Archive for the ‘exterior’ Category

Fence Mending

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Our side yard fence was physically falling apart, which meant that we were using metal rods to hold it upright and boards fell off every time the wind kicked up. A board would fall down, we’d screw it back up, the posts would slump over and we would prop them up, seriously, we put up with this crap for almost three years.

The cause of the deterioration was the rotted off bottoms of the support posts and the poorly chosen nails that secured the boards in place. Both issues equaled ghetto failing fence.

We couldn’t afford to replace the entire thing, so in order to keep things budget friendly, we reused almost all of the weathered fence boards and just replaced the support structure.

That meant that we had to carefully disassemble the fence and install new 4×4″ posts. We called Carpenter Craig to come help since he just finished a big mending fencing project at his new house and had the skills and tools to help.

Digging post holes by hand? BLOWS.

Of course we hand dug all the holes, centered our posts and then Quikreted them into place.

Then the horizontal supports went into place. We just followed the design of the rest of the fence, nothing to exciting design wise.

Removing all of the boards (and all the nails) also blew. We had to be really careful since we needed the wood to be reinstalled. Four nails a board + a couple hundred boards is a whole lot of tetanus to avoid. Filthy dirty tedious work.

After all the wood was prepped, we strung a string line from the existing fence top to keep everything even and cohesive. Totally rocket science. Then we started screwing up the fence boards with some deck screws. Totally tedious.

One of our curious neighbors came over to watch. He tends to come over and watch while we do projects…and drink our beer. Lend a hand dude!

Speaking of neighbors…

So, the cat hoarding guy who lives next door (who shares the fence with us) didn’t want to chip in $100 to help pay for half the materials. We already said we would do the labor, and he still hasn’t paid for some work The Boy did over at his house when the city threatened to fine him, so we didn’t have much hope. But still, its kind of the principle of the thing.

Anyway, while we were working on the fence, weird neighbor guy’s ex(?) wife ran through the back yard and jumped on a chair to climb through the back window into the house. It was so unexpected and strange that I think she was really surprised to see us standing there. That’s the chair on the left. On the right is the pack of feral kitties staring as we worked. I can’t even begin to explain how much cat poop is all over our yard. Ungodly amounts of cat crap.

So anyways, it gets super dark very early now, so we had to postpone putting up the rest of the boards till the next day…

…and on the next day it was all about screwing fence boards up. It took a long time and was not exciting.

But then it was done! Check out the after compared to the before. NO MORE METAL RODS. It stands up all by itself! It’s a fencing miracle.

I am amazed by how satisfying it is just to have an upright fence. Not even an awesome horizontal slat fence, just solid, upright and private fence.

Oh yeah, we gave ourselves the nice side since we paid for it all, did all the labor and were covered in cat shit for our troubles.

It only cost about $200 to do the full repair and took two days. Not bad, if I do say so.

Now the perfect and professional shade sail doesn’t look so out of place next to our crappy wonky fence. I’m not sure if I want to finish the weathered boards. We were discussing some sort of opaque stain, but I think I kind of like it all aged and beat up. Something to think about for sure.

Solid as a rock. Straight as an arrow. Something something total cliche.

Shade Sail, Part 2

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

The second shade sail now flying high above the side yard is a different type of installation from the lace-on version installed near the fire pit. This version is what I would consider to be the more traditional style of a sail, at least in terms of design and the support structure.

Check out the SketchUp model of the sail below.

Very nice if I do say so. I updated it a bit to reflect some changes to the fence and bar area. I cannot wait to landscape…

The heavy duty brackets that attach to the cement brick of the house were custom fabricated at Shade Industries. Basically, they are steel plates that have been powder-coated white with a large steel eyelet that serves as the attachment point for the turnbuckle. The brackets need to be incredibly strong in order to hold the tension on the sail and withstand our nutty desert wind.

Patrick pre-drilled holes with a hard core hammer drill outfitted with a cement drill bit and then inserted big bolts to hold the mounting plates on the wall.

Here they are mounted and ready for installation. Of course I picked white so that the brackets would blend in with the exterior paint.

We dug out two 3′ deep by about 2′ wide holes that would be used to install the steel poles on the opposite side of the yard. Look at all the luscious grass – it has really been a wet fall, creating lots of weedy problems.

Digging holes sucks, but really anyone can do it. Installing the poles turned out to be surprisingly easy as well.

Patrick has an awesome method for mixing small batches of Quikrete. Use one big blue tarp, a bucket of water and two manly dudes to mix it up.

Take the tarp and shake it back and forth. Totally works and makes perfect cement really quickly. I’m much more excited to pour cement after we did this and found it to be super effective.

Then just dump your mixed Quikrete in the pole hole. Fill it up so that thing won’t ever move.

Instead of going perfectly plumb with the poles, you want to lean the poles back slightly to counteract the tension of the shade.

Once all the brackets and poles were installed, Patrick measured out the dimensions for the shade. Measuring on site, after all the mounting hardware is up, alleviates any nagging worries and assures that the shade will be a perfect custom fit.

About a week or so later, the shade was all sewed up and ready to be installed. It only took about an hour to put up and is a fairly simple process. There are four turnbuckles that hook on to a steel ring at each corner as well as steel cable that runs around the edge of the shade.

Start installing the shade by attaching one corner and then work your way around. Easy peasy.

Sad shade. Happy shade.

Once the shade is attached at all four corners the turnbuckles get evenly tightened and the steel edge cable is pulled taught. After it is completely stretched that thing is tighter than a drum. You really need to make sure your mounting areas are rock solid!


This version is a little less laborious (in terms of installation) compared to the lace-on version, but the parts are much more custom and a tad more difficult to source. Installing four poles in the ground would be a fairly simple DIY project, just make sure they are heavy duty galvanized steel. You wouldn’t want them to collapse and bend in the middle after a big wind. I would probably source these type of heavy gauge poles at a local metal supply. We bought our hot rolled steel for the fire pit at a local industrial metal supply and found it to be a really  amazing place as well as very affordable – plus there is so much cool stuff to look at…I need to go back.

It turned out so perfectly and is a million times better than I ever hoped for. I LOVE IT. Love love love. Overflowing with love and appreciation and happiness. Patrick is the shade sail whisperer for sure.

Too bad the landscaping is less than lovely right now, but all in due time I guess. I feel like Patrick’s incredible shade sail handiwork is lessened by the ghetto grass and fence. Must amend that very soon, 2010 is coming to an end…

I’m also super embarrassed of the unfinished porch, in my defense it has been less than ideal painting weather. Really, this sail needs to be shown off from the front of the house to illustrate its super dramatic curvy sexiness. These new dark sails really take the exterior up a big notch, making me rethink the rest of the landscape design. I mean it really needs to be amazing to match how cool these turned out. The big swooping bad boy definitely causes me to stare every time I drive by. I drool and then immediately curse the fence, unfinished porch and lack of landscape.

If you have any questions about shade sails, have an idea you might like to discuss, or need a quote – go ahead and contact Patrick Howe directly via email or Shade Industries.

Thank you Patrick, you are the best!

Shade Sail, Part 1

Monday, November 15th, 2010

I am completely psyched to finally show off a big exterior project we have been working on for the last couple of months. While the days may be getting shorter and summer seems so very far away, I’ve been dreaming about shade sails for our side yard to help alleviate some of the crushing heat that the side of the house always receives. Admittedly, I’ve been struggling with how to build and incorporate a pretty large DIY shade sail for above our planned stock tank pool so it was pretty incredible to randomly receive a very helpful email from my new shade sail guru Patrick Howe a few months back.

Patrick Howe, whose currently with Shade Industries, emailed some suggestions and tips about how to get the most out of a shade sail and offered to help design and build a couple of versions that would not only be customizable, but also a project that most home owners can tackle on their own. To start, I sent him an old SketchUp model I made of the landscape design for the side yard and told him what my crazy plans were.

There are two areas that I was interested in shading:

1: The weird nook between the garage and house, protecting what will be a bar/eating area.
2: Above the stock tank pool at the front of the side yard.

Patrick sent back a SketchUp design with his thoughts and ideas about how to do it and I was ecstatic. It was everything I wanted, but so much better.

Each sail has a very different installation approach, so first, how about we focus on the nook area installation nearest the fire pit.

The shade sail is laced to a structure of basic galvanized piping attached to the fascia of the house and made tight by a combination of the lacing and a pair of turnbuckles at each corner. Patrick had the black shade sail customized to fit the area and arc in towards the garage, giving a wide clearance to the fire pit below. Whats great about this type of installation is that you can buy all the fittings and supplies at your local Home Depot, or any home supply store, and with a few basic measurements Patrick’s company can have a shade sail custom made to fit your area. Installing it yourself creates a custom look at a much more cost friendly price.

We installed this bad boy in one day, in pretty much just a few slightly rainy and damp hours. Patrick really did most of it…I mean come on, someone had to take photos. Right?

First, be cool like Patrick and find your studs. Then pre-drill the attachment points in the fascia.

Testing out the first attachment point. Hey, it works.

The galvanized pipe is also drilled through to correspond with your pre-drilled fascia holes (usually about 16″ on center). The pipe is attached to the fascia with self tapping bolts with a washer/nut inserted between the fascia and pipe to act as a spacer for the shade sails woven cord to pass through.

A 90° elbow attaches the pipes together. From there, the same installation procedure applies to the entire galvanized support structure. Find your studs, use a spacer and bolt into place. Once installed that thing is solid as a rock. It seems that galvanized pipes are crazy useful for all sorts of DIY adventures.

To begin lacing the sail in place, first just casually secure the corners in place with a few bits of cord.

Once it is loosely hung in place the long process of wrapping the cord through the grommets and around the pipe begins. It’s like lacing the longest shoe in the world.

The initial cord wrapping is left a bit loose in order to later evenly pull the shade sail taught with the turnbuckles and cord.

Once the cord is loosely installed, it is time to attach the turnbuckles at the end of the sail.

Again, you want to find a stud and pre-drill a hole to install your eyelet screw. This point will have a ton of tension on it, so make sure its solidly secured.

The turnbuckle attaches to the eyelet screw and a ring at the end of the sail. Slowly, all of the cord and the turnbuckles are pulled tighter and tighter to make the sail taught, like a giant drum.

Patrick goes back through a second time and pulls out any slack in the cord. Tedious, but totally worthwhile.

Here is a closeup of the tightened cord as well as the spacers and elbow connector.

Finish installation by tying the loose cord off, cutting it to length and singing off the end of the cord. The shade sail fabric is exterior rated to last about ten years and will withstand the harsh weather all year round.

Shazamm. DONE.

The little bar/eating pony wall area is ready to be built out is already cooled off and protected. Loving it!

We’ve had the shade installed for about a month and already have had crazy windstorms, rain, heat and harsh temperature changes and this thing is performing like a champ.  It’s made a big difference in the temperature of our laundry room, back patio, the breezeway and the garage and we’ve had four or five fires in our steel fire pit without any issues whatsoever. In the pictures I know that the shade tends to look super close to the fire pit, but trust me, there is plenty of clearance space.

All in all I feel like this could be a pretty awesome DIY project for anyone willing to tackle it. Once we got started the whole thing was fairly simple to build with really easily sourced hardware. The super talented and savvy Patrick is currently building a DIY shade sail website and will be offering video instructions, design and installation advice, hardware kits, custom shade sails as well as design services in 2011. I’ll make sure to keep everyone posted when it launches.

For now you can contact Patrick directly via email or contact Shade Industries with any questions or if you have a shade sail project you’d like to tackle.

Get ready, get set, because shade number two is on the agenda for tomorrow. I’ll can’t wait to show you how we built the most dramatic addition to The Brick House yet.