Curb Appeal

We Tested Three House Painting Methods So You Don’t Have To

The long and short of it is: there is no “fast” way to paint a house that produces a “professional” end result. No matter which method you choose, achieving that professional level look means a LOT of time must be spent on the fine details. “Details” like of taping off moulding and bases, blocking out the windows, pressure washing, clearing a path in bushes and shrubs along the house, prepping machines and tools, cleaning brushes and paint equipment, etc. All these little things ate up the majority of our time, but it really made a difference in the end result. The good news is, when it comes to physically painting – there ARE faster ways! We tested three different methods for painting. Here’s how it went.

The ratings below are based on painting the house exterior only.

Professional Paint Sprayer:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5/5 Stars

We used the Graco Magnum X5 True Airless Sprayer, purchased at our local Sherwin Williams.

This machine works, and works well, and fast too! Coverage was even and we could paint for quite a while before running out of paint. The end result looks like a professional paint job. There were never any machine malfunctions to troubleshoot. We followed the directions closely and there were no road blocks to getting the painting done.

The downside: It takes a lot of prep work just to paint and clean up. There are buckets you need for water, meshes to strain the paint, a series of steps for priming the machine, some steps to walk through when you need to change out the paint, then just about as much to clean the machine when you are done. Once you are all set up though, painting with this machine was the fastest, most accurate painting method of the three we tried.

Would I use this machine inside? I don’t think so. Unless, it was an empty house, and no one was living there at the time. There seemed to be a lot of super fine paint mist, so I can’t see that fairing well inside of a lived-in home.

Hand Held Spray Painter:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3.75/5 Stars

We purchased the Wagner Power Painter Wide Shot Pro at our local Lowes. We think this model might have been updated, because we can no longer find this exact one on their website.

This little thing worked well too. The coverage was better than expected. While the tiny reservoir and coverage was no comparison to the professional machine, it did last *much* longer than paint would on a roller brush, so it was still way faster than traditional painting. It got into stucco nooks, cover wood, and porous cement with no problems.

I started a stucco wall in the back yard with a roller brush while my husband used the professional machine out front, and very quickly thought I was going to lose my mind – so I was extremely happy to have this little Wagner painter machine, flaws and all!

The downside: Refilling was a little messy, and there was time lost in troubleshooting malfunction. The machine seemed to clog easily. A spring inside also broke while we were using it, and the only place with replacements was Amazon – which meant waiting another day or two to finish.

Would I use this machine inside? If it were a very large room and wall… maybe. But again, there is a fine mist when you use it. However, the outside application was very good.

Traditional Brush and Roller:

⭐️ 1/5 Stars*

*Note: 1/5 stars rating is for EXTERIORS. Brushes and rollers remain our 5/5 favorite method for detail work and interiors.

We purchased a variety of brushes and rollers for stucco, wood, concrete, and smooth surfaces from our local Home Depot and Lowe’s stores.

Would I use this method outside? Only on the detail painting, like window trims and doors. With the majority of Florida homes having stucco exteriors, rolling paint – even with the appropriate roller or brush for the surface means going over spots several times just to get in all of the nooks and crannies. Painting with a sprayer is MUCH faster. I’m talking easily 10 times as fast. We will never paint the majority of a house exterior without a paint spray machine ever again.

Note: No matter what way you decide to paint a house, make sure to follow the paint directions for application, climate, and clean up guidelines. Don’t forget to use the appropriate ventilator mask and eye protection. Paint particles and eyes/lungs just don’t mix.

Have you recently painted your house? What are your tips? Share them in the comments on our Facebook and Instagram: @DeAnnaAndCompany

Curb Appeal

Patio and Porch Refresh

Time to give our porches and patios a little TLC. Here are some simple finds from Amazon and ideas for refreshing those outdoor spaces just in time for the end of summer cookouts and the coziness of fall.

Start with a clean slate. Getting everything out of the area will allow for easier deep cleaning. Seeing the space cleared out may even inspire new ways to arrange and decorate. Properly cleaning and prepping the area will ensure the hard work of painting and decorating will last for several seasons. We recommend: a pressure washer with a circular attachment “surface cleaner” because it can cut cleaning time by 50-75%! Additionally, proper pressure washing can revive dingy wood, hearty plastics, and pvc type furniture too. Just be sure to use the right pressure for the material and paint or seal after.

If it’s dingy, consider painting it. Keep in mind: paints are not all-purpose. Paints are formulated to adhere to particular materials and to be used in specific environments. Check the labels to ensure you purchase a quality paint (with great reviews) created for your exact surfaces and environments.

Paint plastics with confidence. Plastic items like side tables, planters, and even furniture can be salvaged with a little cleaning and a coat of the appropriate spray paint for the surface. Choose a brand that mentions “for outdoor use” and the type of surface(s) you plan to paint. We used Behr indoor/outdoor spray paint for multiple surfaces from our local Home Depot. We chose this brand specifically for the designer colors offered, multiple surface capability, and the advertised “corrosion resistance.” It’s been over a year and our plastic planters and mailbox are still looking fresh!

Note: Always follow instructions and pay attention to the cautions listed on the paint can.

Choosing paint colors: If the space has high traffic and use, grays and darker colors may be a better fit. If you prefer lighter colors, consider off whites, creams, and light gray colors that will hide foot traffic better than bright whites. Remember, colors often dry a little darker than you may anticipate, and very light colors can dry a bit brighter than you think so it’s okay to walk the white swatches down a few steps to achieve a more likable, gentler color when it’s applied on the large scale of the ground or walls.

Stencil your way to a fancier space. Stencils can give the feel of tile, without all of the expense. We searched “how to use outdoor stencils” on YouTube and found a lot of helpful tips for using stencils and templates on concrete patios. Two we enjoyed were “Cutting Edge Stencils” for a professional stencil approach, and “House Mix Blog” for a more diy template (use what you have laying around) approach. Both approaches produced a professional end result.

Use the right tools for the job. Cutting corners seems like easy the way to go until everything falls apart and you end up spending twice the amount of money to fix it. You don’t need to go overboard but get the right paint brush roller, choose high quality paint, buy the stencil adhesive… it will make life easier in the long run and ensure a quality end result.

If you’re overwhelmed start small.

Try working on a space by completing a task or two at a time:

  • Step 1 – Clear out the space.
  • Step 2 – Sort items into “keep,” “toss,” and “donate” categories. Clean the “keep” items and prep for spray painting, if desired.
  • Step 3 – Pressure wash.
  • Step 4 – Spray paint the cleaned/prepped furniture and accessories.
  • Step 5 – Prep the patio by taping off the edges, sweep, and start painting.
  • Step 6 – Finish painting/stenciling.
  • Step 7 – Decorate!

By working a step at a time, the space will be dazzling by the end of the week!

Some decoration inspiration:

Don’t feel like painting? No problem!

An outdoor weather proof rug can make the space feel instantly fancier.

Then add some furniture to relax in, or a pop of new pillow covers.

A bit of shade that gives the daytime resort vibes:

And a little *twinkle* to the nights with remote controlled “outdoor light bulb garland.”

Did someone say dining al fresco?

Make shift bar carts and decorative ice chests add color and fun, while shatterproof tumblers and dishes are a pool owner’s dream.

Love a good deal?

Keep an eye out for sales at your local home improvement stores staring this month. We’ve notice August (or when a potential storm is looming) tends to start the clearance of summer and patio merchandise. We’ve found whole patio sets and Adirondack rocking chairs on sale for %50 OFF. What a deal!

Show off your exterior design skills. Share your before and after patio/porch refresh pics with us!

Via email: DeAnna(at)goffmc .com

Or on Instagram and Facebook: @DeAnnaAndCompany

Curb Appeal

Boat Life

 

This summer, we’re enjoying the outdoors beyond our home by hopping on the nearest boat! Whether you’re manning a pontoon or just a guest on the not-so-high seas of Central Florida, we have a few boat tips, products, and even two quick boat rental reviews below.

Simple Boat Etiquette

  • Technically we’re supposed to wait on the dock until the captain grants you permission to “come aboard.”
  • Remove your shoes. They scuff the boat.
  • No spray sunscreens. There’s something in them that remove or effect finishes and stain vinyl, floors, and walls. Instead, look for traditional cream versions that are environmentally safe. Usually listed as “reef safe.”
  • Leave things as you found them. This seems obvious, but discarding anything in the water is a no-no. No matter how small, it effects the environment and the wildlife.
  • Watch out for the manatees and respect the wildlife.

Safety First

  • Boat with buddies. It’s always safer to be on the water with a friend or five, and probably more fun too!
  • Phones may not work. Tell someone on land where you’ll be. We boated for two full days and never lost our connection for texting, but making phone calls, and maps apps were another story.
  • Have an emergency plan, know where the life vests are, take a boat safety course. There are lots of resources online and some rentals may require you to complete an online course before they will rent a boat to you.
  • Know your numbers. How long, wide, and tall the boat is will be important for knowing if you can clear narrow channels and over passes.
  • Take a paper map and write down emergency or any contact numbers on it. Chart out a course online and print it before you go. Remember, phones may not always work.
  • Go slow through tunnels and around other boaters.

“ACK! SOMETHING TOUCHED MY FOOT!”

It’s Florida. If there’s water there’s probably a gator in it. Pay attention to signs, proceed with caution, and only swim in designated areas.

A Place in the Shade

Do not get on a boat without bringing a hat, 100%+ uv rated polarized sunglasses, sunscreen, fresh water, and a snack. If it’s hot outside, it can be even hotter and sunnier on the boat. By the time you realize you need any of those things, it may be too late and there are rarely any places to find those essentials in the water wilderness.

Functional Boat Style

Swim shirts with UPF 50+ protection are another way to block out the Florida sun. Quality swim shirts are completely comfortable to swim in, dry fast, and look cool too.

Found on Amazon

A good boat hat should have wide sun-shielding brims, and the ability to be cinched down with a chin strap if it gets too windy out there.

Found on Amazon

Pack a boat picnic. Snacks and water are always a good idea to have on board. Yogi Bear would be so proud of your “pic-a-nic basket” style with these finds!

Found on Amazon

How Did The Boat Rentals Go?

Overall, we enjoyed both of our rental experiences. However, it does seem a LOT more glamorous in photos than it was in actuality. While we’ve gone on day charter boats a number of times in the Keys, boat tours in Clearwater, Mount Dora, and Winter Park – and had really great experiences – renting the whole boat and navigating it yourself is a completely different experience than being a boat guest on a tourist attraction. On our own, it got kind of boring out there because there’s only so many things to do when you don’t know the lake or river that well. Traveling with a seasoned boat owner or the captains of the tourist boats and charters is a much more relaxing and exciting adventure IMO. You get to relax and just enjoy the whole experience because of all of their instinctual knowledge of the area and years of boating experience.

THE PONTOON RENTAL

We rented an 18′ pontoon from Lake Adventures Boat Rentals on Lake Eustis. The boat was VERY clean and pretty. The staff was helpful and nice. Navigating the little water channel from Lake Eustis over to Lake Dora was our favorite part of the day. Finding the entrance was almost completely hidden, but we saw a few boats *disappearing* among the foliage and followed them. I felt like Harry Potter at the train station. It was a relaxing beautiful day, floating here and there, spotting different birds, turtles, plants, and other wildlife. We parked the boat at the dock in Mount Dora to use the clean public restrooms, and enjoyed walking around downtown for a bit. The rental was easy, and there was no hassle upon our return. They even helped us bring our stuff from the cars in the morning and back to the cars at the end of our rental.

THE TINY HOUSE BOAT RENTAL

We also rented a “tiny house boat” on the St. John’s river for a few days. The owner was nice and their boat was a unique concept. The boat was cleaned, but it definitely had a “lived in” feel, that I didn’t notice in the website photos. It had a simple kitchenette set up with a very useful sink and a camping type cook top, a small bed/table combo similar to a pop-up camper, a nook for sitting, and a “bathroom.” But it was not a bathroom. It was a shoe cubby with an imposter toilet of despair. Luckily, we found the boat gas station on the river. It has a general store with clean and *real* bathroom facilities. I’ve never been so happy to hear a flush. No fault of the tiny house boat, but having been on a traditional house boat before, I think the words “house boat” combined with the photos and write up did not give my brain the reality check it needed to manage my expectations for this adventure. Also, the weather was very hot. There is no air conditioning or circulation type fan. When it stormed you’d have to close all of the windows and doors to keep from flooding, which made it even hotter. At night you had to close up everything again because the insects of Jumanji ascended on the river at 7:32PM, so it was hot all night too. However, since it was mostly heat and toilet troubles, now that I know better what to expect, we might consider trying it again one day. But ONLY in the cooler months.

“I’d Rather Be A Tourist”

There’s nothing wrong with that! Try any of the boat tours in Mount Dora. There are a few of them offering several different trip lengths and vistas. The dock is located just behind the Pisces Rising restaurant.

Scenic Boat Tours in Winter Park also offers boat tours that travel the chain of lakes and go through super narrow foliage filled channels that are really cool! The dock is just off Park Avenue at the bottom of the hill. 312 E. Morse Blvd.

Do you live that boat life? Have any tips? Have you rented a boat in Central Florida? We’d love to hear your tips and experiences. Let us know in the comments of our Instagram and Facebook for our “Boat Life” posts this month.

Curb Appeal

Summer Loving Butterfly Bushes!

Butterfly Bushes are a fountain of beautiful tiny flowers that butterflies cannot resist… and neither can we!

We picked up one of these plants at a local garden show, and they have been a visual delight. There are always multiple butterflies enthusiastically fluttering around the vibrant micro flowers.

It’s not just butterflies we’ve seen, but bumble bees, honey bees, and humming birds too.

The bush grows kind of like a fountain grass, leggy with the flowers growing in cone masses on the ends.

These bushes like the sun. They also must be tended to regularly by “deadheading” (cutting off) the flower cones as soon as they are spent, so that new flowers will grow.

Other Butterfly Attractors

There are many plants that make for a beautiful garden AND attract butterflies and other pollinators. Here are a few popular choices we see often at the nursery and our local garden centers.

LANTANA

 

PENTAS

 

BLACK-EYED SUSANS

 

SUN FLOWERS

 

CONE FLOWERS 

Our Current Favorite Places for Plants

  • Apopka Art and Foliage Festival: Brought to us by the City of Apopka and the Apopka Women’s Club.
  • Propagate Social House, Apopka: It’s like a coffee house, café, and plant place all-in-one! A very low key, quaint and relaxing atmosphere.
  • Kim’s Cabbage Patch, Clermont: Not just plants, but fruits, vegetables and other stuff too!
  • Lucas’ Nursery, Oviedo: A massive nursery with beautiful grounds, unique planters and lawn art, a butterfly encounter, a dedicated butterfly plant area, and just about every other plant, bush, and tree you could ever imagine.

Always Plant With Care

As with all plants, purchase locally at a nursery or approved vendor to ensure you are buying Central Florida safe plants. Inquire with an on-site plant specialist for care instructions, tips, and to know potential hazards if planting in high traffic areas, or in areas pets use.

If you need some quick tips for transplanting your plant purchases to the garden, check out our article, Flowers, Flowers, Everywhere.

How are you planting your summer gardens? Any favorite finds? Favorite plant spots? Share with us via email or by commenting on our social media posts:

@DeAnnaAndCompany

Instagram and Facebook

Curb Appeal

Flowers, Flowers, Everywhere!

If you’ve ever bought flowers and never gotten around to actually planting them, we have a feeling it’s because planting can be intimidating. We’re here to share our best tips for a successful transplant.

flowers

STEP-BY-STEP

  1. Use the plants in their containers to arrange and plan your garden.

  2. Plan for how big the plant will be, not how big it is when you buy it.

  3. Dig holes twice as big as the container they come in.

  4. Plant with a gentle hand.

  5. Use good soil and good plant food.

  6. WATER, WATER, WATER!

Step 1: Place your store-bought plant containers, where you plan to plant them. This can help you map out your ideas and measure. It’s also a good time to double check the labels for light needs. Shift shade loving plants from bright areas, and sun-loving plants from shade areas.

Step 2: Ask a store associate or check the label for what size the plant will be when it is full grown. For example, if a plant will measure 3 feet wide when full grown, you want to plant them at LEAST 4 feet apart – or further if you want space in between. Just because the plants you buy are small at first doesn’t mean you should plant them close together. They are going to be BIG in no time at all!

gardening

Step 3: Make sure the holes you dig are deep enough for the plant. You can look up specifics of individual plants online, or ask a specialist at the nursery. We find a good rule of thumb is to dig a hole that is about twice the size of the container you purchase them in. Too shallow of a hole will make the plant struggle in the heat and cold because the roots will be more exposed to the elements. Too deep of a hole will make it harder for the roots to get water and nutrients. It’s the happy median you’re looking for.

Step 4: Plants are delicate and the transplanting process can be hard on them, so handle your new plants with a gentle hand to minimize the shock of the transplanting process. To transfer plants from container to the ground – gently grasp the plant around the base, turn the container to the side, and squeeze the container to help loosen it while you shimmy the plant free from the container. Be sure to gently separate the roots by using your fingers to loosen the roots underneath from the middle out. This encourages the roots to spread out which should help get it established quicker. Place the plant in the middle of the hole and cover with good soil.

plants

Step 5: Most nurseries have their own potting mix, and the ones with cedar in the mix have worked well for us here in Central Florida. We typically put the “good soil” on the top so that when we water the plants the nutrients trickle down into the roots. Pack down the dirt around the plant so that the plant is supported and the roots are protected. Finally, sprinkle a slow release food, like Osmocote, around the base of the plant.

Step 6: WATER is so important for establishing your new plants. After you have planted and sprinkled with food, immediately water generously at the base of the plant. (Ideally, using a garden hose with “shower” setting.) Be sure to water new plants every day for at least the first week. Here in Central Florida, SUN and HEAT are a factor – so only water in the early morning before the sun OR after the heat and sun of the day (dusk) as to not burn your plant/leaves. PRO TIP: Water new and established plants at the base. The roots are what distributes the water and nutrients. The leaves and stems do not. Wet leaves in the sun and heat can burn/kill your plants.

garden hose

Click here to read our previous article for ground care tips, including the easiest way to keep weeds out of your beautiful new flower bed!

Do you have other garden tips? Have a favorite place to buy flowers and plants in Central Florida? We want to hear! Let us know in the comment section of our social media. @DeAnnaAndCompany on Instagram and Facebook.

Curb Appeal

Hedge Trimmers and Edgers: Which is Best?

Electric vs Gas vs Battery Hedgers/Edgers/Trimmers – Which is Best? 

When it comes to buying new landscaping and lawn equipment, we always find ourselves at a crossroads. From plug-in electric, to rechargeable batteries, to gas powered – so many options make it nearly impossible to choose which is best with any certainty. Fear not! We recently upgraded our tools and are here to share our experience.

After owning the plug-in corded and manual landscaping tools over the years, using gas-powered ones, and then recently purchasing the electric rechargeable battery kinds, we feel confident in recommending this particular brand.

E-GO, purchased at Lowes Home Improvement.

lawn equipment

We choose this brand and could not be happier with our purchase. Our lawn (edging) is small, but we have a lot of bushes and plants and find these rechargeable electric (battery/cordless) products perfect for our needs.

The Pros:

  • We can trim without re-charging the battery at least 2 to 3 times.
  • The batteries are compatible with multiple E-GO tools, so you can swap them between tools with ease.
  • More powerful and reliable than our plug-in corded models.
  • Performed just as well as the gas powered options we’ve tried.

The Cons:

  • If the battery dies during use, you have to wait while the batteries charge.
  • The battery charging fan has a funny smell when charging, so we don’t feel comfortable charging them inside the house.

electric landscaping tools

These are literally the only cons we can come up with. We think our E-GO is awesome! The performance is honestly better than all of our previous plug-in electric models. The cuts are clean and it’s rare (if ever?) that this E-GO hedger/trimmer has gotten stuck in the branches of hedges while trimming.

rechargeable battery for lawn equipment

The battery system is pretty straight forward. Slide it on the charger to charge it, it has a light indicator to show when it’s fully charged. Then you slide it on to whatever E-GO tool you want to use and go! I usually find myself needing to charge it after every third use.

Most of the tools have an option to buy with the battery at a BIG savings versus buying the battery and charger alone. We have one battery for two E-GO tools. I swap the battery between the hedger and the edger with no problems. If you have more than one person working on tool – related yard tasks you may want to opt for more batteries.

Do you have any landscaping tools that make your life easier? We want to hear about it! Share your finds with us in the comments of our social media posts about this article. @DeAnnaAndCompany on Instagram and Facebook.

Note: This is not a paid endorsement or ad. We actually researched and purchased these items all on our own.

Curb Appeal

Sod vs. Seeds, Which is Best?

lawnSod is the quickest way to an instant lawn. So what’s the downside to sod? It’s more expensive, which results in people trying seeds over and over again. In our opinion, it would be better to replace your lawn in phases than to continually waste money on seeds that never take.

Can seeds ever work?

Absolutely! Sometimes seeds do work, but if they don’t work the first time, they’re probably not the solution for your particular situation. It’s time to save up and consider sod. Here are some instances where we’ve seen seeds do well:

  • A resting yard. If the area is mostly undisturbed with minimum foot traffic (no pets or children tearing up the ground) the seeds are more likely to be successful. 
  • Dappled light or areas with shorter lengths of direct sunlight. When the grass germinates, this will keep it from drying out and dying in the harsh sun. Monitor your yard’s sun exposure and make sure to purchase the right type of seeds for your particular situation.
  • When using a sprinkler system, or a strict watering schedule. This will give the seeds the moisture they need. Follow the directions on your particular brand of seeds.

PRO TIP: Follow the specific instructions on your brand of seeds and follow their recommended watering schedule.

Is sod ever affordable?

It’s rarely “cheap” but there are ways to save. Consider purchasing from a local sod farm. A straight-from-farm product is usually cheaper and healthier than that dried out stuff you pick up from the local home improvement store. Most farms deliver the sod straight to your yard. Keep in mind, farms usually sell by the palate, so if you need less than their minimum order, ask a neighbor if they would be interested in splitting the cost.

There are also big savings by installing the sod yourself. It’s not a fun job, and can be a lot of work, so work in stages and/or ask some family or friends to help.

PRO TIP: You must water new sod everyday until it is established. This is best done in the very early morning just before the sun comes up.

What if I don’t want either?

If you’d like to shrink your lawn, design areas to plant bushes. Azaleas bloom pretty flowers every spring and are a very hearty, low maintenance option. Knock Out Roses are a great continuous flowering option. You could also create rock beds or plain mulched zones with or without planters.

Lawn Care Tips:

“Cut it high to thrive!”

First, Florida lawns do much better when cut on the highest mower setting. We’ve found the taller the grass, the deeper the roots, and the thicker the lawn. This is a simple way to keep the grass healthy and block the weeds out.

PRO TIP: If you’re cutting your lawn with the lowest (shortest) blade setting on your mower, that’s probably why it’s not thriving. It’s often the reason for dead or bare spots too.

Next, a sprinkler system with a regular watering schedule is a must for keeping a lawn in Florida. Florida grasses are hearty and drought tolerant but they still need regular watering to really thrive.

DID YOU KNOW?: Your city/county likely has designated watering days. Watering outside of those days can result in fines. (New sod is usually an exception.) Be sure to follow your area’s watering schedule and rules.

Finally, watch out for invaders! Dig or pull up weeds, crab grass, and torpedo grass as soon as you see them. Skip the weed killers.

Cheers to creating a plush, picnic-worthy lawn!

lawn picnic