Properly care for your wood fence and avoid expensive damage and rot


(source: Deuce Cities Hen House designed a unique horizontal picketed wood fence)

A quality, well installed fence can increase your property value; a poor one can do just the opposite. A wood fence can be a beautiful way to define a home’s property border while providing safety and security for kids and pets. Wood fences come in all heights, colors, materials and unique designs.

Damage is caused by the elements and lack of proper care

Overtime, wood can rot, creating an expensive and timely overhaul. But with a little bit of maintenance and care, you can preserve the longevity of your wood fence. Dry rot and wet rot pose the greatest threats to a wood fence. Dry rot occurs when protective oils  on the wood surface fade, losing their efficacy, which causes the wood to become brittle. Wet rot occurs when moisture continually comes into contact with the wood, typically seen in sections where fence posts meet the ground soil. Decay and rot also occur when insects take over a section of wood and continue to spread.

archterra landscape services

Custom wood fence build by Archterra Landscape Services in Edgewood, WA.

Protect your investment and keep your fence strong and attractive for many years

Apply a protectant and stain over the surface of the wood to create an effective barrier against moisture. It’s recommended to reapply the stain annually to maintain an effective moisture barrier. A simple test you can do to learn if you need to reapply a protectant and stain is by sprinkling water over the wood surface and if water beads on top of the surface, and does not penetrate the wood, the barrier is still effective. However, if the wood absorbs the water, this is your sign to apply more stain.

Before you paint and stain your fence, treat it with a borate spray to stop termites and carpenter ants before they can start any damage. Carpenter ants will leave evidence of wood shavings and holes in the fence. If you suspect you have insect damage, spraying the holes with an insect killer will stop the infestation from spreading and further destroying the wood. To avoid termites, use wood that is pressure treated or wood species that are naturally termite resistant, such as cedar and redwood.

Keeping your fence clean from dirt, mud and other debris will preserve the health of your fence. If you allow debris to accumulate on the wood it may also attract insect infestations which will destroy the wood.

contreras renovations

Gazebo and wood and metal fence built by Contreras Renovations in western Washington. 

Build a fence from the ground up

So you want to build a fence but have no idea where to start. Consider the type of material you select for a fence will affect how the fence withstands environmental factors. If you want less maintenance, vinyl and metal are alternative materials to wood.  When you’re deciding to build a fence on your home’s property, consider the purpose of your fence and what is most important from privacy, aesthetics, and securing animals.

A reliable contractor makes the difference

Whether you need a new fence, or an existing fence repaired, selecting a competent fence contractor can ensure you have a properly installed fence. Ask about installation guarantees, fencing product warranties, and review portfolios and testimonials before selecting your contractor.

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2018 Stone and Tile Trends for Your Home

Are you ready to update old tile or stone but not sure where to start? The latest stone and tile trends will refresh your space, giving you a more relaxing and aesthetically pleasing bathroom and kitchen. If you’re putting your home on the market, making these updates will also increase the value of your home and appeal to buyers who want to move past the boring, tired trends.

There are several applications for tile and stone including showers and tub surroundings, countertops, backsplashes, bathroom, kitchen and laundry room floors. Whether it’s a bathroom or kitchen remodel, renovation, upgrade or repair, choosing a contractor experienced with tile and stone can insure their proper installation.

Matte finishes are a gorgeous alternative to glossy tiles. They do not show smudges and water marks as easily as glossy tiles and are less slippery when wet.  The downside to matte tile is that they don’t reflect a lot of light to brighten a space so they should be in a bathroom with plenty of natural lighting.

at matte tile


Quick Tip: What’s behind your tile and stone is important. Make sure the right wallboard or underlayment is used and that showers and tubs are properly waterproofed.

Nude neutrals like beige, grey and cream are here to stay. If you want a pop of color consider a bright piece of artwork, floor rugs or décor towels. Just because you’re sticking to neutral tones doesn’t mean the bathroom has to be one-dimensional. Layer in different shades, patterns and textures.



This unique bathroom combines neutral trends with geometric shapes and patterns. The simplicity of the white walls gives a clean look that doesn’t have to be boring when combined with tile that offers an artful accent.

Throwback to terrazzo

The saying, “everything old is new again” applies frequently to the world of fashion and design trends. Terrazzo was a popular material found in mid-century homes and made a comeback in the 1970s. Today it’s yet again making a comeback. Terrazzo is a budget-friendly material composed of marble or granite chips in concrete to give it a smooth surface. It can be used in the kitchen and bathroom as flooring, tile or countertops.


(source: northstone italia)



Related: Let your kitchen and bathrooms make a one-of-a-kind statement with Countertop Solutions  

Our list of verified and insured contractors will help you hire a trusted professional who will work with you on design and installation.  Visit our directory site stone and tile contractors’ contact information.


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Avoid this Costly Mistake During the Winter Months


Valley Furnace makes your comfort their priority.

Recently I opened my electricity and heating bill and was aghast at the amount. It was more than double December’s bill. I’m smart about saving costs on heat by keeping the house at a cozy 67-68 degrees and I am a big believer in socks and warm layers. I turn lights off when I leave the room, I run my dishwasher only when it’s full, and my windows and appliances are new and environmentally friendly. So what happened? And how can I make sure to avoid this issue again?

When the temperature dropped below freezing after it rained, my outdoor heat pump froze over and my emergency heat setting automatically turned on to keep heating my home. It was the emergency heat setting that drove my electricity usage up and thus a bigger check I had to write.

As the name implies, the emergency heat setting on the thermostat kicks in only when the outdoor heat pump is not working properly. This feature locks out the heat pump and allows the backup heating source to provide 100 percent of the home’s heating requirements.



I learned that during the winter months, I should make a habit out inspecting the outdoor heat pump. According to the experts at Valley Furnace, Inc. your heat pump can build up frost even when the outdoor temperature is above freezing. This is a normal event and you should not be concerned, however within 1 to 2 hours your heat pump should go through a defrost cycle. If you have a large buildup of ice for several days (like I did), contact an HVAC professional at Valley Furnace immediately to avoid serious damage or a sky-high bill. Never pick the ice off with a sharp object as the refrigerant coils can easily be damaged.

Heat Pump Maintenance Saves Money

  • Replace dirty filters and check the air filter for any clogging or damage
  • Inspect indoor air vents and registers and remove any boxes, furniture, clothing or other items blocking them and restricting air floor
  • Keep the area clear and clean off leaves, grass, sticks, snow, dirt or other material that could interfere with the unit’s airflow or block the coils.
  • Take a look at your gutters and make sure they aren’t dripping or leaking onto the outside unit.

For more answers to common heating and cooling questions, visit Valley Furnace’s webpage here.

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Not just for garden tools: Millworks Custom Sheds take on a new identity

Millworks Custom Cedar Sheds

Millworks Custom Cedar Sheds

When it comes to sheds, its time to think outside the box.

Sheds are no longer created just to be a storage space in your backyard. Today, sheds are creative home offices, tiny guest houses, or even a quiet place to sneak away to and have relaxing time. Millworks Custom Sheds can help you design your dream shed, whether you’re using it for a creative purpose or just that extra storage for garden supplies.

she-shed-1 (1)



Millworks Custom Sheds bring your unique ideas to life. Each project is an original work of art, so your imagination is the only limit. Their storage sheds, playhouses, garden sheds, greenhouses, chicken coops, tree houses, dog houses, play systems, and tea houses are pieces of art.

Their custom lumber is milled by a local milling operation and trees are taken from locally sustainable forest operations or from trees removed because they pose a danger to property. They use recycled materials to create our sheds whenever possible so if you have old windows or doors hanging out in the garage, dig them out and give them a new life.


“We love the playhouse/lookout you built for our grandchildren. I cannot get over the construction and the quality of the materials you used (I guess it makes a difference when you produce it yourself). It is unlike any other product I have seen on the market. It is certainly the “leader of the market.” Marshall, Fox Island

“We were lucky to find Dan Britton and his company Millworks Custom Buildings. First, Dan is a really nice person. Dan is also very flexible and patient when it comes to listening to you so that you get exactly what you want. Our family was so happy with the playhouse from beginning to end that we’ve hired Dan twice. It really does not get any better than Dan Britton and his company.” The Locke Family of Carnation, WA

If you’re looking to add a fun new space to your backyard, call Millworks Custom Buildings today to get started.


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3 Reasons to Bookmark Responsible Contractors


While many homeowners are handy around the house, it’s rare that they’re both a skilled painted and trained electrician. And thus comes the time to hire a contractor. But where do you start? How do you know you can trust your home (and wallet and time) with this business? Responsible Contractors can help you make the right choice and save time during the search process. And because home maintenance and projects are always there, we have a helpful blog designed with the everyday homeowner in mind.

1. Your friends don’t have all the background 

Getting a referral from a trusted friend is one of the best ways to find the right dentist, restaurant and (sometimes) a contractor. However, just because your neighbor’s cousin had a stellar experience with one contractor doesn’t mean you just dive in without doing your homework. Our website lists only contractors who are licensed, bonded, insured, and their references must be verified before they can be approved and listed.

2. Save time… and money!

Skip the search engine looking for contractors and instead start with the directory at Responsible Contractors. Knowing that you can trust the contractors listed (and read testimonials from real customers) will save you a lot of time digging through archaic phone books or less trustworthy websites. You can use our directory for “shopping” around and get many free and no-obligation quotes to make sure you are getting the best deal for your project. Bonus: You don’t have to give out any of your personal information to browse our website. No username or password needed to find the right contractor for you.

3. Tips for improving, repairing and caring for your home

Want to know the latest kitchen trends? Click here. 

First time homeowner looking for advice to help you maintain your home? We’ve got it. 

Choosing window treatments for your home? We can help! 

Check out our blog for more helpful home improvement tips. 

Our goal is to assist consumers in the selection of the best general or specialty contractors for their particular needs. We also want to provide consumers with other useful information such as tips for home improvement, home repair, home care or selection of the best construction or remodeling products, so if you have tip or a great idea, or other useful information, please share it with us on our Facebook page.



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2018 New Years Resolutions for Your Home


By now you’ve probably set some resolutions or goals for the new year, but if not, it’s never too late to add home improvement projects to your list for 2018. Here we feature five ideas you can add to your list and tips to help you reach your goals.

But first, detox

After months of heavy holiday meals, a detox is all the rage this time of year. But along with that green smoothie also comes a home detox. First, get out the trash bags and open every drawer, cabinet and closet in your home. Set a goal each day to empty out one drawer or one portion of your closet each day for 30 days. The bags don’t always have to be full of trash, but clothing and other materials you can donate to your local Goodwill or Salvation Army. You can even set aside some bags if you’re up for a yard sale once the weather warms up. By the end of January you will be living with less clutter, and have more space to look around and appreciate your home. This will also help give you a fresh set of eyes to see future projects staring back at you (more on those below). Also, challenge yourself to no shopping (except for food and necessities) for the month of January. Along with purging, not bringing new clothes and decor into your home will really help you reset and be more strategic with what you want to have in your home. Bonus: once your closet is cleaned out, consider updating it with efficient storage to keep you organized the rest of the year.

New year, new paint

Nothing says get rid of that old paint quite like spring (which is right around the corner). Picture yourself opening up the blinds and curtains to take in all of that natural light, how much more relaxing will it be to have beautiful new (or simply touched up) walls? A professional painter can make sure you do the job right the first time, staying on track and on budget.

Kitchen renovation & pantry reset

Now that you’ve cleaned out that junk drawer and all the cabinets in the kitchen (right?), it’s time to dream up a kitchen renovation and start your design and planning process with a contractor. A contractor can help you achieve your kitchen dreams with new cabinets, backsplash and countertops. If you’re wanting to start smaller, enlist a contractor to help you design a new pantry with dedicated storage solutions. Then, instead of opening the pantry overwhelmed, you can exhale a big sigh and see exactly what ingredients you have ready to whip up dinner.

Deck and patio remodel

No better time than now to start working on a new deck or patio. Once you’ve know where and how big you want your deck or patio, you will need a to decide whether you want a wood or composite deck, or maybe a stone or stamped concrete patio. You may also want to consider if you will need railings, a deck or patio cover, and how it will effect your landscaping and existing structures. Do you want a contractor who specializes in particular type of deck or patio, or someone who can handle all phases of your project? Your choice of materials and the expertise of your contractor will greatly effect the quality and final cost. A good contractor can recommend the best materials for your budget and design, but be sure to get multiple bids and check references.

Tackle the garage once and for all 

We all know the garage becomes the biggest black hole for “stuff” in your home, and often times serves more of a storage solution for household items than for its intended purpose of keeping your cars safe and secure. You’ll need to start with junk removal, taking your trash bags through every corner and shelf. As you’re removing trash or other things that don’t belong, think about what an organized garage would look like for you. Consider what you need. Need new doors, cabinets, flooring or storage systems? What is the main purpose of your garage going to be – storage, vehicle shelter, workshop? Just like building a home there are a lot of considerations. Simple or complex, considering all the possibilities will help you select the best contractor for your needs.

Want more ideas? Check out these helpful solutions:

4 clever ways to ban clutter with multi-functional storage solutions
Built-ins beyond the bookshelf
The kitchen remodel: is it for me?

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4 Reasons to Remove a Tree


As residents of the Pacific Northwest, we are fortunate to have city skylines and backyards plush with trees. But sadly we need to safely remove trees due to some obvious and not-so-obvious reasons. A professional tree removal service is a necessary part of removing large, dangerous, or hard to reach trees. This is not a weekend job for even the most talented do-it-yourself homeowner.


It may be difficult to imagine your front yard without that large tree, but there are many important reasons why this might be necessary:

  1. Dead trees can fall and damage your home or cars. They can attract unwanted pests such as termites and rats. Falling branches could cost you thousands of dollars in repairs or medical bills if it were to fall on a person or your pets.
  2. Over-sized and unmanageable trees and branches can be dangerous, but they may also just need a professional pruning without completely removing the tree.
  3. Tree disease is contagious. If your tree died from a disease, it needs to be removed as it could pass on the disease to other trees nearby.
  4. It’s not just the branches that can cause issues, but below the ground, large and forceful roots can grow long and wide, severely impacting your home, foundation and driveway.

Removing a tree from your home or commercial property is no easy do-it-yourself weekend job. Ranger Tree Experts specialize in tree pruning, removal and other services for managing your large, difficult to handle trees. Their friendly and experienced professionals have the talent and skill to get your trees into great shape no matter how big or difficult the job may seem. As a full service tree company, they take a lot of pride in offering everything that you need to make sure your big trees are at their best.


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