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Sunshades: Naturally Made for the Shade

Sunshades: Naturally Made for the Shade

(ARA)- Creating outdoor living spaces has been one of the hottest home improvement trends these past few years. Turning the deck into an outdoor space with all the sophistication, look and feel of the room inside provides the necessary sanctuary when escaping to the comforts of the backyard.
However a new twist on this popular trend not only has people moving outwards, but upwards too. As temperatures rise, glare and heat can deter backyard worshipers inside on summer afternoons. For that reason, many are incorporating Western Red Cedar sun-filtering structures atop outdoor living spaces. These "sunshades" let you enjoy the outdoors on even the warmest days, while providing protection from harmful UV rays.
Sunshade areas provide an ideal blend of shade and light--perfect as a retreat or a shady spot to cool off before going inside. Before incorporating a sunshade atop your outdoor living space, be sure to consider the following for maximum enjoyability:
* Size and Layout Matters
Sunshades normally connect with the house directly to provide maximum coverage and protection, but your outdoor living space may present a situation best served by a freestanding overhead sunshade. Therefore, take special care when deciding the layout specifics and proportions of foundational posts or overhead rafters. For instance, a set of 4-by-4 inch foundation posts would mesh nicely with 2-by-6-inch overhead boards and 2-by-2-inch cross-sectional slats.
Also, one of the greatest appeals of a sunshade is its cohesiveness with the outdoor living space itself--so make sure the sizing is appropriate and things are vertically straight and even in height. You should also ensure the overhead canopy boards are level and evenly spaced in parallel to each other--attention to detail is essential here as a top-heavy design could affect the "balance" of your space.
* Decorative Design
Consider adding decorative touches to all canopy board ends. To create a decorative end, perfect your design on construction paper then use it as a template to transfer your design to each board end. Be systematic and symmetric in applying this decorative design to each canopy board. The possibilities are endless here, but choosing decorative flair to complement the architectural feel of your house while matching the deck railing design will add to the overall appeal.
* Materials
There are a number of choices available, but one of the most suitable building materials for sunshades is western red cedar. Many homeowners specify western red cedar due to its all-natural look, aroma and character that blends nicely with the natural surroundings. And the wood's natural resistance to mold and mildew has long been recognized.
"Natural qualities of western red cedar make it an excellent choice for a wide range of building projects both inside the home and outside the home--like sunshades," says Peter Lang, general manager of the Western Red Cedar Lumber Association. "And unlike plastic or imitation wood products, cedar is one of the most environmentally-friendly building materials you can use. It's naturally durable without the need for chemical treatment, dimensionally stable, resilient and lightweight. Most importantly, cedar comes from a renewable resource which means generations of Americans will continue to be able to add its beauty and long lasting performance to their homes. The same cannot be said of plastic or metal-based alternatives."
Western red cedar has a low density--making it easy to work with and lightweight so load-bearing limits shouldn't be an issue. Low density ensures cedar does not become hot in the mid-summer sun, so while those with plastic or composed decks are forced inside, you can enjoy the beautiful outdoors. Western red cedar is also free of the pitch and resin found in other softwoods--a quality that makes it ideal for a wide range of finishes. Whether you choose a lightly tinted semi-transparent stain or a two-coat solid color finish, cedar ranks at the top in its ability to accept and retain a finish.
With the right planning, you'll be able to create a safe and relaxing outdoor paradise that will become a welcome respite from the hectic pace of everyday life. For more information on making your new outdoor living space a reality, go to www.realcedar.org or call (866) 778-9096.

Courtesy of ARA Content

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