Fictional Garages That You'll Want

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Fri, May 15, 2015


'Create Your Dream Garage'

If you looked out into your garage right now, what would you see? Chances are, you'd see your car or maybe a truck, tools, garbage cans and a collection of boxes filled with miscellaneous items. Or, perhaps you use your garage as a workshop. In that case, you may have a workbench, table saw, a wall of tools and some rolling cabinets. You may think of a garage as just a place to work or store things. But, have you ever seen a cool garage in a movie and wanted one just like it? Take a look at some memorable garages from a few popular films.

The Bat Cave/Garage in the movie Batman

If Bruce Wayne/Batman ever had any old books, used clothing or even a new waffle iron still in its original box, he would have plenty of space to store it. Batman's bat cave/garage holds a bank of computers, monitors and even a moving platform designed especially for the bat mobile. This superhero has an elaborate workshop in his garage where he comes up with the latest tool or weapon that is sure to come in handy when fighting villains in Gotham city. If you had Batman's bat cave/garage, you may never want to go back into the house again. But, could you ever get used to the live bats hanging from the ceiling?

Doc Emmet Brown's Garage

Does the name Doc Brown sound familiar? It probably does if you saw the movie, Back to the Future. Doc Brown conducted all of his experiments in his garage including his work on a car that travels through time. If you like to tinker with cars, machines or appliances, you probably dreamed of trying all of the clever mechanical inventions in Doc's garage. The main character in the movie, Marty McFly, visited Doc's garage in the first scene to play a few notes on his electric guitar. He discovered the hard way that Doc had tweaked the speaker system just a little bit. I liked the invention that Doc created to feed his dog, Einstein. Just goes to show that inspiration and creativity can happen in all sorts of places.

The Garage in Ferris Bueller's Day Off

If you're into movies made in the 1980s, there is a good chance you saw Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Ferris is a teenager who decides to make the most of a beautiful spring day by skipping school. He invites some friends along for the ride. His best friend, Cameron Frye, has a garage with glass walls that looks like it's perched in the tree tops of the surrounding woods. This is the home of the red Ferrari that the kids take for the day. This garage is not just a structure that protects vehicles from the elements. It's really a showroom for the fancy cars belonging to Cameron's father. It's the perfect place to display a classic sports car as long you never mistakenly put the car into reverse instead of first gear!

I hope that thinking about these garages inspires you to new and imaginative changes in your own garage. Thanks for reading!  - Alan

Topics: dream garages

Landscaping Tips to Help You Save Water

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Fri, May 15, 2015


'Create a New Landscape That Saves Water'

Do you spend a lot of time watering the plants in your yard during the spring and summer months? If you do, you may be looking for some alternatives to traditional landscaping ideas. Whether you're a Californian dealing with drought conditions or someone who's simply looking for ways to conserve water, there are some unique landscaping ideas you may want to try. Enjoy!


Have you ever heard of xeriscaping? A xeriscape is a type of landscape that requires very little water. In fact, the Greek word xeros means dry. A xeriscape includes a lot of drought-resistant plants such as yarrow, sedum, Agastache, and Mojave sage. These are just a few examples of plants that flourish in hot temperatures without supplemental water. Now, some people may picture this type of landscape as being dull and uninteresting, but drought resistant flowers such as Spanish Gold Broom, Torch Lilies, and Prairie Coneflowers can bring brilliant color to a xeriscape.

Alternatives to Plants

There are plenty of attractive landscape designs that don't include any plant life. For instance, you may want to create a walkway in your backyard made of natural stones. The different sizes and shapes of the natural stones can add appeal to your property. Another idea is to build a low rock wall or create a small stone bridge in your yard. Statues and gazing globes are other fun additions to a landscape. A rock garden with stones of various colors can be arranged in a way that is pleasing to the eye. Instead of a rock garden, you may want to make your patio area the focal point of the backyard. A table, chairs, and an outdoor sofa can create an inviting atmosphere for friends and family. You may even want to install a stone barbecue pit to use throughout the spring and summer. Subtle lighting contributes to the tone of a peaceful patio area. I suggest you think about the activities you enjoy with your family as you brainstorm the changes you want to make.

Ideas for Reusing and Recycling Water

There are countless ways that you can reuse or recycle water throughout the day. For example, pour the leftover two inches of water in your drinking glass into a large pitcher instead of down the sink. At the end of the week, water all of your houseplants with the water accumulated in the pitcher. Use the leftover water in your teapot to water the plants on your patio. The next time you clean your fish aquarium, pour the old water on your outside plants instead of dumping it down the sink. If you like to go on picnics with your family, save the melted ice water in your drink cooler and pour it on your plants at home. The leftover water in a humidifier is perfect for watering your plants and flowers.

If you don't want to completely overhaul the landscape of your yard, try adding some drought-resistant plants into the mix in order to conserve water. When it comes to conserving water, just a few simple changes to the landscape can make a big difference! Thanks for reading.-Alan

Topics: landscaping tips

DIY Outdoor Furniture With Leftover Wood

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Tue, May 12, 2015


'Enhance the Look of Your Gazebo or Patio with Wooden Outdoor Furniture'

When you think of outdoor furniture, you may picture a glass-topped patio table surrounded by plastic chairs and a couple of resin chaise lounges. Certainly, this is a comfortable patio setup for friends and family. But, how about doing something a little different this year? A collection of wooden outdoor furniture can make your patio area look all the more inviting. Furthermore, you can construct pieces of wooden outdoor furniture using leftover wood found on your property. This is a creative way to make good use of old wood that would otherwise be tossed out. Take a look at some ideas I found for imaginative pieces of wooden outdoor furniture.

A Unique Patio Table

Do you have any empty pallets in your storage shed, garage or barn? If you do, you have the raw materials for an appealing outdoor coffee table. This table can be made with two pallets of practically any size. The construction involves attaching two pallets together with small blocks of wood and putting sealant on the table to protect it from moisture. Make sure the pallet on the top has a relatively even surface that will support cups and plates. You can either set your pallet table on the ground or attach casters to it so you can move it around the patio area more easily.

A Table Made of Old Wine Crates

Old wooden wine crates can also be used to make a table. If you have an intimate backyard area, you may opt to make a table using two small wine crates. Alternatively, if you want a full size table you could use four large wine crates. I suggest that you put a coat of sealant on the wood to protect it from the spring and summer rains. Leave the names and illustrations of wine makers on the sides of the crates to add a little more interest to your creation.

A Pallet Loveseat for the Patio

A pallet loveseat is a fun idea if you don't want a full-sized sofa on your patio. Its arms, legs, and seat are fashioned out of scraps of wood, while the back of the loveseat is made out of a pallet. You may leave the seat uncovered or put some colorful cushions on it to make it all the more welcoming to guests. Be sure to invest in some sealant to protect the wood from moisture.

A Simple Chair for the Patio

This project is perfect if you're looking for a simple chair for your outdoor area. It has a camp chair design and you can add a small cushion to the seat to make it more comfortable. This wooden chair should be treated with water resistant sealant to preserve the wood.

Finally, all of these wooden furniture items need to be kept clean so they stay in good condition. Use a mixture of mild soap and warm water to remove dirt from your chairs and tables. Then, put your furniture out in the sun so it can dry completely. You may need to reapply water resistant sealant to your furniture if you see the wood start to fade or cracks begin to form. There are also protective fabric covers available that can extend the life of a piece of wooden outdoor furniture. Thanks for reading!  - Alan

Topics: diy outdoor furniture

Low Maintenance Perennials to Make Your Patio Pop

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Fri, May 8, 2015


Does your patio area need some lively color? One of the easiest ways to give your patio some flair is to plant a batch of perennials. I searched for information on some appealing perennials that are very easy to care for. Take a look at a few low-maintenance perennials that may be just perfect for your patio area.

Butterfly Bushes

The butterfly bush lives up to its name; it's irresistible to butterflies of all types, along with other insects. Imagine sitting on your patio this summer, watching the butterflies meander through these lovely purple blooms. If you prefer, you can choose butterfly bushes in pink, yellow, white, red, or all of the above. These plants are easy to care for because they are at home in soil that is reasonably moist. They like full sun, so you don't have to worry about them getting too much light. Make sure these bushes have plenty of space to grow because they can reach heights of more than six feet tall! They only need to be watered during long dry spells. If a dry spell occurs, go out in the morning to water these plants slowly so the water seeps deep into the soil. I suggest that you remove or 'deadhead' any dying clusters of flowers you see in order to keep your butterfly bushes healthy.

Black-Eyed Susans

If you want a gathering of bright, cheerful flowers around your patio, then black-eyed Susans are an excellent choice. These are hardy flowers that don't need any water unless the ground becomes completely dry. If a drought does occur, simply water your flowers at the base until the roots are soaked. Black-eyed Susans resist pests and can grow to be three feet tall in well-draining soil. When you see black-eyed Susans start to spring up around your patio, you'll know that summer has arrived. Furthermore, you'll be enjoying the vibrant yellow of these flowers straight into the fall season.

Purple Coneflowers

A collection of purple coneflowers adds enchanting color to any patio area. One look at the petal formation of this flower and you'll see how it earned its name. Purple coneflowers can flourish in any type of soil and love the sunlight. These blooms require about an inch of water per week, which they can get through rainfall. If the ground becomes bone dry, however, water these plants at the base to give them the nourishment they need.


Peonies are sometimes referred to as the queens of the garden. This is easy to believe if you've ever seen their beautiful white, red, pink, or yellow petals. Peonies can grow in almost any type of soil. These lovely blooms don't need much water. In fact, you only need to water them if there is a prolonged dry period during the summer. Be sure to water these flowers at the base instead of on the petals. They thrive when they receive several hours of sunlight each day.


Hostas are low-growing green plants with large, flat leaves that can complement the more colorful flowers around your patio. Keep in mind that hostas with light green leaves need more sunlight than varieties with dark green leaves. If you have a shaded area around your patio, you may try planting some hostas with dark green leaves. If you have a drought, be sure to water your hostas to keep them in good condition. They flourish in well-drained soil.

These are just a few suggestions for when you're ready to plant some flowers around your patio. Good luck and thanks for reading!-Alan

Topics: low maintenance perennials

A Few Of Our Favorite Garage Doors

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Sat, May 2, 2015


To some people, a garage door is just a practical item that provides security for the things in their garage. They raise and lower the door every day without giving it a second thought. To others, a plain garage door is the perfect place to display a cool picture or an intriguing design. Have you ever thought of giving your garage door some extra flair? Consider a few ideas and check out some garage doors that will have you doing a double-take!

A 3-D Poster

Imagine walking by your neighbor's garage only to see a gigantic white alligator staring out at you. This is just one example of a memorable garage door poster. Many of these posters display colorful, attention-grabbing 3-D images featuring animals, flowers, cars, outdoor scenes, and more. You can put up a poster displaying a herd of galloping horses, an image of a never-ending highway, or a pirate ship sailing on stormy seas. These posters allow you to be as creative as you want when dressing up your garage door. Many of these types of posters are available online. I recommend you measure your garage door so you can order a poster in the appropriate size.

Stenciled Designs

If you prefer to add just a little extra dash of appeal to your garage door, you could opt for a stenciled design. For instance, you could use stencils to create a quiet nature scene on your garage door. There are stencils that allow you to decorate your door with ivy vines, flowers, butterflies, and trees. Another option is to use stencils to write an encouraging message on your garage door, such as a quote from the Bible. Or you may want to display an inspirational quote from a famous person. With stencils, your imagination can run wild as you decorate your garage door. Most craft stores offer a variety of stencils and paint that can be used for this type of project.

A Garage Door Mural

If you're interested in having a mural on your garage door, there are professional artists who can take on the project. They know how to take the measurements of the door into account when creating the parts of a scene. Putting up a mural is a permanent way to make your garage door stand out from the crowd in your neighborhood. It could be a barnyard mural or one that features a quiet scene in a garden or pasture. Animals, trees, and flowers are all typical elements found in garage door murals. Some people like to display murals that feature famous people in history, including presidents, inventors, leaders, and even sports figures. The unique combination of colors and textures as well as the small details are what make garage door murals so special.

So whether you want to put up a 3-D poster with Velcro, create a design with stencils, or display a mural that is a true work of art, you have a lot of options when it comes to decorating your garage door. Thanks for reading! - Alan

Topics: garage doors on the metal garages

Spring Cleaning Your Shed

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Thu, Apr 30, 2015


Create More Floor Space

Spring cleaning gives you the chance to organize your shed and create more space inside the structure. One specific way to do this is to install large hooks or even a tool rack on one wall so you can hang up your large tools. So instead of taking up valuable floor space, I suggest you hang your rakes, brooms, and shovels on the wall. There are even hooks designed to support the weight of a wheelbarrow! It's much easier to sweep the cobwebs and leaves off of the floor of your shed when you don't have to move a lot of brooms and rakes that are propped in one corner.

Keep Your Seed Packets Organized

Is there anything more frustrating than trying to find one particular seed packet in a drawer that is crowded with them? Save yourself some trouble by organizing your seed packets in a clear container with a lid. It should be about the size of a shoebox. You can set up the container like a recipe box and make labels for various types of seeds. Your seed packets will be protected from pets and other furry intruders, and you'll be able to find what you need right away.

Use an Old Garbage Can for Potting Soil

Trying to pick up a heavy bag of potting soil to pour some into a small clay pot can result in a big mess on the floor of your shed. Instead, you can keep your bag of potting soil in a plastic garbage can with a lid. Put a small metal or plastic scoop inside the bag so you can take out the amount you need. Plus, if you happen to spill some potting soil, it will go into the garbage can instead of onto the floor. The lid on the can prevents pets and other animals from disturbing the bag.

Buckets Can Do Double-Duty

A bucket can take up a lot of space on the floor of your shed. You may want to try hanging your buckets on wall hooks. From there, use them for storing garden gloves, old rags, or gardening aprons. If you need to use the bucket, simply put its contents aside until your task is done.

Invest in a Pegboard and a Set of Hooks

A pegboard is a must-have if you like to keep smaller tools in your shed. Just hang containers of nails, screws, washers, and other small items on hooks stuck into the pegboard. Also, a pegboard is an ideal place to keep hammers, wrenches, pliers, and screwdrivers. By storing them on a pegboard, these tools are out of the way and easy to find when you need them. If you don't want to put up a pegboard, you can design a tool wall that offers a place for all of your small tools.

These ideas are easy to put into practice as you start to make more use of your shed this spring. Thanks for reading! - Alan

Topics: shed spring cleaning

Which Garage Floor Is Right For You?

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Fri, Apr 3, 2015


'What Type of Floor is Right for My Garage?'

Whether you want to make your garage into a workshop or simply park your car there, it's important to have the right kind of floor. Ideally, you want to have the type of garage floor that remains level and stays in good condition. Also, it's a wise idea to a get a garage floor that is easy to keep clean. Look at several types of garage floors and learn some of the advantages and disadvantages of each type. Enjoy!


A foam floor is a series of interlocking foam mats that cover the entire area of the garage. Most foam floors are waterproof and there are many colors and designs to choose from. One of the disadvantages of this floor is that a heavy object can make a lasting impression in the foam. Also, sharp objects may damage the floor. It's best to have a level surface beneath the mats so they lay flat. If you plan to use your garage as a workshop instead of parking your car there, foam is comfortable material to walk around on.


A rubber garage floor is similar to a foam floor. A rubber floor is made up of interlocking mats that fit perfectly within the area of a garage. Some advantages are these floors are waterproof, easy to clean with a hose or leaf blower and can be purchased in many colors. A disadvantage is that if a heavy object sits on this surface for a long period of time an impression may be left behind. Rubber flooring is a good choice if you place it on level ground and want a flexible surface to walk on.


Someone putting a slate tile floor in a garage has a lot of colors and shapes to choose from. One disadvantage is that a slate floor can be expensive to install. Pure slate tiles may not be able to maintain their condition under the weight of a car over a long period of time. Plus, the salt and chemicals used on snowy roads can stick to a car's tires and harm a floor made of slate.

Vinyl and PVC

Vinyl (PDF) and PVC floors are easy to maintain and install. Generally, this type of floor arrives in one large roll. It can be trimmed with a utility knife to fit your garage. One disadvantage of this type of material is that if a permanent stain appears on the floor, there is no way to replace that particular area of the floor. The floor beneath a vinyl or PVC floor must be level in order to get the desired results.


A garage floor of poly-vinyl tile is durable and easy to maintain. Once again, it's important to have a level floor beneath these tiles. A disadvantage is this type of floor can become slippery when moisture collects on it. This type of floor may tear or bubble if it isn't installed correctly.


One of the advantages of having a granite garage floor for is its visual appeal. It is scratch-resistant and available in many designs. Some disadvantages of granite are that it's not resistant to some types of powerful chemicals. Also, it can be costly to install because it must be done with great care.


One of the biggest advantages of a cement/concrete garage floor is its durability. It can easily handle the weight of one or two cars. A disadvantage is that it can be costly to put in a concrete/cement garage floor. If you're looking for long-lasting material with the ability endure the movement of cars, then a concrete/cement floor would be a good investment for your garage.

Remember, it's a good idea to keep the main purpose of your garage in mind while trying to choose the type of floor material that will best serve your needs. Thanks for reading.-Alan

Topics: Types of Garage Floors

Should I Stain My Gazebo?

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Thu, Apr 2, 2015


'Maintaining Your Gazebo'

With spring fast approaching, I'm looking forward to spending more time outdoors. After all of the snow we had this winter, I'll bet you're ready for the warm weather, too. If you're searching for a wonderful place to relax with family and friends this spring, summer, and fall, you may want to get a gazebo. A gazebo is an attractive addition to practically any piece of property. Personally, I think it's an ideal place to sit and watch the spring flowers begin to appear. When it comes to gazebos, people have many questions, including whether it's necessary to put stain on the structure, so I thought I'd use this week's blog to answer some questions about gazebos. Enjoy!

The Benefits of Staining Your Gazebo

Putting stain on your wooden gazebo is a good idea for several reasons. For one, a coat or two of stain keeps rain and other moisture from leaking into the wood. Water can cause mildew on wooden boards or rot them, resulting in major damage to the structure. Another benefit of staining your gazebo is that it protects the wood from the powerful UV rays of the sun. Sunlight can fade the bare wood of a gazebo, causing its boards to turn an unpleasant gray. In addition, a coat of stain can prevent insects from boring their way into the wood. Some insects, such as wood-boring beetles, termites, and carpenter ants, can chew their way into a wooden gazebo and weaken the overall structure. Staining a gazebo gives the wood a deep, rich color. Some owners are careful to select a color of stain that complements other structures on their property. You can find a variety of stains in different colors at many hardware and home improvement stores. Be sure you choose a stain specially designed to protect outdoor structures. I have a selection of pre-built gazebos and gazebo kits. We give customers the option of adding stain to their Amish gazebo kit orders.

How Often Should I Stain My Gazebo?

One way to determine whether it's time to restain your gazebo is to sprinkle some water on its boards. Look to see whether the water forms droplets on the surface of the wood. If so, it means that the current coat of stain is still preventing the water from soaking into the wood. If the wood absorbs the water, however, then it's time to restain the structure. Performing this water test every six months or so is an effective way to monitor the condition of your wooden gazebo.

Staining vs. Sealing a Gazebo

Stain and sealant are not the same thing, but there is one important quality that they share. They are both water-repellent. This means stain and sealant are both effective at preventing mildew and rotting wood on a gazebo. Both of these solutions wear away over time and need to be reapplied. A big difference between stain and sealant is that stain gives wood a rich color while sealant goes on clear. While stain protects wood from fading and turning gray in the sunlight, sealant offers no protection from the sun's UV rays. The fact that stain prevents a wooden structure from fading in the sun is the main reason why many people prefer stain over sealant for their gazebo.

Take good care of your gazebo and you'll be able to enjoy it for years to come! Thanks for reading!-Alan

Topics: staining gazebo

How Soil Affects Your Building Process

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Fri, Mar 27, 2015


"Choosing the Right Foundation for Your Structure"

If you're thinking about getting a new shed, pergola, gazebo, or barn, it's important to look at the type of soil you have on your property. Your structure needs a foundation that will give it the proper amount of support throughout the years. While some soils are vulnerable to erosion and water runoff, others can withstand these natural occurrences. Take a look at the various types of soil and how to make sure you have a stable foundation for your structure.

The Different Types of Soil

Most areas of ground consist of several layers of soil. Of course, there may be a larger amount of one type of soil than another. Bedrock is a solid rock formation found beneath layers of soil. If there is bedrock beneath the soil on your property, then you are off to a good start! Some people think that sand and silt make a good foundation for a shed, gazebo, or other structure. One thing to keep in mind is that you want a foundation that allows rainwater to flow through it and then away from the structure. A layer of sand or silt may erode, allowing the water to carry away your shed's foundation over time. Alternatively, water can run through a gravel foundation without carrying pieces away with it. That's why gravel is preferable to sand or silt when looking for a foundation for your shed or other outdoor structure. If you're considering putting your structure on a clay foundation, remember that water seeps into clay, making it expand and contract. Clay can erode and crack, especially in areas that get a high amount of rainfall. This can definitely affect the stability of your structure over time. Some owners put their shed or other structure directly on the ground. This can be acceptable if the structure sits on an area of high ground that won't flood.

The Best and Worst Types of Soil

The best type of soil is the kind that contains a lot of gravel. Gravel allows melting snow and rain water to flow through it. A foundation of gravel prevents water from pooling around a structure and flooding it. The worst types of soil in this situation are sand and silt. Even silt or sand that is packed into place can experience serious erosion over a period of time. With a sand or silt foundation, you may notice that your shed or other structure is starting to sink into the ground or lean to one side. In short, I recommend that you build your structure on ground that will not shift or erode much over time.

Options for Areas with Bad Soil

If you live in an area with a large amount of rainfall and soil that erodes, you can still have a shed or other structure. You can bring in a supply of gravel and create a foundation for your shed. Erecting a frame around the perimeter of the structure keeps the gravel neatly arranged. Or, you can invest in a concrete slab to serve as a durable foundation for your shed.

Even if the soil on your property is not ideal for an outdoor structure, you can still enjoy one by making your own foundation. Thanks for reading!-Alan

Topics: foundation for your structure

A Heated Garage: Should You Or Shouldn't You?

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Thu, Mar 19, 2015


'Considering Heating Your Garage?'

Have you ever pictured yourself happily working on projects throughout the winter months in a heated garage? Having a heated garage creates a comfortable atmosphere as you finish woodworking projects, perform repairs on your car or accomplish other miscellaneous tasks. Of course, there are both pros and cons to heating a garage. Check out a few basic things to think about as you consider today's question: Should I heat my garage?

The Decision to Heat a Garage

Do you spend a lot of time in your garage during the warm-weather months? If the answer is yes, you probably would enjoy working in your garage year round. This is a great reason to install a heating system in your garage. If you are a business owner who does a lot of work-related tasks in the garage, then it would be worthwhile to have a heating system installed. Alternatively, if your garage is simply a place where you park your car, you may not want to invest time or money having it heated. Thinking about the purpose of your garage and how much you use it is helpful in making a decision regarding whether to install a heating system.

What Is the Cost of a Heated Garage?

The cost of heating a garage depends on what type of system you prefer. For instance, you can purchase a portable electric heater for under one hundred dollars. Often, portable heaters go on sale near the end of the cold-weather season. Along with the cost of the heater, you'll probably see a bit of an increase in your electric bill depending on how much you use the heater. Getting a portable heater is a relatively inexpensive way to maintain a comfortable temperature in a garage. An owner must always take precautions with a portable heater so it doesn't cause a fire. A forced air heater is one alternative to a portable heater. This is a more expensive option because you may want to hire HVAC professionals who can hookup the device and make sure it is properly vented. Installing a forced air heater is at least a $500 investment for most owners. If you choose to install your own forced air heater, it's important to choose the best location for it in the garage. I recommend looking at several types of heaters to find one that suits your needs and your garage.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of a Heated Garage

One of the biggest advantages of having a heated garage is being able to get work done even when the temperature drops below zero. Also, a heated garage can be an appealing place for friends to gather and work on a project together or just share the latest news. One disadvantage of heating a garage is that a person must have it insulated in order to keep the warm air inside the structure for a reasonable length of time. The heat from a forced air heater or a portable heater will disappear through the walls of a garage with no insulation.

So, give it some thought to determine if a heated garage is the right choice for you. Thanks for reading!-Alan

Topics: heated steel garage

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