wood stain

Preparing Your Wood Fence in Northern Virginia for Staining

Once fence installation has been completed, you may wish to apply a stain to compliment the exterior of your Alexandria, VA home. Staining a fence is not difficult but can take a little time and patience to do it correctly.

Types of Stain

There are basically three types of stain: transparent, semitransparent, and solid stains. The most common stains used on wood fences by our Northern Virginia clients are transparent or semi-transparent stains. Both stains allow the natural grain of the wood to show through, prevent mold and algae from growing with anti-fungal agents, and provide extra protection from outdoor elements because the stain penetrates and bonds with the wood fibers.
Transparent stains maintain the natural color of the wood but are more prone to sun damage, so they are higher maintenance often requiring application once a year. Semitransparent stains are highly recommended. They can give the wood a richer color while providing greater protection and requiring less maintenance.
Because semitransparent stains penetrate the wood, you’ll want to be careful when choosing your color because adjustments after the fact are very difficult. We suggest leave a few fence boards that didn’t get used during fence installation outside to weather over the same period as your fence. Before staining your fence, test out different colors on the loose boards.
Solid stains are seldom used on wood fencing as they can actually cause the wood to splinter and chip. They are more labor intensive as well, since it shows wear much more readily than semi-transparent stains. They are more often used by our Arlington, VA fence clients for decorative outdoor elements such as wood planters or trellises.

Weathering Your Wood Fence

During the milling process, the wood grain can become very tight. Transparent and semitransparent stains need porous wood for proper penetration. New wood fences, especially those built with pressure-treated woods, should naturally weather for about 4-6 weeks to open the pores of the wood before a stain is applied.
You can test the wood at different intervals to see if the wood is ready for staining. Just put some drops of water on the wood and if the water is absorbed, then the wood is ready for staining. If the water beads and runs down the board, then you’ll want to wait a little longer.

Cleaning Your Wood Fence

Of course, you should give the fence a good cleaning before staining. This will remove any lingering mill particles as well as dirt that has collected on the fence over the weeks of weathering. A soft bristle broom and wood deck cleaner can be used to help lift the surface dirt. Hose the fence down and allow to dry thoroughly before using stain.
For more information on maintaining wood fences in Northern Virginia, contact the leading fence company professionals at Armor Fence today.

Preparing Your Wood Deck for Winter

The first days of fall quickly usher in talk of winter. Homeowners are already making their to-do lists to get ready for the first cold snap, frost or snow. So while you are making that list, don’t forget to think about winterizing your wood deck Fairfax VA.

Remove Planters, Furniture and Store

If you have storage in a basement or garage, it’s best to move planters and furniture indoors for the winter. When planters are left out, they collect water from rain and snow which leaks out causing rings and other imprints on the deck. The damper days also allows water to pool and mold to grow. Furniture too can create areas for water to pool, debris to collect and mold to grow.

Clean the Surface

Get out a soft brush broom – you want to make sure you don’t create fine grooves in the wood deck using a hard bristle – and give the deck a good sweeping. Then hose down the deck and go over again with the broom and a deck cleaner. The aim is to remove debris and dirt that can decompose over the winter, breaking down wood fibers in the deck. Be sure to do this in as dry a period as possible. If you are already finding moldy areas, you may use a mold removal product in addition to your deck cleaning product. Be sure to read the qualifiers for the product and make sure it’s suitable for your wood deck in Arlington VA.

Refinish As Needed

If the stain or finish is fading on your deck, the wood or composite fibers are more vulnerable to collecting dirt and mold growth. Transparent stains usually need to be reapplied annually. Before winter hits and degrades your deck further, refinish and reseal the deck. Stains bind with the fibers of the deck and protect it from weather elements. Many deck stains also contain anti-fungal agents that prevent mold and algae from growing, which is extremely helpful in protecting your deck during winter.
Before staining or refinishing your deck, check in with experts in deck building and fence installation. Northern Virginia’s professionals at Armor Fence Co. can provide you guidance on the best products and methods for caring for your deck and fences.

How To Plan Your Northern Virginia Fence Installation

Are you thinking about installing a new fence in your Northern Virginia yard this year? At Armor Fence make sure that your fence built the right way. This helps maintain for years of beautiful service with the lowest possible maintenance costs.

Steps to take:

1. Confirm local zoning ordinances and HOA community requirements. Legal arrangements affect fence height, placement and materials. For those homeowners considering fence installation in Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church and Fairfax, are there any historic district considerations?
2. Mention your plans to your neighbors.Your fence will become part of their landscape too, especially those neighbors who have adjacent properties. There may be a benefit for everyone to enjoy.
3. Take an accurate survey of your property lines before any fence placement plan is chosen.
4. Professional evaluation is necessary to determine if any engineering services will be required. As an example, will your fence also involve the addition of a patio at your Springfield, VA or Herndon, VA home?
5. Make a schedule. Usually, planning is done in one phase while the actual work is done in another. When you contact Armor Fence, we will give you a realistic timetable for your fence project completion.
6. Begin your drawing or contact a local professional firm like Armor Fence to create a drawing. Use accurate dimensions and object placement. Consider the purpose and style of your fence. Also, contact your local utility company to identify the exact location of any underground cables, pipes, and critical infrastructure. Remember, altering these systems may need approval from utility, neighborhood or local authorities.
7. Explore fencing materials and functions. Select those that fit your needs and compliment the surrounding environment. Determine appealing fence style options and materials to compliment your home style and landscape environment.
8. Decide on the style, material, and height for your fence installation. Springfield, VA and Reston, VA Armor Fence customers have a variety of material choices, including wood fences, vinyl fences, aluminum fences, and more upscale materials like brick, flagstone, and natural stone.

Conclusion:

Whatever fence installation options you select for your Northern Virginia property, you will create the most beneficial addition, adding value, function, and aesthetic pleasure for decades to come. Your new Armor Fence will give you privacy, provide protection and peace of mind, and become a valuable addition to your Northern Virginia landscape.

Smart Reasons to Select Composite Fencing in Leesburg, VA

After entering the commercial marketplace in 2007, composite fencing has earned its reputation as a low-maintenance, environmentally friendly favorite. In just six years it’s easy to see why, since there are so many smart reasons to select composite fencing. Leesburg, VA, residents considering a new or replacement fence this season should take a good look at the advances in composite technology before a decision about which fence material will be best for their property.
In the December, 2012 issue of Fencepost Magazine, the feature article is about the rising popularity of composite fencing. Composites are materials manufactured in high-pressure molds, typically recycled plastic and wood, ground finely and fused by resins. The process creates a lightweight, weather-resistant, durable building material. With advances in technology the integrity of composite products has really improved, and the versatility of the material has translated into an amazing array of fence applications, and customers are taking notice.
What makes composite fencing so attractive? The primary reasons are the appeal of a low maintenance fence and a high percentage of recycled components. Combined, they equal a composite fence that lasts five times longer than other fence material that requires, at most, an annual power washing.
No doubt the earliest composites had extreme weather issues, but today’s generation of composite fences appear natural, strong, and versatile. The manufacturers have made significant improvements in the structure and finishing.

Most of the composite fencing products are:

  • Easy to maintain – no sealing or painting
  • Resistant to fading
  • Resistant to mold, decay, and rot
  • Impervious to insects
  • Resistant to warping
  • Not known to splinter or split
  • Self-contained – require no special tools
  • Often wind resistant

Prior skeptics can take heart – the wide selection of styles, colors, and finishes, and increased manufacturing refinement process means composite fences are near clones of wood fences at any normal distance. Besides, there are many other smart reasons to select composite fencing in Leesburg, VA.
Once you see the benefits, it will be hard to ignore that a composite fence installation, embraced by happy eco-enthusiasts and suburban homeowners everywhere, might just offer you the best of all worlds.

Deck

Design Features to Consider When You Build a Deck in Manassas, VA

After you decide to build a deck, what comes next? Here are a few design tips and deck features to consider when you build your deck in Manassas, VA.
There are several basics to keep in mind during your deck planning phase. First, the scope of work, design elements, and materials have a significant bearing on the deck price. Remember compromise will help the best decisions prevail. Second, codes and regulations.Some jurisdictions and communities have more latitude in what options are permitted. Make sure to check your homeowner’s association codes and Manassas municipal zoning. Third is location. As with real estate, it dictates which products and amenities will serve you best based on climate. Fourth, the design elements of color, texture, and style will ultimately determine how your deck not only looks, but how it performs over time. Lastly, your lifestyle hangs in the balance when you factor in maintenance. An abundance of material choices from high to low maintenance are available. Your best choice accommodates not only your budget, but also your time.
When you discuss your deck plans with a professional deck contractor, have a list of needs and desires with creative ideas to review. You may find that adding special deck features is more reasonable, and far more practical, for your individual lifestyle.

Deck Board Pattern

Instead of a standard board pattern, try a Mandela, compass, or another creative pattern as a simple yet powerful way to set a focal point for your outdoor space. Selecting matching or complimentary materials, and designs like herringbone, chevron, or modular can be accomplished with nearly any decking material. Deck installers recommend composite deck flooring and accents as they have a high degree of versatility. This technique can also be used in railing installation, such as the sunburst pattern.

Geometric Shapes and Multi-level Spaces

Modern materials permit more flexibility in construction design, and that holds true for decks. Rather than traditional construction, why not build a curved deck? Or a deck with multiple tiers connected with step-stool stairs that double as built-in seating?

Built Ins

Seating, planters, privacy screens, gazebos – the list goes on.

Finishes

Long gone are the days of the boring one level, one color, one space deck. Today’s decks are dynamic and include mixed-use spaces with mixed-material designs incorporating wood, composite, metal, and glass features. Once again, composite decks lead the way in innovative design.

Lighting

Lights are a critical component of any outdoor addition. Plan ahead and you can add in lighting now, or later. Flush mount lights are ideal for deck lighting since they can be an unobtrusive part of nighttime deck activities. Make sure your electrical service has ample room to add deck lighting or your cost could rise significantly.

Arbors, Pagodas, and Gazebos

These traditional outdoor elements are perfect compliments to your deck plan. They provide visual dimension and shade, and an opportunity to introduce a natural element into your deck experience. Just make sure they are anchored to structural supports for safety.
No matter what your deck is designed to do, these are some of the many design features to consider when you build your deck in Manassas, VA. Here’s to many years of happy memories on your Manassas deck!

Research Fence Cost Before You Contact a Fence Contractor

Planning a new fence is a rewarding process with simple guidelines. Before you contact a fence contractor, research possible fence cost. In Manassas, VA, prices will vary depending upon several factors:

  1. Materials make all the difference in your fence cost. These are common types of fence materials:
    • Chain link fence
    • Classic wood fence
    • Vinyl (PVC) fence
    • Composite materials
    • Steel or aluminum ornamental fence
    • Deck or railings
    • Farm fence
    • Ornamental fence
    • Automated gate system
    • Security fence
    • Gates
  2. The size and height of your fence will be the primary determinant in how much fence you need. That, combined with your fence material selection, will equal the biggest chunk of your fence cost.
  3. Calculate the number of line posts, corner posts, and gates needed. This will vary depending on the number of gates, the distance between posts, and the height of your fence. Post distances generally vary between 6 and 8 feet.
  4. You could tackle a fence installation yourself, but factor in the cost of specialized equipment and tools. Best to leave this high visibility project to a professional fence contractor.

There are some things you can do before you talk to a fence contractor to keep your costs down:

  1. Get an accurate site plan of your property
  2. Consider an aerial of the property from Google Earth for reference
  3. Clearly mark your property boundaries and any setbacks or local zoning requirements
  4. Determine where you want to place your fence line
  5. Make sure your fence meets all legal and HOA restrictions and regulations
  6. Do your homework. Research materials cost, benefits and drawbacks, and intangibles such as future maintenance and repair
  7. Draw and measure the perimeter of your fence
  8. Allow gates for access, both pedestrian and vehicular, depending upon your needs
  9. Using the total linear board feet of your fence perimeter minus the area needed for gates, find your sum total linear board feet and select your fencing material
  10. Do you need a lattice privacy topper, seal or paint, hardware and fasteners for gates, or post caps?

A caveat about fence cost: sometimes natural resources are exposed to price fluctuations due to global conditions, so be thorough and timely in your research. Chain link fence costs range from $6 to $40 a foot depending on the gauge and finish, but expect to pay in the lower end of the range in the Manassas, VA market. A classic Virginia wood fence will run somewhere between $10 and $20 per linear board foot. Vinyl and PVC around $17 to $20, while composite fence materials vary. The average cost ranges from $30 to $50 per foot for professional installations, and $20 to $40 per foot for materials alone. Ornamental wrought iron and steel round out the upper end with prices often custom quoted.
So, before you contact a fence contractor research your possible fence cost. In Manassas, VA, there are many options to suit every taste and budget. Doing your homework will no doubt result in the highest quality fence for your investment.

Trending Options for Custom Decks

One of the most rewarding home improvement projects is the addition of a deck. With advances in materials technology, getting your homework done before you speak with a decks contractor can give you a leg up when designing and planning your deck project. Let’s explore the latest trending options for custom decks in Manassas, VA.

Deck Materials For Every Budget

Wood decking products are still the most popular choice for deck construction, but homeowners are discovering the advantages of composite deck materials and alternatives like decking tiles. These options are more durable and easily repaired without the heavy maintenance requirements of wood. From pressure treated woods for structural strength, to rot and pest resistant natural woods, to manmade materials like up cycled composites, stamped concrete and fabricated stone, and even metals for finishing details, mix and match coordinates are everywhere. Combining natural features with more upscale accents like stone, metal, and even glass fixtures and accessories can create a whole new sophistication for your custom deck.

Accent With Color, Pattern, and Texture

Coordinated and complementary materials add a rich dimension to your architectural aesthetic. There are a dizzying array of colors, textures, and finishes to consider. Design patterns are also a popular and low-cost way to add personality to your custom deck. But no matter your style or taste, you will find designing your deck to be an inspiring and exciting process.

Deck Accessories Make the Difference

Your custom deck is a space you will enjoy for years to come. Rather than a simple wood platform for more activity, you can make an exquisite indoor/outdoor space that facilitates entertaining, relaxing, and gracious living. Low-voltage lighting is a good option for safety and ambiance at night. Built in gazebos, pergolas, and arbors give relief from the midday sun. And seating options can either be built-in, flexible, or a combination of both.
Don’t underestimate details like post caps, task and specialty lighting, large hanging baskets and planters, and ornamental railings. These are just a smattering of accessories that will transform your deck into your favorite place in the house.

High-end Custom Deck Trends

Outdoor spas and kitchens are the latest trend in the movement to live outdoors. Hot tubs have long been the fun deck destination, but outdoor showers, pools, and landscape water features are making a revitalized appearance on Northern Virginia decks.
And outdoor kitchens are popping up all over the country. Some outdoor cooking is as simple as a fire pit, fireplace, or barbecue grill, but current trends reflect a much more robust effort to move the classic American kitchen out to the deck or patio, where ovens, sinks, and cold storage are transplanted to the most comfortable room in the house – the deck.
If you are planning a custom deck in Manassas contact the deck and patio experts at Armor Fence. Our skilled craftsmen have been building decks for clients in your community for over 20 years. When crafted properly, a new deck adds value to your home and a whole new angle to your lifestyle. No matter the material, size or accessories, we can deliver the deck of your dreams. Call Armor Fence today at (703) 361-1141 for your free consultation and estimate.

Design Considerations for Your Screened Porch in Leesburg, VA

Before you plan a screened porch in Leesburg, VA, make sure to consider basic design elements to ensure you get the best screened porch for your family’s lifestyle. From the ground up, your porch can be planned and designed to add significant value to your home and your family lifestyle.

Let There Be Light

Both the sunlight in your screened porch and the natural light filtering into your home will be affected by where you place your porch. Be aware of sun angles throughout the year, existing window locations, and passive solar benefits in winter that may be lost. Both light and temperature will need to be factored into your equation. Believe it or not the design of your roof and ceiling can also greatly contribute to the amount of natural light as well as your home’s ability to utilize passive solar heat and natural ventilation.

Screened Porch Architectural Necessities

Your screened porch should match the scale and aesthetic sensibility of your home. That said, make sure to allow enough space for the activities you will accommodate, such as eating space, an entertainment/media area with seating, and pedestrian traffic from the house to the outside. Make exterior entrances inviting with casual seating, and mid-level platforms with plants, or perhaps an outdoor grilling area, to break up long flights of stairs. This arrangement makes for a gradual transition space between your home and your yard where you can use landscaping techniques to blend the two.

Materials Make The Difference

The marketplace is flooded with an assortment of construction materials to enhance the look and feel of your screened porch. Stamped or poured concrete, tile, stone, and wood are all materials to explore. And screens offer subtle differences between fiberglass and metal. There are many exciting design possibilities. Just remember to distinguish between the structural components, such as support beams, footers, and load bearing walls, and materials more suited to interior applications or finishes. Some things can be negotiated, but structural elements are too important to compromise quality. It can be an overwhelming process, so take your time up front and consult with trained professionals who can navigate the design/build process with you.
If designed and constructed properly, the screened porch at your Leesburg, VA home will become the center of your activities and the heart of your home for many years to come.

The Rising Popularity of Composite Decks in Brambleton, VA Neighborhoods

There are many decisions homeowners face when building a deck, but materials selection is by far the most important. One trend worth noting is the rising popularity of composite decks in Brambleton, VA neighborhoods. Before you decide what is best for your home take a good look at the advances in composite materials and the advantages they offer.
Composites are products manufactured of either virgin or recycled plastic and wood, ground to a pulp and fused by resins in high-pressure molds. The resulting composite is a weather-resistant, durable, lightweight construction material. Over time the strength and consistency of composite products has improved tremendously, and it’s versatility has transformed the design and construction of decks in Brambleton. People are taking notice.

What makes composite decks so popular?

The key reasons include the appeal of a low maintenance deck surface and environmentally-friendly recycled components. Combined, they offer composite decks that perform, on average, five times longer than other decking materials. And, while wood decks require regular, labor-intensive care in the form of sanding, staining, and sealing to protect them from exposure to the weather, composite decks just need periodic hosing off and an occasional pressure-washing to remove accumulated mold or stains.
When composites first entered the market the prototypes had performance issues – sagging, warping, and cracking were common. But today’s composite materials have:

  • increased tensile strength
  • less vulnerability to weathering and malfunction
  • with a full range of colors and finishes
  • they appear as natural as the materials they emulate.

Manufacturers have made significant improvements in composition and molecular structure to improve the versatility and life of their composite deck products. Some of the advantages of composite deck materials to consider are:

  • Easy to maintain – no sanding, or staining, or sealing
  • Fade-resistant
  • Resistant to mold, decay, and rot
  • Impenetrable by insects
  • Resistant to warping
  • Does not splinter or split
  • Available in a variety of colors, finishes, and styles
  • Available with hidden fastener systems

The refining of the manufacturing process means composite decks in Brambleton, VA neighborhoods are hard to tell apart from wood decks. Quite often, you won’t know until you ask.

Conclusion:

Once you see the benefits, it will be hard to ignore that composite decks in Brambleton, VA might just offer the most value for your investment dollar. Embraced by delighted eco-enthusiasts and suburban homeowners everywhere, composite decks might just offer the best of all worlds.

"Disaster Decks" Contestant? Avoid the Temptation When Building Custom Decks in Arlington, VA

HGTV’s Hunky Deck Show Host, formerly of Deck Wars and Decked Out, has a hot new TV gig. If you’re getting ready to take on a DIY custom deck in Arlington, VA, or are instead making plans with a competent deck company to design and build your backyard dream deck, this could be a great way to spend a few hours of research.
Self-proclaimed deck construction expert and experienced hardware handyman Paul Lafrance is rolling out a new series for his “deck dynasty” – Disaster Decks, appearing on HGTV. According to an article in the Vancouver Sun last month, Lafrance saw a need for home-and-garden entertainment with a classroom component.
Describing his passion for building decks, he says “the backyard is open territory for creativity.” You will find this true as you pass through the custom deck planning process. With thousands of possible deck design choices – materials, combinations, colors, coordinating colors, textures, and architectural styles, building a deck is no small task, and not to be undertaken lightly. From homeowners covenants to zoning ordinances and safety procedures; from proper materials handling to high tech-joining and fastening techniques, there is quite a bit of expert knowledge required. Turns out there are advanced skills needed to properly construct a deck in Arlington, VA to pass the final building inspection for a certificate of occupancy (CO).
Building a custom deck in Arlington requires a thorough mastery of zoning regulations, materials handling safety, and environmental consciousness that not every person with a hammer or drill respects or enforces. A reputable decks contractor will provide you with insurance and license verification in writing, pull any necessary municipal permits prior to construction starting and make sure they are prominently displayed, and keep a project manager or supervisor on-site until your custom deck is complete.

Contact us:

Contact Armor Fence for a high-quality custom deck, designed and built to your specifications, with the expert guidance of our experienced professional deck builders. With over 20 years of deck building under our belts, we are your locally owned, family-operated custom deck builders in Arlington, VA.
Paul LaFrance still loves to see clients’ reactions “after 16 years. I know the emotional impact that it has on people, having a vacation spot in their own backyard,” he says. Building a custom deck, in Arlington, Virginia or half a world away, anywhere people want to enjoy nature and have fun. “It is very rewarding.”