Great Articles for DIY home tips and tri

Posted: October 31, 2010 by DIY Big Boss in Uncategorized

Great Articles for DIY home tips and tricks await those who seek it. Check out the website DIY Bargain Bin website at today!

Single triangle shade sail from Cool Shade Sails

If you do not want to put up a traditional structure like a Pergola, Arbor or Gazebo, but are still searching for something to provide protection from the sun over the summer, then you should really consider the shade sail.  These are becoming more are more popular across Australia as a beautiful and functional alternative.  Australians are choosing the shade sail over traditional roofing and laserlite over their decks, over the carports and they are sensational as shade providers if you have a backyard pool or play area for your children.  In fact, the shade sail can cut up to 90% of direct UV rays depending on the type of material you choose*.

Below are some of the tips and thoughts to consider when planning your shade sail.

Location and supports

One of the first things you will need to do is plan where your shade sails are going to go.  You probably already have a fairly good idea about this, so then it is a matter of determining where your support structures will go.  There are several options you can choose from.  If you have a house large tree or other fixed load bearing structure, you can use this as one or more of the anchor points for your shade sail.  Knowing the location of these supports is important, as it will influence the placement of your other posts and the size of the sail.

If you are going to install the sails yourself, you will need to ensure that the posts or structures that you plan to use are load bearing.

Ideas, colours and design

Shade Sail idea from the Shade Sail Gallery Video by Sail Shade World

At this point you will need to select your design.  There is a great photo idea video on YouTube here.  This shows a number of different options that you can think about in designing what colours and design you are interested in.

In terms of design consider a large twisted oblong, multiple triangles, two overlapping sails, as a start.  The number of  different shapes and designs possible is what makes these shade sails so versatile.  If you are able, ensure your sails have a twist, this reduces the impact of leaf build up, they wont store water when it rains and as long as put up correctly should be able to withstand strong winds.


With your design all ready to go, it is worthwhile contacting your local council to confirm that you do not need to get official approval.  For most designs you will not need to, but as always it is worth checking first.

Purchasing your sails and installation

If you are doing it yourself, ensure that you have point to point measurements to make sure your sail is going to fit.  Talk to the sail cloth provider and get their advice as to the size and shape, if you have a drawing and photo, take them along to give them an even better idea.  The more you discuss your plan the more likely you will get the best outcome.

When buying the sail cloth, ensure that you ask about its tendency to stretch, as cheaper materials will do this, and you will end up with a baggy sail shade which flaps around in the wind rattling at its posts.  Ask to see different material swatches and query their fade resistance and lifespan.

When installing your sail, ensure that you have a good angle on the sail so that rain water runs off and that you have enough tension in your sale to allow for a curve.  Get the tension nice and firm so that it doesn’t flap and follow the instructions supplied, using the correct fittings and fixtures for your sail.

For all your sail shade needs, including posts, fixtures and sails, check out the DIY Bargain Bin Pergola, Gazebo and Sun Shade section.

* Remember that you should wear sunscreen, hat and shirt even if you are in the shade, due to indirect and reflected UV.

Spring is the most perfect time to get out in the garden and to get handy with a bit of DIY work.  But rather than take on those boring old maintenance jobs, it is always more fun to create something that is new, special and will really add to the look of your home.  Plus given that spring is the time of growth, you can plant some little pretty vines on either side of your new creation!

So we know that you love our top ‘How to’ collections, so here are our favourite arbor guides available on the internet:

1. Rose garden arbor

This one is provided by WRCLA and has lots of diagrams and instructions to create a traditional wooden lattice sided arbor.  By finishing the creation with a coat of white outdoor paint, and a creeping rose, this arbor will look gorgeous.

The website also contains instructions for other outdoor projects like fences, gates, gazebos and planters.  In addition they also have two alternative arbor plans.

2. Rustic cost effective arbor

If you are looking for a cheaper arbor that still looks great, then you may like this one from Grandpa’s Workshop.  Given his Scottish heritage, the price of buying an arbor was not sitting well with him, so he has created his own and has attached full instructions for how you can do the same.

3. Garden bench arbor

If you would rather your arbor is a seat than a walkway then this one from the Woodworking Super Centre may be right.  The arbor is built and nestled in its base is a beautiful wooden seat.  The instructions and diagrams from this site are great!

4. Simple garden arbor design

This arbor from has no sides so to speak, the top trellis is supported by two side posts only.  This would make a good entrance to a garden, however because there is no side trellis, it would not support some vines.  Make sure you ask your plant nursery to advise if your plant could be trained up it.  You may be able to achieve this by running some wire up each post.

5. Beautiful double bench arbor

Ron Hazelton has produced a great step by step guide to this fantastic arbor.  Like the last one it doesn’t feature the traditional trellis sides but instead both sides have a seat on which people can sit, the back of which is open to the garden.  Clearly this arbor is designed to look good on its own without the need of vines or climbers.

Hopefully we have supplied you with five fantastic designs and one will prove perfect for you next project!

Quite often you can look out into your backyard and you know that it is crying out for something, some kind of feature to transform it from the ordinary to the extraordinary, and what could that be?  Well some of the most popular backyard structures are the pergola, arbor and gazebo, but what exactly is the difference between all of these and which will best suit your home?

Below we will explore what each is and how it looks:

The Pergola

Modern pergola by Everyday Guide. By clicking on this image you can find instructions on how to create this pergola.

A pergola is essentially a passageway which is covered.  Often these passage ways are supported by strong pillars that support a lattice roof through which vines are woven.  Though this is the traditional pergola there are many different variations on the pergola and some use wire to create a pergola tunnel or use a solid wall or structure on one side instead of pillars.

There is a wide variety of pergola ideas around and the best idea is to search the web for images.  You can create your pillars from stone and concrete for an ancient grand look, or alternatively you can use wooden posts.

Bougainvillea 'Traditional' Pergola

The idea behind the pergola though is to cover it with either a lush green vine or one that will explode into flower at spring.  Some popular plants to use are the Bougainvillea, Jasmine, and Grapes.  That stated, many modern pergolas are not covered with any vine, and are just left as a bare wooden structure.

In addition the modern pergolas do not lead anywhere, as their historical predecessors did.  They are also often square and purely decorative.

Whichever option you choose, both can be made to suit any type of house, home and back garden.

A pretty white arbor from Shop Garden Max in the USA

The Arbor

Now we will look at the Arbor, which is very similar to the pergola, however is not usually very large.  Often an arbor will be a decorative small feature, such as an entranceway to the garden, or will be used  as a feature over a small swing.

The arbor is most commonly now used as an archway which is created by interlaced trellis so that the vines can grow up and over it.  Arbors can be purchased whole or made.  Most of the common modern varieties are made out of metal, though if you are making one yourself, you can achieve beautiful results with wood.

As with the pergola, the arbor is often left naked of the vines it was originally built to support, but with the beautiful creations around, they are quite a feature on their own.

The Gazebo

Modern Gazebo from Gni Delhi a Gazebo manufacturer in India. This is the one for me!

Finally we come at last to the gazebo.  This is more of a pavilion structure and the key difference between these and the arbor and pergola is that their roof is solid, so that it provides some protection from the elements.  They are traditionally octagonal in shape with all the sides open to the garden, allowing those inside a 360 degree view of the garden.

Quite often in Australia you will find a large gazebo in a park, with steps leading up to it, and benches around the inside walls for patrons of the park to sit and look out on the comings and goings of others.  As a child I can remember playing in these.

Like all the structures the gazebo has undergone modification which has seen many variations, including that many are now square, but like the traditional ones, all still have open sides and a solid roof, though you are likely to find curtains attached to make them even more beautiful.

How to build a wooden fence

Posted: September 22, 2010 by DIY Big Boss in Timber Decking / Cladding / Fencing

Horizontal wooden fence (from HGTV)

Previously we have explored what you might need to do if you find your fence to be falling over, but if that old fence really just won’t cut it any longer, no matter what you do to it, then what you might need is a new fence.  There are several different ideas for doing fences and screens, so today we have sourced the best ‘How To Build a Wooden Fence’ options from around the internet.

1. Building a Wood Fence by Do it Yourself

This is probably one of the best fence instruction posts I have ever come across, it shows each step clearly including diagrams, goes through a lot of different options including the different types of fence design and concludes with a full list of tools and materials required.  I would recommend this as the first place to start your new fence construction research.

2. Fence designs by Backyard Gardener

In addition to the above site I would also look at this one, this page shows a range of different fence design options, by clicking on each it will provide you with a picture of the fence and also measurements making your post selection easy.  There are a good twenty options to choose from including seven different picket fence designs.

3. Horizontal plank wooden fence by HGTV

Perhaps you are after the look of a horizontal wooden plank fence instead?  If so this one might be perfect for you, in addition it is built on a slope so you can see how effective it can look if you too have to cater for an incline or decline.  See the photo above.  The instructions for this fence are not as extensive as the first fence but should be adequate to do the job.

4. Fences, gates and posts from Build Eazy

Two wooden fence designs, plus a wire one are provided on this site, however it is the options and instructions for adding gates and other features into your fences that makes this website stand out.  From a single person gate to double driveway gates, this site has heaps of useful information for you.

Home Depot example of fence from their fencing gallery

5. HomeDepot’s How to Build a Fence

If you would prefer a video instruction process on how to build your fence then these two videos from Home Depot are going to be perfect for you.  There are a number of videos, they are:

  1. Introduction and information video
  2. Building a wood fence using components
  3. Building wood and vinyl panel fences

These five sites should provide you with all the information you need to start building your new fence.  For all your timber fencing needs, check out the DIY Bargain Bin Fencing section.

Transporting Tasmanian timber

There is not a person around during this day and age who has not read about or considered the environment and the sustainability of specific actions.  These issues are incredibly hot topics for our generation and are starting to make huge impacts on the way that we think and of course what we shop for.  It is now not all about the bottom line and how cheaply products can be made, delivered and purchased.  As consumers it appears more and more we are prepared to pay more in order to ensure that we are receiving a level of satisfaction that we each, in our own small way, are supporting a better future for our children.

One area this debate is turning into action is within the construction industry.  Companies around the world who produce building materials are looking for ways to recycle, reuse and renew, in addition to reducing their carbon footprint.  This industry has a huge impact with the choices it makes, from the manufacture of the materials, to their treatment using chemicals and power, right through to their transportation and storage.

Sustainable forests are the future.

One of the main materials used for building has been timber.  Timber is a natural resource and is renewable, however the demand for timber has lead to a number of areas being logged to extinction.  This has not only caused the habitat destruction to millions of animals, but is threatening to send other animals into extinction and having a detrimental impact on the ozone.  As a result of this the industry for a time looked to other materials such as concrete, steel and plastic, however they too have an impact which for steel in particular is considered now to be higher than that of wood.

Both industries are still working hard to improve the ‘greenness’ of their offerings, and it is leading to some exciting new directions.  Steel producers have greatly curbed the amount of emissions and timber companies are selecting their timbers more carefully and taking a larger role in ensuring their sustainability. Certainly the planting of more timber has a direct effect on improving our environment.

But that all stated it is hard to compare the two side by side and determine which is better collectively, steel or timber on the environment, they are both needed in construction and will both be continued to be used.  Some timber companies are not so reputable, yet some steel companies are investing millions into their solutions, or vice versa.  It is therefore important in your choice of product to make it count by choosing products which are actively seeking to be sustainable and to promote the environment.  Be proactive, there are good and bad on both sides.

For building your deck at home, we love the look of natural timber, it is beautiful and sustainable, and if you look after it, it can last you a good 30+ years.

For all your timber construction needs, check out the DIY Bargain Bin Timber Structural and Construction.

Photo from timber for bush fire prone areas report (click on image for link). Photo by Paul Harr (architect) extracted from report

If you live in a part of Australia that is subject to the threat of bush fires, then using timber that resists fire is of extreme importance.  So today we thought we would explore which timbers are best for this purpose.

Basically all houses that are built in bushfire areas (as determined by the applicable State Government) are subject to Australian Standard AS3959 and covers “the most effective means for addressing the threat to houses” as a result of fire and related heat, sparks etc.  Houses are then categorised as to their level of risk.  If you live in such an area it is wise to pick up a copy.

Now it is necessary to silence the rumblings which suggest that having a deck in a bush fire prone is the most likely thing to cause the property to be vulnerable to a bushfire.  It is not true, the single biggest danger actually comes from a failure to adequately clear vegetation from around the home.  All homes in such areas should have a moat of non vegetated land.  If you have a deck then your land moat should extend around it.

This information is backed up by a report by Warrington Fire Research Australia, which confirms the CSIRO’s earlier findings that even where houses are made of wood or have external wooden features like a deck, that the destruction was not caused by the timber igniting, but rather from ember entry into the house.  The summary is that houses tend to burn from the inside to the out, using household furnishings as their main fuel.

All that said, there are still ways to ensure that the timbers you use are the best for your area.  There are seven high-density native hardwood timbers which have significant natural fire resistance.  These timbers are classified as fire retarding by the AS3959 so can be used without treatment in bush fire areas:

  • Blackbutt
  • Kwila (Merbau)
  • Red Iron Bark
  • Red River Gum
  • Sivertop Ash
  • Spotted Gum
  • Turpentine

These timbers are fairly readily available and you can find them also in the DIY Bargain Bin Timber Decking, Cladding and Fencing Section along with in the DIY Bargain Bin Timber Structural, Construction and Other section.

Blackbutt wood from Timeless WA Hardwoods

If you have already built your deck and are in a bush fire prone area to a category 3 level you can use a product called Firetard120, which is a fire retardant for timber.  It has been tested by the CSIRO and approved up to this level.  Using an alternative treatment like this can be a less expensive option for some, and also allows a wider range of timbers to be used.  For example if you have your heart set on a particular type of timber, treating it with this product, which dries clear, will assist in making your timber fire resistant.

Of course you do not have to be in a fire prone area to want to treat your external timber decks and other structure.  That is why such products are great.

For more information, about Building with timber in fire prone areas and use of Fire Resistant Technology, click on these two links.