Weighing the options of a Do-It-Yourself Wood Swing Set Kit!


Completed Do-It-Yourself Wood Swing Set Kit

If your kids have talked you into obtaining one of those backyard wooden swing sets, but you dread the thought of visiting a showroom and being talked into dropping thousands of dollars on mediocre equipment (and even more on the installation of that mediocre equipment), then consider the following three words: do it yourself. The good news is that even a novice do-it-yourself enthusiast can find superior quality, very affordable wooden swing set kits on the internet and put one together successfully once it arrives at the door. Even better news is that do-it-yourself wooden swing set kits are available for purchase without wood included or with wood included. The best choice depends only on how involved you wish the do-it-yourself aspect of the construction to be.

Do-it-yourself playset kits, whether they come with wood or without, should always include complete step-by-step instructions for construction; all necessary hardware; basic swing kit add on options, such as different swing types, monkey bars, rock walls, canopy top, etc. These accessories are usually available at extra cost, but can add much more excitement than just swinging.   At a minimum, should always include every nut, bolt, bracket, washer, screw and spring clip needed to complete the project.

Kits with Wood or Without?


Wood Drying Out for a week.

How does a do-it-yourself enthusiast make the choice between wooden swing sets that come without the wood versus swing sets that come with the wood? Consider the following. Kits that do not come with wood allow you the luxury of hand selecting the type of wood, and even each specific piece of wood, that will be used in the construction.


Fort is going up!   Its looking good.

More time and tools are needed for these kits, though, because each piece must be searched for, transported to the home, cut to exactly the right size, and sanded, and then holes must be drilled for each piece of hardware. Most Do-it-yourselfers are true enthusiasts about home construction projects, and prefer this approach.   These types of kits can take an entire weekend or two to construct, depending on how many you have to help you.

On the other hand, wooden swing set kits that come with the wood may be a better option for the do-it-yourself enthusiast who does not have enough time to devote to selecting and preparing the wood. Be warned, the wood that comes with these kits is not usually of high quality and strength and may not last as long as wood that you pick out. The biggest advantage to kits that include the wood is that all the wood is pre-cut, pre-sanded, and pre-drilled. With these major steps already completed, you can construct the wooden swing set in a fraction of the time.   Most of these kits can be constructed in a single day!

In either choice, the time savings is well worth it alone for the daunting task of tying to collect the hardware fasteners.   Counting the right number & size of wood screws,  lag bolts, carriage bolts with matching washers and nuts, etc., took me about 3 hours alone in Lowes and that was with a list.

Whether you choose a wooden swing set kit that includes wood or not, you can save hundreds, even thousands, of dollars simply by shopping wisely and constructing the equipment yourself. Either choice provides your kids with a fun and durable place to play and provides you with a feeling of pride and accomplishment. So, go ahead and do it yourself!

Buying a Fireplace or Fire Pit Online? – Here Are Some Tips

Cozy Oil Rubbed Bronzed Fire Pit

Cozy Oil Rubbed Bronzed Fire Pit

Fireplaces and fire pits for your outdoor living space are designed to give you everything that you need to increase your cool fall evening experiences. You can have so much fun with this type of investment, no matter what you might be looking for. When you’re buying a fire pit online, you have a lot of things to think about. From the fire pit to the online shopping process, there are a lot of things that you have to learn. By taking the time to get the facts and learn all about buying fireplaces and fire pits, it will be easy for you to get everything that you need.

The first thing to keep in mind is that you have a lot more options than ever before. You can find all kinds of styles and designs to choose from, including customized options that will give you everything that you’ve wanted to add to your backyard living space. Keep reading to learn more about what you can get from your investment in fire pits.

Fire Pit and Fireplace Styles and Designs

When you’re shopping for fire pits and fireplaces, you will be able to find all types of designs and styles. You can find fire pits and bowls that stand alone, fireplaces that are all enclosed and look like fireplaces inside your home, chimineas that are designed from Mexican tribal culture, and so much more. There is going to be a lot that you can look at and it’s going to be up to you to find what you need, no matter what you have in mind. Be sure to consider clay pits, aluminum fireplaces, and cast iron fire pits, as well as other materials that these pits might be made of.

Since the popularity of fireplaces and fire pits have increased over time, you will have dozens of different models to choose from. It might take you some time to narrow down your options and find the best style, but you have to think about the things that matter. Look at issues like:

  • Style    Wow…there are tons of them.    College Teams,  Sheek,  Duck Commander, NFL,  NBA, etc.  there are a ton of them.
  • Size    To me, this is paramount.   My first pit, I gave to a friend after 2 months.    The dish was shallow…..and with 2 standard sized logs, I couldn’t even put the screen on it.     I now have a wide and deep pit, with grill so I can use it for cooking.  M kids favorite thing….roasting marshmallows…..making smores….and safer by putting a screen over it while its burning.
  • Color/Finish    Definitely a subjective decision.
  • Price     Cheap is good to strive for, but having run through 3 “cheap” pits bought at local hardware stores in as many years, I’m on my 4th year with current pit and paid just a bit more.

If you have a budget, that’s going to be a big part of the purchase that you’re making. You really have to keep things in check before you end up falling in love with that beautiful $400 fire-pit or even $2,000 fireplace that you can’t afford, for example.

Tips for Shopping Online

When you’re shopping online for fire pits, there are a lot of different things that you have to think about. You have to look at reputable brands and suppliers, as well as the various styles and designs that you can find. There is so much more selection when you are shopping online, but when you aren’t able to see the fireplaces in person, it can be hard to make the best decision. Make sure that you take measurements of the outdoor space that you have to work with so that you can check the measurements of fireplaces and pits that you find so that you can buy the perfect one in the perfect size.

You also have to make sure that you know the companies that you are buying from and the manufacturers that are designing the pits that you are looking at. You want to make sure that you’re investing your money in something that is worth the money. It’s all about getting a quality fire pit so that you can enjoy outdoor entertaining, no matter what you have in mind. It will be easy to find plenty of great products online so that you can get the fire pit that you’ve been looking for.

The internet has so much to offer and you can easily get more than you might find locally. It’s going to be up to you to do the shopping around and looking at different styles to find what you want. As long as you take the time to figure out what you’re looking at and what your options are, it will be easy for you to get everything that you deserve.

Safety is Always Paramount

Deck Protect Fire Pit / Grill Matt

Deck Protect Fire Pit / Grill Matt

Whenever you are buying a fire pit, you will want to make sure that you’re thinking about safety. This is the most important part of getting what you need out of your investment. You have to choose the right style and size of fire pit for your home so that it looks good, fits your yard, and gives you a safe fireplace that isn’t too close to your house or other buildings on the property. You also have to learn proper safety techniques so that you can manage your fire pit or outdoor fireplace properly, including how to light it and maintain it, as well as how to put out fires and dispose of the ashes.

Buying a fire pit means learning the rules of safety and it’s going to be up to you to get the facts so that you can make the most of your outdoor living space and your enjoyment of it. Families and friends will love coming over to see your new fire pit, but you will have to protect it from children, pets, and keep it away from your home so that it doesn’t melt your siding or flame up your wooden decking.    For the latter there is only one awesome product that is unmatched for deck protection.  Deck Protect Grill Mats are the best for protecting your deck, dock, or whatever from the hazards of a fire-pit (or grill), bar none. As long as you’re careful, adding an outdoor fireplace or fire pit to your yard is going to make your home a great place to be on these cool fall nights.

Bottom-line, the Choice is Yours

There are so many styles to choose from and it’s really going to be up to you to get what you want. Remember to plan accordingly for space and size and to make sure that you learn how to properly use and install your fire pit or outdoor fireplace so that you can have the most fun without the worries or risks. As long as you take the time to do a little research, it will be easy for you to find a great fire pit online for less.

PS:   Call us, we can chit chat LIVE for hours about it if you want.


ACQ Preserve Pressure Treated Wood For Swing Sets & Playsets

Today's ACQ Pressure Treated wood is Safe

Today’s Pressure Treated wood is Safe

For more than a decade, arsenic and chromium-free ACQ Preserve pressure treated wood has been used in some of the world’s most environmentally sensitive locations. From the pristine environments of national parks in Australia, North America, Europe and Japan, to neighborhood playgrounds and backyards like yours, Preserve treated wood has been used around the globe to provide a durable building product for outdoor projects where environmental values and product safety are priorities.

Environmentally Advanced

Preserve® treated wood products are available in response to concerns raised by public and government sectors of the treated wood market regarding the use of arsenic and chromium in pressure-treated wood. Preserve is treated with ACQ®, an environmentally advanced formulation that is arsenic and chromium free. The ACQ preservative system provides long-term protection from rot, decay and termites without the use of any EPA listed hazardous chemicals.

ACQ Preservative Protection

The ACQ preservative in Preserve treated wood is a copper plus quat system that provides the same level of protection to wood as CCA preservatives against decay, rot and termite attack (without the use of arsenic and chromium).

The main active ingredient in ACQ is Copper, which has long been established as the most cost-effective preservative component used in timber preservation. Quat acts as the co-biocide in the ACQ preservative, providing additional protection from fungi and insect attack that copper alone would not control. Quats are commonly used in household and industrial disinfectants and cleaners and are biodegradable in soil. Copper and quat solutions similar to ACQ are used for the control of fungi and bacteria in swimming pools and spas.

ACQ Preserve Plus Offers Improved Weathering Performance

Wood which is exposed outside to the weather is subject to repeated wetting and drying cycles that cause wood to swell and shrink, resulting in splitting, cracking and warping. Preserve Plus is protected with the combination of ACQ preservative treatment and a built-in water-repellent, to provide long-term protection against decay, rot, termite attack and the effects of weathering.

ACQ Preserve Plus should be specified for outdoor building projects where appearance is important and protection from the effects of weathering is a priority.

Painting and Staining or Natural Weathering

ACQ Preserve and Preserve Plus can be painted or stained to match any outdoor color scheme. High quality oil and latex based paints and stains are recommended. Water repellent coatings can be applied to enhance the long-term weathering performance. It is important that the wood is dry and free from surface deposits prior to applying any coating. Left uncoated ,or with clear water-repellent coatings, Preserve and Preserve Plus will initially weather to a natural brown color, eventually turning gray following long-term exposure to the sun.

Nails, Fasteners and Fittings

For the best results, stainless steel or hot dipped galvanized fasteners and fittings are recommended. A list of acceptable fastener systems is available from your Preserve supplier. Anti-corrosion coatings applied to fasteners and fittings in contact with treated wood will enhance long-term performance. Direct contact of Preserve treated wood with aluminum fasteners and fittings is not recommended.

ACQ Preserve’s Performance Guaranteed

ACQ Preserve and Preserve Plus are the only arsenic and chromium-free pressure-treated wood products backed by a Lifetime Limited Warranty! Ask your retailer for details.

Product Features

  • Does not contain arsenic, chromium or other EPA classified hazardous chemicals.
  • Provides long-term protection from rot, decay and termite attack.
  • Can be used in environmentally sensitive settings.
  • Enhances worker safety.
  • Wood scraps can be disposed of by ordinary trash collection.
  • Offers a wider selection of treatable timber species.
  • Easily painted or stained.
  • Quality control ensured by independent third-party inspection.
  • Features a Limited Lifetime Warranty.
  • Preserve Plus is available with built-in water-repellent.

Treated Lumber and Plywood Specifications, Approvals, Registrations, and Awards

  • Approved by the ICBO Evaluation Services (ER#4981) (Uniform Building Code)
  • Standardized by the American Wood Preservers’ Association (AWPA) C1, C2, C22, C4-95, C5, C9, C15, C17, P5
  • Preservative components registered with the United States Environmental Protection Agency
  • Australian Standard AS-1604 1997
  • AQIS – Australian Quarantine Service
  • JIS Japanese Standards
  • CSA Canadian Standard Association
  • NWPC – Nordic Wood Preservation Council
  • Approved in Germany, Holland, Denmark, Sweden and Spain.
  • Awarded Wisconsin Dept of Industry, Labor, and Human Relations Approval
  • Awarded Wisconsin’s Governor’s Commendation
  • Awarded Wisconsin’s Dept. of Natural Resources Commendation.


Preserve and Preserve Plus can be used for any building application where protection from decay and termite attack is required. Applications include:


  • Decking
  • Landscaping
  • Gazebos
  • Fencing
  • Steps
  • Walkways
  • Wood Siding
  • Storage Sheds
  • Outdoor furniture
  • Wooden Swing Sets
  • Piers and docks
  • Trellis and lattice
  • Permanent Wood Foundations
  • Sign and Mailbox Posts
  • Planter Boxes
  • Wood Bridges






How to Find Reputable Contractors!

Guide to help find local reputable contractors!

Working Relationships

  • During your meetings, which should be a fair exchange between the party contracting and the prospective contractor, gauge your feelings and impressions you have about the person/organization you would be dealing with.
  • Do they seem reputable and reliable?
  • Is this a representative or salesperson of the company and if so, who will be onsite handling the project?
  • Know before signing. And be wary of attempts that get you to sign right now. Higher involvement decisions by nature require more time.
  • Does the person strike you as being knowledgeable and not just versed on the subject?
  • Given the setting and your own set of circumstances/nature of the work, were appropriate product samples available or at least made reference to?

  • How many years have they been in the business? [Which also raises the question of financial stability and ability to stand behind a warranty].
  • How closely does their experience and track record related to your own project?
  • Have they been diverse in the sense that they’ll be able to cope with an hidden unforeseeable that may rear, and fairly at that?

  • Look at your initial mode of contact. If they do or don’t come by way of reference from associates, friends, or from those already in the business.
  • Still do your part. Become clear on the issues of cleanliness, professionalism and regard for the project overall from inception to beyond completion?
  • Do their projects come in on budget and on time. Or within the timetable relied on for larger scale projects?
  • Does the company utilize subcontractors versus employees. [for the project receiver, the subcontractor arrangement can have disadvantages such as delays in completion, quality of work issues, and not as much influence over the finished product while employee-roles offer greater consistency as a whole. But this is no universal rule by any wild stretch.]
  • Obtain at total of at least three references in any case.
  • Check with your local Better Business Bureau for registered complaints and current status of these, company history, and whether any outstanding issues have been resolved.

  • While the low bidder is favorable to many, and is usually most often chosen, consider what you may be paying for in trade for the lesser price; if at all. Are quality of materials possibly being sacrificed?
  • Also along with costs, you’ll want to consider the payment arrangements. Specifically the percentage of retention or holdback – the amount withheld until completion, which is factored as an allocation to finish your project in the event the chosen contractor does not complete satisfactorily.

  • Requirements vary from state to state. Check with your state department of regulation or licensing board or, county building department to get a grasp on.
  • Also don’t take on good faith that the license won’t expire during your said project so confirm expiration dates too.

  • Have specified any product/labor offered and for what duration.
  • What exactly does the guarantee cover? All labor and material ? Or will labor be separated out at that future date, only be stood behind by itself, as is so common.
  • What circumstances and exceptions might apply to the proposed guarantee and is this guarantee in writing or only by word-of-mouth? Always this is an area that deserves extra attention and clarification.
  • Lastly, make sure any applicable code requirements are adhered to and which one of you will handle the needed permits, such as filing for and later sign-off with the inspector.

Propane Tank Safety

Propane Tank Safety

Propane Tank Regulations, Safety and Cooking Times

If you have a propane tank that was made before September 30, 1998 you might be in for a bit of a surprise the next time you go to have it refilled. As of April 1st, 2002 all new cylinders must be equipped with an Overfill Prevention Device (OPD). Also you can’t get your old tank filled if it doesn’t have this new valve. Don’t worry, though, there are about 40 million obsolete cylinders out there now.

Every year it is estimated that there are 600 fires or explosions caused by overfilled propane cylinders. To eliminate this problem the National Fire Prevention Agency recommended to the Consumer Product Safety Commission that they require the OPD be installed on all propane tanks. So after years, here we are, scrambling to replace obsolete propane cylinders. This ruling applies to all propane cylinders from 4 to 40 pounds.

The OPD is a special valve that has a float inside the tank that will close the valve when the tank is 80% full. It won’t measure how much propane is in the tank, but it is supposed to keep it from being overfilled. An overfilled propane tank can explode violently because of physical damage or exposure to moderate heat. Now, while the risk is relatively low, it is real.

So, how do you know if you tank needs to be replaced? The new propane cylinders have a triangle shaped valve knob. Older models had a five-prong, circular knob. If you have the triangle knob, then you’re fine. Otherwise you need to get a new tank. Of course, you’ll ask, why can’t you just replace the valve? Any tank older then 12 years is considered too old to be used. And for those in the between years, the cost of replacing the valve is going to be about the same as exchanging the whole cylinder.

The cheapest way to exchange your tank is through a service like Blue Rhino or AmeriGas. These services will exchange your empty, obsolete tank with a new, filled tank for about $20. A new tank can cost about $25 to $30. Old cylinders should be taken to a dealer or recycling center. Your local government can probably tell you where to take it. Some dealers might charge you a fee to take your old cylinder. Find someone who will take it for nothing. Or better yet, try on of the exchange services. You might also want to check with local hardware stores. Some stores are offering to replace you tank for you (at a fee of course).

So, if you have one of the affected cylinders, make some calls and get it replaced before your next cookout. You don’t want to be in the middle of a roast or turkey and run out of gas.

Safety tips to reduce the risk of fire or explosion with gas grills:

  • Check grill hoses for cracking, brittleness, holes, and leaks. Make sure there are no sharp bends in the hose or tubing.
  • Move gas hoses as far away as possible from hot surfaces and dripping hot grease.
  • Always keep propane gas containers upright.
  • Never store a spare gas container under or near the grill or indoors.
  • Never store or use flammable liquids, like gasoline, near the grill.
  • Never keep a filled container in a hot car or car trunk. Heat will cause the gas pressure to increase, which may open the relief valve and allow gas to escape.
  • Make sure your spark igniter is consistently generating a spark to create a flame and burn the propane gas. If the flame is not visible, the heavier-than-air propane gas may be escaping and could explode.
  • Never bring the propane tank into the house.


Approximate Cooking Times for different size propane tanks

  • 1 lb. Disposable bottle = Cooking time = approx 2 hours
  • 5 lb. Refillable tank = Cooking time = approx 10 hours
  • 11 lb. Refillable tank = Cooking time = approx 22 hours
  • 20 lb. Refillable tank = Cooking time = approx 40 hours