Lancaster County Home Improvement Professionals
R&A Magazine: Ask
the Experts » Outdoor : Landscaping/Lighting/Spas/Pools/Decks/Outdoor Kitchens
|[ Click each Question for the Answer
We’re in the market for a
shed, but not interested in
a cookie-cutter model like
those you see pretty much
everywhere. Instead, we’re
looking for a specific look as
well as one that will serve
specific functions. Short
of engaging an architect to
design a custom shed specific
to our wants and needs, what
can you recommend?
Answer provided by: Jeannie Kontis
, Owner, Fox Country Sheds
We feel it’s so important when making
the investment in a backyard storage
shed or prefab garage, that it not only
meets your storage needs, but that it
also adds a value to your home and
property. Therefore, we understand
completely the desire to not add a
“cookie cutter” or big-box storage
shed to your property. We take pride
in being able to customize a shed to
meet our customer’s expectations.
Some of the way we can do this is
to help you select one of the many
styles of sheds that we offer. Using
one of these styles as a template, we
can add windows or doors to really
customize the layout that works best
for you. Perhaps you want an overhead
door so that you can drive your
riding mower right inside. Or add a
row of windows and a workbench so
that you can have some natural light
to start your seedlings early. We can
even create a poolhouse look to add
an attractive storage or changing area
beside your new pool. Selecting your
roof shingle color, topping off with a
cupola or weathervane, or adding an
attractive metal roof are other ways to
really make your backyard structure
stand apart from the rest.
As for the exterior, we offer a variety of
vinyl siding colors so that our customers
can best match or complement
their home. If you have a specific
siding in mind, it’s not a problem for
us to special order it. We also offer
a durable and attractive wood siding
that can be painted from a selection
of attractive exterior paint colors that
In keeping up with modern design
trends, our experienced salespeople
can help you design the “Modern
Farmhouse” look, as well as a
private “She-Shed” or “Man Cave”.
Customers are encouraged to share
their design ideas with us. For
enhanced quality, all of our structures
are prebuilt in our climatecontrolled
manufacturing shop, and
as owners of this 22-year family
business, we take pride in being
hands-on...from start to finish!
Remember, customizing your backyard
shed, poolhouse or mancave/
she-shed, is a foolproof way to add
instant value to your home.
For more information, please visit
us or give us a call. We encourage
our customers to visit our display lot
to get ideas of what
other customers are
having built. Let us
As garden builders, you and James seek to cultivate daily interaction
with natural beauty for your family and clients through the creation of
private garden spaces. Now, with the recent Covid-19 shelter-in-place
restrictions, have you sensed a greater appreciation for these personal
Answer provided by: Betty Hanselman
, Partner, Hanselman Landscape
Because James is a gardener, I have been the beneficiary of a garden development project
that has been years in the making and will likely keep us interested and occupied well after
we retire. But it has only been recently, when other once-normal niceties in our lives—family
visits, dining out, game nights with friends, travel—have been taken away, that I am realizing
with profound gratitude all we still have outside our door because we decided to invest in
our garden over the years. Now, more than ever, I appreciate the value of frequent interaction
with natural beauty and the daily refreshment a garden provides. Never before has our
garden been such an escape and source of continual wonder!
When I am rattled by strident media opinions, I can pause for just a moment on the stone
steps in our garden and observe the painstaking progress of a spider repairing its web between
two branches of a Japanese Maple. I can listen to the whisper of the wind through the
Pines above me or watch tiny leaf buds unfurl in the spring sunshine. Our garden is a sanctuary
where I am able to slow down, breathe deeply, and regain my balance. It is my daily
vacation, and since right now, it is our only “let’s eat out” option, we are privileged to dine
under the sky and trees, accompanied by the whirr of hummingbird wings and bird song.
When I am disheartened by the cares of the world, I only have to look up at the Cardinal
singing its heart out in the branches of a Dawn Redwood to remember that I, too, have
a myriad of reasons to rejoice. In my garden, I am reminded that the Almighty Hand that
clothes the flowers and feeds the birds also cares for me. My garden becomes a cathedral
where my heart cries out for wisdom and shouts out songs of gratitude and praise.
Our garden is a shelter from the chaos of conflicting headlines. It is a place where, with careful
tending, growth is measured and certain. There is hope in our garden—that spring will
surely follow winter; that what was green and vibrant last year will burst forth in color, fragrance,
and beauty once again; that someday soon, we will again hear delighted little voices
exclaiming over wildflowers and “under-doggies” on the swing; that the cares of today are
just for a moment and will eventually recede in memory. I need a garden in my life because I
need rest and shelter and joy and hope . . . especially now!
Hanselman Landscape is a family-owned business established in 1985. Believing the world
can be beautiful, we are dedicated to bringing natural beauty within the daily reach of our
clients. With unique solutions to complex challenges, Hanselman Landscape’s garden design
experts will embrace your home with a custom-tailored, sustainable landscape design.
Japanese gardens, swimming pool landscapes with refreshing waterfalls, and carefullypruned
specialty plants are just a few of the ways we can bring natural beauty into your daily
We prioritize long-term relationships, which allows our customers to develop the high quality
gardens they desire. And if it’s ongoing care you desire, you can enjoy a lifetime of support
through our skilled maintenance program. In fact, we continue to serve our very first clients!
Our location in Manheim provides us with access to design and cultivate gardens throughout
Central PA, Philadelphia’s Main Line, and even as far away as Cambridge, Massachusetts.
We invite you to explore how we can partner with you to bring joy to your garden!
We're planning to do some
patio renovations this year
that will include an outdoor stone fireplace. Do
we need to wait for spring
weather or can masonry
work be done safely in
Answer provided by: Terry Heck
, Owner, Raise The Standard, Inc
This question is asked of me probably every year—starting as early
as September or the first time the
customer feels a little nip in the air.
I fully understand the concern because every owner wants the best
for their property and their dollar.
Nevertheless, the owners sense of
cold (sometimes starting already at
50 degrees) is different than mine
or, more importantly, the product
that they are asking us to install.
The facts don’t change however,
as 32 degrees has always been,
and will always be, the point at
which things freeze. It could be an
ice cube, popsicle, or the mortar
between two bricks. What ever it
may be, if it has some type of fluid
in it, those particles will freeze when
temps hit 32.
Since most masonry companies
need to work through the winter to
pay bills and keep their employees
working, here at Raise The Standard, we've come up with some
simple solutions to keep working
through colder temperatures without compromising the quality of our
work or our finished product.
Different companies have various
methods that they have found that
works for them. Below are a few
things we do on virtually every job
we touch in the winter months to
keep our work safe, looking great,
and hold up for years to come.
First and foremost, we keep the
moisture out of the products to
be installed by covering them with
plastic or special blankets made
especially for our industry. Secondly,
we heat the sand and water with
propane torches. Finally, when the day is complete, we cover our work
with those special blankets which
help to store the heat produced
from the hot water plus they keep
the cold weather and wind off the
So, to answer your question, no,
you don't have to wait for warmer
weather to get started on your project. While we do work year round
sometimes it just gets too cold and
miserable and we have no other
choice but to work inside (or forced
to stay home and enjoy a cup of
hot chocolate). In addition to inside
projects such as fireplaces or stone
or brick accent walls, periods of
very cold weather is a perfect time
for us to get our preseason planning
accomplished and lining up new
projects in our pipeline schedule.
Should you have questions about
any type of masonry work or would
like to get your project scheduled,
please reach out to me. No question or problem is too big or dumb.
We are into the season where we want to make better use of our deck area especially when we have extra guests visiting. What are some of our options?
Answer provided by: Les Kreider, President–Owner, Kreider's Canvas Service, Inc.
There are several ways to make your area more useful but expense may be your limiting factor.
1). The lowest cost improvement is an umbrella. Wind and limited spotty protection are an umbrella's challenges. Sudden wind gusts can be damaging both to an umbrella, table, and a house as they are like kites waiting to fly away.
2). The next improvement is a retractable awning. This also has challenges with wind and limited shade in the mid to late afternoon. Often this is when guests are invited for a meal. Retractable awnings provide better protection than an umbrella but are more expensive. They can provide shade and limited protection only if there are very low winds. There are times it may be too windy to use a retractable awning even if it has a motion sensor, so you may end up sitting in the sun with no shade. Additionally these motion sensors have limits and can be challenged by sudden wind gusts.
3). A third improvement for extra deck usage while providing shade and rain protection is a stationary frame canopy. The challenges are that a loose fitting cover or a weak frame design can collapse the frame or cause other damage in a strong summer storm. This method is where only the synthetic cover is folded up and removed over winter. The frame stays in place but may be powder coated a black or bronze color to make it less visible. Dark colors hide from view to our brain and seem less noticeable. This winter cover removal allows winter sun into any adjoining rooms around the deck which can raise room temperatures 10 to 15 degrees above normal room temperatures. This can make a noticeable savings in heating in winter and cooling in summer. Several university studies have documented up to a 30% energy savings when removable awnings are used. The canopy cover is then reinstalled in the spring providing shade to the house while providing additional outside deck area for entertaining. The deck surface temperatures on a sunny day are often reduced over 50 degrees on the deck's surface making the walking area useful again. If the canopy cover is tightly fitted onto a strong frame, wind isn't a challenge with this type of solution. Around October, the easy to remove cover needs to be removed due to the coming winter snows. Additionally side curtains and triangular ends (often called wings) give extra shade as the sun sets in the late afternoon. These are considered temporary structures so no permits or approvals are often needed because snow loads aren't required. The stationary frame's cover is removed over winter so there is no snow build up needing supported. Most people like the annual canvas installation ritual as they often open a pool (if they have one) and bring their furniture out of storage for the celebration of summer's return.
4). A roof can be added to some decks to provide extra coverage and protection. This is usually the most expensive method to get extra protection from the sun because the roof and especially the footers of the deck need to meet engineering requirements for winter snow loads. Most existing decks don't meet current footer engineering requirements so a major cost is incurred in replacing the existing deck in a way so it will support snow load requirements to hold the roof in place. With this improvement method you usually get a long lasting product, but you often lose the solar benefits in winter. Some people take this approach anticipating a future improvement of closing in the area to a three season room. This roof method does provide a year round covered area for storage. Additionally still other people also enclose the sides with canvas /vinyl window curtains that provide wind /heat protection. This side curtain addition also provides them with the ability to roll the sides up and get the full outdoor effect of a covered open area.
Of the four main methods to get additional shade and protection for a deck area, each has limits and benefits as well as varying costs. Each situation is different and it isn't a one-solutionfits-all approach due to wind patterns and sun exposure. Loss of sunlight also becomes a factor especially in the winter months. A lot has to be considered before rushing to any one solution as a variety of factors need careful consideration.
For more information, give us a call at 717.656.7387.
A while back, I remember seeing a Q&A in R&A that suggested a storage shed to relieve garage clutter. We too have garage clutter (lots of it) and a storage shed sounds like a practical solution for making room for our two cars. My concern is selecting a shed that is well constructed with quality materials AND one that actually complements our attractive home and landscaping. We are very discriminating shoppers. Any suggestions?
Answer provided by: Jeannie Kontis, Owner Fox Country Sheds
The Q&A that you remember, was actually answered by us-Fox Country Sheds. In addition to our stellar reputation for constructing quality sheds using quality materials, we also pride ourselves in assisting homeowners in selecting the right shed for their needs, their style, and their budget.
One of the main considerations in selecting a storage shed is to consider exactly what your needs are. We can help you to determine exactly what you desire to store, and then discuss building materials and specifics. Are you looking to store a few handheld garden tools such as rakes, pruning shears and a push mower? Or are you looking for a larger structure to store a riding mower or tractor? Perhaps a motorcycle or bicycles, or even fun jet skis or snowmobiles? Are you looking for a structure to use as an "in-home office" or "mancave" or even a "she-shed"?
If you plan on spending a lot of time in the structure, some of your selected building options might change such as insulated windows and insulating the walls and floor. The building specs used in all of our sheds start with the same quality materials, and the customer can upgrade certain options to meet their needs accordingly.
Once you have determined what your structure will be used for and what size would work best for you, it is important to give equal attention to the foundation or "pad" where your shed will be placed. A great, well-prepared foundation truly is the first step in a quality storage shed, which should last you for as long as you own your home. We are happy to provide guidance for the handy homeowner who wishes to do the site preparation on their own, but our recommendation would be to not skimp on this step and to let our professionals take care of this important step for you.
All of our sheds, no matter the size, are built with the same quality craftsmanship which we are known for, from the skids to the shingles. Pressure-treated lumber is used for all ground contact areas, what we refer to as "the runners". We go the extra step and use pressuretreated floor joists, as well. The interior plywood flooring can be easily upgraded to a pressure-treated material, and we can help you determine if this is something that would suit your needs.
Selecting your exterior material is easy-the homeowner has a choice from a quality vinyl siding product, or a durable wooden siding material. Both have long-term warranties from their specific manufacturers. The vinyl siding comes in a number of popular colors, and the homeowner is sure to find one to match or complement their current home, or we can custom order a specific product for you. For the wood siding, we use an industryspecific "barn paint" which offers excellent coverage in a number of popular exterior colors.
The discriminating homeowner who wants more than a shed may want to upgrade certain components, such as selecting our 9-lite steel door, or even a full-glass door option which would look great on a pool house or "sheshed". For extra insulation and security, we even offer a vinyl insulated window and pre-hung door option, exactly the same type you would install in your home.
Last but not least, let's consider the shingles or roofing material of your shed. Our standard roofing material is a 30-year architectural shingle, which is certainly something that any discriminating homeowner would expect. We do also offer the option of a metal roof which is very popular for certain shed styles. Both roofing options are installed over a high-grade plywood sheathing and are available in a number of standard colors. Be sure to top off your new, quality-built shed, with an attractive cupola and weathervane, both available in a variety of options to suit your style.
Our informative sales staff is always available to answer any questions you might have about the quality materials available for your new shed, garage or other backyard structure. Give us a call or stop in to see us!
If we are considering a renovation or addition that will add to our curb appeal, such as new exterior materials or a new front porch, how do you recommend we improve the front yard landscaping?
Answer provided by: Betty Hanselman, Partner, Hanselman Landscape & Gardens
The most common suburban front-yard landscape solution is to decorate the house, creating a facade with foundation plantings to be viewed from the street across the front lawn. This "outside-in" approach prioritizes the perspective of passers-by, and helps to sell homes. However, when plantings are used in this way, primarily as a stage set, you, the homeowners receive minimal experiential value from your most-used perspective, your windows. You look outside and see the cars on the street across the lawn. You miss the refreshment of daily interaction with an inspiring garden sanctuary, and the peace that comes from privacy.
As garden builders, we recommend improving your front yard landscaping by taking an additional step, considering an "inside-out approach" that prioritizes the perspective of the people resting, playing, studying, living in the home. What you see and experience when you look or step outside is also important. Rather than just planting a two-dimensional facade around the footprint of the house, our suggestion is to provide multi-sensory experiences in multi-dimensional outdoor living spaces-"garden rooms" which are seen from the windows, and where children of all ages can clamber or rest, listen to the sigh of wind in Pines, feel the variant textures of pathways and dewy grass underfoot, and smell the exhilarating fragrance of new leaves. This approach incorporates plantings and garden elements in ways that can be enjoyed and experienced by those in the home as well as those passing by.
So, in addition to curb appeal, the view from those new windows should be considered. For example, a carefully-planned entrance garden will serve both objectives, adding depth and perspective to a home's curb appeal while providing interest for those who live inside. To have a garden that is experienced and enjoyed inside and outside the home evokes the feeling of being in a rare and special place for which curb appeal is only the first hint of discovery.
Over the years, R&A has published several very informative
articles and beautiful photos
submitted by Kreider Canvas
Service promoting their awning
and canopy business. While
the idea of expanding our patio
usage during rainy weather or
blistering sunshine through the
use of a canopy is very appealing, we just don't have the time
nor the energy to deal with the
annual requirement of putting
it up and taking it down. Is
there a solution?
Answer provided by: Les Kreider, President–Owner, Kreider's Canvas Service, Inc.
Yes, I'm happy to report that there is a
solution. And by the way, thank you for
your nice comments about our editorial
contributions to this magazine. Many area
homeowners are beneftting from the use
of awnings and canopies to expand their
usage of their porches, decks, and patios.
As we've mentioned in several of our past
articles, awnings and canopies not only
allow homeowners to expand their home's
usable areas, there are also signifcant
energy-savings to be gained as well as
protection from sun damage to furniture,
window treatments, and ﬂooring.
Now, in answer to your question, yes, there
is a solution for busy homeowners like
you. Here at Kreider's we offer full-service
annual installation in the spring and takedown in the fall. And, if needed, we also
provide worry-free winter storage. Here's
how it works.
Spring is a time to clean away the winter
mess and get ready for outdoor living.
When our trucks begin to move through
the local neighborhood folks begin to
get excited because they know warm
weather is on the way. A patio covered by
a Kreider’s canopy is a happy patio!! We
take pride in providing you with top-notch
service for your awning and or canopy.
You will fnd us to be friendly, helpful and
Awnings and canopies that we service are
guaranteed to have a drum tight ft with as
few wrinkles as possible. Awnings that are
installed properly will last longer because
they will not “pool” water or ﬂap so much
in the wind. Care will be given to avoid
stepping on ﬂowers, railings or outdoor
furniture. Our teams strive to leave your
home looking better than when they came!
Clients are encouraged to call as soon as
possible to schedule their spring rehang.
For the most effcient and worry-free
service experience, ask to be added to
the Auto list. We generally try to have the
rehangs completed between April 15th
and Memorial Day.
As summer wraps up and kids go back to
school and the leaves start to showcase
their beauty our teams gear up for the fall
takedown season. To give your awning
the longest lifespan possible it should be
taken down prior to any snow and ice accumulation. Typically when the days grow
shorter and cooler you will be excited to
have the extra light and warmth ﬂooding in
through your windows.
An awning or canopy that is removed by
Kreider’s will be carefully inspected for
holes, tears or other issues that may need
attention. Should you choose to have your
awning stored by us, it will be tagged and
warehoused within our clean, dry and
rodent free storage facility.
As with our rehangs, clients are encouraged to call as soon as possible to schedule their fall takedown. And, yes, like the
rehang, we suggest that they get added to
our Auto list. We generally try to have the
bulk of takedowns completed with-in the
month of October.
So there you have it...professional and
courteous help is readily available. Make
the most out of your outdoor areas and
realize some serious energy-savings in
doing so by expanding and extending their
usage. For more information on awnings
and canopies, please give us a call or visit
We are in desperate need of a suggestion that would allow us to keep our 3 little ones happy at home rather than packing them up to drive to the nearest park. The packing and unpacking not to mention the shuttle has gotten very old. Other than a swimming pool which is out of the question for now, what other backyard amenity would help keep the kids happy (and safe) at home?
Answer provided by: Jeannie Kontis, Owner, Fox Country Sheds
As a parent of two boys who are now grown, I certainly remember the days of trying to keep them busy at home, while making sure that they remain safe and within eyesight. At that time, I had invested in a rickety metal swingset that seemed to shake, rattle and rust with each swing and climb my boys made. I can honestly say that it probably wasn't the safest nor the most secure option, at that time.
The backyard playsets of today have improved in many different ways. Safety is always a key factor, and all of the vinyl playset products which we carry follow strict safety protocol. You can indeed have peace of mind knowing that your playset manufacturer places priority on the highest quality materials and construction, as well as safety features. Some of the standard safety features of today's playsets which you should look for include: smooth, splinter-free vinyl coating and sleeves, entrance ladders with safety rails and nonslip steps, pinch-free rubber coated swing chains, heavy-duty hangers and fasteners, powder coated brackets to resist rust.
One of the reasons that our playsets are so popular with families of all sizes is that you can customize them. The designs range from the simple 4x4 tower with a 2-position swing beam and a slide, to a complex multi-level and multi-tower design with numerous swing beams, assuring that each child of every age has a fun activity to explore. These playsets are built to last and are designed with fun options that can grow as your child grows. As your child grows, a baby swing can easily be swapped for one of the many big-kid swing options. You can easily arrange a variety of slides, twisty slides, towers and playhouses to maximize your child's outdoor excitement.
What child wouldn't be happy playing on a set named the Giggle Junction? Children of all ages would enjoy swinging on the tire swing, or imagining that they are climbing Mount Everest as they ascend the rock wall. The Discovery Depot playset designs feature multiple towers of various levels, for those children who love to imagine they are world explorers.
Playset packages come in a variety of sizes suitable to fit into smaller yards, as well as more elaborate designs for a sprawling backyard. No yard is too small for one of these quality, customizable playsets.
Lastly, a concern we hear often is parents wondering just how long this type of investment will take them as their children and family grows. We are so proud of the Limited 20 Year Warranty offered by our playset manufacturer, Adventure World Gymsets. You can view more information about these quality backyard vinyl playsets, towers and playhouses, and even customize and order your own set, right on our website at www.FoxSheds.com. Of course, our helpful sales staff is always available to help you customize and design a playset to meet your budget and your family's needs.
When we bought our home six years ago, our two–car garage was a
great luxury. Back then, we actually used both bays for parking. Over
the years, however, due to the growth of stuff such as lawn mowers,
a snow blower, yard tools, bicycles, yard toys, and an assortment of
odds and ends, finding space to park even one of the cars has become
a real challenge. Short of expanding our garage, what can you recommend?
Answer provided by: Jeannie Kontis, Owner, Fox Country Sheds
I agree, a garage expansion probably wouldn't help—not for long any way. Chances are,
any additional garage space would be quickly consumed by even more stuff. A more promising
and less expensive solution may be a separate and dedicated storage building just
for your things. My suggestion would be to keep the garage for the cars (both of them) and
use your storage building for everything else.
Here at Fox Country Sheds, we specialize in quality, handcrafted outdoor storage structures.
In addition to custom storage sheds, we also design and build free-standing one–car
and two–car garages, which are ideal for additional car storage or larger yard machinery.
We are also a reseller of quality Amish–built gazebo, and playset structures. For close to
two decades now, we've been assisting homeowners like you solve their storage issues
by designing attractive yet functional, maintenance-free storage buildings specific to meet
their needs and budget.
Since sheds can be constructed to almost any size and designed to serve almost any purpose,
I would suggest you give some thought as to what you'd like to house in this facility.
Is it limited to just those things listed above in your question or are there other possible
needs? The reason I ask this is because sheds don't have to be a single–purpose, singleentry,
open–space, box–like structure if there are other needs. More and more homeowners
are interested in using their sheds for multiple purposes and have asked us to customize
the design to accommodate those interests. Some homeowners with swimming pools,
for example, have asked us to design a structure with a separate storage shed on one
end, and a shady gazebo or porch on the other end. This type of "pool house" building is
ideal for safe storage of pool chemicals and equipment, or even a private dressing room,
while providing an attractive shady area on the porch for entertaining.
In fact, sheds can be designed to meet any number of needs—as a single–purpose building
or for any combination of dual or multiple–use purposes. Some of our more popular uses
besides a simple storage shed include:
Office or Hobby Room
Depending on what you plan to use your shed for, will dictate a number of things beyond
its size. How many doors will be required and what types of doors (single, double, overhead)?
Will you need ramps leading up to those doors? The number of windows and
placement of such? Will you need a loft for additional storage? How about a workbench
for tinkering? Does the structure need to be pre–wired for electricity? Do you want a covered
porch or extended overhangs for weather protection?
As for the aesthetics, you can specify wood or vinyl siding. Both options are available in the most popular residential colors
to best complement your home. For
a more custom look, some shed
designs offer a stone-front option or
have a mix of both vinyl siding and
wood trim. A variety of roof shingles,
window and door options––as well as
accent pieces such as shutters, trim,
flower boxes, cupolas and weather
vanes––allow you to further customize
your outbuilding to suit your taste
If all this sounds overwhelming,
don't let it interfere with your decision
to take control of your garage
or storage needs. We can help you
throughout the process. We are a
family–owned business and we take
great pride in helping our clients
through the process of ordering, customizing, and delivering
a product that
will fulfill their needs
while enhancing their
property. Our sheds
are delivered assembled
via a shed trailer
and placed right on
your prepared site. We
even have a crew that
can prepare the site for
you, or we can give you
instructions on how
to do it yourself. For
property with limited access, we offer
mule delivery or shed kits which
can be assembled onsite.
For more information please give us
a call or stop by to see our display
inventory. You can also visit us online
at www.FoxSheds.com where you
can customize and order your shed,
garage, gazebo or playset. Either
way, our friendly staff will be happy
to assist you in solving your storage
needs within a budget you can
Three years ago we had a beautiful deck installed off our kitchen/dining area. While the deck turned out absolutely gorgeous, I'm embarrassed to admit that we hardly ever use it. Why...you ask? It's the heat! With the intense sun on that side of the house, it's almost always too hot to use. We can't even enjoy the beauty of the deck from inside the house as we have to keep the curtains on the French doors closed to keep out the heat. This starts off in the spring and extends well into the fall months! Any suggestions?
Answer provided by: Les Kreider, President–Owner, Kreider's Canvas Service, Inc.
Your situation is not at all unique...in
fact, we addressed a similar problem
a few years back in this same column.
What we said then still applies today,
so here's a recap of our earlier response.
Too many, however, rush into a possible
solution to a problem without
considering all the options and the
advantages each solution offers. Each
"possible solution" also can have a
negative side, which often isn't discovered
until the installed "solution"
is completed. Then it is too late or too
expensive to change. We like to look at
as many options that are available and
provide honest "green" solutions.
One of our favorite "green" solutions
is a type of sun protection called an
awning. The cover either rolls up or is
removable for increased "over winter"
solar gain. Some numbers that I have
actually observed is a deck surface's
temperature drop of over 50 degrees.
That occurred on a deck where we
were installing a stationary frame
canvas cover over one half the total
deck surface. It was an 87 degree
(air temperature) day so I measured a
hidden deck surface that hadn't been
exposed to the summer sun. It measured
87 degrees. I then pointed my
digital thermometer on a fully exposed
deck area. It was about 11 AM and the temperature read 139 degrees. A 50+
degree difference. This is the same difference
we experience when a canvas
cover is installed over an exposed deck
surface. The surface is now shaded
and you are able to walk on it in bare
feet. Try walking on a 139 degree
An additional "cooling effect" is
experienced on interior rooms that
are connected to these covered deck
areas. A few years ago in the month of
August, we installed another canvas
awning over a west facing deck. Our
customer thought it was a "sales pitch"
when I stated that the attached interior
family room's temperature will drop 15
to 20 degrees. To her surprise it really
did!!!! Our customer found their air
conditioner was now running less while
keeping the family room cool. Less
run time, less electric, and less energy
used, lowering their overall summer
electric bill. In fact, a study done by the
University of Minnesota found that air
conditioning costs could be lowered
up to 30% with a properly installed
You have to remember that when the
awning is removed over winter, the
reverse effect happens. The greenhouse
effect sets in and provides solar
gain and heat to those areas previously
cooled by a canvas awning. Talk
about having your cake and eating it
too! Awnings provide a tremendous
green effect and energy savings.
Proper installation of a correct type of
awning, along with a good, durable fit
is also important. A properly installed
awning can be used for 12 to 14 years.
We have had several last over 20
years. The synthetic fabric of choice is
Sunbrella due to the fact that it now
comes with a 10–year warranty. It is our
preference due to its fade and "rot"
There are other green and energy efficient solutions, but we have found
an awning to provide a great option
to environmental concerns. A proper
choice of style and construction
details is very critical to a long lasting
solution. We analyze your area.
We then make a recommendation
based on our 80+ years of combined
awning experience. We also manufacture
(some styles), install, and
service your awning needs. Our goal
is to provide you with a durable and
great solution to your energy problem
area. We don't create another problem with a hasty solution. We aim to
please and we give free estimates.
Give us a call at 717.656.7387 for
our solution suggestions to your problem
area. We don't pressure a sale.
We like to discuss your options for
an area and provide you with a great
We recently visited Integrity Pools & Spas in Lancaster and noted that they only carry one brand of spas–Arctic Spas. Why is that and
what else can you tell us about Arctic Spas?
Answer provided by: Craig Horning, President, Integrity Pools & Spas, Inc.
At Integrity Pools & Spas, we support
Arctic Spas because of their
loyalty and their customer service to
their dealers. We are proud of the
craftsmanship of the product and
the serviceability and longevity of the
spas. Arctic Spas are a quality–made
hot tub and we stand behind them
From a consumer's point of view,
here are some things that should
be important for you to know about
Arctic Spas insulate
using perimeter insulation–they
are not full–foam! They insulate the
cabinet walls, lip underside and floors with a high density polyurethane
foam. This foam is added to a
thickness that stops heat loss. The
equipment is then placed inside of
this cocoon, creating the perfect
environment to capture the heat from
the pumps and motors. Ambient heat
from the pump penetrates the spa
shell and helps to keep the water hot.
This allows for an extremely efficient
design and dramatically reduces running
Heat rises, right? So another part of
this equation is our Mylovac cover.
This cover is 5", the thickest and
strongest cover in the industry and
reduces your electric cost by more
than a 1/3 compared to the industry
All Arctic Spas come
with insulated, removable access
panels on all sides of the spa. Many
spa manufacturers bury potential
problems completely in foam. This
makes servicing the spa very difficult
when foam needs to be chipped out
to perform the services and then
more added after the service. Servicing
an Arctic Spa is simple; remove a
panel, perform the repair and replace
the panel. Arctic Spas provides an
easy and efficient way to deal serviceability.
No Need for a Concrete Pad.
Arctic Spas that we sell come standard
with the Forever Floor–which
eliminates the need to construct a
concrete pad. This floor is composed
of SMC fiberglass composites that
make it impervious to moisture,
pests and time. It is the same material
the U.S. Military uses on the
bottom of their Hummers. It's so
strong that it completely eliminates
the need for a foundation such as
concrete pads, decking or blocks! Installation
has never been easier and
your spa floor will last forever.
Arctic Spas Shells–Legendary
! Roughly 98% of all spa
manufacturers use acrylic to form
the shells of their spas. The acrylic
is formed into a seating pattern and then insulation is blown around the
spa to give the spa strength. If repairs
are needed, that insulation needs to
be chipped out in order to find the
location of the leak. ARCTIC SPAS vacform
their shells and then apply layer
after layer of a proprietary filler–free
fiberglass composite material to give
the shell its legendary strength. Arctic
applies more fiberglass than anyone
else in the business; no plastic backing,
no props or supports, and no
foam is ever applied to the shell.
Ongoing Maintenance–Spa Boy
Takes Out the Guesswork.
Spas has a unique feature–Spa Boy–
which is an automated, low chemical,
saltwater sanitation water care system
for your spa. Used in conjunction
with an ORP probe; you can now monitor
your water from your smart phone
to ensure your water will be crystal
clear every day from the comfort of
your own home, or from anywhere
in the world so long as you have an
internet connection! We use science to perform the menial tasks that
have generally been associated with
spa maintenance. Finally, your Arctic
Spa can be almost MAINTENANCE
FREE! Take the guesswork out of spa
maintenance with Spa Boy, only by
In closing, let me just say that there's
a reason why hot tubs are immensely
popular at winter resorts all over the
world. Put some fun in your winter–
without leaving home! For more
information please don't hesitate to
give us a call at 393.1600. Or, if you
are planning to visit the BIA Spring
Home Show at Spooky Nook, you can
find us in booth 515.
As new grandparents (with hope of many more), we like the idea of installing a swimming pool to encourage a lot of visiting in the
years to come. Having never had a pool before, what are the things we should consider?
Answer provided by: Craig Horning, President, Integrity Pools & Spas, Inc.
First off, congratulations on your new family addition!
Believe it or not, many of our first time clients are very similar
to you. They are pool shopping for the same reason—an
attraction for the grandkids—and because they have never
shopped for a pool before, they are looking for information — all kinds of information! Since your question is general in
nature, I've compiled a list of questions that we typically get
from clients like you. I hope you find this helpful.
Which is a better option, all–weather pool vs. a concrete
pool? It really comes down to how you plan to use the pool.
If you plan to use your pool year round; would like a full body
massage; or quickly heat a small area of water; then a swim
spa is the best option. Concrete options are a great choice if
you are looking to have a more traditional pool environment
and experience. Your swim season will be limited to approximately
six months with a traditional concrete pool.
How many months a year will my pool be open? Many of
our customers open in April and close in October. Some
customers even push closing farther into the fall, but it really
depends on your specific situation. Things to consider when
determining how long you may use the pool are your tree and
landscaping environment; is there a spa being incorporated
into the design; and will there be an outdoor living area in
additional to the pool? These and many more factors all play
a role in how long you may enjoy your pool season.
How much will my electric bill be affected with having a
pool? We use energy efficient pool pumps and equipment
and while there will be some impact on the bill you should
not see a huge increase in your electric bill during pool usage
months. However, if your home becomes the focus of the
neighborhood social circle, we can't say the same about your
grocery and beverage bills.
Does a salt pool really mean you are swimming in a salt
pool (like the ocean)? No. It is actually a system of dissolved
salt through electrolysis. Sanitation of the pool water actually
happens with a chlorine generator. IntelliChlor uses common
table salt to produce all the chlorine a pool needs, safely, effectively,
and automatically. Same sanitation performance as
manual chlorine addition without the drawbacks. No need for
customers to buy, transport and store chlorine compounds.
Will my homeowner's insurance increase? Pools are typically
covered by most homeowner's insurance policies. It is
recommended you check with your insurance professional
to make sure you have the right amount and protection in
How long should I plan for my backyard
project? This depends on the size and complexity
of the project. An all–weather pool
or hot tub addition to your backyard can be
up and running for your use in as little as a
few days to a few weeks depending on tub
selection and availability. A concrete pool
requiring design and excavation can typically
last three to six months, depending on
design, permits, schedules and additional
outdoor living area options. Please take all
this into consideration when planning your
backyard addition. Schedules fill up quickly
when warm weather begins so planning
early is always best!
Again, I'm hopeful that this information
proves helpful. If you have any other questions
or would like additional information,
I encourage you to give us a call at
We would like to have some outdoor living space designed and
installed for next summer. When should I contact a contractor and how do I choose a reputable one?
Answer provided by: Christian K. Stoltzfus, Owner, Unique Construction
When to start. As for when, the time is now! The earlier in winter, the better. For
most hardscape contractors in this area, winter is our slow season due to the
cold temperatures. While the weather keeps us mostly indoors, the winter season
is ideal for getting your project discussed, designed, approved, and scheduled.
These are all very important steps that should be taken BEFORE the nice weather
returns. Once things warm up, the contractors will be extremely busy doing installations
on those projects that were already on the books.
Designing your project. There are a number of ways to get a design that you'll love
and enjoy for years. If you have an imagination and are creative, you can design
your outdoor space yourself. Another option is hiring a landscape architect to give
you ideas and produce a drawing for the contractor to follow. In our case, we offer
free design consultation and free quotes for the finished product. And to give you
a better perspective of the proposed size and layout, we also paint the design on
the ground before we begin any digging. If your project includes landscaping in addition
to hardscaping, we team with a very reputable nursery who will do the entire
landscape design including the plant selection, if requested.
Choosing a contractor. Fundamental in your initial screening process—make sure
the contractor is licensed and insured. Those that are not should be disqualified
Does the contractor have photos of past jobs and references? While I wouldn't
necessarily disqualify a new start-up company that doesn't yet have a portfolio
of completed jobs or past clients to talk to, you'll want to do your due diligence in
assessing their qualifications by examining their actual hardscape experience. Are
they knowledgeable of industry construction standards and do they have a well
trained crew? What industry certifications have they and their crew obtained?
Do they have experience in the permit process and obtaining the necessary Township
approvals? Larger projects sometimes require storm water management
plans which add a level of complexity to the project, not to mention, additional
time in the planning and approval stages.
Once those fundamentals are out of the way, make sure that your prospective
contractor inspires trust—one who listens to your ideas and asks questions rather
than just telling you what he thinks would work.
A big plus, at least in my thinking, is selecting a contractor whose designer is actually
on the jobsite throughout installation. In our case, I'm that person. In fact, I'm
also the man you'll see when you call for a quote. Having me onsite during construction
helps to prevent any confusion as I know exactly what the homeowners
approved and how things should look. And because I know exactly what needs to
be done and actively participate in the work along with my crew, things tend to go
smoothly and without delays trying to interpret a plan designed by someone else.
Should you have any questions, please give me a call at 717.687.6897. And remember,
don't wait for the nice weather to start thinking about your project—the
time is now!
My wife and I are looking for suggestions
to make our patio roof area more useful. We have a great roof covered area with an outdoor
kitchen, but during the extreme temperature changes, we often can't use it because it is
too cool or windy to use for family gatherings. Also we don't like the feel of fixed walls
with windows or screens because we want an open feeling especially in the warmer summer
months. Do you have any ideas?
Answer provided by: Les Kreider, President–Owner, Kreider's Canvas Service, Inc.
Good question. There are several possibilities. The best
solutions depends on the style of your existing structure.
A solution used on new construction designs often involve
folding glass doors. With smooth and straight areas, this
option works fine when a new structure is being built as
changes are easier to design into the area while it's being
constructed. Because your area is existing, there may be
too many changes needed to achieve a tight and effective
fit. All these changes add to your final cost. This folding door
method is usually the most costly of the options. A better
solution may be one of the next two solutions.
These both involve flexible curtains using two different opening
methods. The midpriced method uses remote controlled
motor driven roll up screens/curtains which are easily lowered
by pushing a button. These curtains
are available with solid fabrics (vinyl
or woven) and not just screens. When
ordering you can add optional clear vinyl
window inserts which will allow light
to enter your enclosed area on darker
winter months. This creates a "window
in a wall effect" and gives the area an
enclosed room feel. You have an enclosed
area with walls when you want it,
but—at a push of a button—you can still
walk into your yard or pool area. This roll
up curtain is the easiest to use after the
initial install but usually less costly than
the folding door solution. The only down
side (other than high cost) is that power
curtains aren't usable in all enclosure
situations because of the architecturally
irregular surfaces of some support
columns and top mounting surfaces. This
leads to the lower costing rope and pulley
The lower costing rope and pulley roll
up method often can be used to protect
areas where neither of the two previous
methods will work. It sounds odd
but often works better than either of the
other solutions when combined with zippers.
The key is to properly construct and
design the fit. Too loose fitting and the
winds will destroy it. If the window panels aren't positioned
properly, the ropes will scuff the clear vinyl when
rolling up the curtain. Some areas have irregular walls
and need fittings and extreme customization. Zippered
panels help with this weather sealing. A solid fabric curtain
using vinyl will provide a lower costing and "easier to
clean" surface, while a woven fabric will provide a softer,
less commercial feeling enclosure. The woven fabric of
choice is Sunbrella which is a solution dyes acrylic with
excellent sun fade resistance and mildew resistance.
Optional clear windows can be used with either material.
In summary there are several methods to enclose an outdoor
area to make it become more useful. The best solution
varies from area to area depending on the structural
design where it is used. There isn't a one solution fits all
method. Each area needs evaluated and options ranked
according to usefulness.
Should you have any questions or would like more information,
give us a call or visit us online.
We would be happy to hear from you.
Exterior lighting has become increasingly
popular with homeowners who are looking
to illuminate their outdoor space for nighttime
entertaining. Can you offer some ideas
and tips on creating an eye-catching outdoor
Answer provided by: Kim Musser, Showroom Director, Yale Lighting Concepts & Design
Many times, your landscape lighting is dependent on the
natural and man-made structures that surround your
home's exterior. For example, up-lighting trees and bushes
creates a dramatic look and highlights the natural beauty
of your yard or garden. Consider "moonlighting" trees by
placing lights high in trees to give the effect of natural
If you have an outdoor deck or patio, lighting should
include dimmer switches to help you achieve the desired
effect. Turn up the brightness for added security when
you're away from home and turn lights down to soften the
mood when entertaining guests.
Exterior lighting is not just about how and where you
place the lights, but what type of light you use. What
are some of the trends in bulbs used in outdoor lighting?
There are several types of bulbs that are
popular in exterior lighting. Moon lights or
cool lights appear bluer than traditional
lighting and cast a serene, luminescent
glow. Candlelight is at the other end of
the spectrum and provides an intense,
but pleasing glow to outdoor tables, gazebos
Another trend in exterior lighting is to "mix it up" by combining different types
of fixtures into one lighting scheme.
When lighting a walking path, consider
varying fixture styles to create visual
interest while reducing the risk of subtle
imperfections when all lights are the
Landscape lighting offers additional
beauty and security to my home, but I'm
concerned how the additional lighting
will affect my electric bill. Can you recommend
lighting options with minimal
Today's exterior lighting offers a widerange
of energy efficient options. In terms
of cost, longevity and efficiency, fluorescents
outperform low-voltage halogens Invest in low–voltage halogens or fluorescent bulbs that
are dimmable, which can extend their lifespan.
While the halogens bright, directionally focused light is
ideal for illuminating specific areas of your landscape,
LED and compact fluorescent bulbs are safer, cooler and
cheaper to operate than low–voltage halogens. The average
halogen is four times hotter than the average LED light
bulb, which should be taken into consideration depending
how close the lights are placed to flammable objects.
When planning an outdoor lighting scheme, we recommend
consulting with an electrician or a Yale lighting
expert who can help you develop a plan that meets both
your expectations and budget.
For a huge selection of outdoor lighting fixtures, lampposts,
landscape lighting and more, visit your local Yale
Lighting Concepts & Design showroom, log onto www.yalelightingconcepts.com or simply call
today to speak
with a lighting
We installed a paver patio
area two years ago and never
realized how hot this area
can be. For some reason the
area is always too hot or it
rains when we have family
or friends over in the afternoon
or evening. We really
need a little more guaranteed
use of the area when
we need to use it. What are
some options for protecting
Answer provided by:Les Kreider, President-Owner, Kreider's Canvas Service, Inc.
First of all I want to encourage you to
think through all your options. Each
area is different not only in shape but
in direction and exposure. Too many
people rush into a solution without
taking time to process all the options.
Every alternative has both positive
advantages and negative drawbacks.
Consider what problem you need
most important to solve.
What are some questions I need to
ask to arrive at the best solution?
How exposed or protected is your
area? Are trees or buildings close by
and would they help shield your area
from the sun or wind?
Which direction is west? West is normally
the direction prevailing winds
and storms come from.
Is the area close or attached to the
house for an easy entrance and exit?
Probably the most important question
is how important is shade and rain
protection to your lifestyle? Do you
have many outside parties using a
pool or outside kitchen area?
What are several choices for protection
over our area?
Pergolas, Retractable Awnings, and
Stationary Frame Canopies are most
Pergola. Pergola offers a great visual
finish to your area but is least effective
in shade and rain protection.
Even the optional folding shade roof
systems are very challenged to meet
rainy weather. The fabric often used in these add on units is Sunbrella
fabric which is an excellent synthetic
fabric. However the fabric also needs
a tight fit and good slope to give the
best longevity. Initially the cover will
repel water but after several years
water pools and drips thru the woven
fabric leaving a person sitting in the
rain as the only option. We receive
calls weekly about additional rain
protection on pergolas. The best solution
is to discuss weather protection
expectations before deciding with
this option. Often people don't give
enough emphasis on the rain/shade
factor until it is too late. Soft cushioned
furniture is in big demand now,
so rain protection may be more of an
issue that needs factored into your
decision than you may have originally
Retractable Awning. Another common
quickly used decision is a retractable
awning. Push a button and
you get instant shade. One item that
is often avoided intentionally in this
discussion is the wind and rain factor.
The wind is a problem that even the
wind and rain sensors can't solve. Until
the sensor decides it is unsafe for
the awning to be open it may be too
late. The physical design of a retractable
is a roller tube on the top, with a
bar on the lower edge (about 10' - 14'
away) held in place by at least two
spring loaded arms. On sunny wind
free days you do have that choice of
shade and sun but often entertaining
doesn't happen only on those sunny
and rain free days. With this option
you haven't solved a problem, just
changed it, with the same uncertainty
factor of no guaranteed rain protection.
Stationary Frame Canopy. Another
solution we have found often overlooked
is a stationary frame canopy
where the cover is installed in the
spring and removed in the fall for
maximum sun and light into your
house interior. This type of solution
isn't your grandparent's awning from
the 50's and 60's that wasn't durable
or very easy to install and remove. Today most of the fabrics are solution
dyed acrylics that have a soft canvas
look along with a limited 10 year
warranty. Back 30 years ago there
was only a 3 to 5 year warranty and
extreme fading occurred in as little
as 2 years. The attachment methods
used today allow for about a one third
lower time to install and remove. The
main factor in lowering the time for
installation and removal of the cover
is the Velcro rafter covers. Surprisingly
Velcro properly installed works
very well and doesn't loosen like the
canopies bought in a cardboard box.
Properly constructed, this solution
can work very well in rainy and windy
weather. A strong frame and tight
cover fit is very important for a 12
year to 20 year canvas cover life.
In conclusion, when the best solution
for your area is being considered
also calculate the total costs
involved. Some choices may seem
lower initially but till you add items to
get the shade you need or the rain
protection you want for your area, the
cost of the protection may get rather
Above all take time to think and
process your options. Any of these
options aren't low cost but selecting
the best one will provide you with
great satisfaction and use when the
sun shines and the wind blows. We
are available to discuss your area.
We don't pressure a sale but want
to offer you the best solution for
your area based on our 49+ years of
Should you have any questions or
would like more information, we'd
be happy to hear from you. Give us a
call or visit us online.
We would like to add the warm glow of fire to our outdoor living space. Which is better, a fireplace or a fire pit? Do we have to use wood? Are there other ways to add fire to our outdoor space?
Answer provided by: Chris Hock, Landscape Designer, Hosler's Homescapes
Fire has definitely become a popular
addition to outdoor living spaces. With
so much demand the number of options
has grown significantly over the
years. People tend to gravitate towards
fire so a fireplace or fire pit becomes
the perfect place to gather with friends
and families. Fire can also be used in
other ways to accent and add interest
to the landscape.
The decision between a fireplace or
fire pit can come down to several factors.
The biggest deciding factor can
be cost. On average fireplaces tend
to cost more, sometimes significantly,
than a fire pit. How the space is to be
used or how you wish to gather around
the fire can also influence your decision.
Fireplaces create a focal point in
front of which most people arrange a
sitting or dining area. Fire pits are usually
visible from all sides allowing for
a more casual interactive experience,
much like having a campfire right in
your backyard. If creating a strong architectural
focal point to your outdoor
space that provides ambiance and
atmosphere is what you're looking for
then a fireplace is the perfect choice. If
having conversations gathered around
the campfire and roasting marshmallows
is what you enjoy then a fire pit
is more your style. Fire pits can be
constructed as a permanent feature
however if space is limited a portable
fire pit can be a convenient alternative.
A portable fire pit allows the flexibility
of having a gathering around the fire
but if the space is needed for another
purpose it can be easily moved. With
the popularity of portable fire pits there
is a vast range of styles and options
available to suit almost any taste, style
and budget. So to answer the question
which is better, a fireplace or fire pit,
it all depends on what works best for
Along with the popularity of fireplaces
and fire pits comes the need and desire
for convenience. Wood is no longer
the only choice of fuel. Natural gas
and propane have become popular
choices. While a wood fire does create
a certain ambience and nostalgic feel
many people are turned off by the
constant need to store firewood and
clean out ashes, not to mention the
smoke they produce. The alternative is
to install a natural gas or propane fireplace
or fire pit. Due to their popularity
manufacturers are continually improving
their outdoor fire features and
introducing new styles to the market.
While wood remains a popular choice
to many people the convenience of
flipping a switch and having an instant
fire far outweighs the joy of hearing
the crackling of real wood fire.
With ever increasing popularity of outdoor
living and desire of homeowners
to add new and interesting elements
to their outdoor space the use of fire
in other applications besides fireplaces
and fire pits has grown. Fire bowls
are a bold way to add the warm glow
of a fire to an outdoor space. Usually
placed on pedestals or paired with
water, especially swimming pools, fire
bowls can produce a striking effect.
Gas powered torches and lanterns
also add the warm glow of fire but in
a more compact form. These features
make a stylish alternative or addition
to outdoor lighting. Another unique fire
feature is one that is completely out
of sight until turned on. Usually placed
at ground level, the burner is buried
beneath a bed of gravel or other noncombustible
material and when turned
on the flames appear to be emanating
from the ground. Other choices
include fire tables, basically a dining
table with a central fire element, and
fountains with fire. The choices and
styles are almost endless.
There is no doubt fire can add warmth
and ambience to a living space. Gathering
around a fire is a wonderful way
to bring friends and family together.
With the ever increasing popularity of
outdoor living adding fire is an ideal
element to add to an outdoor space.
A fireplace or fire pit can also extend
the use of your outdoor space earlier
and later into the season. Entertaining
around a fire is a wonderful way
to spend a cool autumn evening. With
fire being only one part of the overall
outdoor experience landscape designers
and contractors are an ideal place
to start when considering adding a
fire feature. They can design and build
the entire outdoor environment and
design in the fire element as part of
the overall vision. With so many options,
styles, and applications available
there are countless ways to add
fire to your outdoor space.
We just purchased a home
that has a beautiful wooden deck. Based on its condition, it appears the deck is fairly new. What should we be doing to preserve its beauty?
Answer provided by: Paul Newcomer, Co–Owner, Grauer's Paint & Decorating
Wood decks are a favorite gathering
place for family and friends year
round. That's why it's very important
that we take the time to protect them
from the elements and ensure that everything is safe and sound. With
just a little bit of planning and routine
maintenance, you'll be able to enjoy
your deck for many long years.
To answer your question thoroughly, I'd
like to address several issues that may
Why should I stain my deck? Wood stains are the best way to protect
your deck from the elements and
the general wear and tear of tables,
chairs and foot traffic. Staining can
also bring out the natural beauty of
What are the different stain options? There are three basic stain options— clear, semi–transparent and solid.
Each option will give you a different
look depending on how you apply it
and how long it is between recoats.
Clear stains will have some water repellent
properties but very little color.
If your deck is in a sunny area clear
stains may need to be reapplied on an
Semi–transparent stains add color
and protection while still allowing the
grain and natural beauty of the wood
to show through. Depending on the
amount of direct sunlight and wear,
semi–transparent stains should last
Solid color stains will look much like
a painted surface with almost none
of the wood grain showing through.
A solid stain will provide the longest
time between recoats. A general rule
of thumb is the more solid in color a
stain is the longer it will last.
How do I know when it is time to
Visual wear and tear is the obvious
indicator, but if you're unsure try the
water test. If a drop of water soaks
into the wood rather than beading up
like a waxed car, it is time to restain.
What prep work do I need to do?
First you should clean the deck
surface with a pressure washer and
deck cleaner to remove dirt, mildew
and any loose material. Be careful
not to damage the surface of the
wood. If applying semi–transparent or
clear stain, it is recommended that
you sand the surface with the grain to
achieve a uniform look.
Allow all surfaces to dry thoroughly
before applying a stain, usually 24 to
48 hours is sufficient, but be sure to
read the label on your stain. You can
test the wood surface using a moisture
meter. New pressure treated
wood can be stained as soon as the
moisture content is less than 18%.
Should I use a professional painter? If you have experience painting and
don't shy away from do–it–yourself
projects there's no reason why you
can't stain your own deck. However, for those with very large, very dirty
or multi–tiered decks it may be worth
hiring a professional. Professional
painters have all the proper tools for
cleaning and applying stains. They
can help select the proper stain and
color for your deck. And they have the
experience and knowledge to protect
your property and the environment
from potential hazards involved with
cleaning and staining a deck.
What other things should I know
before staining a deck?
There's no justification for using
anything but high quality products. It
takes the same amount or less time
to apply a better product and it will
Check the weather forecast prior to
staining your deck. Avoid applying
stain in the direct sunlight or just
before a rainstorm. Apply stain when
surface and air temperatures are
between 50 and 80 degrees.
To speed up the process, use a paint
roller to apply the product and follow
directly with a wide brush to work it
into the cracks. Always back brush in
the direction of the grain to eliminate
Use only one coat of a clear or semitransparent
Solid color stains may require two
For more information, I encourage
you to stop by one of our two convenient
showroom locations and let
experience and personal customer
service work for you!
Why can't I get decorative or custom pool fencing from my builder?
Answer provided by: Kendall Shrock, Designer & Estimator, Shrock Fabrication
First of all, you can get custom pool fencing. However, most builders
only put in a build budget for mass production economy pool fencing
because almost the only pool fencing available to fencing contractors
and builders are a high production, thin wall aluminum pool fence.
Because it's such a competitive market, the production fences have to
be designed for quick assembly and mass production. This is why you
don't see very decorative or very durable pool fences in the builders
Almost all of these production fences have some kind of "Limited Lifetime
Warranty" on them, with limited being the key word here. There
is good production fencing out there and then there is some really low
quality fencing that shouldn't be on the market in my opinion. One of
the largest fence producers in the nation has one of the worst fences.
In salt spray tests, the fence simply corrodes very quickly, which
means it has a poor coating on top of being built with almost paper
thin aluminum tubing.
We got a call one day from a day care facility. They needed us to repair
or reinforce a fence. The eight–year olds were grabbing the pickets and
bending them back and forth until the screws broke and they pulled
them right out of the fence. That's the ultimate definition of cheap
We do get requests for custom decorative pool fencing. The other day
I took a phone call from Florida requesting a price on 400 feet of solid
aluminum forged and welded fencing with a distinct old world look.
These are the kinds of projects that will be around hundreds or thousands
of years from now if properly maintained.
Should you have any questions regarding fencing, gates, railings or
any other metal fabrication application, please do not hesitate to give
us a call at 717.397.9500 or visit our website www.ShrockFab.com.
Part of my landscaping renovation plan is to include exterior lighting for both functional and aesthetic purposes. What advice can you give me?
Answer provided by: Alice Hoover & Kim Musser,
Concepts & Design
Landscape lighting is a wonderful way
to add both beauty and security to your
home. Today there are countless ways
to illuminate the exterior of your house
— from spot lighting to accent lights to
flood lighting. Before embarking on
your outdoor design project, here are
a few considerations to ensure your
landscape lighting will shine brightly for
years to come.
What are some of the latest trends in
are taking landscape lighting
to a whole new level and treating it
as an art — creating a picture of their
home's exterior at night. Keep in mind
there are three main types of lighting
— ambient, task and accent. Ambient
provides overall lighting for your home.
Task lighting is also functional, but it
plays a specific role such as helping
you cook, read, etc. Accent lighting is
used strictly for decorative purposes.
Outdoor lighting can include all three
Use accent lighting to key in on your
home's best features such as a tree
or bush, archway, wall, fence, pool or
Task lighting can be installed near
a barbecue grill or a basketball net
to extend outdoor activities into the
evening hours. Motion detectors can
light up obscure spots when someone
passes by. Photocells automatically
turn on fixtures at dusk and off at
dawn, providing protection even when
you're away from home.
Ambient lighting can be installed
under handrails, stairs and bench
seating on decks to help lighten your
outdoor entertaining. Illuminated
steps, paths and driveways help prevent
The key to attractive outdoor lighting
is to follow a less–is–more philosophy.
Soft, natural light should mimic moonlight
on the property. You should see
the landscape, not the fixture so the
outdoor lighting tells a visual story.
What type of lighting is best for the
There are three kinds of
energy-efficient bulbs to choose from:
halogen incandescent, compact fluorescent
lamp (CFL) and light-emitting
diode (LED). All three bulbs are more
energy efficient than the traditional incandescent
bulb, but provide different
effects on your outdoor lighting.
Halogen incandescent light bulbs emit
the familiar warm-toned incandescent
light and works perfectly with dimmers
and other lighting controls. Compact
fluorescent lamps (CFLs) are simply
curly versions of the long tube fluorescent
lights you may already have in
your kitchen or garage.
The light emitting diode (LED) is one
of today's most energy-efficient bulbs
and can last up to 25 times longer
than traditional incandescent bulbs.
While LEDs are often more expensive,
they still save money because they
last a long time and use a low amount
While the halogens bright, directionally
focused light is ideal for illuminating
specific areas of your landscape, LED and compact fluorescent bulbs
are safer, cooler and cheaper to operate
than low-voltage halogens. The
average halogen is four times hotter
than the average LED light bulb, which
should be taken into consideration
depending how close the lights are
placed to flammable objects.
How can I conserve energy with my
Just as you would
invest in an appliance you expect to
use for years, buying a light bulb now
requires more of an initial investment
but yields much greater returns in
terms of energy savings and operating
In terms of cost, longevity and energy
efficiency, fluorescents outperform
low-voltage halogens. Invest in lowvoltage
halogens or fluorescent bulbs
that are dimmable, which can extend
If using up–lighting, aim the fixtures so
the light is captured by your eaves to lessen light pollution. Also, look for
weather–resistant products and new
technology that are both attractive and
By following these simple guidelines,
you can strike the right balance with a
landscape lighting design that is beautiful,
secure and eco–friendly.
For a huge selection of outdoor lighting
fixtures, lamp–posts, landscape
lighting and more, visit your local Yale
Lighting Concepts & Design showroom,
log onto www.yalelightingconcepts.
com or simply call 1–877–336–0342 today to speak with a lighting
We have all heard of the term "Outdoor Living"; but, what exactly does it mean?
Answer provided by: Ryan Longenecker, Creative Landscape Designer, Hosler's Homescapes
Does it literally mean living outside?
In a way, that is exactly what
it means. There is an entire industry
($6.2 billion per year, in fact) dedicated
to help you 'live'outdoors.
Since early 2000, manufacturers and
distributors have keenly developed an array of products and concepts to
allow you, the homeowner (friends
and family, as well), to enjoy and interact
with your outdoor environment
in new and exciting ways. Contractors
and designers have collaborated
in a seamless design/build process
to implement outdoor living projects
few people previously had the
chance to enjoy. The "outdoor living"
concept has evolved way beyond
plastic lawn chairs, gazing globes
Any room in your home can be blended
artistically into your landscape
with the aid of your vision plus a
designer's guiding hand. Plants and
trees, waterfalls and fire pits, outdoor
kitchens, living & dining rooms,
even family rooms are all within the
scope of possibilities. But, why? Live
outside, that's crazy talk! We have
spent centuries perfecting how to live
comfortably confined indoors; why go
back in time? Ah, a very valid question,
which begs us all to go back to
our carefree days of childhood.
Do you recall a time the outdoors
made an indelible memory? Really,
take a minute and think about it.
Now what does your childhood
memories have to do with outdoor
living? Well, childhood is (or at least
should be) an escape from reality,
Peter Pan so–to–speak. In a land of
make–believe and wonder there are
no ringing phones, chirping text messages
or looming deadlines. There
is no tension, stress or turmoil–only
hopeful dreams and imaginations.
As adults, we all tend to be overwhelmed
with everything – our
day–to–day life consumes us. We have
forgotten how to be like a child. We
can't escape everyday stresses and
strains. We have forgotten how to
intimately interact with our environment
like children. We have become
responsible. And that's where
outdoor living could and should play
a part in our daily lives. Ok, I know
some of you are saying I am a bit
left–of–center. But hear me out; if you
embrace it, the concept of outdoor
living allows the stress of the day
to be forgotten for a time. Blur the
lines between indoors and outdoors.
Consciously decide your home and
outdoor environment is a stress–free
As proof of my premise, a fairly
recent movie release, The Hobbit,
did very well at the box office. We
as an entertainment starved society
desire to escape reality, just for a
bit of time. I did not see the movie
(nor plan to), but I did reread JRR Rings trilogy known as There and
Back Again. While reading Tolkien's
skillfully written prequel, I imagined
how fanciful worlds inhabited by
no nonsense Hobbits and others of
the fairy tale ilk can help transform
our attitude and outlook towards
outdoor environments – deem them
either stress–free zones or places of
adventure and mystery.
I know, you are probably questioning
my bearings and perhaps my sanity.
But bear with me for a moment.
You see, in the very beginning of
Tolkien's novel you get the sense
of a Hobbit's overall take on life. In
a brief encounter with the wizard,
Gandalf, Bilbo Baggins, the Hobbit,
says "'Good morning!' and he meant
it. The sun was shining, and the
grass was very green. 'A very fine
morning to be out of doors in the
bargain. Sit down. There's no hurry
about us, we have all the day before
us!'" You see, Bilbo had just the
relaxed attitude I am talking about!
As a whole, Hobbits are not to be
hurried creatures. Unfortunately for
Bilbo, Gandalf surreptitiously lures
him away from his comfortable hobbit
hole into an epic treasure seeking
adventure. To find out about Bilbo's
adventures, you'll have to read the
book(s), which I highly recommend.
For you and me here in Realityville,
we're talking about declaring your
home and landscape a stress–free
zone. Take the advice of a hobbit,
don't be in a rush–have your morning
coffee on the patio, enjoy the
sunshine on your face. Or, if you desire
adventure, like Gandalf, drama
and adventure can be designed into
your landscape as well. Through the
use of all your senses (and imagination),
your home and landscape can
become a relaxing escape or an
epic adventure depending on your
attitude and mood. Your escape is
as individualized as you–and not far
from your back door!
But, perhaps you just can't imagine
what is possible–those carefree
childhood days are recessed under
layers and layers of responsibility.
Well, we can sit down together and
peel those layers away revealing
what actually awaits you in your
Now, if you decide to read the
Hobbit, do so outside reclined in a
comfortable chaise lounge, preferably
with a light breeze blowing
nature's scent around while birds
sing lullabies orchestrating scenes
of peace and serenity. But, watch
out, childlike adventure may lurk
just beyond the periphery of your
This summer we are planning to have a patio built.
Considering all of the options that are out there, we are
interested in composite pavers. Are they a good choice
for a patio and what can you tell us about them?
Answer provided by: The Sales Team,
Musselman Lumber Inc.
You have made an excellent choice in what to use for your patio. AZEK
VAST Pavers are composite pavers that are a great alternative to traditional
pavers of concrete or clay. Unlike rubber pavers on the market,
they are made up of 95% post-consumer recycled material giving them
physical strength, durability, and the appearance of brick pavers. With
the five different color choices (Redwood, Boardwalk, Olive, Waterwheel,
and Village), you can create your ideal color pattern. The AZEK VAST
Pavers are currently available in a 4" x 8" size in both a 1¾" and a 2¾"
thickness (thickness includes the grid pad). Additional sizes and textures
are being considered. Also, these pavers can be used for more than just
patios. From walkways and entranceways, to residential driveways and
even flat roofs, these pavers will bring a unique look and style to your
With the 16" x 16" grid system for the pavers, installation time is reduced
and ensures straight lines and a level layout. At about a third of
the weight of concrete pavers, the composite pavers are easier to work
with on the job. The site prep and sand/gravel base is the same process
that you would normally use for masonry pavers. You can cut them with a
standard mitre saw or jigsaw, avoiding having to rent masonry wet saws.
If using the pavers over a waterproofed, structural flat roof surface you
can still use the same grid system. A recent flat roof project by T.L. Smoker
Construction in downtown Lancaster used a herringbone pattern with
a running bond border in the Boardwalk and Redwood colors. The effect
was extraordinary, as a plain rubber roof was turned into a beautiful outdoor
The pavers have little maintenance other than the occasional replenishment
of joint sand (polymeric sand is not recommended). They are highly
stain resistant because they are non–porous and have low absorption
properties. Any stains or chemical spills though should be cleaned and
rinsed off as soon as you have the chance.
Warranty is an important aspect to any product in your home improvement
projects. AZEK VAST Pavers are backed by a 10–year limited warranty
and lifetime warranty against cracking in residential applications.
With spring here and summer fast approaching, I’ve decided
that this is the year to finally act on my dreams of creating a
beautiful and functional outdoor kitchen. Unfortunately, I’m
not sure where to start. What can you tell me that will help me
make good decisions now and avoid feelings of regret later?
Answer provided by: Sam Jay Stoltzfus,
Owner, LanChester Grill & Hearth, LLC
You are wise in your approach. Doing your homework and learning as much as
you can will certainly help reduce your chances of doing something you'll end up
regretting. Having been in the outdoor kitchen and patio business for many years
now, here are some basic things to consider.
. In the past when we thought about cooking outdoors
our thoughts usually went to a portable gas or charcoal grill. As we spend
more time entertaining at home, with our friends, we look for ways to make it
easier. If we spend a lot of time running from the grill to the house for grilling
needs we find ourselves spending less time with our guests, not to mention a lot
of running back and forth. When we want to cook outdoors, eat outdoors, and entertain
outdoors we find an outdoor kitchen to be the perfect solution.
The Design Process.
As you think of designing your outdoor kitchen, you will
need to consider the existing space you have available, what type of cooking
you wish to be doing and what type of appliances you need to make it the right
setup for you. You will want to start with a decent grill—15–year warranty or better.
Remember, this grill will be outdoors year round and you don't want to be replacing
it every 5 years. Next consider what type of foods you will be cooking. Many
people will have a gas grill and a Big Green Egg charcoal grill or a wood pellet grill
for doing 8–12 hour slow cooked meats. You may also consider a Chicago wood
burning brick oven for your breads, pizzas, and baking needs. To have your outdoor
kitchen function the way it should, you will want to consider a refrigerator, a
sink, a trash can, a warming drawer, cooler, doors and drawers for storage space.
The options are many so you will want to visit a display room and get a good idea
what is available to maximize your space.
Key To Good Design.
Just like an indoor space, where guests tend to congregate
in the kitchen, it's important to create conversation areas near the chef. The key
to a good outdoor kitchen design is to have clean up space and storage spaces
to avoid numerous trips back and forth from outdoor to indoor kitchens. It's all
about functionality. A well-designed outdoor kitchen will function just as well as
an indoor kitchen, with the added benefit of unlimited space to accommodate
Again, just like indoor kitchens, custom cabinetry can be
designed to fit your space, whether it is an island or tucked in a corner of your
deck or patio. Find a local company who designs and builds the cabinets themselves
and you can have your own customized kitchen at about the same price
that you would buy a standard manufactured one! A custom cabinet can be
made to match the outside of your home or it can be a standalone masterpiece.
Your countertop can be granite, marble, or real stone. In designing the outdoor
kitchen/living space, called a Staycation, a homeowner should also think about
exposure to the elements. "Do I need a pergola for shade, a fireplace or fire pit to
extend the season in cooler months?" Plans should also consider the landscape;
from the views guests see when they are dining to potential ingredients that could be planted close at hand for the
chefs. Creating an outdoor living area
Staycation helps homeowners make
the most of the warmer months. For
outdoor living, there's nothing like it.
Depending on whether you buy
appliances and whether you build your
kitchen or have an expert build it for
you will have a large impact on the
price. A modest kitchen may start in
the $10,000 range if you are willing
to do some of the work yourself. Remember,
this is an investment that will
increase the value of your home.
For more information, please give
us a call at 717.442.8794 or better
yet, come visit us in Gap and browse
through our showroom for a first hand
look at numerous (and beautiful) options.
If you are free, we'd love to see
you at our Open House on May 4th and
5th. As mentioned in our ad (below),
visit www.pagrillcentral.com for details.
Help, we feel trapped in
our home! We have a gorgeous
deck but can never
use it because it is always
too hot. Plus, we keep our
blinds pulled tight to block
the sun but we can still feel
the heat coming through the
windows. Is there a practical
answer for our problem
that will solve both issues at
Answer provided by: Les Kreider,
Kreider's Canvas Service, Inc.
First of all, great question! Too many
people rush into a possible solution
to a problem area without considering
all the options out there, and the
advantages each solution offers.
"It's hot and I want it solved instantly!"
Each "possible solution" also can
have a negative side, which often
isn't discovered until the installed "solution" is completed. Then it is
too late or too expensive to change.
We like to look at as many options
that are available and provide honest "green" solutions.
One of our favorite "green" solutions
is a type of sun protection called
an awning. The cover either rolls up
or is removable for increased "over
winter" solar gain. Some numbers
that I have actually observed is a
deck surface's temperature drop of
over 50 degrees. That occurred on
a deck where we were installing a
stationary frame canvas cover over
one half the total deck surface. It
was an 87 degree (air temperature)
day so I measured a hidden deck
surface that hadn't been exposed
to the summer sun. It measured 87
degrees. I then pointed my digital
thermometer on a fully exposed deck
area. It was about 11 AM and the
temperature read 139 degrees. A
50+ degree difference. This is the
same difference we experience when
a canvas cover is installed over an exposed deck surface. The surface is
now shaded and you are able to walk
on it in bare feet. Try walking on a
139 degree surface.
An additional "cooling effect" is
experienced on interior rooms that
are connected to these covered deck
areas. About 5 years ago IN THE
MONTH OF AUGUST, we installed
another canvas awning over a west
facing deck. Our customer thought
it was a "sales pitch" when I stated
that the attached interior family
room's temperature will drop 15 to
20 degrees. To her surprise it really
did!!!! Our customer found their air
conditioner was now running less
while keeping the family room cool.
Less run time, less electric, and less
energy used, lowering their overall
summer electric bill. In fact, a study
done by the University of Minnesota
found that air conditioning costs
could be lowered up to 30% with a
properly installed awning.
You have to remember that when
the awning is removed over winter,
the reverse effect happens. The
greenhouse effect sets in and provides
solar gain and heat to those
areas previously cooled by a canvas
awning. Talk about having your cake
and eating it too. Awnings provide a
tremendous green effect and energy
savings. Proper installation of a
correct type of awning, along with a
good, durable fit is also important.
A properly installed awning can be
used for 12 to 14 years. We have
had several last over 20 years. The
synthetic fabric of choice is Sunbrella
due to the fact that it now comes
with a 10 year warranty. It is our
preference due to its fade and "rot"
There are other green and energy
efficient solutions, but we have found
an awning to provide a great option
to environmental concerns. A proper
choice of style and construction
details is very critical to a long lasting
solution. We analyze your area.
We then make a recommendation based on our 80+ years of combined
awning experience. We also manufacture
(some styles), install, and
service your awning needs. Our goal
is to provide you with a durable and
great solution to your energy problem
area. We don't create another problem
with a hasty solution. We aim
to please. Additionally we give free
estimates and cover most of southeastern
Pennsylvania, along with connecting
parts of New Jersey and Delaware.
Give us a call at 717.656.7387
for our solution suggestions to your
problem area. We don't pressure a
sale. We like to discuss your options
for an area and provide you with a
We hear a lot of talk about
outdoor kitchens and living
space and I’m definitely interested.
I would like to do this
right, so what can you tell me
that would help in my planning?
by: Sam Jay Stoltzfus, Owner, LanChester Grill & Hearth, LLC
In the past when we thought about
cooking outdoors our thoughts usually
went to a portable gas or charcoal
grill. As we spend more time at home,
entertaining ourselves and our friends,
we automatically look for ways to make
it easier. If we spend a lot of time running
from the grill to the house for grilling
needs we find ourselves spending
less time with our guests, not to mention
a lot of running back and forth.
When we want to cook outdoors, eat
outdoors, entertain ourselves and our
friends outdoors we find an outdoor
kitchen to be the perfect solution.
To help you think things through with
your outdoor kitchen, let's go through
the typical questions I get from homeowners.
How do I start the designing process?
As you think of designing your outdoor
kitchen, you will need to consider the
existing space you have available, what
type of cooking you wish to be doing
and what type of appliances do you
need to make it the right setup for you.
You will want to start with a decent grill
such as one with a 15-year warranty or
better. Remember, this grill will be outdoors
year round and you don't want to
be replacing it every 5 years.
Next consider what type of foods
you will be cooking. Many people will
have a gas grill and a Big Green Egg
charcoal grill or a wood pellet grill for
those meats that require slow cooking
on low heat. You may also consider a
Chicago wood burning brick oven for
your breads, pizzas, and baking needs.
To have your outdoor kitchen function
the way it should, you will want to consider
a refrigerator, a sink, a trash can,
a warming drawer, cooler combination,
doors and drawers for storage space.
What is the key to a good outdoor
Just like an indoor space, where
guests tend to congregate in the
kitchen, it's important to create conversation
areas near the chef. The key
to a good outdoor kitchen design is
to have clean-up space and storage
spaces to avoid numerous trips back
and forth from outdoor to indoor kitchens.
It's all about functionality. A well
designed outdoor kitchen will function
just as well as an indoor kitchen, with
the added benefit of unlimited space
to accommodate large crowds.
Can I have my kitchen cabinets custom
designed or are there certain
sizes I'm stuck with?
Absolutely, design it to fit your space,
whether it is an island or tucked in a
corner of your deck or patio. Find a local
company who designs and builds
the cabinets themselves and you can
have your own customized kitchen at
about the same price that you would
buy a standard manufactured one!
A custom cabinet can be made to
match the outside of your home or it
can be a stand-alone masterpiece.
Your countertop can be granite,
marble, or manufactured concrete
which has the appearance of marble
at about 30% less cost.
In designing the outdoor kitchen/
living space called a "Staycation" a
homeowner should also think about
exposure to the elements. "Do I need
a pergola for shade, a fireplace or
firepit to extend the season in cooler
Plans should also consider the landscape;
from the views guests see
when they are dining to potential ingredients
that could be planted close
at hand for the chefs. Creating an
outdoor living area staycation helps
home owners make the most out of
the warmer months. For outdoor living,
there's nothing like it.
What kind of cost am I looking at for
an outdoor kitchen?
Depending on whether you buy the
appliances and build it yourself or
have an expert build it for you will
have a large impact on the price. I
would say you could have a modest
kitchen starting at $5,000.00 if you
are willing to do some of the work
For more information, don't hesitate
to call me. I also invite you to come
visit us and our recently renovated
showroom and outdoor patio—complete
with a full line of top quality outdoor
a homeowner, how can I minimize exterior lighting energy costs
while maximizing curb appeal? And which lighting options provide
the greatest payoff?
by: Alice Hoover &
Kim Musser, Showroom Directors, Yale Lighting Concepts & Design
lighting brings an element of security, ambience and style
to your home's exterior. With electricity costs on the rise,
many home-owners are looking for ways to cut back on their
energy consumption—indoors and out. Fortunately, today's
ever-evolving lighting products and solutions allow you to
maximize curb appeal AND energy savings.
You can create a zen-like ambience with contemporary Asian lanterns
or pay homage to a beloved tree with in-ground landscape lighting.
Since energy-savers like CFLs are now designed for nearly every
lighting application, the hardest part of creating an energy-efficient
lighting plan will be deciding on a style.
As for which provide the greatest payoff, for immediate savings
with a minimal investment, swap your incandescent bulbs for fluorescent
versions. Fluorescent and CFLs are four times more efficient
than their incandescent counterparts and affordable for most
Fluorescent lighting has come a long way from its roots as the
blue-whitetoned overhead lighting source used in schools and
industrial settings. It's now available in warm, inviting shades,
so there's no need to choose between form and function. One limitation
of the CFL is that they don't offer optimal performance in extremely
cold weather. Look for CFLs with a cold weather ballast for the
best possible performance from your lamp when the weather dips
Another great and relatively easy way to cut back on your energy
use is to install dimmers on your exterior lighting. By dimming
a light source by 50%, you increase its life span 20 times and
reduce energy consumption by 40%. Dimmers also provide an aesthetic
advantage—allowing you to adjust your home's exterior lighting
to your preference.
If maximum savings and minimal maintenance top your list, you
can't beat LEDs. Once primarily used in single-source applications
like pens and electronics, LEDs are now emerging on the exterior
lighting market. They're not only the longest lasting light sources
available, but they also reduce energy usage by 90%—a huge
savings over incandescent bulbs.
LEDs are now available in path lights, accent lights, security
lighting—you name it. They're more expensive than CFLs,
but they offer an unsurpassed electricity savings and long life
span. As LED technology advances, the cost for the consumer will
If you're not ready to invest in LEDs, at a minimum, we recommend
them for water applications and hard-to reach lighting. In a
pond, LEDs offer superior protection against corrosion. And,
if you're installing lights high in a tree, you'll be glad you
won't have to replace your LED any time soon.
For a huge selection of outdoor lighting fixtures, lamp-posts,
landscape lighting and more, visit your local Yale Lighting Concepts & Design
showroom, log onto www.yalelightingconcepts. com or simply call
1-877-336- 0342 today to speak with a lighting consultant. Please
visit our web site for locations, driving directions, showroom
hours and contact information.
tired of my home's drab appearance but I don't have a lot of
money to spend. How can I enhance the look of my home's exterior
without breaking my budget?
Answer provided by: Philip
Eby, Owner, Eby Exteriors, Inc.
are many ways to dress up the exterior of your home without
spending a lot of money! I routinely notice homes that with
a few inexpensive exterior changes could easily go from ordinary
to eye-catching. Beyond the personal enjoyment of feeling
good about how your house looks, improving your home's appearance
will most likely increase its value. The added curb appeal
could more than pay for the cost of the improvement. With
that in mind, I'd like to share a few of the more popular,
low-cost ideas that we use to create better-looking homes
all over central PA.
Replace a Bay/Bow Window.
worn out bay/bow windows can greatly detract from
your home's overall appearance because they are
usually a large part of the facade. They also tend
to "date" a house. Aesthetics aside,
you're probably losing a substantial amount of
energy through that old glass as well! Today's
bay/bow windows come with a tremendous amount of
interior and exterior options including multiple
colors, pre finished wood or laminate interiors,
Corian seats, decorative art glass, etc. Also,
a new bay/bow window provides a great opportunity
for our next idea...
Add Specialty Roofing.
Small sections like
a bay/bow window, a porch roof, or a "pent" roof provide
an ideal location for a specialty roofing product. Standing-seam
copper or steel, synthetic slate shingles, or designer luxury
shingles in a variety of colors can provide a beautiful accent
to the front of your home.
Add Specialty Siding.
A front porch and reverse
gable in the front of your home are great places to add a specialty
siding like cedar shakes, scalloped shakes, or board and batten
siding. The definition and character that specialty siding provides
will add a huge "wow" factor to your home's appearance.
Replace your Front Door and/or Storm Door.
most homes, the front door is the focal point of the house! New
doors are surprisingly inexpensive and they can dramatically
improve the aesthetics of your home! The styles and options are
almost limitless. Also, many homes have an attractive front door
that is covered up by an old, unattractive storm door. Adding
a new "full-view" storm door in a color that matches
or enhances your entry door can do wonders for your home's appearance.
Again, for both of these options, you will most likely increase
your energy efficiency as well.
Add or Replace Shutters.
Shutters are a great
way to add color and definition to a home. They are easily installed
and come in a wide variety of refinished colors that will never
need to be painted. Styles include louvered, raised-panel, board
and batten and more. Arched or elliptical tops can be added to
match similar windows. Decorative pieces such as "S" hooks
and hinges can also be added to enhance an authentic, traditional
Add Window and Door Headers and Surrounds.
and surrounds can take an ordinary-looking window or door and
give it character and class. These options are available in a
large selection of pre-finished colors and styles. Surround profiles
can be subtle with a basic flat option or molded profiles and
keystones can be used to add more flair. Overhead garage doors,
which often dominate the front of a home, can be greatly enhanced
with the addition of a surround system such as a wide header
with a keystone and fluted pilasters along the sides.
These are just a few of the possibilities that can be employed
to increase your home's curb appeal without spending a lot of
money. Most of them can also be done with minimal intrusion into
your home and your lifestyle. At Eby Exteriors, Inc., we gain
a lot of satisfaction from improving the appearance of the homes
we are privileged to work on! We'd love the opportunity to meet
with you and share some ideas as to how we can take YOUR HOME
from ordinary to EXTRAORDINARY. (717) 733-9142 ebyexteriors.com
Route 272, Akron.
spring quickly approaching, we are considering a landscape
master plan and potential improvements to our outdoor living
spaces. We realize we need to hire a professional, but we don't
understand the process or what type of help we should be looking
for — can you give us guidance on this?
Answer provided by: Howard
Supnik, Owner, Howard Jay Supnik Landscape Architect, LLC
are some questions and answers that will help you gain a
better understanding of landscape design and construction.
What is the difference between landscape architect,
landscape designer and landscape contractor?
states require a landscape architect to pass a rigorous
licensing exam and be registered with their state's Board
of Landscape Architects. They have either (or both) an
undergraduate or graduate degree in landscape architecture
and have apprenticed with a licensed professional. Those
who have not taken and passed the licensure examination
may not use the title "landscape architect." A landscape
designer, as opposed to a landscape architect, does not
have any requirements — anyone can call themselves
a landscape designer. That is not to say there are not
talented and professional landscape designers. A landscape
contractor is someone who installs the landscape based
on plans from the landscape architect or designer. Sometimes
the word "landscaper"
is used for a contractor or someone who maintains the landscape.
What types of services can landscape architects offer?
is a diverse and often misunderstood profession. Services range
from concept sketches and hourly consults to master plans,
construction drawings, bidding, tree tagging and supervision.
Landscape architects help design all aspects of the built environment
and are concerned with aesthetics as well as function — they
lay out roads, buildings and parking lots, sidewalks, steps,
water elements, planting and site furniture including lighting.
Some landscape architects are involved solely in site engineering
like storm water management.
Why is a Master Plan so important?
It is the
'big picture', a 'roadmap', and will save you heartache and
money in the long run. No matter what size your property is,
starting with a plan — a visual, two-dimensional long-term
strategy for getting from point A to point B — is essential.
It need not be detailed... it doesn't necessarily need specific
plantings, materials or construction methods, but it should
show areas and relationships, for example house to street,
driveway to path, patio to lawn, and planting areas that define
outdoor spaces. Because most people do not implement the entire
plan all at once, the details are figured out later, when a
particular phase of the plan is ready to be started. Master
plans should be done in combination with sectional drawings
or photographs. This helps in understanding the third dimension
and allows the mind to better grasp what views may need to
be screened, enhanced or framed, as well as more complicated
grading issues signaling the need for retaining walls and steps.
Some homeowners may be able to do this on their own, but often
require assistance from a landscape architect, who can think
more artistically and pull all the programmatic elements together — sometimes
just having an objective, independent party will bring some
unique and inventive ideas to the table.
What will a Master Plan cost?
The answer will
depend on several things: the size of the property and time
it will take for design and presentation, the involvement of
the client and number of meetings required, and the ability
of the client to visualize in plan view or their need for sketches
and imagery to assist them. Some presentation techniques are
quicker than others and may not need to be rendered in color,
so that can reduce the time and ultimate cost of the plan.
After the initial consultation and a better sense of what is
required, a fee proposal can be developed.
What season is the best time to begin the planning
The myth is that I am less busy during the
winter months. Often I will begin in the late fall for a project
hoping to be installed in the spring. Projects requiring Township
approvals can take even longer, so it's best not to wait!
Hopefully this information is useful and puts you in a better
position to proceed with your upcoming project. For more information,
I encourage you to visit my web site at www.howardjaysupnik.
com, or better yet, give me a call at 519.1554.
are some of the benefits of stamped concrete and a few questions
to ask your concrete contractor before you choose who you want
to install your stamped patio?
Answer provided by: Bryan
Hahn, Owner/President, Stampcrete of Lancaster, Ltd.
concrete is very durable. Concrete has been around for a
long time because of its durability & strength. The next
time you are on a main highway take note that it is probably
made of concrete. In the south a lot of driveways are made
of concrete since it is cooler and more durable than blacktop.
Stamped concrete has come a long way in duplicating the look
of many hardscapes for considerable less cost than for example
real flagstone or brick. There are many border and Patina staining
options to give your patio your own personal fl air or character.
Stamped concrete is typically installed in about half the time
of a deck or hardscapes so you can enjoy your patio investment
sooner rather than later. As for maintenance there is the reseal
every 2-3 years that needs done to protect and retain the original
beauty. The sealer has other benefits as well. It keeps moss
from growing on your patio, which can be an issue with real
hardscapes, causing it to become slippery, because a sealer
is not applied periodically. Plus the mortar in some hardscapes
will deteriorate over time and pieces of stone or slate become
loose and create a tripping hazard.
With regards to stamped concrete installation and product quality,
we recommend a 4000 psiconcrete mix, a rebar mat, fibermesh,
and 2 coats of sealer. Make sure there is a 4-6 inch compacted
clean stone base put down prior to installing concrete. A solid
base is as important to your patio as footers are to your house
foundation. Also insist that your concrete contractor use an
anti skid in both coats of sealer otherwise the concrete will
be a slipping hazard when wet.
Another part of quality is integral color. We feel if the color
is added to the concrete in the truck, instead of broadcasting
it on the surface, it is a better job. Because if the concrete
is ever chipped, it will expose white concrete. If the color
is throughout you can apply sealer to the chip and it will
blend in. Remember a quality job is not always the cheapest
price. Quality does cost
a little more up front and only takes a little more time & care
to produce a quality job. Poor workmanship with concrete can
typically only be corrected by removal and starting over. Research
your concrete contractor well before choosing one.
As with all types of businesses, there are a lot of “here
today and gone tomorrow” concrete installers. Building
a business with quality and relationships as the 1st priority
will mean a happy customer and a growing company; this is what
we strive for at Stampcrete of Lancaster.
can ordinary table salt give your pool the same sanitization
performance as chlorine, while eliminating odor, stinging eyes,
irritated skin, and bleached-out swimsuits?
Answer provided by: Craig
Horning, Owner, Integrity Pools &
old fashion ordinary table salt along with the new IntelliChlor
Chlorine Generator is really all you need to maintain clear
water both safely and effectively. Simply add salt to your
pool water and let IntelliChlor work its magic. As the dissolved
salt flows through the IntelliChlor generator cell it is
converted to pure chlorine and is distributed throughout
your pool. This process keeps your water fresh, clear, and
safe. Unlike most conventional chlorine additives IntelliChlor
continuously recycles the salt day after day.
In addition to sparkling,
clear water IntelliChlor makes monitoring chlorine as simple
as can be with its built-in control and display panel. Just
push a button to choose one of the five sanitization levels
and IntelliChlor tells you exactly how to set it for proper
chlorine output. IntelliChlor also provides you the same
sanitization performance as chlorine, without disadvantages
like odor, stinging eyes, irritated skin, or bleached-out
IntelliChlor is not only simple, safe, and automatic, but a
provider for perfect water and a worry-free environment. IntelliChlor
can be used on pools up to 40,000 gallons with proper TDS.
The cost of this stress-free device ranges roughly from $2,000
to $2,500 in cost. The payback is around 4 years. If an IntelliChlor
Chlorine Generator interests you feel free to contact Integrity
Pools and Arctic Spas at (717) 393-1600 or stop on by at 2106
Spring Valley Road Lancaster PA.
husband and I thoroughly enjoy soaking in hot tubs and do so
at every opportunity while visiting resorts. Although we would
love to have one of our own, we’ve heard that they are
a maintenance nightmare. Is spa maintenance really as time
consuming and dreadful as we hear?
Answer provided by: Mike
Mclure, Customer Care Coordinator, Oasis Hot Tubs
the early days (which really weren't that long ago), you
would’ve been right about your maintenance concerns.
Fortunately, the spa technology and additives have evolved
to such a degree that I’m happy to report that nothing
could be further from the truth. Hot tubs today require very
little time and, for that matter, very little money to maintain.
Today's spas are equipped with superior sanitation systems
that allow the user to be confident every time they enter
Among the sanitation system components that are used today
are ozanators, which are highly effective bacteria killers.
Ozanators produce ozone which produces oxygen 3 which kills
bacteria. Unfortunately, ozanators alone will not completely
sanitize your spa—assistance is needed from chlorine.
Some manufacturers use a combination of sanitizing agents,
which include the afore’ mentioned ozanator coupled with
a product called Microban. Microban antimicrobial protection
was developed to neutralize bacteria and fungal growth in products.
Interestingly enough the product never wears out. Microban
is used widely in the Johnson and Johnson company, Playskool,
Farberware, Fruit of the Loom, just to name a few. Again when
using with spas it would be aided by chlorine.
The next line of bacteria fighters is the system commonly referred
to as mineral cartridges or mineral filters. These are 2 metals
combined to be toxic to micro organisms (but NOT humans). This
is a highly effective method of sanitation when combined with
ozone, Microban and trace amounts of chlorine. The very last
item in the maintenance section would be what is called a 24-hour
circulation pump. This is simply a pump that runs very efficiently
and filters the entire body of water well over 100 times a
day, every day.
Now, back to your original question. In total, the amount of
time you’ll need to commit to spa maintenance is somewhere
between a measly 5 to 10 minutes a week. Clearly the maintenance
myth is just that—a myth. Happy spa shopping!
seems that if I put down enough mulch, I don't need to weed,
is it possible to put down too much mulch?
Answer provided by: James
T. Hanselman, Owner, Hanselman Landscape
yes. Mulch can be a help—particularly in new open beds—to
control erosion, retain moisture, increase the organic matter
in soil, and control weeds. On the other hand, if applied
too deeply, mulch can threaten the well-being of any plant.
There are two main concerns to address when selecting and applying
mulch. The first concern is that the stem, or trunk, of a plant
is prone to rot and insect entry when in contact with mulch
or soil. Before applying mulch, check to make sure that nothing
is touching the stem of any plant, and keep your new mulch
well away from the trunk. You can tell where the trunk begins
by locating the root “collar”. This collar is the
dividing line between the roots and the stem; in general, roots
can tolerate soilor mulch contact, while trunks cannot. The
root collar is usually found below the flared portion of the
trunk to which the roots attach, and looks like a seam or wrinkle.
It should always be dry and visible. No mulch should be applied
above that point.
One easy way to tell when a plant is buried too deeply is that
its trunk still looks straight when it disappears into the
mulch or soil. The excess material needs to be removed (or
sometimes the plant even needs to be dug and replanted at a
higher level) to allow for the trunk to remain clean and dry.
A common problem that develops when trees or shrubs are mulched
too deeply is the growth of girdling roots. These roots grow
from the bark of the trunk above the buried root collar, and
initially lack the directional information to grow away from
the stem. Many of them follow the soft mulch around the tree,
and then take hold, becoming growing roots. When this happens,
it is just a matter of time before they swell, hardening into
a noose that, like cancer, strangles the tree with its own
growth. Make sure that anyone who plants or mulches your trees
understands and cares enough to prevent soilor mulch contact
above the root collar.
The second main concern is mulch porosity. The smaller roots
that spread beyond the plant near the surface of the soil need
to “breathe”. When mulch is too deep, the flow
of water and air to and away from these roots is cut off. The
finer the size of mulch particles, the thinner the application
should be. Fine, soil-like mulch may be too thick if applied
more than about 1” thick, while coarse mulch could be
applied at a depth of up to 3”. When spreading new mulch
over existing mulch, follow the same guidelines. Previous years’ mulch
will be finer due to natural decay which, if not removed, can
build up to a suffocating level.
Mulch is best used in the open spaces between plants, kept
to a depth that promotes air exchange as it keeps down weeds
and enriches the soil.
landscaping, what is meant by the term a design build company?
Answer provided by: Terry
Esbenshade, General Manager, Esbenshade's Landscaping
growing number of landscapers are referring to their companies
as design build. This means that the same company that designs
the project will also install the project. Design build offers
a customized approach that allows the project to receive
continuous input from the designer while the project is being
built. This allows the designer to effectively work through
the building process in order to meet the client's expectations.
From the beginning of the design process through the completion
of the punch list, the party installing the work is invested
in the design, which affects decisions that take place during
installation. The end result when properly executed
is a beautiful and functional landscape and satisfied clients.