LED Recessed Lighting Shootout: Home Depot vs Lowes

Update (12-Apr-2017): Shortly after writing this I installed 12 of the Home Depot Commercial Electric kits, and 4 of the Lowes UtiliTech Pros. My recommendation is now clearly for the Home Depot CE kit. Out of the four Lowes lights one has developed a hum and another occasionally flickers. Out of the 12 Home Depot lights I have had zero issues.

When we remodeled our house in 2000 we installed recessed can lighting. A lot of recessed can lighting. As in 69 6″ halogen cans. Oddly enough, we don’t use much of that lighting. In the bedrooms yes, but otherwise not so much. Why? Because the halogens use so much electricity and put out so much heat that we were reluctant to turn them on.

Now that LED retrofit kits have come down in price I decided to get serious about replacing the old halogens. There are lots of choices in LED kits. I wanted bang-for-the-buck. That quickly led to the house brands of Lowes and Home Depot.

So I decided to do a shootout. I bought a pair of each and compared.

Why a retrofit kit instead of just replacing the bulbs? Because the retrofit kits:

  1. Look nicer, especially if you have old yellowing trim rings on your cans.
  2. Help to seal that big hole in your ceiling. Old style cans are notorious for allowing airflow between your attic and your living space. Most kits come with a rubber gasket and seal tight against the ceiling helping to reduce that air flow.

What I Bought

Before I start keep in mind that Lowes and Home Depot continually update their products using the same “item number”. So by the time you read this things might have changed. But this will give you an idea of what to look for.

Note: the Lowes lights were purchased in a two-pack. Price is for one light.

Lowes UtiliTech Pro Home Depot Commercial Electric
Item 0599032 (SKU 8 22985 51130 8) SKU 0 46335 97939 0
Model MQTL1017-LED11.5K827 CER6730AWH27
Date Code 0415 Unk
Color Temp 2700 2700
Lumens 700 670
Watts 11.5 11
CRI 80 90
Beam Angle Unknown 96deg
Made In China China
Price $17.49 $15.97
Notes Back of light says Type LB012CM-160C Back of light says Model CDLPS35OR15

Performance

Lowes UtiliTech Pro Home Depot Commercial Electric
Ease of Installation B+ A
Fit B A
Appearance B+ B+
Speed A B
Brightness A B+
Color Quality B A
Quiteness A A
Dimming A B

Impressions

Both products were very easy to install. The Home Depot lights were a bit easier because the torsion springs were pre-set into a V and required less compression to slip into the tabs in the can. Also, the Home Depot springs had an improved profile — a bend in the spring that caused it to “snap” into place as you pushed the light up into the can. This resulted in a tighter fit against the ceiling than the Lowes light. So ease of installation and fit go to the Home Depot light.

Appearance is a matter of taste. The Lowes lights are recessed farther into the can and have a stair-stepped bezel. The Home Depot lights have a cleaner look, but when staring directly into them you can see the yellow of some of the leds — once installed this is not as obvious.

The Lowes lights turn on instantly, the Home Depot lights have a split second delay. Both have good light quality. The Lowes is a bit brighter, the Home Depot seems a bit more true to color (this is consistent with their lumens and CRI numbers).

Both lights dimmed well using my 15 year old Lutron dimmer, and I could detect no noise or buzzing. From low to bright the color stayed consistent. On the lowest setting the Lowes lights were dimmer — so they get the nod here.

Conclusion

Both of these kits worked well and I would be satisfied with either.

The Lowes was a bit brighter (just a bit) and dimmed lower.

The Home Depot hugged firmer against the ceiling and had a bit better quality light (just a bit).

Pictures

Which is the Home Depot light? The one with the yellow LEDs showing through. Once installed in the ceiling it doesn't look this bad.

Which is the Home Depot light? The one with the yellow LEDs showing through. Once installed in the ceiling it isn’t  this obvious.

Note the profile of the tension spring on the Home Depot light. It really helped to hold the light firmly against the ceiling.

Note the profile of the tension spring on the Home Depot light on the right. It really helped to hold the light firmly against the ceiling. Also you can see that both lights have a rubber gasket to help seal against the ceiling.

Old fixture with yellowing trim ring.

Old fixture with yellowing trim ring.

You can see the tabs that the tension spring legs slip into. On some cans these are pressed against the walls and you need to bend them out.

You can see the tab that the tension spring legs slip into in the bottom of the photo. On some cans these are pressed against the walls and you need to bend them out.

One of the Lowes lights had a bit of a gap between the ring and the ceiling.

One of the Lowes lights had a bit of a gap between the ring and the ceiling. Others fit better, so this was in part an issue with our ceiling.

The Home Depot lights sucked firm against the ceiling thanks to the spring design.

The Home Depot lights are held firmly against the ceiling thanks to the spring design.

Backyard Landscaping: Paver Patio

My wife hated The Deck. We had lived in our house 18 years, and every single summer she asked “when are we going to tear out The Deck”? The Deck was dirty, high maintenance, and was elevated 18″ which, although not a great height, still made you feel like your head was poking above the fences — further reducing any sense of privacy. We really didn’t use our backyard — which was a shame — in large part because of The Deck.

Each year I mumbled something non-committal. Tearing out the deck is the easy part. But then what? We would need a new patio, and after fits and starts and high estimates from contractors I continued to avoid that endeavor.

Finally the spouse had had enough. She hired my son and his friend to tear out The Deck. They were quite efficient. It was gone in a couple days.

So that was that. We were getting a new patio. And we decided to do it ourselves.

There are lots of DIY articles on installing a paver patio. They make it look so simple. And really, it is not rocket science. But there is a big different between laying a 10′ x 10′ patio and a 20′ x 30′ patio. And there are lots of details the DIY articles gloss over.

In this article I’ll go over how we did our patio, and highlight some mistakes we made.

Materials

We wanted a fairly large format paver which ruled out the smaller pavers found at your big box store. After looking around we chose Calston Quarry Stone Versailles (the same manufacturer we used for our garden retaining wall materials) in Sequoia Sandstone using the Versailles 3 pattern. Along some edges we used a border of 6×9 Quarry Stone.

One thing to keep in mind when doing a large landscaping project is the weight of materials. For exaIMGP7635mple, I think the 16″x16″ pavers were around 40 pounds each. You have to haul those around, try to set them delicately, and then sometimes remove them and reset them. I would not have wanted to work with any larger of a paver. And I’m glad “only” 40% of our pattern was the large paver.

Once you have picked the pavers, pattern and know your square footage your supplier can help you determine how many pavers of each size to get. Also most manufacturers have estimation guides that you can use for budgeting purposes.

In addition to the pavers you will need baserock, bedding sand, and grouting sand. Again, your supplier can help you determine how much you need of each.

And finally, you will need some sort of edge restraint. There are various products. We ended up using a couple of different brands of flexible plastic edge restraints that are held in place with metal spikes. This was especially helpful on our one curved section. The professionals often pour cement footings with a little rebar, but I didn’t want to mess with that.  So far the plastic restraints have held up just fine.

Tools

The tools you will use most are good old fashioned, hard working hand tools. I also rented a mini loader since I had a fair amount of dirt to push around (and yes, part of the benefit of DIY is being able to rent fun equipment). You’ll want to rent a plate compactor twice. Once for compacting the base rock and once (with a rubber pad) for compacting the pavers after laying and grouting them. A brick saw is necessary if you have cuts to make (which you will if you have any curves).

Rentals

Hand Tools

  • Shovels, pick axe, digging bar
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Two 4′ x 1″ external diameter iron pipe
  • Hearing protection
  • Buckets
  • Various hand trowels for leveling sand, etc
  • A few straight 2×6’s for screeding sand
  • Wooden stakes
  • Hammer
  • Rubber mallet
  • Hand plate compactor
  • Levels: 4′ and short
  • String for doing layout

Layout and Pitch

Layout seems simple — you know where you want your patio after all, but there are some things to keep in mind:

  • The dimensions given for the pavers are typically “nominal”. That means they are not exactly that size. Just like a 2×4 isn’t 2″ by 4″. The pavers will likely be a bit smaller than their nominal dimensions.
  • Think about where you want full pavers versus cut. You might have some fixed sides — against the house for example, or against a sidewalk or retaining wall — that prevent you from rounding to the next whole paver. In that case you will have to make some cuts. In our case we wanted hole pavers on the outer edges of the patio and cuts up against the house.
  • Remember, not everything is always square! In our case we had the garden wall that ran parallel to the house. But not exactly parallel!  We choose to keep the patio square to the wall which means it hit the house slightly skewed.

The recommended pitch for a patio is 1/8″ to 1/4″ per foot. And you want to pitch it away from your house (so water runs away from your house).

We pitched our patio 1/4″ per foot (or 1″ per four feet) and this was our first mistake. Pitching this much caused two problems:

  1. The slope is perceptible. It’s not a big problem, and you certainly don’t feel that the patio is sloped, but you can still perceive it (or at least I can!).
  2. On one section of our house the stucco comes down fairly low. Our reference elevation point for the patio was the base of our retaining wall, and the patio rose up from there to meet the house. Since we had a decent pitch, the patio rose nearly 6″ from that point. That resulted in the top of the pavers hitting the house above our stucco line. If we had done a more gentle pitch the pavers would have met the house below the stucco at the foundation.

I think if we had done a gentler pitch, like 3/4″ per four feet I would have been happier with the results.

Excavation and Grading

First you need to plan your grade. For our patio it went like this:

  • The thickness of our patio is: 6″ baserock + 1″ bedding sand + 2.5″ paver = 9.5″
  • We wanted the top of the patio to intersect our garden wall at a certain spot at its base. This became our reference point.
  • I hand dug a shallow trench along the garden wall that was about 9.5″ deep. I then hammered in a stake such that the top of the stake was 3.5″ below where I wanted the top of the patio. The top of the stake represented the top of the baserock layer so about 6″ of stake was exposed. This was the reference point for laying out our grade.
Excavating with the SK350

Excavating with the SK350

To dig out the rest of the soil I rented a Ditch Witch SK350 mini skid steer loader. It was fun. The entire family took turns. A couple tips while excavating:

  • Tape a 3/4″ wood block (in our case it was a 1″ wood block — see mistake above) to one end of a 4 foot level.
  • As you excavate, use this to check your grade. Place the end of the level with the wood block on the downhill side, and when the level is level, you have the correct pitch.
  • Your pitch doesn’t have to be perfect, but if it is close it helps
  • We used the mini loader to dig the grass up in the rest of our backyard too
  • We distributed the dirt around the rest of the yard to generally raise the grade of our backyard up a bit
  • Wear hearing protection if use something like the SK350. It was pretty loud.

We were able to excavate in one day. And yes, it was a long day.

IMGP7582

Pushing dirt around

It is recommended that after excavation you compact your base soil with a hopper or vibrating plate compactor. I have to be honest that I did not do this. Our soil has a high clay content and is really dense and compact as it is. So I took a shortcut and skipped this. This has not proven to be a problem, but if your soil is loose you’ll definitely want to compact it.

After you finished excavating it’s time to set the rest of the grading stakes. These will help you lay your base rock to grade. The idea is to have the top of the grading stakes be at the level that you want the top of your baserock.

Use that first grading stake as a reference. Hammer in stakes every four feet across the pitch from your reference stake. The tops of these stakes should be level with each other. So for us these ran parallel to our garden wall.

IMGP7594

Grading stakes installed

Now off of each of those stakes run a row of stakes up the pitch four feet apart. Use your 4′ level with the 3/4″ wood block to check the height of the new stake: place the end of the level with the wood block on the downhill stake and rest the other end of the level on the uphill stake. When the level is level your uphill stake is the correct height. Repeat this process until you have a grid of stakes 4′ apart.

When you are done do some sanity checking by running a line down a row of stakes and ensure the total drop from top stake to bottom stake is what you expect.

You might also want to spray paint the top of the stakes with florescent orange spray paint. This makes the stakes more visible and helps you not to trip over them.

Base Rock

IMGP7605

Tucker the Cavalier helping lay baserock

Now it’s time to lay down the base rock! The recommendation is to do this in multiple 3″ lifts, compacting between the lifts. Once again I took a short cut. During the week my family hauled baserock and spread it until it was even with the top of the stakes (all 6″ at once). Then on the weekend we compacted it with a plate compactor and hauled and compacted more as needed.

Once you think the baserock is done, you need to double check it to make sure it is even. And this is where we made our second mistake.

IMGP7609

Tucker inspecting

To check the baserock  get a nice straight 2 x 4 and lay it on edge on the baserock and check for low and high points. Make sure to keep turning the 2×4 90 degrees so you are checking both across and with the ptich. If you have a gap (that a pencil will slip through) under the middle of the 2×4 then you have a low spot If the 2×4 wobbles on a high spot, then you have a high spot.  Fill, level and recompact as needed.

Our mistake is that we rushed this and ended up with some low spots that we did not detect until too late. That caused problems later (see below). So do a good job and make sure that base rock is even!

Compactin

Compacting baserock

Edging

Where you have exposed edges of your patio you need some form of edge restraint to contain the pavers. Professionals often do this with cement and some rebar. We used a couple different brands of plastic edging product that you secure in place with metal spikes. The plastic edging is especially helpful if you have any curves as the edging makes it easy to get a smooth even curve.

I don’t recall the specific brands we used — but I don’t expect there is much difference.

Since it is difficult to exactly predict where the edge of the patio will end up (due to variations in pavers) we did not install all of the edging to start.

Laying Pavers

Once we had the baserock compacted we started to lay the pavers. We did not install edging on one edge of our patio, since we knew we’d need to adjust that to fit tight up against the pavers.

Before you start laying your pavers make sure to do some dry fitting to confirm your layout and dimensions. Think about where you want full versus cut pavers. For example on our patio we wanted full pavers on the outer edges of our patio, and cut pavers against our house. We also did a border along those edges (and not against the house). IMGP7625

Laying the pavers is the fun part of the project. First lay down those two iron pipes parallel to each other (see photo). Next dump sand between the pipes and rest a 2×6 on the pipes. Then pull the 2×6 along the pipes to screed, or level, the sand. Once you have a nice area of sand gently remove the pipes and fill the gaps left by the pipes with sand (using a small trowel).

Once the sand is down start placing pavers following your pattern. Make sure to drop the pavers flat — try not to let a corner dip and gouge out the sand. Tap the paver with a rubber mallet. Periodically check the pavers to make sure they are pretty even and none are sitting low.

This was our third mistake! We were behind schedule at this point and rushing and did not carefully check for uneveness. After we had laid most of the pavers we could tell we had low spots — all caused by not double checking our baserock (see mistake #2). We ended up going back, pulling up pavers and re-leveling with sand. This was a huge pain — especially with the larger pavers. Rookie mistake. We were able to correct the most egregious of the low spots, but it was no fun.

After laying the main field you might have to cut pavers for some edges. We needed to cut pavers against the house, as well as the pavers in the curve. For this I rented a brick saw.

Compacting and Grouting

At this point all your pavers are laid, and it looks pretty darn good. But you’ll notice that the pavers aren’t completely even (even if you did a nice job leveling them). No worries — compacting smooths that out.

When you rent the plate compactor this time, make sure you get one with a rubber pad that is designed for running over the tops of the pavers. Even with the pad we had a couple pavers chip. Once the pavers are compacted it’s time to grout.

You can use plain old grouting sand — but the latest thing is polymeric sand. When activated with water this sand hardens and binds together. It makes for a great, durable, weed resistant grout. The down side is it will be more work if you need to repair or replace pavers. But we used it and I am pleased with the results. Just make sure to follow the directions on the bag.

Enjoy

Ready for a party. Note the ugly white post. We later wrapped with a sythetic stone post wrap.

Ready for a party. Note the ugly white post. We later wrapped with a sythetic stone post wrap.

When we did our patio we had a deadline. We were throwing my daughter a going away party on the day we planned on finishing the patio. We had until 5pm! I was just finishing activating and rinsing the grout when the first guests arrived. Just made it!

So make sure to throw a party to celebrate your new patio!

Backyard Landscaping: Garden Retaining Wall

We had neglected our backyard long enough. It was time to do some landscaping. The first project was to build a short but long retaining wall along our back fence. The neighbors plot behind us is a couple of feet higher than ours. The fence splits the difference with the bottom acting as a retaining wall of sorts. But it was time to address this head on with something that looked good.

To save money we decided to DIY. I also knew this wasn’t going to be an easy job. Even though the wall is only around two feet tall, it is over 75 feet long. That’s a lot of dirt and materials. Plus we wanted something that looked substantial — so the block size would be large. This was going to be physically taxing, but with some help and wise pacing it was doable!

Materials

AllenBlock

Our pile of Allen Block

The first decision: what materials to use? After some research we decided on Calstone Allen Block Classic. It had the large form factor we wanted, looked good, and Calstone is a local company — so availability was excellent in our area. The “Classic” was also cheaper than their tumbled “Europa”, and we liked the look.

Note that the largest block sizes were 60 to 65 pounds. This is a consideration when you do projects like this. Your going to be carrying those blocks all day long. Clearly I was going to need help. Thankfully my wife and son pitched in.

BaserockAndGravel

Base rock and gravel

In addition to the blocks themselves we needed baserock for the wall’s footing and gravel for filling the blocks. Plus a bag of sand to help with leveling blocks. Your block supplier should be able to help you with estimating the amount of materials you will need for your project. Also your block manufacturer should have installation instructions (Calstone has a pretty thorough installation guide).

And of course all this stuff had to be moved into the backyard. We borrowed a friend’s hand truck to move the blocks, and an extra wheelbarrow helped for the gravel and base rock.

Tools

DiggingTools

Digging tools. The digging bar and soaker hose were very helpful.

Large landscaping projects require lots of water, sunscreen and advil!

Water, sunscreen and ibuprofen are key to a successful landscaping project.

No sophisticated tools here. Most of this job is digging, shoveling, leveling, compacting and hauling. I did need to cut some blocks for a  curved area at the end of the wall — for that I improvised with my circular saw, a masonry blade and the garden hose. You’ll also need some string and stakes for doing layout and I made a depth gauge that I’ll discuss later. And don’t forget lots of water, sunscreen and ibuprofen!

Layout

TestWall

Test wall and soaker hose

The first thing we did was to decide on our layout — since that affects everything else. We decided we wanted the wall 20″ tall (including the top caps). We wanted the face of the wall to be 44″ from the fence which left a 32″ bed. For our blocks that meant a two course pattern plus the 4″ top cap plus the wall footing. For our wall we went with 4″ of baserock plus the 4″ AB Lite stone for the footing. That means we had to dig a trench ~8″ below grade for the wall footing.

We built a small section of test wall to make sure things were working out as we expected. In the picture on the right you see the section of test wall. This helped us visual what the completed project would look like and also confirmed the height was what we wanted.

Once this was confirmed we used stakes and string to set a line that represented the face of the wall. Down at the far end of the wall I used a garden hose to layout my curve. I then sprayed along the line with landscape marking paint to outline where we needed to dig. Then the trenching commenced!

Trenching

Most of the DIY articles just say: dig a trench. Well, to dig the trench requires doing a few key things:

  1. Dig the trench in a straight line
  2. Dig the trench the proper depth
  3. (Possibly) dig the trench through hard soil

The first was easy. As I said during layout I used landscaping string to layout the line for the face of the wall and outlined it with marking paint.

DepthGauge

My son using the depth gauge to check depth. Looks good!

The second wasn’t as easy. The ground isn’t perfectly level, so how far down do you dig? What is your reference point? To solve this I made a depth gauge out of a piece of PVC pipe and an old 2×4. I set a line along the fence that represented the top of the wall (using string and a bubble level — I marked the fence posts where the top of the wall would lie).

Trench

Trenching complete! Test wall in foreground.

We then temporarily screwed a 1×2 on the fence with the top of the board aligned with this line. The depth gauge rested on the 1×2 with the PVC pipe set to be the height of the wall plus the 8″ we needed for the wall foundation. When the depth gauge was level, the trench was the correct depth. Hopefully the picture above helps to clarify this.

To help dig through the hard soil we used the power of water. I bought a soaker hose and snaked this back and forth along each section to dig and we let it run for a couple of hours. We repeated this as needed, and it was a huge help. After soaking we used a lawn edging spade (red handled tool in photo in Tools section) to create a clean line along the face of the trench and then a digging bar and pick axe to break up the soil. Then a square nosed shovel to dig out the dirt. Periodically we’d check the depth with the depth gauge. We continued this until we had our trench! The photo on the right shows the finished trench along with our test wall in the foreground. You can just see the curve at the far end of the wall.

Footing

GradingSteaks

Grading stakes

Baserock

Laying baserock. Tamping tool in foreground.

Next step was to building the footing, or foundation, for the wall. Your requirements will vary depending on the product you are using and the height of the wall. See the recommendations from your manufacturer. For our 20″ wall we put down 4″ of base rock, and then a course of 4″ blocks. This is a critical part of the project. You want that baserock and first course of block to be nice and level.

To help with this I hammered in some grading stakes, the tops of which were 4″ above the ground. I used a long level to make sure I was level from stake to stake. Then we filled with base rock in multiple passes, compacting in between with a hand tamper. When we got to the top of the grading stakes we pulled out the stakes, filled the holes and checked for low and high spots using a long level.

Foundation

Laying first course. That kneeler was indispensable, and the deck would get torn out the following summer.

After the base rock went down it was time to lay the first course of block. This is a critical step as that first course determines how well the wall will turn out. So it needs to be straight and level! I laid a string line to line up the backs of the blocks, then used the level and sand to make sure the blocks were level. You can see this in the picture to the right. And a rubber mallet helped to get things seated or to nudge a block one way or the other.  And of course it is always nice to have a Cavalier Spaniel helping out.

TuckerTheCavalier

Tucker the cavalier helping to move blocks

The Wall

TheWall

Standard Allan Block two course pattern.

Once the foundation is down the fun part starts. Building the wall! For this phase you just stack the blocks according to the pattern you chose from your manufacture. In the case of our blocks we had to fill the voids in the blocks with gravel. So we’d stack some blocks, then fill. As you stack the blocks check for rocking. Even if you got your foundation course nice and level, there are imperfections in the blocks themselves. Use sand to fill low spots and help keep the blocks from wobbling.

The curved section of the wall was a little more difficult. The problem is as the wall goes up it offsets back a bit, which changes the radius of the wall which means things start not to fit as well. This meant a lot of fiddle and some trimming with a saw. I don’t have a photo of it, but I rigged up some PVC pipe and the garden hose to provide a trickle of water that allowed me to use my circular saw as a wet saw (with a masonary blade). In hindsight I just should have rented a brick saw. So if you are doing a curve you will be cutting block (especially the top caps) so rent a brick saw!

Pace Yourself

One thing to keep in mind when doing a large project is to pace yourself. This took us multiple weekends over a summer. The work is physically demanding, and when you get tired is when you start getting sloppy and make mistakes. We would start early in the morning, then knock off by mid afternoon — and took plenty of breaks.

But it was worth it! We saved thousands of dollars and have tremendous satisfaction that we did the job ourselves.

The Final Product

Here’s a shot of the final product a year later. You’ll notice we tore out the deck and laid a patio (the topic for a future blog post). It was a lot of hard work, but it came out great!

PatioAndWall

Backyard Landscaping: Corrugated Metal and Redwood Tool Wall

Over the last couple of years we’ve been working on landscaping our backyard. One of the simpler projects we did was a galvanized metal screen/tool wall. On one side it’s a decorative screen:

ToolWall

On the other side it’s a tool wall, handy for hanging your garden tools:

ToolWallRear

The tool wall has an overhang to help keep rain and sun off of your tools. It’s compact size makes it fit in places where a shed wouldn’t. Plus the tools are very convenient to access and put away. I also added a couple little shelves from scrap lumber to hold clippers, rose food, etc.

Materials

  • (2) 4x6x10′ redwood posts
  • (2) 2x4x8′ redwood rails
  • (6) 2x6x8′ redwood boards
  • (1) 2x6x8′ pressure treated footer
  • (5) 1x1x8′ redwood strips
  • (4) 2’x8′ corrugated metal panels
  • Lumber preservative to treat the bottom of the redwood posts
  • A couple of bags of base rock and sand for filling/anchoring the posts.
  • Short and long deck screws

Build

You’ll want a helper! It looks like a lot of steps because I’m being fairly detailed. I mostly used screws to assemble this. Wherever I say “toenail” below, I drilled pilot holes at an angle through the cross member (on the edge for the rails, on the face for the footer board) and screwed diagonally to attach the cross members to the posts.

  1. The day before paint the bottom 30″ of each 4×6 post with the lumber preservative. Repeat with a couple of coats. If you can soak the bottom of the posts in a pail, even better.
  2. Dig two post holes approximately 102″ center-to-center, ~2 1/2 feet deep
  3. Toss a little baserock in the bottom of each hole
  4. Bury the first post. Make sure you have 7 1/2 feet of the post above ground and the broad face of the 4×6 is facing the front of your wall. Fill with baserock and tamp with a scrap 2×4 as you fill. Occasionally toss in some sand and add a bit of water. Use a level to keep the post plumb. If you prefer you can brace the post on two sides using scrap lumber and wooden stakes while you plumb it, then fill.
  5. Once the first post is secure, do the same for the second post. Use one of the 8′ 2×4’s to make sure the inner edges of the two posts are exactly 8′ apart — both at the bottom and near the top.
  6. Once both posts are secure toenail the footer board to the bottom of the posts. The top of the footer board should be approximately 84 1/2″ from the top of the post.
  7. Place one 2×4 rail on top of the footer board. Toenail it in place. You can also place a couple of screws straight through into the footer.
  8. Nail one of the 1×1 redwood strips to the top of the rail. Place it so it is recessed about 1/2″ from the face of the rail.
  9. Cut two of the 1×1 strips to 70 1/2″ long. Nail these to the inner face of each post, lined up with the 1×1 on the bottom rail. This forms the front “frame” that the corrugated metal panels will rest against.
  10. Place the first metal panel so that it rests on the bottom rail and rests against the 1×1’s. Toenail it in place by screwing through the panel at an angle an into the post/1×1. Do this in a couple of places on each side of the panel. Leave the top free to move a bit.
  11. Slide the next panel in place. Have it overlap the first panel by one ridge. When looking from the front the top panel should overlap on top of the bottom panel. Screw it into place.
  12. Repeat for the third panel, but this time have it overlap by two ridges!
  13. Nail a 1×1 strip to the second 2×4, recessed 1/2″
  14. Place that 2×4 rail on top of the panels. The 1×1 should rest on top of the vertical 1×1’s on each post. Toenail the rail in place.
  15. Take the final 1×1 and place it along the back edge of the bottom panel and nail it in place. This just provides a little additional support along the bottom of the panel.
  16. Toenail four 2×6’s across the back of the panels. This braces the panels and provides a place to hang tools.  Space them however you wish. I used some scrap deck lumber for this. OK! Now time for the “roof”.
  17. Cut one of the 2×6’s into two 40″ lengths.
  18. Using a jigsaw (or circular saw if only needing straight cuts) cut a decorative shape into each end. Google “rafter ends” and “rafter tails” for ideas. I made a paper template, traced it onto the boards, and cut with a jigsaw. I practiced this on some scrap lumber first.
  19. Screw these “rafters” onto the inside edges of the posts. Make sure the long edge extends ~24″ from the post to the back (tool) side of the screen.
  20. Cut 3″ off the remaining 2×6 so it is 93″ long. Toenail this in place above the top rail, so that the top of the 2×6 is flush with the top of the rafters and the front edge is flush with the front edge of the top rail. See picture. This helps support the “roof”.
  21. Place the final metal panel on top of the rafters to form the roof and screw into place.
  22. I hung my tools using big old nails. I also screwed in a couple little “shelves” to place clippers, rose food, etc.

Tips:

  1. You may need to adjust dimensions. The metal panels I bought from Home Depot were about 27″ tall. I laid them out on the lawn and overlapped them to see exactly how tall the overall panel height would be. For me that was 72″ if I overlapped the first two panels by one ridge, and the next panel by two ridges. Don’t blindly follow my measurements! Double check your own since building materials and installations will vary.
  2. Take care when picking and moving your panels. The metal panels from Home Depot are very thin and flimsy. And once you dent or crease one you’ll have that blemish forever. Remember that the very edges of the panels are hidden a bit when installed, so some dings on the very edges are OK. I had a tough time finding 4 undinged panels at my Home Depot.
  3. If I had to do it over again, I might choose a more rigid fiberglass panel for the “roof”. The flimsy metal panel is working OK, but a more substantial fiberglass one might work better especially if you live in a windy area.
  4. I went to a fencing lumber yard for my lumber. My Home Depot doesn’t carry nice redwood 4×6’s.
  5. I chose to anchor my posts with baserock and sand instead of messing with cement. The baserock held very securely and is not as permanent as cement.

Here are a couple more detailed shots:

Rafter closeupRear fastening of panel closeup