Tuesday, March 6, 2012

iOS Applications

There are couple of free iOS mobile applications that might you find useful for landscaping and decking.

One is Green Garden by the Aquarium of the Pacific. This lets you visually plan a garden. It gives you more than several ground covers, shrubs, flowers, and trees to choose from. Using the touch feature of your iPad or iPhone you can add or remove a digital representation of the plant easily. Each plant listed comes with a description and a link to its Wiki page. When you feel satisfied with a design you can simply save it to your iOS camera roll.

The decking related app is called Deck Visualizer. It's not a above ground pool deck app, but it's free and somewhat useful because it gives you a good picture of what different decking colors and styles will look like. The best thing about it is that you can upload a picture of your home or backyard, which gives you a quick visual preview of your future deck in a real setting. It could be useful during your above ground pool deck planning phase.

As always, enjoy your pool.


How to Build a Pool Deck

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Cork Floor

Since it's the off-season for building above ground pool decks it's safe to change to a relevant off-topic.

The latest project around the home is a kitchen refacing. You've been there or someday will be. Whether you've got a galley or "a kitchen" there comes a morning when you walk in to make your breakfast and you realize the kitchen is gone. The laminate or linoleum is old and worn, it's not on the comeback trail. Mopping does little good and the runner can't cover up the reality that your floor is simply gross. The splash tile has endured way too much splash over the years and whoever installed the cabinets back in the 1970's or 80's clearly phoned it in.

To top it off, you've yet to consider the style of the place which may or may not have much style at all. You've always known this but it never really hit you before. Why is not important. You were likely busy working or doing fun stuff. Maybe you were on a roll socially or you're a star on Twitter. Either way it was denial, because in one moment you realize the kitchen has stunk for a long time.

Welcome to my kitchen. If this describes yours, I sympathize.

Refacing is the simple and less expensive way to give your kitchen new life. My ragged cabinet frames will have to stay but refacing will make the place look new. Eventually the floor will have to get a face lift too. Currently I'm leaning towards a cork floor.

Here are some features of a cork floor, courtesy of Kraus promotional material:

- Mold, mildew, and odor inhibiting
- Scratch, scuff, and stain resistant
- Factory applied joint moisture protection
- 32 year residential wear warranty
- Indoor air quality certified

Cork looks good. In person and from a slight distance it looks similar to a hardwood floor. Only at closer inspection will you notice the subtle differences. One thing you'll also notice is that it's a bit softer than hardwood. If you've ever injured your foot or knees like I have this is much appreciated.

The nice thing about any home improvement project is that you get to see relatively new stuff or something you've just never considered before, like how I saw cork floors and thought "oh, well of course". This can turn what is sometimes a nerve wracking, mind numbing, or exhaustive process into something creative and fun.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Could your pool deck ever tweet you?

Lately I've been reading a lot about the "Internet of Things". This is a colloquialism used to describe the linking of multiple devices and other elements of nature on the Internet. They can speak to one another and to us through social media.

I'll leave the tech speak and possible benefits from this to people at places like Arduino and Pachube, where they're far more knowledgeable on the subject than me.

But there are examples that a layman can understand. For example, the garden sensor Botanicalls can be placed in a plant and it will tweet you when it needs watering. A quick look at their Twitter stream shows "Water me please", "Urgent! Water me!", and "Urgent! Water me! You didn't water me enough" tweets from one of their plants.

In the DIY universe there is the Garden Bot. According to its website, the Garden Bot is a open source garden monitoring system and provides tutorials on how to build a soil moisture sensor, among other things. The goal is a complete garden monitoring and automation system.

There is technology similar to this already and other garden automation projects in the works, but the allure here is the DIY spirit as it applies to electronics and home use. Combine that with the ability to share ideas and discoveries quickly on social media and you have the makings of serious DIY fun.

How does this relate to pool decking and swimming pools? I don't know for sure. But that's the point. This is about innovation and sharing ideas. And it's perfect for DIY enthusiasts.

It wouldn't surprise me to one day see people using a sensor in their swimming pools that tweet you and your pool service company when chlorine levels are low or if algae is emerging. You can also imagine sensors on above ground pool decks or other decks that alert you when there is stress or mold that may require your attention. Not only will it alert you, but the data can automatically be shared with other deck or pool owners giving us aggregate real-time data that could be very useful.

Some of these products will be available to buy like anything else. But the open source and DIY spirit of some will mean faster and efficient innovation that benefits everyone. It's also a tremendous opportunity for serious DIY makers or part-time hobbyists. In other words, the smart garden sensors and other home improvement "Internet of Things" will be made smarter by people like you.

Meanwhile, my small contribution to
the open source network - an eBook on above ground pool deck plans and how to build a pool deck - is still available to you for free.

Enjoy your pool!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Mobile apps for building a pool deck?

Well, I haven't found anything specific in the Apple store yet. But there are some apps that you might find useful.

1. DIY Chat Room -- a social networking app that lets you chat and ask questions with other DIY builders.

2. DIY Tool Box

3. Ugly Pools -- an iPhone app that offers tips on how to care for your swimming pool.

I haven't used these apps yet and I make no claims on their function or reliability. These are apps I stumbled across while browsing Apple's app store today. If you've gone mobile it's probably a good idea to see what other decking or DIY apps are out there.

Speaking of mobile, the free eBook
"How to Build a Pool Deck" looks great in iBooks!

Enjoy your pool!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Pool Deck Stairs

This was the fifth email of the Createyourdeck.com newsletter covering the basic difference between your pool deck stairs rise and run and what their typical measurements are. For some of you this information might be redundant, while others might be looking for basics.

All steps in a pool deck stairway must be the same height and depth. Otherwise, it will make your guests feel clumsy as they try to navigate an unbalanced stairway. And it could be a safety issue as well.

Here are some initial basics regarding deck stairs to help you get started in the right direction.

Rise and Run refer to the actual physical attributes of the stairs.

Rise: the height from one tread, or step, to the next.

Run: the depth of each tread, or step, from front to back.

Other terms you might use are "unit rise" and "unit run" referring to the measurements of one step. "Total rise" and "total run" refers to the total vertical and horizontal distance of the stairway.


A typical deck stairway should have a rise of 6" - 8" and a run of 10" - 12".

This will be the same formula regardless if you build a standard stairway or one with different dimensions for large group parties on your pool deck.



P.S. - In the free "How to Build a Pool Deck" eBook there are step-by-step construction basics of a whole pool deck, including stairs.