Outdoor Lighting

When someone visits your home, the outside is always the first thing they see.  To add curb appeal to your home as well as give it an aesthetic overhaul, you can install some outdoor lighting.  Outdoor lighting can range from simple to complex, but either way your home will never look the same.

The first steps to getting your home lit up in the night is to decide on a design plan for your home.  You need to decide on the types of fixtures, what you want to shine a light on, and where you can actually install the lights.

You need to start by deciding on what types of fixtures you want to use.  The available fixtures for your outdoor lighting needs include: spot lights, step lights, pathway lights, and more.

Spotlights provide a wide area of light that is often very bright.  If there are certain areas you need lit up for any specific reason, a spot light is the simplest method to do so.  They can be installed in almost any location, can be directed in many directions, and typically only require minimal power to function.  Many spotlights are actually used with motion sensors to add safety and security to the home.

solar path lightsWhen it comes to path lights, it’s important to look at the different types.  Many people go with solar lights because they are inexpensive and super easy to install.  For installation, you power them “on” and drive them into the ground where you want them.  When they are “on”, they charge during the day and actually light up at night once the sunlight threshold is low enough.  The downside to solar lights is that they can either not power through the entire night (depending on the charge) and they are not the brightest of lights.

If you are looking for a brighter option in path lights, there are many options available that require a run of power.  The cabling is easy enough to install as you dig a small trench, place the cable in, and cover it back up.  The cabling here is designed to withstand outdoor temperatures and weather.  With this design, the lights are completely controlled by you, either by switch or by timer.  These lights are also brighter as they are not running off of a rechargeable battery through the night.

Regardless of your choice in path lights, the idea is to outline a safe walkway with the lights.  Though they can be used in other aesthetic regards, typically they are for shining a light through safety.

step lightsStep lights provide a similar function as path lights.  These lights are installed on any steps and give you a clear indication of where the steps are so you can avoid any unnecessary trips or spills.  There are several options for step lights.  You typically either see them on the back side of each step or along the wall leading up the set of stairs.  Either method requires a little more work than your path lights.

To install step lights, you may have to get a little inventive depending on your steps.  If your steps are wood, you can easily carve out sections to run and hold the lights so they can sit flush with the steps.  You will be able to run the cabling on the backside of the steps with little problems.  If your steps are made of stone or any other harder material, you may have to get a little creative.  Either you will need drill through the material, in which case, it’s as simple as wood steps, or you can run the cabling on the outside of the steps.  If you decide to run the cabling on the outside, just ensure that they are either well-hidden or tacked down so no one can trip on them.  You can also find a runner that will hide the cable for you while blending in with the steps.

There are many other options to help improve the look of your home.  You can purchase uplights to place around your deck or patio.  These lights, as their name suggests, shine light in an upward direction.  Some provide color gels so you can alter the color of the light.  When placed against a surface or a yard feature such as a fountain, the look can be incredible.

deck lightsThere are also options for deck and patio lighting.  Some of these lights will run around a railing while other will hang from an awning.  Either way, the installation is relatively simple.  It’s going to be similar to running a string of lights around the area you want lit up.

Now, there are also some lighting options that I would not recommend you try yourself.  These would include in-pool lighting, any lighting that will be installed directly into your patio/deck floor, any large lighting design that requires its own power source (you will need an electrician for this, anyway).

Adding some light to your home can be a simple job.  Sometimes it’s just easier to hire someone else to do it, especially if any lighting is going on the roof or hanging from your eaves.  Anything that can pose a risk of injury, I would recommend leaving to the professionals.  If you are looking to hire someone, my recommendation goes to Outdoor Comforts, providers of outdoor lighting in Houston, TX.  These guys have done some amazing work and have recently expanded.  They also have you covered if you are looking for outdoor lighting in San Antonio, TX.

Cleaning Grout

We’re going to start off with a simple “fix” you can perform around your home which will undoubtedly improve the look of your walls or floors.  Of course, this only works if you are using tiles somewhere in your home and the grout in between the tiles has started to discolor or become dirty.

nice clean groutThere are a few steps you should attempt prior to fully replacing the grout.  The first is very simple, though it can be a bit of work depending on the area your tile covers.

What you want to do is take a small piece of sandpaper and fold it in half.  You then want to run the sandpaper back and forth along the grout lines to remove any and all stains that are simply on the surface of the grout.  You can also try to use a pencil eraser, though sandpaper is often more effective.

If you are unsuccessful with sandpaper, you can purchase some grout cleaner from your local hardware store.  If you prefer to save a little money, you can make your own mixture with bleach and water.

When working with the cleaner or the mixture, you want to make sure you are wearing protective gear including goggles and gloves.  The cleaner needs to be sprayed or poured on to the grout and then worked around, usually with a toothbrush.

If you are still unsuccessful in cleaning your grout with sandpaper or grout cleaner, it may be time to move on and just replace the grout.  We will be touching upon a DIY grout installation soon and will link to that once we complete it.