Boost your home’s curb appeal with a fence that’s perfectly suited to your property. One of the great features about fences is the beauty they can add to a home. Whether you’re talking about a white picket fence around a charming cottage or a privacy fence surrounding the backyard, fences can create a real wow factor.
If you’re in the market for one, consider some of the best and most attractive fence styles available today:
A long-beloved fence style, wood fencing is popular for a reason. Available in many grades, species and styles, wood fencing opens a world of possibilities for completing your property. From the durable, lightweight quality of cedar to the modern look of wood fences made of horizontally fixed planks, you can choose just the right design to fit your home.
When you want a fence that looks like wood but is even more durable and easy to maintain, a vinyl fence is the answer. Today’s vinyl fences are resilient against inclement weather, so you can count on them to last well into the future. Likewise, they come in all kinds of designs, from picket fencing to semi-privacy fencing.
What’s great about chain link fences is their affordability and convenience. Use these fences when you want to protect pets, add security or otherwise contain an area with a no-frills fencing option. You can also dress up chain link with plants or climbing vines to make it look more eye-catching.
Available in steel, aluminum and wrought iron, ornamental fences can create an upscale look that highlights quality architecture and adds value to a property. Shop different ornamental designs to find one that befits your home.
When you’re planning to invest in a new fencing structure for your home, evaluating the fencing types and materials is worth the effort. Likewise, in addition to exploring designs, put a little time into goals, contractors, samples and more. Check out the infographic below for more information on how to pick the right fence for you.
Dean White Bio
Dean White is owner and operator of Peerless Fence, one of the largest fence companies in northern Illinois. He has more than 30 years of experience in the fence industry. Peerless Fence uses its size, expertise and quality products to provide a superior product and service compared to its competitors.
Saltwater pools are gaining popularity as an alternative to traditional chlorine pools. Saltwater pool owners enjoy key benefits, but it’s important to learn what you’re in for before deciding on the right type of pool for your home.
Here, we’ll clear up some common misconceptions about saltwater pools, and weigh the pros and cons of saltwater pools over traditional pools.
In a traditional pool, the chlorine level is maintained by periodically adding chlorine to the pool. However, a saltwater pool generates salt chlorine from added salt by the process of chemical electrolysis, using a salt chlorine generator. This highlights an important fact: a saltwater pool is a chlorine pool, it simply uses an alternate means of chlorination. That being said, a saltwater pool’s chlorine content tends to be much lower than that of a traditional pool. The significantly lower chlorine content in a saltwater pool is much gentler on the skin, hair, and eyes.
But, What is a Salt Chlorine Generator?
A salt chlorine generator is a metal cell that carries a low voltage electrical current. The generator is installed inline the pool’s existing pump system so the water is pumped through the generator before being returned to the pool. As the water passes through the metal cell, the current splits the salt into water and hypochlorous acid, which provides the disinfecting function normally achieved by adding chlorine.
A saltwater generator creates salt chlorine from simple table salt (NaCl), eliminating the need to handle chlorine. Because the chemical electrolysis converts the salt back and forth between salt and salt chlorine, and because salt does not evaporate (unlike chlorine), there is a reduced need to replenish the pool’s chlorine content. Still, the chlorine content of a saltwater pool must be monitored and salt must be added, as appropriate, to maintain safe levels.
Is It Like Swimming in The Ocean?
Note quite. The salinity of a saltwater pool is about one-tenth that of seawater. In fact, a saltwater pool is less salty than human tears. In the ocean, it’s easier to float on your back due to the added buoyancy of the salt. Saltwater pools don’t provide the effect quite as well.
The reduced salt of a saltwater pool in comparison with the ocean has a few benefits. You won‘t feel the “salty” feeling on your skin and hair quite as intensely after drying off. A pool’s water also does not sting your eyes in the same way ocean water will.
How Do I Convert My Pool?
Converting a traditional chlorine pool to a saltwater pool is fairly easy, but can be expensive. First, you would need to determine what size pool you have and install a salt chlorine generator capable of handling the volume. Salt chlorine generators range in cost from several hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. If you are not completely confident in your understanding of the system, you might also want to high a professional to do the installation so as to avoid damage to your equipment. It’s also important to not that the salt chlorine generator will need to be replaced every few years.
Then, you need to determine how much salt your pool needs. Pool salt test strips can tell you your pool’s existing salt level so you can accurately determine how much you need to add. Again, a saltwater pool uses simple table salt which should be easy to find. After you add the salt, you should run the pump (but NOT the salt chlorine generator), for 24 hours to allow the salt to evenly mix with the pool water. After that, you should test the water for appropriate salt, free chlorine, pH, cyanuric acid, total alkalinity, and calcium hardness, before running the salt chlorine generator. This process is referred to as “balancing the pool water.”
Are Saltwater Pools Low Maintenance?
Again, we’re here to debunk a common misconception. While saltwater pools require reduced maintenance steps, the water must still be routinely tested and adjusted to maintain proper sanitation. The salt chlorine generator cell must also be inspected at regular intervals for buildup and debris. Calcium buildup is a common issue in salt chlorine generators.
Is It Worth It?
The general consensus has been that the benefits of a saltwater pool far outweigh the negatives. The popularity of saltwater pools is on the rise as people appreciate the improved swimming experience:
- The low salinity of the water means that very little salt remains on the skin.
- The significantly lower chlorine level gives the water a softer feel, and is gentler on skin, hair, eyes, and even clothing.
- Not having to physically handle toxic liquid chlorine or tablets has also been a big selling point among pool owners. Owners also appreciate the savings from no longer needing to purchase chlorine.
- Also, there is generally less loss of chlorine to the environment with a saltwater pool than there is in a traditional pool.
- Restoring a saltwater pool’s chlorine level can be as easy as simply adding some table salt.
While the benefits of saltwater pools are clear, it’s important for a potential owner to know the facts about what they are and what they are not:
- A saltwater pool is not quite like the ocean. The salinity of a saltwater pool is far lower than that of seawater.
- Installing a saltwater pool requires a higher initial investment, and fixing any broken equipment can be more expensive.
- A saltwater pool is not low maintenance. Maintaining a sanitary saltwater pool requires consistency and attention to detail. All other parameters required for a safe pool still need maintenance.
- Since a saltwater pool simply employs an alternate means of chlorination, many of the same issues that come up with a traditional pool will persist with a saltwater pool.
- Salt can be corrosive to equipment surrounding your pool.
About the author:
Jason Caldwell is a Seattle-based writer and contributor to lifestyle blogs and magazines. His clients include An online swimming pools supply company. When he’s not running up against a deadline, he enjoys planning DIY projects and cooking for his family.
Our house is our castle, but after a few years even the most amazing castle becomes redundant in appearance. Looking at the same painted walls, carpet or furniture may feel tired…and boring. Every home needs a facelift eventually, but sprucing up your sanctuary doesn’t have to be budget ending.
Remodeling means different things to every homeowner. While a remodel may be as drastic as adding on a new wing to a home, the renovation process may be as subtle as a new coat of paint. No matter how extreme or conservative your plan, the choice to remodel is one that every homeowner considers during their residency. Taking the big leap doesn’t have to be scary, though, because you can take baby steps toward that final vision of home perfection.
Ready to give your castle a facelift? Check out these home remodeling ideas that can take a boring blah space into a modern masterpiece!
A Sweep of Color
If a room’s walls have been the same color for years—or maybe decades—it’s time to consider a new look or hue. You don’t have to go crazy with color palettes, but adventure is good…in the realm of color. The beauty of paint is that it can be changed if the color doesn’t flatter the room or your end design. Of course, you should swatch a color first and see if that hue is the one that screams décor perfection. However, if a room is small, don’t pick a dark shade…otherwise you will make the room look even smaller. You also can add interest to walls by using different textures of paint.
New Fixes for Old Fixtures
If overhead lighting, lamps or other household fixtures in a room look dated and old, switch them out. Choose a bold new chandelier to hang in the middle of a great room or head to an antique shop to discover amazing vintage lamps and other treasures. New fixtures also can transform old bathrooms in an instant. Select fun and funky faucets for a modern update or replace a tired old vanity with a pedestal sink and an antique mirror.
Decorate with Greenery
Plants and flowers infuse oxygen and beauty into a room. Houseplants also provide an instant touch of style and interest without the work of intense remodeling. Before you start adding bouquets of fresh flowers or investing in plants for any room, be sure to figure out how much work each variety requires. Houseplants require upkeep…and some are more finicky than others. Succulents are often fairly low-key and can be used to create modern and inexpensive dish gardens on tabletops. Head to a local nursery for advice about what varieties will work best for your home and lifestyle.
Light it Up
Lighting can transform the room; softer bulbs provide a warm ambience. Don’t forget to use natural lighting to transform a room as well. A large picture window or a wall lined with multiple windows opens up a room. Use roller shades to easily cover and uncover large window spaces to take advantage of the sun’s natural glow. Flameless candles also may be set within an unused fireplace for a décor touch that combines form and function. When decorating with candles, mix up the sizes for a bouquet of candlelight. You also can gather a group of flameless (or real) candles alongside a bathtub for romantic ambience.
Most homeowners will consider remodeling to update their home’s appearance. But remodeling doesn’t necessarily mean major construction and never-ending mess. Giving your home a face lift can be as simple as a new color of paint, fun fixtures or updated lighting. Small changes can make a huge impact on the beauty of your home.
Authored by NYC Writer Maggie Baker
Watch a few remodeling shows, and the idea of buying a fixer-upper suddenly seems like a great do-it-yourself project — you gain equity, get to customize everything to your tastes and, if everything goes well, wind up saving a chunk of money in the process.
What could be better? Before you jump into the world of home renovations, do you truly have the budget you need to do it right? Like it or not, there are usually unexpected expenses in every remodeling project, even when you do a lot yourself and try to plan for everything. Whether you’re buying a property to remodel or looking to upgrade your current space, it’s important to keep in mind what costs can easily add up:
- Calling the Professionals: Sure, even the least handy homeowners can buy paint and start rolling, but when it comes to bigger projects like knocking down walls or replacing kitchen countertops, most people will need to hire a professional. Before you leap headfirst into a costly remodel, get quotes from various contractors to learn what it realistically costs to get the job done. “An important step to take when moving from the remodeling fantasy phase to reality is signing a fixed-cost agreement with your contractor,” says Lisa Kaplan Gordon at Houselogic. “The contract should include a detailed scope of work” so that you minimize the amount of miscommunications and extra costs. If, during this estimating process, you find you’re going to have to spend upward of $40,000 to gut and rehab the kitchen, for example, is it truly worth the expense? Will hiring still give you the remodeling savings you’d hoped for? If not, maybe you’re not ready to take the project on.
- Experiencing a Learning Curve: Unless you’re already a professional contractor, you can expect to deal with some kind of learning curve when you’re rehabbing parts of your home yourself. A lot of projects, from tearing down walls to adding an island, are harder than they appear. Maybe you will have no trouble mastering the new toilet installation or tile removal, or maybe it will take several tries and several return trips to the hardware store before you understand what you’re supposed to do. The extra time and products involved in teaching yourself new skills usually are not negligible, so make sure you factor them into your project remodeling costs.
- Dealing with Delays: No matter how well you plan the timeline for your project, you should always expect delays. “Remodeling projects can test patience to extreme levels,” says Brennan Windows. That’s why, “when you set a project timeline, [you should] tack on at least a few weeks to account for any delays from bad weather or product issues.” Unexpected problems with plumbing, your house’s structure, equipment damage, or a host of other things can all delay progress. Likewise, anything that you have to hire someone for, from an order of granite countertops to a plumbing project estimated to take three days, can wind up taking longer than you thought. These delays can up your project expenses, particularly if you’re under any kind of crunch with living arrangements or moving dates.
- Taking on Too Much: Generally speaking, there are some projects that most people can try — painting the walls, sanding cabinets, resurfacing floors — and some that require specialized skill. If you bite off more than you can chew, you can bet you’ll spend more than you bargained for. Whether you have to hire someone to fix your mistakes or just end up paying twice for equipment and supplies, taking on more than you’re qualified to handle usually won’t save you money in the long run.
If, after considering the unexpected expenses of a home remodeling project, you still want to take it on, there is good news for you: “research shows that kitchen remodeling can increase the value of your home by 10 to 15 percent,” according to Kendra Y. Mims at SheKnows Media, “and remodeling other rooms can also increase home value.” In other words, there’s a lot of potential gain from a remodeling project that goes right.
In order to make the most of your efforts, always weigh the investment against the potential increase in value. If you know remodeling the kitchen can boost your home value by $20,000, for example, spending less than that to remodel — whether on your own or with professionals — is a much easier choice to make. Though whatever you decide, go into the project with a cushion in your budget and your timeline, flexibility and an open mind.
Mike Dulla is the president and founder of United Home Loans, which was founded in 2002. United Home Loans has been in business since 2002 and has closed over 10,000 loans with over $2.5 billion in total closed loan volume. Learn more about United Home Loans at http://www.uhloans.com.
You’ve settled on a new home! Whether you’re building or buying, it’s a time of great excitement and hopes for the future. Acquiring a new home goes hand in hand with the desire to live a better lifestyle than before. For many new homeowners, this includes living more sustainably.
Here are some top picks for eco-friendly improvements that you can incorporate into your new home. Or, if your home already has sustainable features, use them to make it even greener.
1. Insulate the basement.
Most contractors and homeowners now understand the value of wall and attic insulation. However, did you know that up to 40 percent of the heat loss in a building can take place through the basement? Many people, including contractors, are reluctant to insulate basements. This is because in the past, incorrectly installed basement insulation projects created serious moisture and mold issues in many homes. However, by using modern, approved methods for basement insulation, you can avoid these problems. A properly insulated basement not only reduces your energy bills, it also becomes more pleasant, usable space. Just be sure whoever installs your basement insulation is familiar with proper vapor barrier placement and other basement insulation best practices.
2. Make smart landscaping choices.
Good landscaping can make the difference between a good looking home and a stunning one, but it can also affect your eco footprint. Well-placed trees and shrubs can help reduce your energy bills by sheltering your home from summer heat and/or chilling winds. Planting native species that can handle the climate in your area with minimal care can reduce your water bill dramatically, as well as provide food and shelter for native wildlife. Plus, installing water conservation devices such as rain barrels or weather-smart irrigation controllers will also help save water and keep your yard looking great without spending a bundle on water.
3. Choose eco-friendly materials.
Whether you’re building a deck, replacing a floor, or choosing the perfect pavement for your new drive, don’t just choose the first material that strikes your fancy. Do your research and find out what materials may be available that will suit your needs with less impact on the environment. Consider locally made, recycled, reclaimed and natural materials. You may be surprised at how affordable and/or beautiful some of these can be.
4. Lighten your lighting.
Did you know that on average, Americans spend 14 percent of their household electricity dollars on lighting alone? One of the best ways to shave your lighting costs is to build more daylighting into your home. Skylights and light tubes are easy to install and will pay for themselves over time. If you are building new, be sure to orient your home and place your windows to take advantage of available sunlight. Installing LED bulbs is another investment that will save you money over time. Also, be sure to put any exterior lighting on a timer or use motion sensor devices so that the lights will only be on when you need them.
5. Go green with solar.
Yes, it’s a big investment, but nothing displays your commitment to a green lifestyle like solar panels on your roof. A photovoltaic or solar hot water system will pay for itself in a few years. After that, it will provide you with free electricity or hot water for decades. With renewable energy incentives still in place in many areas, and creative financing for solar becoming more common, you might be surprised how affordable it can be, too.
Going green in your new home is not just the right thing to do; eco-friendly choices often are healthier for your family. They can improve your home’s appearance and comfort level, and, smart green choices can save you a lot of money in the long run. Go ahead — make your new home as green as can be.
Ryan McNeill is the president of Renewable Energy Corporation, a Maryland based solar company.