What to Look for When Buying an Outdoor Fireplace

What to Look for When Buying an Outdoor Fireplace

Of the many decisions you have to make when it comes to furnishing your backyard or patio, one that often gets overlooked is an outdoor fireplace. Although an outdoor fireplace can be added as a complementary feature, rather than a mounted chiminea, there are a number of factors you want to keep in mind. One of the first things you want to consider is size, and whether or not your chosen fireplace is capable of fitting in your space.

Might it go over budget?

The budget usually plays a huge role in determining the size of your outdoor fireplaces. A simple way to do this is by determining the materials you want the fireplace to be made out of, and your budget comes into play again. If you wished to have an outdoor kitchen, your budget might require you to install a stone outdoor fireplace. However, should you opt for the outdoor fireplace made of brick and stone, you could safely use materials such as pebbles or rocks that will give an old world charm to your patio and the fireplace. As long as you have the resources to be able to afford the materials you want, your options are limitless. Before starting your outdoor fireplace project, research online for your contractor and for your supplies, including the sizes of bricks or stones to be used.

Where to install your fireplace

This is one consideration you cannot avoid when building an outdoor fireplace, as you have to locate the fireplace in one location, and consider sound and fire safety precautions. Take into account that you need to have the chimney on the right side when building one, with the wall on the right height, and with a chimney that will extend at least a foot in either direction from the hearth. Take into account the space you would like to have between the chimney, and the fireplace – this is an important factor that determines the size of your outdoor fireplace. Make sure to make measurements to choose the outdoor fireplace that will fit perfectly in your yard.

Fireplace design

When it comes to a fireplace, while bricks are the most common materials to build one with, stones or rocks can also be a stylish addition to the exterior. These work particularly well in large yards, where you might not know if you’ll be able to install a chimney or a fire bowl. If you opt for a stones or rocks outdoor fireplace, it’s best to order bricks a bit bigger than what you might need for your fireplace, as these are quite easy to transport. You can use these for your chimney as well as fireplace.

O’Fallon Concrete Co.

These are just a handful of considerations that you have to take into account for your outdoor fireplace. In construction, it’s a necessity, but it can be quite decorative to add an outdoor fireplace, as long as you’re up for the care and maintenance. Take into consideration the materials and design that can complete the look that you crave for your yard. It’s also important to read and follow the directions you get on installing the fireplace, as well as choosing the bricks or stones that can help make your outdoor fireplace look like it was built specifically for your space.

Tree Trimming: Hiring a Pro

When it comes to keeping your trees in tip-top shape, growing healthy and keeping a fresh appearance, you can’t go wrong with a proper tree service. Trust us when we say you’re going to need it – between wanting to keep your trees alive for the longest time possible and keeping it from damaging your properties and going out of control, you may want to settle for the middle ground, which can only be possible with professional tree trimming and tree care services.

And unless you have a considerable amount of knowledge about trees and the know-hows of trimming and pruning correctly, going DIY is a risky option. You can end up cutting the wrong branches and cause permanent damage to your plants, possibly even ruining a good chance for the perfect landscape.

But enough of the worries – there are plenty of companies who offer a variety of expert tree services that you can choose from! You can simply call up a trusted tree trimming company, and they’ll be right at your doorstep to do the job for you. Though it’s as easy as that, there are still a couple of things you may want to know when hiring a tree service so you can get the best experience and quality service for your needs.

  1. Make sure they’re accredited and licensed

When you hire an expert tree service, never expect an amateur to handle your valuable trees. Ensure that their arborists are skilled and well-trained, with necessary licenses that makes the company reputable and certified. After all, tree cutting is a profession, and it’s only normal to choose who operates legally and without trouble on your part.

  1. Cares about safety

There are many things to factor in about safety, the first being their standards when working on your property. Their team should prioritize safety and risk concerns, not only on the arborists, but also on your properties too. Unnecessary damage is the last thing you’d want after hoping for a quick tree trimming. Also, you can seek out their insurance coverage for your peace of mind.

  1. Positive ratings and evaluations

If you’re looking to hire a tree care service, then might as well go for the best, right? One that can efficiently do the job, with a renowned reputation and a string of good feedback and portfolio under their belts. By looking through their website, online ratings, and reviews from different platforms, you can have a glimpse of what you’re going for and helps you choose the best team for you.

  1. They care about you and your trees

Sure, they’ve got the accreditation, the rankings, and the team of experts – but do they care about you? Will they patiently guide you through the steps and won’t talk over you? Give you an honest and detailed breakdown of cost estimates that you asked for? Won’t do work that you won’t approve of? It’s your beloved asset on the line, after all. Make sure that the company values your input, and give recommendations based on what you want.

Brick Veneer: Pros and Cons

Stick-built single family homes with brick veneer tend to have a good return on investment. They have curb appeal. Natural brick, in various colors, makes a home look pleasant, warm, and inviting. Add beautiful landscape and sidewalks, a wreath on the door, charming decorations, a welcome mat, and envision a picture postcard view of your home.

Advantages of homes with brick veneer:  About 150 to 200 years ago, some homes and large buildings and multi-family housing complexes were built with solid masonry construction. Solid masonry is also referred to as double brick, solid brick or brick, and block construction. This type of construction consists of an inner layer and an outer layer of brick. Within the USA, since the early 1900’s, through the 1940’s, the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s, in mainstream building construction, it became economical to move away from solid masonry construction. However, due to fire and building codes, even in the 21st century, still existing are large multi-family residential units constructed of solid masonry and there are some older single-family residential homes built of solid masonry still standing and occupied today. Differing opinions expound the benefits and disadvantages of solid masonry/brick construction. Nevertheless, within the USA, these dwellings, though rarely found, remain in use today. In other parts of the world, i.e., Canada and Europe, solid masonry is still used today.

However, most modern single-family residential homes are not made of solid masonry/brick construction. Instead, homes are constructed with a combination of stick-built wood frame and brick veneer construction. Some people use brick veneer halfway up the front of the house and cover the rest of the home with siding material. Or, they choose to fully cover the front of the home’s exterior with a brick veneer and the rest of the home with vinyl or wood siding because there is less cost involved. Other people choose to cover all four exterior sides of the home with a full brick veneer from top to bottom. Using full brick veneer does increase construction cost but it also seems to appeal to homeowners and buyers as well. Homes with full brick veneer have curb appeal and a higher resale value than homes without a brick veneer. Some of the main advantages of a brick veneer home, of course, are curb appeal, durability and strength, insulation R-factor value, security, and resale value. People really like the fact that brick homes are traditional, charming, and they last a long time.

Brick Masonry Company

Disadvantages of homes with brick veneer:  There are a few disadvantages of using brick veneer on a home.

Brick veneer homes require maintenance and they are more expensive to build. Every few years, the home’s exterior should be reviewed and the brick veneer should be evaluated for cracks and the deterioration of mortar joints. This is especially true for homes with brick chimneys and fireplaces. According to research, brick masonry does not do well in earthquake-prone regions. In addition, poorly maintained homes tend to be prone to drainage, mold, and water damage.

Garage Door Replacement: Tips from a Pro

At some point in time, the garage door will need to be replaced. The composition of the door deteriorates. Or, the door is warped or rusted and it becomes necessary to replace it. Unsightly doors detract from the home’s appeal and value. To achieve the best fit, buy the door, track, and necessary parts at the same time. Replacing a new door on an old damaged track system does not work. It can be done but not without a lot of effort. Sometimes the old tracks and springs may be salvaged and reused with a replacement door. However, it is better to purchase a new smooth track, springs, and hardware along with a new replacement garage door. New door systems come with a warranty. Cost varies with regard to quality, size, and poor composition. For example, a wood door price will be different from a metal door price. An average price range is estimated from $500 to $2,500 for the replacement door system. Add to that a new opener, additional warranty coverage, and other premium options. Replacing a door will cost approximately the same as installing a new door. There are several factors to consider. Geographic location, materials, quality of installation, and the type of door will affect the estimate. Add to that the removal and disposal cost of the old door and hardware. Consider replacing the automatic door opener. A new electric door opener may cost as much as $100 to $400. If the old door opener still works, there may be no need to install a new one. However, that should be determined before purchasing the new door and hardware.

Purchase an insulated door with a high R-value. If the garage is attached to the home, an insulated door can help with energy costs. Increased R-value provides added benefits of noise reduction and heat retention. A higher R-value translates to increased energy efficiency, reduced heating cost, and a better return on investment. Avoid purchasing poorly constructed single layer doors or ones made of inexpensive materials. They will easily become dented and will not last long. Opt for a door that will last five to ten years. Garage doors come in various grades. Thicker doors with superior insulation will cost more and last longer than an inexpensive lower grade door. Doors come in four styles, i.e., swing-up, sliding, roll-up, or swing-out. The most popular choice is the roll-up style.

Columbia Garage Pros.

Solid wood garage doors made of cedar, hemlock, or mahogany give an attractive appearance to the home’s exterior. For added beauty and curb appeal, purchase one that matches the wood color of the home’s entrance doors. Other door materials include wood composite, vinyl, and steel. Composite doors, an ecosystem friendly choice, are made from recycled materials. They are paintable and less expensive than solid wood doors. Low-maintenance vinyl doors are also paintable and economical. The most common is the steel door which is durable, paintable, and requires insulation.  Choose wisely before making a purchase and hire a professional garage door service company.


Fence Regulations: All You Need to Know


Fence Repair and Installation is not a simple task. Fence repair cost varies from as low as $150 to as high as $400.  Depending upon the size of the repair job, repairing cracks, replacing boards and rails or entire sections will cost, DIY estimates, from $125 to $370 not including paint and other repair materials. Fence material will cost from $10 to $30 per linear foot. For best results, hire a skilled fence repair and installation expert. Professional fence repair experts cost more than DIY prices but it is money well spent. To find a licensed fence company, ask friends or family for recommendations and references or research online. Ensure the company is licensed, insured, and knowledgeable about digging where there are buried cables, pipes, or gas lines. Check local building codes and property lines to avoid encroaching on neighbors.

Plan everything in advance of the project’s start date. To avoid rainy days and lightning storms, check the weather forecast. It is easier to dig holes when the ground is soft but not muddy. If the fence project is large, consider renting power tools. Small fence repair projects can use manual tools. Common fence repair tools are hammers, nails, levels, chalk line, tile shovels, post hole diggers, aka, clam-shell diggers, ready-mix cement, buckets, and wheelbarrows. Fence material may consist of wood, most common, or metal, aluminum, vinyl, wrought iron, or other material. DIY fence installation labor cost may run from $7 to $12 per linear foot. Professional fence installation labor cost will be nearly double of DIY cost. However, many fence companies offer deals that defray installation cost. Professional installation of a wood fence, depending upon type of wood, style, and perimeter specifications, can cost from $3,000 to $7,000. For wrought iron type fences, allowing for perimeter dimensions and material variations, average cost will be from $3,500 to $4,500.

City and county codes allow for fence heights to be from 3 ft. to 8 ft. Fence heights of 3 ft. at the front property line and 6 ft. at the side and rear property lines should not require a building permit application. Fence heights over 6 ft. tall, will require submittal of a building permit application. Post holes are dug to 2 ft. 4 inches deep with posts approximately 6 ft. to 8 ft. apart. Before starting a fence project, check municipal codes to ensure the fence height is within the acceptable limit.

Whatever you decide to do when installing a fence, always use licensed contractors and ask around if you are unsure about a particular fence company.  Surely someone can point you in the right direction when selecting a fence contractor to do the job.  Use the internet as a great resource when looking up companies.  There are often numerous reviews online so you will surely be able to find one with a good reputation.

Concrete Driveways: A Wise Investment

For a homeowner, a concrete driveway is a wise property investment. Durability, low-maintenance, strength, and longevity are the benefits of choosing concrete over asphalt or gravel. Though more expensive, poured concrete outlasts cobblestone, brick, or concrete paver materials. For attractiveness and long-term maintenance, concrete can be colored, stamped, and sealed. Often mistaken for cement, concrete typically consists of stone aggregate, water, and lime-based (Portland cement) composition. The size and texture of the stone aggregate largely depends upon usage of the product. Commonly used for driveway and sidewalk surfaces, finer grades of stone aggregate material vary with relation to the desired texture of the concrete slab. For smooth concrete surfaces, fine sand particles to small gravel aggregate are used. Cement contains a pulverized powder mixture of clay and limestone. Depending upon thickness and content, removal of an old reinforced concrete driveway, down to the base, takes more than eight hours with an estimated cost of up to $3,500.

After the concrete mixture is poured, leveled, and smoothed, it begins to harden. The curing period, best at 70°F, takes a few days but lasts for several months. To reinforce the concrete slab, rebar, or steel reinforcement wire, is embedded prior to the hardening and curing phases. Other strengthening and drying agents may be added to the concrete mixture. Recycled and crushed concrete may be used, as a sub-base layer, in combination with new aggregate, in new Portland cement. For the four inch cement thickness of a 20 ft. wide by 40 ft. long two-car driveway, the cost is estimated as more than $5 per square foot without added expense for increased depth, sloping, or curves. Thicker concrete is suggested for driveways containing more than two cars or heavy-duty vehicles. Concrete is best when poured at temperatures above 50°F. Pouring concrete during freezing temperatures compromises quality and strength. The driveway surface will degrade faster than if the concrete was poured and cured during warmer temperatures.

In warmer climates, relative humidity, excessive moisture, and free water, or too much water in the concrete mixture, will compromise quality and durability factors. Heat, cold, moisture, mold, salt deposits, and air circulation affect the lifespan of concrete slabs. Sealing concrete ensures protection against damage, corrosion, and staining. Do not apply a seal until the concrete has properly cured. Once applied, wait at least 72 hours before walking on the sealed surface. On an annual basis, sealing can cause excessive cracking and peeling. Seal a concrete driveway only every four to five years. Properly applied sealing products may last five to 10 years.

Either way, a concrete driveway should last a very long time.  If done properly by a respected concrete company, a driveway will be something that you will not have to worry about every year.  Take your time when choosing a concrete company as there are many out there that are simply interested in lining their pockets with your hard earned money.

5 Simple Tips for Airline Companies

Airline companies are facing a lot many challenges today because of the rapid growth of competition as well as an increase in consumer demand. Every traveler wants to pick an airline company which has successfully minted a good deal of positive recommendations and reviews. A reputed airline company is constantly focused on improving its services down to the smallest detail. However, customers always look for more and it is on part of airline companies to fulfill these needs. Here are a few tips for airline companies which can help in enhancing the company’s reputation and customer experience:

Recruit a friendly Cabin-crew:

A friendly, skilled and problem-solving cabin-crew is a dream for every good-quality airline service. The occurrence of uncertain events is one of the most certain things during a flight. A patient may require medical assistance or an older passenger may require assistance in understanding his whereabouts. Airline companies are recommended to recruit a friendly and ready-to-act cabin crew which is well equipped with problem-solving skills and strategies. The crew members shall possess good communication skills, adaptability, empathy, team-spirit, and grace in order to accomplish smallest to biggest tasks.

Simplify the experience for travelers:


The last thing any passenger wants is a complicated checking process. Customers are already quite fed up with the long and complicated booking process and having them go through several checks is an equivalent of adding fuel to the fire. Airline companies are recommended to simplify the boarding process easier for its passengers. Airline companies can make use of several service providers which incorporate the use of software and mobile apps for ticket checking, passport checking and luggage tracking on flights. The airline companies shall also offer flexible options for passengers to facilitate them in a plethora of preferences and needs.

Handle flight delays in a mature manner:

Flight delays are an inadvertent part of air travels. If such a situation arises, airline companies are recommended to handle it in a mature manner. Instead of being rude and indifferent towards the already stressed travelers, airline companies shall do as much as they can in order to facilitate the waiting customers. Airline companies shall provide complete information on the cause of flight delay and offer alternatives in case if there are emergency travelers which can be harmed greatly because of flight delays.

Enhance semi-premium services:

The service quality of an airline company is highly determined by the willingness of its passengers to avail its semi-premium services. Instead of offering an unpalatable food menu, scarce entertainment options, and compact seat space, the airline companies shall enhance their semi-premium services by showing improvements in each of the mentioned aspect.

Stay loyal to customers:

Every airline company offers customer loyalty programs which are designed especially for Elite customers based on their frequency of traveling from the same airline company. Airline companies can make the loyalty programs more flexible and friendly for the customers in order to enhance its services. The perks and bonuses associated with loyalty programs shall be brought in easy reach and disposal for the loyal customers. This helps in building a good brand image.