Patio & Hearth Blog

from Patio and Hearth Products Report

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Bringing the Grill With You

With the 4th of July festivities fast approaching and summer vacations currently underway, being able to grill wherever travel takes you will add to the fun. Portable grills can be taken to the beach, on camping trips and even on tailgating gatherings during sporting events. Apartment dwellers also love portable grills because they’re well-suited for balconies and small patios.  While some portable grills come with their own stands, many will fit on a tabletop or the back of a truck bed for tailgating.  Portable grills have come a long way, and here are a couple of our favorites: 

Napoleon Prestige II Freestyle Grill

The Napoleon Prestige II Freestyle Portable Gas Grill provides versatility and quality.  It has a single-bar burner as well as a fold-up warming rack that provides a little extra space.

Porta-Chef Pro by Onward Manufacturing


Broil King’s Porta-Chef Pro from Onward Manufacturing is a portable grill that is tailor-made for tailgating.  Once the attachable legs are snapped on, it’s ready for grilling.  It has a cast-iron cooking grid and 360 square inches of total cooking surface.


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Getting to Know Your Woods

Buying new patio furniture can be a daunting task.  With such a variety of styles, materials and manufacturers in the marketplace, consumers are often perplexed about what they should buy.

Cedar Twin Ponds Bench Set by Creekvine Designs

One of the biggest choices when buying patio furniture is determining whether it should be made of wood or metal.  If a consumer decides to go with wood, it’s a good idea to educate them about the various types of wood products that are available and how they differ.

Three of the most popular wood types are:

Teak:  A very durable wood that needs little maintenance besides light cleaning or sanding.  It’s a dense, straight-grained wood that does not warp or crack.  Teak is also tough when it comes to wet climates. Over time teak will fade to a gray color.

Cedar: Like teak, cedar (Northern White and Western Red) is very resistance to weather and bugs.  It is lightweight, extremely durable, and has an interesting grain pattern. 

Pine: Pine is often popular due to its affordability and availability.  One has to keep in mind that unlike other woods, pine is an untreated wood, which can lead to rot.  It can often be treated to improve its durability.

Of course, the three listed above are not the only woods out there for consumers.  Some other woods include: Redwood, Roble, Cypress, Alder and Brazilian Cherry.  Regardless of which type of wood your customer is considering, the features they will be interested include affordability, durability, maintenance, and presentation. A knowledgeable sales staff will help customers find the right products that match their lifestyles.

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Ushering in Summer

Today is summer solstice, which also means it’s the first official day of summer. Summer solstice refers to when the earth’s axial tilt is most inclined towards the sun, thus creating the longest day of the year. And with the arrival of summer, it means endless possibilities for using your outdoor space.

Napoleon's Prestige Pro™ 600 Series

Summer and barbecue seem to always go hand in hand. And now with longer warmer days, it’s time to dust off your grill and start flipping those burgers. Many grill manufacturers offer delicious barbecue recipes, ranging from lamb and shrimp kebabs to smoked brisket and spicy baked beans. Suggesting new recipes and barbecue tips is one way to help your customers welcome in the summer.

During the summer months, many people also start thinking about outdoor home improvement projects. Whether it’s purchasing a new set of patio furniture or completely redoing an outdoor-living space, consumers know that there is no better time than the summer to finally tackle projects that have been on their minds year round.

As we celebrate the start of the outdoor-living industry’s favorite season, we here at Patio & Hearth Products Report wish you a relaxing and fun-filled summer–as well as a profitable selling season!

Happy Summer Solstice!

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Moving the Family Room Outdoors

Arrington Firepit Chat Group by Agio

Nowadays more and more people want to make their outdoor space an extension of their interior space.  Adding more comfortable chairs, outdoor dishwashers and outdoor TVs are all signs of this trend.  Another big sign is the use of outdoor fireplaces.  Outdoor fireplaces provide ambiance, warmth, and a focal element in a design scheme.

As your customers shop for furniture and accessories for their outdoor rooms, suggesting the addition of an outdoor fireplace or firepit can help them make this transformation complete.

There are two popular designs when choosing an outdoor fireplace: chimeneas and custom-built fireplaces and fire pits.

A chimenea, also spelled chiminea, is Spanish for chimney.  Constructed from natural materials like clay or metals, chimeneas are typically front-loading and are designed to hold wood or charcoal.  They have a circular basin and elongated flues, which allows air to circulate and keep out the elements.

Preassembled or custom-built firepits or fireplaces are another option for homeowners.  They allow people to use either propane or natural gas and they can also be fitted well into an existing landscape design.

Carol Rose Coastal Collection by Empire Comfort

These various options have their advantages and disadvantages, so make sure that customers know what they want for their outdoor space in terms of design and use.

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Spicing Up Outdoor Furniture

Outdoor dining set with cushions in Canvas Navy and decorative pillows in Steeplechase Malibu. Photo courtesy of Sunbrella.

Many customers today are looking for inexpensive ways to spruce up their outdoor areas. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to use accessories such
as toss pillows and cushions. Whether the goal is to breathe life into an old patio furniture set or to start out with a fresh, brand-new new collection, adding color and life through the use of pillows and cushions can bring an exciting new look to a backyard. Selecting the right fabrics and designs can even make outdoor spaces look like extensions of a home—and customers can achieve this without having to pay exorbitant remodeling costs!

Over the years fabrics for outdoor furniture have become more comfortable and durable. Quality cushions and throw pillows are easy to obtain and can help spice
up even worn chaises or club chairs. Rotating out two different sets can help bring a familiar piece back to life.

When helping customers select the right pillows or cushions, these tips will help:

  • For a coordinated look, choose colors and patterns that complement the interior of the house.
  • Consider big, bold colors and patterns.
  • Zippered pillows and cushions are easier to keep clean and maintain.
  • If they have a table, they should coordinate the color scheme with matching tablecloths or placemats.
  • Encourage them to have fun selecting these creative accessories!

Furniture and decorative pillows in fabrics from the Sunbrella Horizons Collection. Sunbrella rug by CMI. Sunbrella throw by Textillery. Photo courtesy of Sunbrella Fabrics.

One must remember that while these cushions and pillows are made out of fabric meant for the outdoors, it’s best to keep them out of harsh weather or keep them in storage if not in use.  This will help avoid the fading of color or increased deterioration of the fabric.

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Patio Furniture Maintenance 101

Ashbury Collection from OW Lee.

Customers are always interested in knowing what they can do to help their patio furniture survive the elements. Whether they’re constructed of teak, powder-coated metal, wicker, polyethylene, vinyl, fiberglass, or other materials, outdoor furniture can take a beating from the hot sun, rain, and dust. Even in places like Southern California or Florida, where the weather is not as pronounced, patio furniture can lose its luster due to tree and plant sap, leaf stains, bird droppings, barbecue smoke, dirt, etc.

To help your customers keep their furniture vibrant, month after month, year after year, here are some tips to share with them:

  • Before you make your purchase, think about the quality of the piece you are buying.  Outdoor furniture is an investment and a higher quality product from a specialty store instead of Wal-Mart will last longer.
  • The cushions need to be made for outdoor use. A manufacturer like Sunbrella® makes fabric that is designed to hold up in any kind of weather.
  • Furniture covers, such as those made by Two Dogs Designs for Outdoor Living, help keep away bugs, birds, and the weather.  They are especially helpful if you don’t have indoor storage space for your furniture.
  • Stock up on cleaning products. 303 Products, Inc., makes a great line of cleansers and protectants especially designed for patio furniture.

303 Patio Furniture Cleaner

  • One of best ways to keep your furniture looking new is to store your furniture in a garage or storage unit during extended bad weather.
  • Finally, following the manufacturer’s guide will insure that you get the most out of your furniture.

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Outdoor Dining as Popular as Ever

Berkshire by NorthCape International

When the weather is nice, dining outside is a favorite pastime for homeowners.  The NPD Group and Easy Analytic Software Inc. (EASI) recently conducted a survey that showed that 8 out of 10 consumers say they entertain at home inside and outside.

The EASI also predicts that the sales of outdoor dining sets in the U.S. will increase to almost $3.2 billion by 2015, and most of these sales will come from Gen X’ers who represent 31% of the households who say they’ll buy in 2011.

Buying outdoor dining sets can be a daunting task for many consumers only because there is such a wide variety of styles and sets. Neutral colors (such as tan and gray) seem to be the most popular along with textured fabrics, whimsical patterns, and ethnic motifs. Cool taupes, charcoals, and soft grays are particularly popular this season.

Low Country by Lloyd Flanders

With people finding cheaper ways to entertain and relax without the cost of travel, buying an outdoor dining set can now be viewed as an investment that will last for years.

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Bring Music to the Patio

Outdoor Rock Speakers from Paradigm


Whether it’s entertaining family and friends or spending time with your loved ones, music can bring atmosphere and life to any environment.  And there is no reason why your patio or outdoor space should be left in silence.  The custom outdoor speakers from Paradigm can weather the elements while providing music all day and night.

Before purchasing outdoor speakers, here are some tips to keep in mind from

1. Consider how exposed the speakers may be. If the speakers are not weather proof, make sure they are placed in a protected area.

2. Place speakers at or above eye-level.  The higher the speakers, the farther the sound will travel. However, placing the speakers higher than 10 feet will weaken the sound.

3. Place the speakers a bit apart. Place the speakers around the listening area, pointing inward, about 10 feet away from one another.

4. Alternate speaker channels.  If using more than two speakers on one exterior wall, be sure to mix the left and right channels. That way, you’ll get the stereo effect evenly distributed throughout the listening area. Place left channel speakers in opposite corners from one another, likewise with right channel.

5. Don’t boost the volume. If you are not getting the coverage you want, you might want to add speakers in the weak areas.