a tree – the lighting should seamlessly blend together.
Create Depth - For instance, path lights can create interest while your guests are walking on the property. Lighting along driveways and walkways dramatically enhance the main theme of your outdoor area while preventing accidents when dark.
Accentuate Focal Points - Highlight stationary pieces and entryways to create interesting focal points. These focal points will encourage visitors to come closer and look at your architecture. One of the best ways to enhance the texture of different objects is by mounting in-ground lights close to your focal points.
Explore Perspectives - Look at different features of your landscape. Focus on creating a continuous experience from onefeature to the next.
Balance - Lightingfixtureslook perfect when they’re proportional across different areas of your property. Include symmetrical components at different points, such as corresponding bushes and columns. The main goal is to achieve symmetry with the amount of illumination across different areas of your landscape lighting design.
Quality Control - Select light fixtures that will help set a specific mood, such as soft edges and narrow beams or wide beams of light. Direction should refer to the focal point of where the light shines (does the light need to point up or point down).
Illuminate The Deck - Don’t forget to outline the perimeters of the deck railing and the deck, as well as take care of safety for nighttime use on outdoor porches and decks. Use low voltage fixtures to achieve maximum safety.
One of the most common mistakes that many people make when choosing landscape lighting for the front of their homes is choosing small fixtures. Note, that decorative lighting enhances the curb appeal, so you want your visitors to see these fixtures (or at least some of them). Don’t be afraid to choose a bigger size – especially for homes with large facades.
The rule of thumb is exterior light fixtures that are used to illuminate the entryway should be sized in proportion to the door.
The Bigger the Better - Wall sconces by the front door should be anywhere from 1/4 to 1/3 the size of the door itself. Remember, that lanterns will only appear to be half the size from 50 feet away. Always place the bigger lanterns by the front door (versus the garage door, for example).
Get The Right Position - Quite often, outdoor lanterns should be placed at eye level. The main light source should be approximately 6 feet off the ground.
Choosing the Deck Lighting That is Perfect for Your Needs
Before you start planning your deck lighting, ensure you’re aware of different options available to you. From fun little accents to functional deck lighting, the combinations and the look you want to create are up to you! This guide will help you go through the available choices of style, layout, size, and more.
Before choosing deck lighting, you should think about energy efficiency, cost, eye health, style, light source, and a whole host of different factors. Lighting a deck does not mean putting up several floodlights anymore. Nowadays, deck bring fashion in the lighting schemes. Sensible, strategic use of different light fixtures is a big trend, and this guide will teach you how to plan and make use of creative and logical ideas.
One of the main factors to consider is sizing. Smaller areas look better with task lighting, while larger areas are more suited to floodlights. Besides, function and appearance also play an important role. Think about what you want to achieve and make sure you bought the right type of lighting.
Post Caps. From unique to functional,thepostcapstyles act as a finishing touch on your deck design by being placed atop the locations that punctuate the deck railing. Styles vary from handcrafted to powder-coat two classic finishes.
Rail Lighting. Low-voltage, side-mounted sconces on the railing posts add a nice glow to the illumination. Multiple styles allow you to customize your deck with lighting that adds decorative accents and warm highlights.
Step Lighting. Recessed lighting mounted underneath the steps blends perfectly with them– increasing safety and adding harmony to your deck lighting. Recessed LED lights can also be used to highlight features that you love the most about your deck.
LED. If you are thinking of the green movement, think of choosing LED lighting. LED, or light-emitting diode, is illuminated by the movement of electrons instead of using a standard filament that you can find in incandescent bulbs. LED bulbs are cool to the touch and require less energy to operate. Most of them need a DC 12-volt transformer, but the newest options are rated for both DC and AC power. Carefully read the description before buying a LED bulb.
Incandescent. These bulbs create light using the filament. The filament glows when power is applied, producing light, and generating heat. Incandescent bulbs can work with line voltage and low voltage application.
LED vs Incandescent. Lights for your deck fixtures are usually xenon or halogen lamps, both of them are incandescent. Xenon bulbs are less bright compared to halogens, but they last up to 20,000 hours and can be handled with bare hands. They produce less heat than halogens and the color of light is warmer. Xenon bulbs usually don’t discolor plastic lenses.
However, many believe that future decks will be lit by LEDs, which last longer and help save on electricity bills. A LED lamp can last for 50,000 hours, after which the light will fall below the acceptable level. The most efficient LED lamps can produce the same Lumens per watt as fluorescents. Some people already use LEDs for their deck fixtures, but their cost, low light output, and blueish color have been some of the obstacles to wider acceptance.
Low Voltage. Low voltage lighting requires a transformer plugged into a wall outlet to convey power from 12 volts up to 110 volts. Installation doesn’t require professional help unless you have a transformer that has to be hardwired into an electrical system. Low voltage deck lighting is easy and safe to operate, but you still should contact your building permits department or the building inspector for your area before starting a construction project. Multiple transformers can power low voltage lamps.
AC Transformers. They are used to convert AC current to the voltage required for the incandescent bulbs.
Single Tap Configuration. These transformers have one terminal that delivers current reduced to a specific amount, most of the time it’s 10% of the incoming voltage.
Multi-TapConfiguration. These transformers have many terminals available, ensuring better stability and preventing early bulb burnout.
DC Transformers. These transformers aren’t common in US household application, but they are necessary for LED lights. They can convert AC voltage to DC power. DC transformers come in single tap configurations as explained in 3.1.2.
Line Voltage. Line voltage products use more electricity to create a larger amount of light when compared to the low voltage deck lighting. This product usually has to be installed with professional help, as the installation of Line Voltage requires a permit.
Solar. Solar lighting uses a panel that converts sunlight into electricity and is perfect in a situation when wiring is not an option. Solar lighting can’t produce as much power as line voltage or low voltage power, but it can be used for accent lights. The run time is usually based on the location and the season. For instance, in northern climates, solar lights can run for 10 hours during summer and 4 hours during winter. In southern climates, the same solar lights will run several hours longer.
Before you choose your deck lighting, plan the essential elements.
Sketch It Out. You don’t have to make a sketch of a perfect deck plan, but visualizing the layout of your future lighting objectives can go a long way toward achieving the design you want. Once you have an idea, mark the location of important features, especially if you’re going to have fixed items. These may include large planters, tables, seating, grills, or fireplaces.
Think Utility.What parts of your deck will you light for functionality, safety, or décor? This can include high traffic areas, stair treads, grilling, and so on. A combination of recessed stair lighting, post caps and rail lighting will produce the right amount of light without ruining the relaxing ambiance. As you decide on the locations, mark them on your plan.
Atmosphere. The fun starts with thinking about what kind of atmosphere you want to create. Do you want warm accent lights to soften the environment and add romance? Or bright lights to highlight architectural features and important details?Pencilin these locations as well.
Choose The Lights. Choose the lighting style and finalize the plan. As you go through the options, don’t forget about your deck balusters, spindles, and other material. You want the color, luminance, and style of your lights to highlight the existing features and your personality.
Measure Everything Carefully. When ordering lighting fixtures, ensure you are correct when measuring the size of your deck posts.
Transformer Essentials. To properly determine the size of a transformer you need, add up a total number of watts for each light bulb for your deck. Then you should add 10% for connections and cables that will also add watts to the system. The equation is quite simple: total light watts X 1.1 = transformer size you need.
Then choose a transformer that matches your total wattage, round the number up if necessary. You can also leave room to add more lights. For instance, 13 light fixtures @ 20 watts each will need a 300-watttransformer (13 X 20 = 260 total plus 260 X 1.1 = 286 watts, but 286-watt transformers don’t exist so you round up the number to a 300-watt transformer).
Wiring. Wiring gauge means how much your current wire can handle. Higher current always runs on thicker cable, which is usually indicated by a lower gauge number. Choose wires according to the type of lights, the location, and the layout. You should stay consistent when matching wire types. If you choose LED lighting, matching polarity is crucial.
Think where you will run the wires: hidden within the railing, under the deck, or under the handrail. Voltage drops can occur while current runs to each light fixture on the circuit. It could lead to insufficient voltage. To limit the drop, it’s recommended that you loop the main cable.
Loop Installation. Loop installation means light fixtures are arranged in a looped circuit, which reduces the possibility of a voltage drop.
“T” Installation. “T” installation means the transformer is located in the center of the lighting circuit, creating an equal distribution of power. This installation requires a heavier gauge wire running from the transformer. Choosethis if your lighting fixtures are far from the transformer.
Straight Installation. Straight or line installation means the wiring starts at the end of the lighting and follows the direct sequence to the transformer.
Split Load Installation. This is the best option when light fixtures run in several directions from the transformer. To reduce the risk of a voltage drop, place the transformer in the center of the light fixture run.
People often forget about the importance of controls when designing the deck lighting. Most of the time individual lights can’t be switched – entire circuits can. Of course, there are always exceptions, such as lighting at a grill, or solar-powered lighting. How you control your light fixtures depends on the purpose of your lighting. For example, you may want your safety lighting to come on after dark. Such task can be controlled with photosensors that switch on at dusk.
You can also vary the level of light by setting up different light circuits. You can achieve complete symmetry by alternating light on the railing posts so that each one will be on a different circuit. For a romantic ambiance, one circuit is what you need.
It’s always a good idea to put accent lights on their own circuit, as there are times when you want only accent lights to highlight a certain object.
A comprehensive guide on what you need to know before choosing the right Deck Lighting.
The use of incandescent bulbs across the US began decreasing the moment Congress decided to pass Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007. This act laid down some strict rules and standards in the energy sector with an aim of making energy greener, cost effective and long lasting. This was done in style in such a way that all inefficient bulbs had to be replaced with more efficient bulbs capable of consuming minimum energy for cost effective purposes. Environmental consideration was also a factor as this act came into effect. These standards meant that all incandescent bulbs and all close relatives were to be phased out if they failed to follow the set standards. This move led to a decrease in the users of incandescent bulbs across the US with time.
This was a change that brought good news in the world of lighting because CFLs and LEDs came and a good number of people fell in love with them because of their ability to consume minimum energy which meant they were cost effective. With these types of bulbs everyone now has a variety of options to choose from. There are very many nice options available in-terms of the best bulbs for lighting which therefore make it a bit challenging when it comes to finding the right bulb. The other factor likely to determine whether a person is ready to do as EISA mandates is the willingness of an individual to move on from old bulbs known for excessive consumption of energy to the new bulbs well known for saving energy hence pocket friendly. Let’s now look at some of the considerations when planning to buy a light bulb.
This is an important aspect that must be considered when buying a light bulb. Don’t be like other people who just buy blindly without considering this important info about light bulbs and fittings. The shape and type of fitting determines a lot when installing a bulb. There are very many options to choose from when it comes to light bulbs and different fittings. Choose a bulb with the right fitting which makes it easy when it comes to installation. You can as well consider your preference when it comes to fitting your bulb. Does the fitting you settle on the best whether indoors or outdoors.
The other factor you must consider when buying bulbs is the shape. The shape of the bulb goes hand in hand with the fitting. We have a representation of the most common shapes you can choose from below. However, you can always do your research to find out the different types of bulbs available in the market. What we have provided here are the most common types of fittings that you are likely to get whenever you want to buy a bulb for your home office or other household needs.
The different shapes of light bulbs available provide different angles and spread of light ranging from a narrow light to a 360o spread of light. Apart from considering the shape and fitting of the bulb when switched on, you also need to consider the other side of the coin especially when the light is switched off. How will the bulbs look when they are not on? This is something you have to consider when buying light bulbs.
Annual Running Costs
There are many CFLs out there which are affordable and bright enough to give your household the best lighting and tone. Although earlier CFLs used to be dimmer, this has changed recently and CFLs have improved in the past few years. Studies indicate that they are about four times brighter than incandescent bulbs. However, not everyone prefers CFLs considering the quality of light they give. Compared to LED bulbs, CFLs are a much cheaper option. The running cost of a lighting bulb is something you need to consider when buying a bulb for your household, kitchen or bathroom.
Go for the best light bulb color and brightness
Before going for a light bulb make sure you know the type of light you need. This therefore means you must understand brightness requirements. This can as well translate into the output of light or wattage. Like in the old days when incandescent bulbs ruled the lighting world, a period when watts were considered while buying a bulb, today you’ll find bulbs which use less energy but produce the quality brightness. Wattage, Kelvin scale and CRI are factors you need to understand as you plan to get the right bulb. Let’s find out how these terms determine the brightness and color of a lighting bulb.
Gone are the days when brightness produced by light bulbs was measured in watts. Wattage was used as a measure of power when nearly every household was filled with incandescent bulbs. The introduction of energy saving bulbs brought a new measure of brightness produced by bulbs. Today the brightness level of bulbs is measured in what is known lumens. The brighter the bulb the higher the number of lumens used.
A bed-sized table lamp with 400 watts would be appropriate for that matter and it is recommended that the suitable bulb for a living room should be able to produce between 1500-3000 lumens.
• Kelvin scale. The Kelvin scale is normally used to measure the color of light. The temperature produced by a light bulb can also be measured by a Kelvin scale. Many manufactures usually indicate the color temperatures on the packaging of a light bulb. Manufacturers indicate the color temperature that a light bulb will emit when switched on.
The color of light produced by a bulb is an important consideration when buying a light bulb because color affects so many things including mood and several items in the room.
• Color Rendering Index (CRI). Most bulbs are normally given a CRI score. CRI can be defined as the ability of a source of light to represent a variety of colors. For instance you want a bulb which produces light that makes your vegetables look green and not some other strange color. Look at the following images for more explanation of good and poor CRI.
• Buy light bulbs as per your needs. Why exactly do you need to buy light bulbs? How can you find out the right lighting bulb as per your needs? Well, you first have to do a detailed research and go through different light bulb reviews and guides. Choose the bulb you need and do a background check to find out whether it meets your requirements. You don’t want to buy a bulb which will cause problems and cost you a lot yet there are very many bulbs which can meet what you expect.
When being manufactured some light bulbs end up with in-built hardware which can block projection of light reflecting it upwards. It is always advisable to go for a bulb that spreads light in all directions. For a person who needs a bedside light for reading or lighting a section in a room it is advisable to consider directionality of the light. Look for a bulb capable of giving 360o light output.
Which type of light do you want between warm and cold?
When buying lighting bulbs especially the LEDs, you must always consider whether you want warm or cold light. The standard temperature of light is normally measured in ‘Kelvin’. When a bulb produces very orange light it means the Kevin number is low. When it comes to indoor lighting, people prefer a slightly yellow glow or sometimes what is known as warm white. Slightly yellow lighting can be good in a kitchen and bathroom.
When these bulbs arrived they were a game changer and other types of bulbs such as CFLs and incandescent found it hard gaining ground. LEDs are cost effective in such a way that they are capable of using only a fraction of the wattage that incandescent bulbs use. The wattage of these types of bulbs is normally between 4W and 22W. Manufacturers approximate that they can be used for 20,000 hours.
LED bulbs do not burn out like incandescent bulbs normally do. Instead of burning out, LED bulbs normally experience a decrease in amount of lumens which makes them dimmer with time. They take long before finally becoming dimmer. They are better than incandescent bulbs because of the low amount of energy they consume.
However, it does not mean that LEDs do not fail or do not have a disadvantage. Apart from their cost, LEDs are actually a better option when it comes to light bulbs.
They came and replaced incandescent bulbs but unfortunately a better option arrived later in the name of LEDs. Although not many people received CFLs warmly due to the white light they produce. People preferred the warm tone produced by incandescent bulbs. Their approximated average life expectancy is 10, 000 hours.
The whitish color that CFLs produce can be described as less pleasing aesthetically as some users claimed back in the days. Some people believe that switching them on and off regularly reduce their life expectancy. There is also this general belief that CFLs normally take a second or two to light fully after switching on.
There has been advancements in the technology used in producing CFLs since 2007 when EISA was signed into law. Today you can find an ‘instant on’ CFL and a variety in color options including dimmable ones.
The most common downside about CFLs is the fact that they do not last for long enough. Using them in outdoor activities is not recommended because they can sometimes fail to turn on when temperatures are extremely down. However, this should not worry you because actually some cold-cathode CFLs can be used in temperatures as low as -10F.
Their wattage lies between 40W and 150W and they can last up-to 1000 hours. EISA actually never banned the use of incandescent bulbs but what it actually did was setting energy standards and explaining the minimum acceptable lumens per watt recommended for a light bulb. The EISA act expected manufacturers to produce more efficient incandescent bulbs. There is actually more room for improvement of incandescent bulbs in-terms of energy consumption.
These are listed under incandescent bulbs with halogens trapped inside. There is also a filament which burns after these halogens recycle tungsten gas to make the filament bright hence producing light. These bulbs can be useful to any individual who is ready to replace bulbs often and users who prefer using incandescent rather than LEDs and CFLs.
Apart from the information which has been covered about light bulbs and what to consider when planning to get the best light bulb, it is also important to settle on a bulb that you’ll enjoy for a very long time. Manufacturers are required to include important information about their product on the packaging of bulbs so that users can find it easy when choosing which bulb to buy.
Federal Trade Commission clearly gave out the right information to be included in packaging of bulbs and any manufacture who defies this requirement will be obviously facing the full force of the law. The packaging of light bulbs should include important information such as color temperature, lumens and estimated costs and any other important information that Federal Trade Commission believes is right.
A comprehensive guide on what you need to know before choosing the right light bulb
Lumber is a general term for all types of wood products cut from a log into all sizes and shapes, which may be treated with preservatives or not. There are two types of lumber: softwoods and hardwoods. Softwood lumber comes from conifer trees like pine, fir, spruce, and cedar. They can be easily dented with just your fingernail.
Hardwood lumber comes from deciduous trees, which have broad leaves that fall off in the cold months. The most common trees you’ll see hardwood lumber come from are oak, maple, walnut, hickory, and mahogany. As you can gather from the name, most hardwoods are harder than softwoods with the exception of balsa wood.
Softwood — while not soft — describes wood product milled from evergreen conifer trees such as pine, fir and hemlock. These trees keep their needles year-round. Softwood has a broad range of uses, with 80 percent of construction materials created from Softwood, including window frames, interior doors, medium-density fiberboard, and studs. Douglas Fir, Hemlock, Pine and Cedar are the main sources for building materials. Softwood trees have a faster growth rate. The grain of softwoods is less dense than in hardwoods.
Hardwood is the term for wood milled from deciduous trees—those that shed their leaves. Walnut, Mahogany, Oak, Maple, Alder, Hickory and Teak are the most popular. These hardwoods are more expensive and are mainly used for furniture, cabinetry, flooring, and decks. The grain in hardwoods is denser than in softwoods.
Pressure Treated: Used on the exterior of the home. To reduce deterioration of wood products due to insect, or other micro-organism, and mold/decay fungi attack, wood exposed to moisture is treated with chemicals. By forcing preservatives deeply into the wood, organisms cannot use the wood fibers as food.
Dimensional lumber: while named the “actual” or “nominal” size, dimensional lumber will be smaller in width and depth due to shrinkage from drying and planing. Cut to actual size at the mill, the wood then may be dried and planed, reducing the nominal size to the dimensional. Length is actual. For example: 2 X 4 reduces to 1-1/2” to 3-1/2” in width and depth. An 8-foot 2X4 will measure 8 feet long, but 1-1/2” by 3-1/2”.
Green lumber refers to milled wood products with a moisture content of 19 percent or greater.
Dry lumber has been dried or seasoned to less than 19 percent moisture content.
Kiln dried means it was seasoned or heated in a chamber to reduce moisture content.
Heat-treated refers to wood placed in a closed chamber and heated to a core temperature of 56-degrees C for 30 minutes, which may or may not reduce the moisture content.
Rough sawn may show the edges from milling and will not be finished with sanding or planning.
Dressed or Planed has a smooth finish produced by mechanically removing the rough surface.
Softwood lumber is classified by government standards as Yard, Structural, and Factory and Shop Lumber, which is used in smaller pieces for remanufacturing, such as door rails and stiles, or in wood ladders.
Yard refers to lumber used in general construction, such as boards, laths, and wood siding. The lumber is graded visually:
• C Select is almost free of all defects; used for cabinets and shelving
• D Select is almost free of defects but may have small knots less than the size of a dime
• 1 Common contains knots that are small, tight and won’t fall out, such as pine
• 2 Common contains slightly larger knots; may be used for shelving.
• 3 Common contains larger knots and is suitable for fencing or crates.
Structural Lumber is used in framing buildings as posts, beams, studs, rafters, joists sill plates and wall plates. The size chosen will be determined by its use and strength or bendability. 2X4; 2X6; 2X8; 2X10; 2X12; 4X4; 4X6; 4X8; 6X6; and 8X8 are the sizes produced as dimensional lumber.
• Machine grading measures stiffness or density to provide information the builder needs to construct appropriately. Moisture content and species are also noted as well as the mill producing the lumber. Species is included in the grading. The following are grades for Western Wood Products and Southern Yellow Pine, although SYP are graded for the first three only.
• Structural Light Framing (SFL) is 2” to 4” thick; 2” to 4” wide grades Select Structural, No. 1, No. 2 No. 3 used in structural applications where highest design values are needed in light framing sizes.
• Light Framing (LF) is 2” to 4” thick, 2” to 4” wide grades Construction, Standard, Utility used where high strength values are not required, such as wall framing, plates, sills, cripples, blocking, etc.
• Stud2” to 4” thick; 2” and wider graded Stud is an all-purpose grade for studs including bearing walls.
• Structural Joists and Planks (J&P) are graded as Select Structural, No. 1, No. 2 and No.3.
• Beams and Stringers are 5” and thicker, width more than 2” greater than thickness are graded Dense Select Structural, Dense No.1 and No. 2 (Doug Fir or Doug Fir-Larch only); Select Structural, No. 1 and No.2 used for beams and stringers when sizes are larger than 4” nominal thicknesses are required.
• Post and Timbers 5” X 5” and larger; width not more than 2” greater than thickness Dense Select Structural, Dense No.1 and No. 2 (Doug Fir or Doug Fir-Larch only); Select Structural, No. 1 and No.2 are used for vertically loaded applications where sizes larger than 4” nominal thickness are required.
• Structural Decking 2” to 4” thick, 4” to 12” wide Selected Decking used where appearance of the best face is important; 2” to 4” thick, 4” to 12” wide. Commercial Decking is used when appearance is not of primary importance.
• Softwood Boards are cut less than 2” thick and 5” deep in various lengths used for moulding, shelving and woodworking projects.
Timbers are milled 5” thick or greater and used as beams, stringers, posts, caps, sills, girders, or purlins.
Treated lumber is milled to dimensional standards for use in outdoor projects such as decks, sheds, etc. Decking is milled with curved edges for use as deck flooring and railing. Treated with preservatives described above, deck boards are pine milled to about 1-inch thick by 5-1/2 inches. Some deck boards may be slightly thicker.
Hardwood does not have standards like Softwoods, but hardwood is cut in ¼’ thicknesses, ranging from 1/2” to 4”in various lengths. Mainly used for cabinetry, moulding, shelving, woodworking projects, and crafts.
Grades for Hardwood:
• FAS (First and Seconds) highest rating, with 83.3 percent usable; minimum board 6” X 8’.
• F1F (First One Face) better face will be FAS, the poor face will have minor defects (No. 1 Com) Minimum board 6” X 8’
• Select: better face will be FAS, the poor face will have minor defects (No. 1 Com). Minimum board 4” X 6’
• 1 Common: Have minor defects ; 66.66 usable material; Minimum board 3” X 4’
• 2A Common: Have some defects; 50 percent usable material; Minimum board 3” X 4’
• 3A Common: Have many defects; 33.3 percent usable material; Minimum board 3” X 4’
Waterborne, copper based preservatives prevent termite attack and fungal decay. Copper Azole (CA) and Alkaline Copper Quat (ACQ) are used in exterior residential, as well as commercial and agricultural construction.
Chromated Copper Arsenate (CCA) is no longer permitted for residential use by the Environmental Protection Agency. It may be found used on Utility Poles, Highway Construction, etc.Micronized Copper Azole (MCA) contains micronized copper and biocides, providing less copper leaching from the material. For use in outdoor and landscaping projects.
Borate (SBX) is the most commonly used of the Carbon Based preservatives (PT1 and EL2) to treat wood used in residential construction, except where the wood meets the ground. Used for sill plates, roofing trusses, joists, etc.
Creosote is one of the oldest preservatives and used for severe environmental situations, such as railroad ties, commercial, industrial and marine installations. Not for use in residential applications due to the odor and oily appearance.
Oilborne preservatives such as Penta, Oxine Copper and Copper Naphthenate are applied for industrial applications.