With the rainy days of spring behind us and outdoor activities in full effect, it’s a good time to think about deck maintenance. In particular: staining.
Stain is largely considered a better option than paint for decks because paint flakes and also collects moisture and water; paint sits in a layer on top of the deck, while a stain seeps in and serves to protect the wood.
Experts recommend staining your deck every couple of years to keep it in peak condition. You’ll need a couple of dry days and a handful of materials, and then you can relax on your gorgeous entertainment area.
Failing to keep up with stain and/or sealant can result in mildew, added wear and tear, and warping.
With that in mind, here are some tips from This Old House:
* You’ll choose a cleaner or a restorer to prep the deck. Cleaners — which can be as simple as laundry detergent and bleach if the deck isn’t extremely dirty — are good for dirt and mildew, while restorers contain oxalic acid and are ideal for removing tannin streaks and stains around nail- and screwheads in cedar and redwood decks.
* You’ll also choose between a sealer and a stain for your deck finish. Sealers are clear while stains contain various levels of pigment. The finish should repel water, preserve the wood with a mildewcide, and screen out UV rays.
* Oil-based or water-based? That’s up to you. Oil-based finishes penetrate deeper into the wood, though water-based are easier to clean up and more forgiving in damp conditions.
4 health care professionals kids should see before school starts
One of the best ways to ensure your children have a productive school year is to make certain they’re in good health. Here are four types of health care professionals your kids should see before the school year begins.
It’s important to consult an audiologist to make sure your children’s hearing is in good shape. Undiagnosed hearing impairments make it difficult to follow in class and may be mistaken for ADHD. In particular, kids who frequently get ear infections are susceptible to hearing loss.
It’s a good idea for children to get a thorough checkup before classes begin. You should also make sure their vaccinations are up to date. Kids come in contact with a host of pathogens while at school and vaccines remain the most effective method of prevention.
The American Dental Association recommends that children regularly visit their dentist (one to two times a year) for a checkup and cleaning. This is the best way to foster healthy tooth development and to ensure optimal oral health. Scheduling checkups during the summer will ensure kids don’t miss more school than is necessary to visit the dentist.
Booking appointments with these health care professionals will ensure your child can focus on their education and get the most out of the school year.
How to reserve the perfect campsite
Looking to snag a great campsite for the summer? Then consider pinning down the perfect place to pitch your tent by browsing online. Most campgrounds post all the information you need to select your campsite on their website. Here’s how to do it.
Study the map
Typically, campgrounds post a map of their grounds on their website. Use it to identify the campsites that are suited to your needs. For example, you may require a site with electric outlets or that can accommodate a motorhome.
Once you’ve narrowed down your options, further refine your choices by seeing where amenities such as the bathrooms, showers and recreational facilities are located. How close or far away you want them to be from where you sleep is up to you.
Finally, think about accessibility. Can the campsite be reached by car or will you have to park elsewhere and carry your camping equipment?
Look at the photos
Some campgrounds provide photos of all the campsites they have, whereas others only share pictures of the different types of sites offered. Take the time to go through these photographs. In particular, you may want to study the condition of the terrain, especially if you’re going to be sleeping in a tent.
Read the comments
Do some more digging online to see if you can find comments from campers recommending particular campsites. There may be a comment section on the campground’s website. Alternatively, refer to what people are saying elsewhere on the web including blogs, social media sites and rating sites.
In most cases, you can reserve your campsite online. Just make sure to do so sooner rather than later — the best campsites will likely get booked quickly.
Become your family CEO
Think of your family as a business.
Your family is your personal corporation that makes sales (your work income), has operating expenses (bills), and needs to make a profit (savings and retirement). If you want your corporation to make money, you can do some of the same things a CEO does.
As CEO you should identify expenses that happen once or twice a year: Auto and home insurance, car maintenance and repairs, property tax, or anything over $400 to $500 that occurs regularly. Add them up and divide by 12. This is what you have to save every month to not come up short. Set up a simple transfer to a savings account.
Next, total up last year’s spending by category: Groceries, utilities, phones, maintenance, clothing, dining out. Spreadsheets or checking apps make this fairly easy to keep up with.
Some of that spending is discretionary; things you want instead of actually need. Some things are going to fall a little bit in both categories.
Make big decisions; set limits
Compare income and expenses. If you spend more than you earn, it’s time to put on the CEO hat. Look at discretionary expenses. This is where you can cut spending. Set limits here.
Do you really need a new company car? You can save $300 to $800 a month if you stick with the old one. (Think about how much that adds up to if you keep the car for 10 years! Even with annual repairs, you come out way ahead.)
Think big picture
As CEO you want to focus on the big picture. Don’t make the process too complicated. Maybe for a month — as an experiment — save all your grocery receipts and then analyze expenses as wants or needs. But, too much detail will probably make you want to quit. Stay big picture. If you’re spending within limits, then the plan is working.
Appoint a CFO
Having established spending guidelines for the year, appoint a CFO to make sure bills are paid and spending is within limits. If that is your spouse, and not you, then make sure your partner understands the plan and is on board. Hold a monthly board meeting. Tweak your plan as needed.
5 great reasons to go camping
Planning a holiday? Here are five great reasons to swap the hotel room for a tent.
1. You’ll reconnect with nature. When was the last time you explored the woods or saw the night sky filled with stars? Leave behind the hustle and bustle of the city and rediscover the serene beauty of the natural world.
2. You’ll spend quality time with loved ones. Camping presents the perfect opportunity for you and your fellow campers to unplug. Leave smartphones, computers and other devices at home, and make new memories with your loved ones instead.
3. You’ll be able to bring your dog(s). Fido is part of the family too, so why not include him in this year’s vacation plans? Most campgrounds welcome dogs, and your pup is sure to enjoy the fresh air and exercise.
4. You’ll share invaluable life lessons. Teach your kids essential skills such as how to pitch a tent, start a fire and generally not perish without Wi-Fi. Camping is also an ideal time to teach them how to catch and cook a fish, be safe around wildlife and use a compass.
5. You’ll get plenty of exercise. Hiking, biking, swimming and canoeing are just a few types of exercise you can enjoy when camping. That said, if you’re envisaging sitting back and relaxing, there’s nothing stopping you from getting some well-deserved rest.
Camping is an affordable and low-key way to spend your summer holiday. You don’t need to venture far to have an awesome experience, and you’re sure to make memories that will last a lifetime.
The most dangerous fireworks of all
Shell-and-mortar fireworks cause the highest number of injuries, and the most serious, to those who should know better: Adults.
More than 85 percent of emergency room visits for fireworks injuries are by adults who used shell-and-mortar type fireworks. Nearly 40 percent of all fireworks injuries come from shell-and-mortar devices, according to the American Journal of Emergency Medicine.
Although banned in many states, they are nonetheless widely available.
Shell-and-mortar devices usually make the most dramatic displays of large blooms with or without starry effects.
This type of explosive has a mortar (usually a steel barrel) that contains a charge to launch a shell. Users are supposed to stick the mortar in the ground pointed up and away, insert a shell, light the fuse, and run.
Between each of those steps there can be trouble.
The problem with shell-and-mortar devices is that when they fail, they can cause serious injuries. If they are used improperly they can cause horrible injuries.
The most notorious recent case was of a Montana man, who foolishly held the mortar over his head and lit the fuse. According to The Seattle Times, the mortar failed and the shell never left the tube. However, it did explode. He lost four fingers. He had a toe removed to replace one of his thumbs.
Not all injuries happen because of foolish acts. Simply checking to see why an explosive didn’t fire can be deadly. Always stay away from duds and spray thoroughly with water. Mortars can misfire and send a shell in unexpected directions.
Homemade shell-and-mortars cause many injuries and deaths. PVC pipe, when used as a mortar, can shatter sending pieces more than 15 feet. Inadequate metal tubing can shatter and send shrapnel many feet.
Hand injuries are the most common, followed by face and brain injuries. According to Newser, more than a third of those who suffered a serious hand injury from a firework had at least a partial amputation. At least 70 percent of shell-and-mortar eye injuries result in at least some loss of vision.
Young men are most likely to risk using shell-and-mortar type fireworks, the AJEM reported.
3 weeds to cultivate on your property
Weeds get a bad rap. People have a tendency to lump these plants together and look upon the entire lot as undesirable. It’s true that there are a number of positively destructive weeds, invasive species that can overtake your yard within a growing season. But there are also many plants typically identified as weeds that are highly beneficial to lawns and gardens. Here are three common ones that you should welcome.
1. Dandelion. This ubiquitous weed with a yellow flower has deep roots that draw up minerals and water from the soil, thereby helping to nourish neighboring plants. Additionally, dandelions attract beneficial insects such as ladybugs, lacewings and other pollinators. This plant also has edible roots, leaves and flowers that contain essential nutrients.
2. White clover. White clover collects nitrogen from the air and transfers it to the soil. Nitrogen is essential to plant growth and one of the three main ingredients in fertilizer. Plus, this weed has a large root system that breaks up hardpan (a hard, underground layer of soil impervious to water). Like the dandelion, white clover attracts ladybugs, lacewings and other beneficial insects.
3. Plantain. Not to be confused with the banana variety, the plantain, or broad-leafed plantain, often pops up in spots where soil is compacted. It collects a ton of great nutrients for the soil, including calcium, sulfur, magnesium and iron. If left to die, this weed will enrich the soil and attract beneficial organisms.
So think twice before digging up all the weeds on your property. These three, and a number of others, can improve your soil and enrich the small ecosystem that is your yard and garden.