FEATURED LISTINGS

The following are some homes for sale along the Orange Coast and beyond we noticed and thought you might find interesting as well. Please contact your licensed real estate professional or the respective agent for more information.
Laguna Beach | $14,995,000

Stephen Sutherland
949.278.3052

Laguna Beach | $10,500,000

Denine Kerns
949.689.7078

Laguna Beach | $2,650,000

Terry and Deborah Klein
940.212.2039

Newport Beach | $2,495,000

Mehdi and Nooshin Khosh
714.609.2361

Newport Coast | $2,399,000 | Open House Sunday 2-5 p.m.

Stella and Bill Worden
949.922.0305

Ladera Ranch | $1,999,000 | Open House Saturday 1-4 p.m.

Randy Ora
949.584.4466

Laguna Beach | $1,995,000

Terri Flint
949.697.4460

Irvine | $1,688,888

Dana Wall
949.892.9598

Laguna Niguel | $1,479,000

Maureen Riggs
949.290.3512

North Tustin | $1,400,000

Colton Whitney
949.424.9975

Irvine | $1,310,000 | Saturday & Sunday 12-4 pm

Julie S. Tran
714.657.8558

Ladera Ranch | $1,279,900

Dina Williams
949.433.2332

Mission Viejo | $1,198,000

Cheryl Newton & Linda Caddick
949.463.2121

Mission Viejo | $1,029,000

Linda Huebner
949.581.2742

Coto de Caza | $899,900

Lyn Chadwick
949.280.2109

Laguna Niguel | $895,000

Jan St. John
949.584.4748

This information comes from the OCAR MLS and is provided for your information only. As such we cannot guarantee accuracy.

Newport Beach Files Charges in Destruction of Protected Bird Nests

Stephen John Esser, 47, of Dana Point and David Roger Stanley, 40, of Downey face up to 18 months in jail if convicted of misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty, unlawful possession and destruction of bird nests/eggs, unlawful taking of migratory nongame birds and harassing a bird or mammal. The men were charged with causing the deaths of five protected species birds when they illegally cut down a tree in Newport Beach.

According to the prosecutor, there were about eight to nine nests of snowy egrets and black-crowned night herons in the tree and about a dozen nestlings tumbled out of the tree, prosecutors said. Five of the newborn birds died.

Gorgeous Landscaping for Your House

By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon

We looked across the country for the essential curb appeal elements that double down on investment and enjoyment.

Your home is your castle — enjoy it, customize it, make it reflect your taste and values. But, there’s one area where being too individualistic carries risk: landscaping for curb appeal.

Landscaping is the first thing that potential buyers see, and it reflects well — or poorly — on other homes in the neighborhood. That’s why homeowners associations often have exacting rules for it.

Good landscaping can add up to 28% to overall home value, says landscape economist John Harris. Even taking your landscaping from “good” to “excellent,” in terms of design, condition, and placement, can add 6% to 7% to a home’s value, according to a Clemson University study of homes in Greenville, S.C.

But don’t landscape merely to flip a house. You won’t get your money back, says Sandy MacCuish, a California appraiser. Rather, landscape for your enjoyment, knowing that you’re making a good investment.

Here are the essentials for great landscaping.

Essential #1: Trees

Shade trees help boost curb appealImage: Robin Zebrowski

Maybe only Mother Nature can make a tree, but the National Tree Benefit Calculator can tell you what it’s worth.

The calculator examines how a tree species in a particular ZIP code affects:

  • Property values.
  • Storm water runoff. Trees block and suck up water running off your property, preventing pollutants from entering community waterways.
  • Carbon dioxide reduction. CO2 contributes to climate change.
  • Energy savings: Shade trees cool homes in summer; windbreaks help warm them in winter.

Take a 24-in. diameter red maple, the country’s most popular tree. Here’s its overall annual benefit, combining the factors above, in a handful of cities, according to the tree benefit calculator:

  • McLean, Va.: $244
  • Scarsdale, N.Y.: $181
  • Beverly Hills, Calif.: $207

Multiply those benefits by the number of trees on a property, and the value and savings can climb.

To calculate the dollar value of an individual tree, the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service in Indiana uses a formula that includes the tree’s size, cost, health, and position in a yard. By its calculations, a 15.75-inch silver maple in good health could be worth $2,562.

Value of Neighboring Trees

Large tree in a home's front yard

Image: Liz Foreman for HouseLogic

Your trees can even add value to your neighbor’s property. A Portland, Ore., study found that trees with a sizable canopy growing within 100 feet of other houses added about $9,000 to their sale price and shaved two days off its time on the market.

Of course, to add value, the trees must be healthy, mature but not elderly, native to the area (more on the importance of native plants later), and appropriate to the neighborhood.

If you’re growing a forest and the rest of the neighborhood looks like a prairie, you’ll have a hard time recovering the trees’ value at sale. Conversely, if your neighbors manicure their lawns and yours is a jumble of weeds or worse, their great landscaping will make yours look even shabbier and hurt the value of your home, says Domenich Neglia of Neglia Appraisals in Brooklyn, N.Y.

More Fun Facts About Trees

  • Just three properly placed trees could save you between $100 and $250 a year in energy costs, says the U.S. Department of Energy.
  • Planting windbreaks and shade trees can reduce winter heating bills by 15% and air conditioning needs by 75%.
  • Just looking at trees produces “significant recovery from stress” within five minutes, according to a Texas A&M University study.

Essential #2: Native Plants

Nicely landscaped front yard

Image: Night and Day Landscape Design

If you introduce trees, plants, or shrubs, go native. Indigenous plantings thrive without the extra TLC (read: time and money) you’ll devote to anything that’s forced to live outside its natural habitat.

A study by Applied Ecological Services Inc., a Wisconsin ecological consultancy, shows that maintaining an acre of native plants over 20 years costs $3,000, compared with the whopping $20,000 price tag of maintaining a lawn of non-native turf grass.

Not only can native plantings save money, they can make you money, too. In Mesa, Arizona, a generous assortment of lovely Saguaro and other native cacti can boost a home’s value by $500 to $5,000, depending on size, says REALTOR® Cathy Joyce.

Native plantings help wildlife, too. The National Wildlife Federation awards a special certification to homeowners who create natural backyard habitats for birds, butterflies, and other animals looking for places to roost or feed.

There’s a slow but steady increase in buyers seeking these wildlife certified properties; a recent listing for a West Virginia property trumpeted its wildlife certification, restored meadow, and organic garden.

Rain gardens with native plants and trees also are becoming a plus for properties increasingly plagued by extreme weather. These gardens filter and distribute runoff underground, preventing storm water from seeping into basements and overwhelming municipal sewers.

In the Chicago area, now frequently drenched by huge storms, rain gardens can make properties more marketable and can reduce flood insurance rates, says Laura Reedy-Stukel, a REALTOR® in Elmhurst, Ill., who specializes in green building strategies.

Essential #3: Outdoor Lighting

Outdoor lighting helps boost a home's curb appeal

Image: Dekor

Outdoor lighting consistently tops the NAHB’s list of most wanted outdoor features in its annual “What Home Buyers Really Want” survey: 41% rate it “essential;” 49% say it’s “desirable.”

But that’s not the only reason it’s one of our landscape essentials.

  • Tasteful lighting paints your home at night, highlighting your other great landscaping choices and directing guests to your home’s focal point — the front door.
  • It protects against slips and falls.
  • It makes a property a more difficult target for intruders. That added security can reduce burglaries, and therefore claims. Some insurance companies give 5% to 15% discounts to homeowners with reduced or zero claims.
  • It makes your home feel homier. Soft lighting on a wrap-around porch or just a front stoop feels warm and inviting.

Nice-to-Have #1: Fencing

Wooden privacy fence in a neighborhoodImage: Liz Foreman for HouseLogic

Fencing has many indisputable qualities: It keeps pets in and intruders out; it creates privacy and sets boundaries.

But when it comes to boosting property values, the value of fencing becomes murky.

Since most privacy fencing is installed in backyards, it doesn’t pack the curb appeal punch of, say, a spreading chestnut tree shading your house. And if everyone in the neighborhood has the same nice fence, yours won’t earn any extra points on an appraisal sheet.

But nice fences (not chain link) do have value. Douglas Emde, a Stillwater, Okla., appraiser, says cedar picket fences set the standard in his market just north of Oklahoma City, and can boost home value by $1,500 to $2,000. In Meza, Arizona, where chain link fences are typical of older properties, an upgraded cement block privacy wall can boost selling prices by $2,000 to $5,000 more, says REALTOR® Joyce.

Nice-to-Have #2: Retaining Walls and Terracing

Terraced front yard with flowers

Image: Liz Foreman for HouseLogic

Retaining walls and terracing reclaim heavily sloped yards that are only good for grass (hard to mow) or ground covers (hard to tame).

Retaining walls and terracing:

  • Control erosion and surface runoff by slowing the flow of water down a slope.
  • Add color and texture to wide stretches of green.
  • Turn useless slopes into flat areas for garden beds and walkways.

Done correctly, walls and terracing look beautiful and boost curb appeal. But walls can be pricey, running $15 to $40 per square foot (including labor), depending on materials used. A 20-foot-long, 30-inch-high stone wall can cost between $1,250 and $2,000.

Nice-to-Have #3: Walkways

Stone walkway to suburban home Image: Liz Foreman for HouseLogic

Walkways welcome guests to your home. So, you can let visitors trudge through wet grass to your front door, or you can lay down an attractive path. We vote for the attractive path.

You can go whole hog and install a solid stone walkway, which ranges from $11 to $17 per square foot; or use pavers, $9.50 to $17 per square foot. To save money, lay stepping stones with grass between, $1 to $3 per piece.

Walkways are another keep-up-with-the-Joneses upgrade. If you get too fancy, you won’t see a return on your investment; if you don’t meet the standards of the neighborhood, appraisers will punish you.

Other fab curb appeal projects that typically offer a good ROI, according to “Remodeling” magazine’s annual “Cost vs. Value Report,” include:

  • Exterior door replacements. On average nationally, a steel entry door replacement recouped more than 101% of its cost in the 2015 survey.

Visit HouseLogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.

8 Tips for Adding Curb Appeal and Value to Your Home

By Pat CurryAdding Curb Appeal Value To Home Curb Appeal Tips

Here are eight ways to help your home put its best face forward.

Homes with high curb appeal command higher prices and take less time to sell. We’re not talking about replacing vinyl siding with redwood siding; we’re talking about maintenance and beautifying tasks you’d like to live with anyway.

The way your house looks from the street — attractively landscaped and well-maintained — can add thousands to its value and cut the time it takes to sell. But which projects pump up curb appeal most? Some spit and polish goes a long way, and so does a dose of color.

Tip #1: Wash Your House’s Face

Before you scrape any paint or plant more azaleas, wash the dirt, mildew, and general grunge off the outside of your house. REALTORS® say washing a house can add $10,000 to $15,000 to the sale prices of some houses.

A bucket of soapy water and a long-handled, soft-bristled brush can remove the dust and dirt that have splashed onto your wood, vinyl, metal, stucco, brick, and fiber cement siding. Power washers (rental: $75 per day) can reveal the true color of your flagstone walkways.

Wash your windows inside and out, swipe cobwebs from eaves, and hose down downspouts. Don’t forget your garage door, which was once bright white. If you can’t spray off the dirt, scrub it off with a solution of 1/2 cup trisodium phosphate — TSP, available at grocery stores, hardware stores, and home improvement centers — dissolved in 1 gallon of water.

You and a friend can make your house sparkle in a few weekends. A professional cleaning crew will cost hundreds — depending on the size of the house and number of windows — but will finish in a couple of days.

Tip #2: Freshen the Paint Job

The most commonly offered curb appeal advice from real estate pros and appraisers is to give the exterior of your home a good paint job. Buyers will instantly notice it, and appraisers will value it.
 
Of course, painting is an expensive and time-consuming facelift. To paint a 3,000-square-foot home, figure on spending $375 to $600 on paint; $1,500 to $3,000 on labor.

Your best bet is to match the paint you already have: Scrape off a little and ask your local paint store to match it. Resist the urge to make a statement with color. An appraiser will mark down the value of a house that’s painted a wildly different color from its competition.

Tip #3: Regard the Roof

The condition of your roof is one of the first things buyers notice and appraisers assess. Missing, curled, or faded shingles add nothing to the look or value of your house. If your neighbors have maintained or replaced their roofs, yours will look especially shabby.

You can pay for roof repairs now, or pay for them later in a lower appraisal; appraisers will mark down the value by the cost of the repair. According to “Remodeling” magazine’s 2015 “Cost vs. Value Report,” the average cost of a new asphalt shingle roof is about $19,500.

Some tired roofs look a lot better after you remove 25 years of dirt, moss, lichens, and algae. Don’t try cleaning your roof yourself: call a professional with the right tools and technique to clean it without damaging it. A 2,000-square-foot roof will take a day and $400 to $600 to clean professionally.

Tip #4: Neaten the Yard

A well-manicured lawn, fresh mulch, and pruned shrubs boost the curb appeal of any home.

Replace overgrown bushes with leafy plants and colorful annuals. Surround bushes and trees with dark or reddish-brown bark mulch, which gives a rich feel to the yard. Put a crisp edge on garden beds, pull weeds and invasive vines, and plant a few geraniums in pots.

Green up your grass with lawn food and water. Cover bare spots with seeds and sod, get rid of crab grass, and mow regularly.

Tip #5: Add a Color Splash

Even a little color attracts and pleases the eye of would-be buyers.

Plant a tulip border in the fall that will bloom in the spring. Dig a flowerbed by the mailbox and plant some pansies. Place a brightly colored bench or Adirondack chair on the front porch. Get a little daring, and paint the front door red or blue.

These colorful touches won’t add to the value of our house: Appraisers don’t give you extra points for a blue bench. But beautiful colors enhance curb appeal and help your house to sell faster.

Tip #6: Glam Your Mailbox

An upscale mailbox, architectural house numbers, or address plaques can make your house stand out.

High-style die cast aluminum mailboxes range from $100 to $350. You can pick up a handsome, hand-painted mailbox for about $50. If you don’t buy new, at least give your old mailbox a facelift with paint and new house numbers.

These days, your local home improvement center or hardware stores has an impressive selection of decorative numbers. Architectural address plaques, which you tack to the house or plant in the yard, typically range from $80 to $200. Brass house numbers range from $3 to $11 each, depending on size and style.

Tip #7: Fence Yourself In

A picket fence with a garden gate to frame the yard is an asset. Not only does it add visual punch to your property, appraisers will give extra value to a fence in good condition, although it has more impact in a family-oriented neighborhood than an upscale retirement community.

Expect to pay $2,000 to $3,500 for a professionally installed gated picket fence 3 feet high and 100 feet long.

If you already have a fence, make sure it’s clean and in good condition. Replace broken gates and tighten loose latches.

Tip #8: Maintenance is a Must

Nothing looks worse from the curb — and sets off subconscious alarms — like hanging gutters, missing bricks from the front steps, or peeling paint. Not only can these deferred maintenance items damage your home, but they can decrease the value of your house by 10%.

Here are some maintenance chores that will dramatically help the look of your house:

  • Refasten sagging gutters.
  • Repoint bricks that have lost their mortar.
  • Reseal cracked asphalt.
  • Straighten shutters.
  • Replace cracked windows.

Visit HouseLogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.

Installing a Spa on Your Deck

By: Dave TohtSpa on the deck of a house

Evaluate the cost of purchasing, installing, and maintaining an outdoor spa to decide if it’s a worthwhile addition to your deck.

Hot tubs and spas come in an array of shapes and sizes, and can be equipped with scores of accessories. Accordingly, they have a wide range of prices. Choosing the right spa depends on its intended use, how big your deck is, and what structural alterations will be required for your deck. In addition, you’ll need to know the cost of installation, day-to-day expenses, and how much you can expect to recoup on your investment should you sell your home.

Different types of spas and their costs

It started with that icon of laid-back living, the redwood hot tub. Before long, fiberglass versions with circulating jets appeared called “spas.” Today the terms “hot tub” and “spa” are used interchangeably, but because most units are jetted, spa is the term more commonly used. Spas range in size from two-person models costing about $2,000, to 20-foot-long swim spas costing $18,000 or more. In between are those most popular for decks: 4- to 8-person models costing from $2,500 to $10,000.

Choosing a spa can be challenging. You’ll need to select from a dazzling number of accessories, including cup holders, colored LED lights, iPod docks, stereo systems, pop-up TV screens, and even waterproof keyboards.

“The gadgetry is there to catch your eye while shopping,” cautions Erich Johanson, an experienced spa installer in Olympia, Wash. He recommends choosing established manufacturers and narrowing your choice from there. “Look at the national brands and find one you like,” he says. “Then chose a model that has the features you want.”

His top recommendation is for “full-foam” insulation—a high-density, closed-cell polyurethane foam that fills the cavity between the fiberglass tub shell and the outer cabinet and helps reduce heat loss. In addition, full-foam insulation helps reduce noise and adds stability to the entire unit.

Check installation costs as well. They’ll be dependent on the size of the spa and the ease of getting it where it needs to be. In some cases, limited access may require the use of a crane to lower the spa into place. For an 8-person spa, expect about $300 for delivery and setup.

Adding structural components to carry the weight

The safest—and most cost-effective—location for a spa is the lower level of a deck. A deck only a few steps above ground, if built to code, should be able to support 100 lbs per sq. ft.—a filled 8 x 8 spa at 6,000 lbs. works out to about 94 lbs per sq. ft., just within limits. Check your local codes for any restrictions governing the installation of a spa on a deck.

Even better is a reinforced concrete pad, a great option if you’re planning a new deck or intend to add on to an existing deck. A 4-inch slab will safely bear 115 lbs per sq. ft.

If you want the tub on a deck more than a couple of feet above ground or on an upper level of a deck, things get more complicated. You’ll need to hire a structural engineer to provide specs for a site-specific framing structure to support the weight. Expect to pay an engineer $300 to $500 for these services. The necessary framing for a typical backyard deck may cost only a few hundred dollars, but expect to pay much more if your deck is a high-flying structure perched on a slope.

Accessing power and water

Spas require a nearby source of electricity. Because water is involved, any electrical hookup for a spa must include ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection. This nifty device shuts down the system within milliseconds if it detects the tiniest change in current flow caused by a short circuit. Some spas come with an extension cord with a GFCI built in that can be plugged into a 110-volt, 20-amp circuit.

Larger units require at least one dedicated 220-volt, 50-amp circuit. In addition, there must be an emergency shutoff within sight of the spa, but not closer than 5 feet or farther than 50 feet. A new circuit and shutoff will cost about $800.

Water access is simple; spas fill with an outdoor hose. The spa then heats and circulates the water. Insulated tub covers limit evaporation, but the tub will need occasional topping off. When it’s time to empty the unit, all spas have built-in hose bibs so you can drain the water.

Safety

Getting in and out of a spa provides opportunities for mishaps. A handrail is a good idea for older—and younger—users. A cover with a lock is must if you have children.

If you plan to build your spa into the deck, it may seem best to drop it into the deck so that the rim of the tub sits on the decking. Unfortunately, this makes it easy for people to fall in or step on the cover, and also complicates getting into the tub. The ideal arrangement is to set the spa partially into the deck so the rim is 17 to 24 inches above the decking. That way, bathers can sit on the rim, swing their feet over, and enter the water.

Hot water feels great, but needs to be indulged with caution. The Association of Pool & Spa Professionals recommends keeping the water temperature between 100°F and 102°F, with 104°F as a maximum. A safe soaking duration is 15 minutes. To keep the spa free of bacteria, you must be clean it regularly and add sanitizing chemicals.

Anticipating the cost and value of a spa

It costs as little 50¢ a day to run a spa. That amount can vary according to the amount of use, your local energy costs, the quality of insulation in your spa, and the quality of the cover. Covers typically come with spas, but consider upgrading to a higher efficiency type. The additional cost is modest and the better-insulated covers are often lighter, making them easier to remove.

If you live in a region with a climate moderate enough for year-round use, a deck equipped with a spa should give you a slight edge in selling a home. John Tripp, an appraiser with Foundation Trust in San Jose, Calif., says that spas “normally are assets as long as they have been properly maintained and there is no evidence of leakage or deferred maintenance.”

In other areas of the country, don’t expect much of a return. “They don’t have the payback to meet the cost,” says Richard Koestner, an appraiser with Koestner, McGiven & Associates in Davenport, Iowa. “If they do add any value it would be in the upper price range. It could be detriment if they aren’t in the right market.”

People react differently to the prospect of purchasing a house that has a spa. Some buyers may ask that it be removed as a condition of sale. Others will hardly be able to wait for that first soothing soak.

Visit HouseLogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.

Patio Shade Ideas Under $300

By Jan Soults WalkerShade sails over a back yard patio

Not all shady deals are bad. These patio shade projects are each under $300.

If you hop-skip like a rookie firewalker across your sun-drenched patio, then patio shade projects are probably a hot priority.

But there’s no reason to get burned on price; you’ll find plenty of low-cost shade-giving options to cool your tootsies.

If you’re looking for shade beyond the typical market umbrellas ($45) and freestanding gazebo kits (starting at $200 at home improvement centers), check out these other easy, affordable patio shade projects — all for under $300:

Tall order: vertical trellis

Even if you have overhead shade, low morning or late afternoon light can make your patio uncomfortably hot in summer. Filter low-flying rays with a vertical trellis for growing leafy climbing plants.

The taller the trellis (60 inches or more), the more time you enjoy in the shade. Plus, an attractive trellis adds structure, lush greenery, and home privacy to your outdoor getaway.

Trellises can be made of weather-resistant wood, metal, PVC, or a combination of materials. Build one from scratch in just a few hours for less than $100 using vertical posts and cross members that plants grip and climb.

Or, make a simple frame and add pre-made garden lattice, $20 for a 4-by-8-foot sheet.

Trellises also come in kits ($40-$250 and up) or ready-made ($15-$200 and up). In an hour or less, you’ll be ready to set the trellis in the ground.

For plants, choose climbing leafy or flowering vines, such as English ivy, golden hop, morning glory, clematis, bougainvillea, or roses. Prices range from $10 to $40 and up for climbers.

Or, start veggie climbers from seed ($1 or less per packet), such as pole beans or sweet peas, and harvest the rewards later.

Patio-dwelling trees

Add leafy shade by planting a sapling or ornamental tree in a container. A small (6-10 feet tall) tree will still throw plenty of shade — Japanese maples and dwarf red buckeyes are favorites. You’ll pay $40-$100 for a young tree.

Select a container large enough to stabilize the tree so wind won’t blow it over. Add a wheeled base for shade mobility. Fill out with these other ideas for container gardening.

A potted tree requires more care than one in the yard. Feed it monthly during the growing season and water regularly (once or twice a day in dry weather). As your trees grow, transplant them to larger pots. Winter over container trees indoors — anywhere with ample light and temperatures that won’t drop below 40 degrees.

Potted citrus trees are a beautiful, bountiful option. A lemon tree loves a sunny patio while offering shade and juicy fruits for squeezing. Other fruit-bearing trees include fig and semi-dwarf apple trees.

A potted palm transports your patio to the tropics with wide fronds for dappled shade and an island feel. Chinese windmill, or chusan palm (Trachycarpus), for example, can grow up to 7 feet tall in a container.

Sailing in the shade

Shade sails are triangular or square pieces of high-strength nylon that you suspend over your patio, adding color, pattern, and plenty of shade. The sails require connections to posts, trees, or rigid structural members of your house, such as exposed rafter ends.

A sail with 11-foot sides starts at $40. More expensive shade sails ($170 and up) include hardware (turnbuckles, eye bolts, and cable) for sturdy, wind-resistant installations.

As a frugal alternative, make your own shade sail using a canvas drop cloth ($15 for a 6-ounce, 9-by-12-foot piece). Install grommets ($10 for a kit) at the corners and loop clothesline ($5 for 50 feet) through the grommets.

Shade from the islands

Mix up a mai tai and enjoy a cool respite beneath these tropically inspired patio shade projects:

  • Top an existing structure, such as a pergola, with reed or bamboo fencing. A 6-by-16-foot roll of bamboo fencing starts at $22. Secure the fencing with galvanized staples or roofing nails.
  • Thatch panels ($200 for a 12 pack of 4-by-4-foot panels) are typically made from palm fronds cut into strips. Staple or nail the panels to the top of an existing pergola or awning frame for tiki-hut charm.

5 Deck Makeover Projects Under $300

Lanterns hung over a home deck

By: John Riha

Want to upgrade your deck but watching your budget? Here are 5 easy deck makeover ideas, many well under $300.

1. Add Solar Lighting

If you’d like your wood deck to come alive when the sun goes down, add solar lighting. Solar lights don’t need an on/off switch — they light up when it gets dark, then fade away 4-6 hours later.

You won’t have to plug them in or wire anything, either. Their solar-charged batteries are renewed every day, and the lights are built to withstand all kinds of weather.

Types and cost:

  • Paper lanterns (made from synthetic, weatherproof nylon; $20-$30) are made for hanging and come in all sorts of fun shapes, sizes, and colors.
  • Carriage lights can be fixed on top of a pillar or railing newel post. $45-$150.
  • Solar illuminated replicas of old-fashioned mason jars can be set on any flat surface, about $35.
  • Rope lights have small LED bulbs inside a flexible cord. A 25-foot-long rope with solar charger and stand is $25.

What else: Suspend lanterns from overhead trellises, railings, and nearby trees, where they’ll shed a soft, colorful glow. Wind rope lights around rafters and railings.

2. Install a stone landing at the foot of your deck stairs
3. Put up a privacy screen

4. Paint a faux floor rug on your decking
5. Wash and refinish your wood decking

2. Install a Stone Landing at the Foot of Your Deck Stairs

Dress up the transition from your deck to your yard with a little hardscaping — a stone landing at the bottom of your deck stairs. Stones are a natural compliment to wood decks, and they’ll help prevent mud from forming where there’s heavy foot traffic.

Cost: Flagstone is priced by the pound; you’ll spend $60-$100 for enough stone for a 3-foot-by-4-foot landing.

How-to: Techniques for installing a landing are the same as putting in a patio, although you’ll have to temporarily support your existing stairway while you work around — and under — it.

What else: You should be able to add a landing in less than a day. It’ll get done faster if you hire a pro, but it’ll cost you another $150-$200 in labor.

3. Put Up a Privacy Screen

Whether you’re relaxing alone au naturel or entertaining friends, a little home privacy is always welcome. You can add some vertical supports and fill in a variety of cool screening materials that are as nice for your neighbors to look at as they are for you.

Types and costs:

  • Bamboo fencing comes in a 6-foot-by-16-foot roll for $20-$25.
  • Lattice panels are either wood or plastic, $15-$30 for a 4-foot-by-8-foot panel.
  • Grow climbing plants on a trellis ($20-$100) to create a living privacy screen. Plant climbing vines in tall containers ($40-$120) to raise them above the deck surface and give them a head start filling in your screen.
  • Outdoor fabric resists moisture and fading; $12-$120 per yard. You’ll pay another $20 to have a seamstress cut and hem a 3-foot-by-5-foot panel.

How-to: Your privacy screen should integrate with your deck; make the framework using the same basic materials as your deck railing and structure.

Add some flash by building a frame with 2-by-2- or 2-by-4-inch uprights spaced 1 foot apart, then weaving aluminum flashing between the uprights.

What else: Make sure to position your privacy screen where you’ll get maximum benefit. Sit on your deck and check your lines of sight.

4. Paint a Faux Floor Rug on Your Decking

Punch up a boring old deck with a faux rug. This is a fairly low-cost project with a big wow factor, and one you can share making with your (well-behaved) kids. It works best on a newly cleaned deck (see below).

Cost: Most of your cost will be deck stain or paint in various colors. Because you won’t be using that much stain per color, you can buy quarts. Figure $15-$20 per quart.

How-to: Figure out a size, sketch out the design on your decking, and then all you have to do is paint or stain between the lines. You can use painter’s tape as a guide, but a little leakage is likely on a wood decking surface.

What else: Keep a few basic cleaning supplies on hand for any drips or spills. After the stain is dry, coat the entire deck with a clear deck sealer.

5. Wash and Refinish Your Wood Decking

The ultimate deck makeover is none other than a good cleaning. Applying a coat of deck sealant afterwards ensures your wood decking looks great and will last for decades.

Cost: There are many brands of deck cleaning and brightening solutions. Some require the deck to be wet; others need the decking to be dry. Some are harmful to plants and you’ll have to use plastic sheeting to protect your landscaping. Consult the instructions carefully.

You’ll pay $15-$25 per gallon, enough to clean 300 sq. ft. of decking.

How-to: Scrubbing with a good cleaning solution and rinsing with a garden hose is more foolproof than scouring your decking with a power washer that may damage the surface of the wood.


What else: After you deck is cleaned, apply a coat of deck stain or clear finish. The sealer wards off dirt, wear, and UV rays, and helps prevent deck splinters. A gallon covers 250-350 sq. ft., $20-$35/gallon.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,457 other followers

%d bloggers like this: