December 2, 2016

6 Tips to Take the Stress Out of Outdoor Christmas Lights

Let’s set the scene, it is middle of December and your house is not as festive as your neighbors. So at 6 pm, it's dark, you start to hang your lights. Once you have the lights strung you go to plug them in and you realize that the female end is hanging at the outlet, your lights do not even work, or they do not even reach the outlet. How many times has this happened to you? Probably more than you would like to admit.  Here are some tips that could help prevent this from happening.

  1. Hang your lights earlier in the month when it is hopefully warmer.
  2. Start your hanging on the weekend when there is daylight and no rush.
  3. Plug the string into the outlet before you hang them to see if they work. If they do not light up don’t trash them right away, check each bulb for a loose connection or burnt bulb. This will save you money.  It would be best if you do this prior to hanging, such as the day or week before. This way you will know if you need more strings before you start.
  4. Make sure you have enough strings to complete what you have planned.
  5. To prevent the lights not reaching the outlet start the string plugged in until you have at least a couple feet hung.
  6. Another option to make the lights reach is by the use of extension cords.

Once you have your lights all hung the next hurdle is whether to have a timer or not. The benefits of a timer are that your lights are not on all day when they cannot be seen, they can be set to turn on when it gets dark even when you are not home, and they can be turned off after you go to sleep to save on energy. 

November 25, 2016

Choosing a Color - Making the Right Choice for your Retaining Wall

For any remodel or home improvement project one of the biggest decisions is what color to use. Do you choose the popular color that is everywhere or do you go bold with a different, new palate. This is a big decision because once you start you really can’t take it back. 

When it comes to the color of block you want to use for your retaining wall you should first think what is going to influence your choice such as: flowers and plants, house color, your neighbor’s house, is it in shade or in full sun, outdoor furniture, or even your deck color. 

To take all of these into account the most efficient way is to have color samples and narrow it down. Once you have your choices down to two or three get a sample of each and place in the general area it will be built. Observe it at multiple points in the day and types of weather. 

If you have nosey neighbors, they may try to sway your decision one way or another but you should make your decision based on all of the factors that you could later hate and regret the color.

In some instances you may have to pick a certain color based on your neighborhood or county, you should check and see if this affects you or not.

Good luck and if you need any help deciding consult your local paint specialist they will be able to help you come up with a color palette that compliments your home. 

November 18, 2016

What Thanksgiving Means to Us

For most of us the meaning of Thanksgiving includes feasting, four-day weekends, football games family gatherings and the start of the holiday season. Given how the holiday lights and festivities sometimes keep us from reflecting on the simple pleasures of life, here are some famous quotes that will ensure to get your holiday season off to a good start:

if the only prayer you said in your whole life is thank you, that would suffice – Meister Eckhart

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. ~John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow. ~Edward Sandford Martin

 Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them is the true measure of our Thanksgiving 
W.T Purkiser

In light of these quotes and others you may know, one must not forget that there is always something to be thankful for. At Allan Block,  we are thankful for our customers; our manufacturing partners, the army of certified contractors who build with our products everyday, the technical community of engineers, architect and specifiers  who  help design solutions with us, to the distributors who promote and sell are products and last but not least to the customers who buy our products to build beautiful landscapes, and shape the world we live in.

From all of us at Allan Block, we wish you a happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy your family members, the day off, the meal, the parades or whatever your thing is for this holiday.

About Black Friday, if you are one to go shopping the day after Thanksgiving, by all means, go and enjoy this fun American Tradition, it’s great for our economy! And we are thankful for that. Above all, don’t forget to give thanks.

November 11, 2016

Veterans – We Honor You

In 1918, on the 11th hour of the 11th month an armistice between Germany and the Allied nations came into effect. One year later President Wilson proclaimed the day should be “filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory”.  Since that time Americans have honored those who have served in the United States Military.

On this day we as a country reflect upon the heroism of those who have died serving our nation, as well as thank and honor those who are still with us for their sacrifices, their patriotism, and their willingness to serve our great nation.

While it is impossible to truly understand what our veterans have been though in the name of freedom, we can show them our deepest appreciation and our utmost respect for their commitment.  So today we honor you veterans; and from the bottom of my heart and my fellow Americans, Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

November 4, 2016

Retaining Wall Construction - Other Reinforcement Options Save the Day

Weston Corners is a brand new luxury mixed-use development in Cary, NC. The site required several significant retaining walls during construction, one in particular and in close proximity to the property line, street and a building. This retaining wall was originally designed as a Cast in Place (CIP) wall with brick pilasters, but the bids for construction of such a project came back drastically over budget and at that time, the owner went to Delta Development for a solution.
Gib Lyttle (the owner of Delta Development and Allan Block Master Wall Builder) immediately began thinking of an Allan Block retaining wall with a special pilaster block (an AB block that has a 2 in. (50 mm) thicker face than a traditional unit) which he had seen used on a project in Oregon. Lyttle reached out to Fay Block Materials, the local Allan Block producer and they began researching and reviewing possible solutions.
Working with TerraTech Engineers, the group came up with the idea of a 25-30 ft (7–9 m) tall Allan Block Collection Ashlar Blend patterned retaining wall with a unique deeper faced unit to create the appearance of pilasters or columns. Lyttle thought this solution would provide the owner with the aesthetic they were looking for at a cost they could handle. The groups involved, TerraTech Engineers, Delta Development and Fay Block presented their option to the owner for review and their proposal was accepted.