Into the Woods – On the House

Into the Woods

By on August 8, 2020
Into the Woods

Into the best Woods of building! Outdoor projects, painting and so much more!

9 Mighty Woods for Outdoor Projects 

Advantages and disadvantages of 9 outdoor woods. 

Choose wisely 

Although no wood is completely immune from rotting and insect damage, some resist decay better than others. Because of naturally occurring preservatives in heartwood, insects and fungi find the woods listed in the chart on the last page undesirable. Each choice has its advantages and disadvantages, so decide which wood best suits your building needs and budget. 

Woods for outdoor projects 

The three most widely available and suitable exterior lumber choices, not treated with chemical preservatives, include Western red cedar, redwood, and cypress. Your geographic location will determine the availability and cost of these materials. Redwood, for example, is widely available and used in the western United States. Western red cedar is commonly sold in the Midwest, and eastern U.S. cypress, which grows throughout the South and Southeast, often gets the nod in those locales due to its availability and economical price. 

Western red cedar and redwood stock tend to appear straight-grained and are dimensionally stable and naturally decay resistant. Both, however, can split when driving fasteners. Also, both species bleed tannins that make using fasteners and painting more problematic. The tannins appear as stains around fasteners and can even show through painted surfaces. Proper prepping of the wood, however, lets it accept all wood stains and clear finishes. 

The third major player, cypress, grows in swamps and has a conical base, with roots that seem to stand out of the water. Its sapwood is almost white, while the heartwood color varies from a light yellow brown to a reddish brown and dark brown. Inland cypress, like the sample shown here, has the lighter-colored heartwood. It features beautiful ash like grain patterns and accepts finish as readily as redwood or cedar. 

Treated woods are common choices 

Early in 2004, the old CCA (chromated copper arsenate) treatment that contained arsenic was replaced by various treatments, but the most common is ACQ (alkaline copper quat). In spite of its shortcomings, ACQ-treated wood holds up well. It might crack, warp, or shrink, but it won’t rot or prove tasty to insects. 

ACQ is a water-based preservative forced deep into the lumber, usually Southern yellow pine. Consequently, the lumber is saturated when banded and shipped. This practice makes treated wood heavy and prone to the troubles listed previously. To avoid these tendencies, you can air-dry treated lumber for two warm months, or purchase KDAT (kiln-dried-after-treatment) lumber. The downside: cost (usually double the wet stuff) and the need to special-order it from lumberyards or home centers beforehand. 

Because only the sapwood accepts the preservatives, heartwood of pressure-treated lumber is not decay resistant, typically appearing tan or pink instead of green. 

White oak 

White oak, the “whiskey barrel” wood, differs from red oak in that it is much less porous. Moisture can’t wick up its end grain. Super-strong, white oak features stainable, straight-grained wood with heartwood that resists decay. Like redwood and cedar, it splits rather easily, so you do need to predrill screw holes for fasteners. 

Top of the line 

Ipe, a relative newcomer, is imported from Central and South America, where it grows rapidly. Also called Brazilian walnut and ironwood, it is so dense that it barely floats. Strong and stable, the functional life of ipe can be as long as 40 years if left untreated. It resists movement, surface checks, warping, cracking, decomposition, and denting. Also, while it is expensive (and sometimes hard to find), ipe is comparably priced with many composite wood products. 

Teak is still available in small quantities, but you’ll pay a hefty price for it. Largely associated with boatbuilding, it doubles as an excellent choice for small outdoor projects where you want the beauty of the wood to speak as loudly as the craftsmanship. 

Mahogany serves as a great project wood. It machines, sands, and finishes well, but costs more than ipe. Be sure to ask for African or Honduran mahogany, (avoiding Philippine mahogany). One nice thing: You can buy it in broad thicknesses for use in large projects. 

Rot proof composites 

Wood/plastic composites (WPCs) are made from thermoplastic resins, wood flour, and wood fiber. Some make use of recycled material, but all are rot proof. Composites have no defects, and do not compress like wood. This density poses special problems for fastening and movement. Solid composites, shownbelow,have greater expansion and contraction rates, especially along their lengths. They heat up in sunlight, and don’t absorb paint and stain. Also, they lack rigidity. However, they don’t splinter and offer good traction in wet conditions. 


Things you Should Never Do During a Power Outage 

Do the wrong thing during a power outage and you could put yourself in danger. 

Delay Phoning It In 

Power companies need to knowwhen your service has been interrupted, and the sooner the better. Even if you think the outage is widespread and it’s probably already been phoned it, it’s best to assume otherwise, and make the call yourself. It’s quite possible that the outage is localized, and if you don’t phone it in, no one will. Fallen trees landing on power lines, broken poles during a windstorm, and other weather-related equipment failures can all lead to small, localized outages that it’s in your best interest to phone it right away. 

Use a Flashlight You Haven’t Touched in Ages 

Don’t be surprised if your battery-powered radio or flashlight won’t turn on when you need it most. You might think the battery is dead, but it could be a deeper issue. Over time, those batteries will leach acid that will get into the contacts. To make sure your devices stay fresh, have a rechargeable LED flashlights on hand for emergencies, and keeping batteries out of your other lights and radios until you need them. 

Light Candles 

Surprisingly, you won’t want to resort to pre-19th century lighting methodswhen the power is out. Candles are wonderful, but they tip over, and they can cause a fire. They also don’t provide strong light, so you’re better off sticking with a bright lantern. A candle presents an obvious fire hazard 

Let Your Phone Die 

When you can’t watch TV and have barely enough light to read a book, playing on your phone or iPad for hours might seem like the only appealing option. But you might want to put it down to save battery.Save your phone until you need it. If the power goes out for a few days you might need it for emergency services. If you can’t resist opening apps, make sure you juice up a portable phone charger in case your lifeline runs out of battery. 

Keep Electronics Plugged In 

You should reallyunplug electronics before the storm hits, because a lightning strike creates a massive surge and could damage your equipment. Install a surge protector in an electric panel, or plug sensitive electronics into a surge-protected power strip. But when the power is out then unplug everything 

Unplug Everything 

All that said, you should still keep one lamp plugged in during a power outage. “Leave one light on somewhere you’re going to see it when the power goes back on, 

Open the Fridge 

Every time you open the fridge or freezer door, you let cold air out—and it won’t be re-cooled until the power comes back on. Unopened, though, your fridge can keep your food at a safe temperature for at least four hours, so try to resist opening it unless absolutely necessary. 

Leave Your Freezer Half-Empty 

Food in a full freezerwill stay good for at least 48 hours, but that number drops to 24 hours for a half-full freezer, says Judge. Think about it this way: Your ice and frozen food are like ice packs, insulating the entire freezer so the unit doesn’t have to waste energy cooling empty space. Be prepared if there’s a storm in the weather forecast. If you don’t have a full freezer, put water bottles in and let it freeze. You can even take gallon-sized freezer bags to fill them up with water and put them in. They will fill in any space.” 

Put a Generator in Your Garage 

Hopefully, you already know that your generator gives off toxic carbon monoxide, so you should keep it in open air away from the house. But even with the garage door open, a garage is still too enclosed and too close to your home. Leave it at least 20 feet from home to avoid the fumes. It’s a silent killer. It’s a colorless, odorless gas, and it doesn’t take long to succumb to carbon monoxide poisoning.” 

Build a Shelter Too Small for Your Generator 

Because you can’t leave your generator in the garage, you’ll need to build a shelter to keep it safe and dry, especially during heavy winds or snow. The best bet is to build a wooden roof shelter over it so that it’s not in direct contact with the elements. A lot of people build them too small, and it ends up melting the plastic on the sides. 

Backfeed Your Generator 

You might be tempted to hook up a portable generator to your home’s main panel or dryer outlet so it “backfeeds” power to your whole home. Don’t do it. You won’t be the only one to suffer if something goes wrong. It is completely dangerous because if they don’t shut off their main breaker, they’re putting power through the grid. The workers trying to fix the problem won’t be expecting such high voltage and could end up with a fatal shock. For everyone’s sake, play it safe and use your generator as intended 



Spray or Roll? 

Here’s a quick comparison to get you started. 

Preparation Time 

Without having to set up the spray equipment, put paint in the reservoir, connect hoses and cords, etc., rolling has a much shorter preparation time. And if you include all the masking that spraying can require, it doesn’t even come close.

Application Time 

All the time you saved in preparation will be lost in how much longer it takes to roll on paint. Regardless of the preparation time, you can paint a wall many times faster with a paint sprayer than with a roller.

Painting Accuracy 

When spray painting interior walls you’ll need to make mask off everything you don’t want to get sprayed, like the ceiling, windows, door and floor. So rollers are more accurate, but you’ll usually need a small brush to do corners.

Spreads Paint Evenly 

It’s tough to pick a winner here. Both spraying and rolling spreads paint fairly evenly, but both can run the risk of overlapping unevenly too.


While it can take some doing to clean your roller brushes and equipment, it’s not nearly as bad as having to clean the spray gun, reservoir bottle, and everything else connected to the gun. 

Many professional painters combine spray painting, roller painting and brush painting depending on the exact surface being painted. Starting with the brush, each method is faster than the previous one, but each method is less accurate than the previous one. That means spray painting is the fastest way to paint large areas where you don’t need so much accuracy, like an exterior wall; roller painting is good for interior walls where you need to avoid getting paint on other surfaces; and brushes help you do the detail work. 

Continue with Information on Sprayer 

Spray Painting Equipment for Do-It-Yourselfers 

If you’re planning to paint large areas, you might want to consider using a sprayer. In the power arena, three types of sprayers are appropriate for do-it-yourselfers: the tank sprayer, the airless sprayer, and the newer, HVLP (high-volume, low-pressure) sprayer. 

Learning to operate them takes just a few minutes. Conventional sprayers, which are powered by compressed air, require considerably more skill and training. They also create excessive overspray. For these reasons, conventional sprayers are best left to the pros. 

Airless sprayers 

Handheld airless sprayers are noisy little devils, but they’re popular with do-it-yourselfers because of their versatility and moderate price, which ranges from about $50 to $175. The higher-priced units have more power, more features and controls, and more tip options. With a high-powered unit, you can paint everything from a radiator to the entire exterior of your house. 

With most models, you draw the paint from a paint cup attached at the base of the sprayer for small projects. On larger projects, you can draw paint from a backpack tank or directly from the can. 

Pump airless sprayers are priced from about $250 for do-it-yourself models to as high as $900 for professional models. These sprayers draw paint from 1- or 5-gallon containers to a spray gun through a long hose. Although you can paint a house exterior with a handheld model, a high-productivity pump sprayer is a better choice. These units pump paint much faster, and the gun is much lighter to hold because no cup full of paint is attached to it. 

Tank sprayers 

Tank sprayers are available in manual pump and battery-powered models. You can use this multipurpose sprayer to apply oil-based stain to wood decks, fences, and even wood siding. Although you usually need to brush in spray-applied stain, the sprayer does the hard part — getting the otherwise drippy finish onto the surface. 

HVLP sprayers 

An HVLP sprayer doesn’t atomize paint. Instead, it uses a high volume of air at very low pressure to propel paint onto the surface. As a result, you have virtually no overspray and no risk of explosion. You can produce a very narrow spray pattern, and you don’t need to cover and mask everything in the room or get dressed up like an astronaut. Minimum personal protection — splash goggles, protective clothing, and gloves — is usually all that’s required, but use a respirator when using solvent paints or when ventilation is questionable. 

HVLP sprayers, priced from $200 to $400 and up, are great for small projects and trim painting, indoors or out. They’re best used with low- to medium-viscosity finishes, such as lacquers, varnishes/enamels, oils, and stains. On models that claim to handle heavier-bodied finishes, such as acrylic latex, you usually must thin the paint. This requirement, combined with the low pressure and relatively small paint cup, makes the HVLP sprayer unsuitable for large projects, such as exterior house painting — unless it’s a doghouse. 

Summertime and Figs off the Tree 

Barefoot Contessa – Ina Garten’s new cookbook  

Modern Comfort Food 

Fig & Goat Cheese Toasts 

  • 1 (1-pound) loaf country bread, halved, and sliced crosswise 3/8 inch thick 
  • 1 (8.5-ounce) jar good fig spread, such as Dalmatia (see note) 
  • 8 ounces plain creamy cheese, such as goat cheese or cream cheese 
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 
  • 2 ripe fresh figs, halved and thinly sliced lenghtwise 
  • Micro greens 
  • Syrupy balsamic vinegar 

Toast the bread in a toaster and while still warm, spread the fig spread on each slice to cover it entirely. Place the cheese in a bowl and heat in the microwave for 30 to 45 seconds, until it’s creamy and spreadable, leaving the edges of the fig spread visible. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Cut each toast crosswise to make appetizers that will be easy to eat. Place a fig slice on each piece, top with a few micro greens, and drizzle lightly with the balsamic vinegar. Serve at room temperature. 


Mentioned Links 

Thank you~ 

A very special thank you to all of our callers! We live to answer your questions, so keep them coming! 

Thank you to our Technical Support: 

  • Danny Bringer – Chief Engineer  
  • Carol “Remodeling Babe” Carey – Executive Producer  
  • Sam Reed – Associate Producer  
  • Rico Figliolini – Digital Master 


Thank you for tuning in Into the Woods! And check in next week for more cool tips! 

“Into the Woods” Show Notes for On The House with the Carey Brothers aired August 8, 2020. 

Missed our live show? Don’t worry! Because we have a podcast of the show. It’s the same thing we aired on the radio, but ready for you whenever and wherever you are! Check it out here. 

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