Blog September 2013

Screened-In Porch Designs Allow You to Keep out Giant Mosquitoes

FoxNews.com reported back in June that swarms of gallinippers, a species of mosquito 20 times the girth of the average mosquito, have landed in Seminole County, Florida, in a plague-like fashion. Officials confirmed the infestation following forecasts from entomologists at the University of Florida last March. A local resident claimed to have seen the huge pesky pest on their porch and called the Seminole County Health Department. Despite remedial measures like pre-treatment spraying, it won’t be surprising if the rest of Florida soon becomes victim to the giant mosquito threat.

Thanks to its humid and swampy areas, Florida has all the right conditions for mosquitoes to thrive in swarms. The recent appearance of the giant species is largely associated with last year’s wild storm. So far none of the usual anti-mosquito treatments are able to guarantee 100% success rates. As a precaution, homeowners who love spending time on their porch or balcony may want to convert an outdoor living space into a stylish screened-in porch.

Even though the 175 mosquito species found in the United States comprise only 0.05% of the entire family of mosquitoes on the planet, certain types, such as Anopheles, carry deadly diseases like malaria. A single outbreak will claim the lives of millions if not contained immediately. Aside from using mosquito repellent lotions and insecticide, homeowners must carry out basic preventive measures such as regular cleanup and removal of stagnant water around the house. It is also advisable to install screens around porches or patios.

Porches are usually the perfect places for entertaining or hanging out. To prevent a mosquito infestation in a frequently-used area, homeowners should consider enclosing their porches with durable and stylish screening. The best screened-in porch designs from companies like Archadeck enable porch occupants to still have a clear view of the outdoors while being able to enjoy the free-flowing breeze. They also provide optimum protection from deadly insects.

Screened-in porches may also deter bats, birds, and a variety of wildlife that could pose varying degrees of danger. Of course, someone would need sturdier protection against bigger animals like bears or other predators than just a screen. Fortunately, those giant mosquitoes simply won’t stand a chance against a well-built, screened-in porch.

Due to global warming, mosquitoes are expected to multiply and spread diseases at a much faster rate than normal. The gallinipper invasion in Florida is just the tip of the iceberg. Aside from prevention measures like bug sprays and candles, consider building a screened in porch so you can enjoy the outdoors without worry of pests. Companies like Archadeck offer a variety of porch design options that will suit your budget and personal preference.

Backyard Contest Update: Fire pits and building

It’s been a few weeks and it is time for an update on our Archadeck Dream Backyard Contest winners! Last we checked in with Rick and Merea Bentrott they had finalized their deck and patio design and were ready to start building. Harold Cross and the rest of the Archadeck of Central Iowa have been hard at work on the space!

Before we get to the building update, there was one last tweak to the design. In the last update the design looked like this:

And now, it looks like this:

The Bentrotts decided to enhance the patio portion of the space and add a fire pit and a seating wall. Extending the patio provides for more entertaining space and the kids (they have four) are sure to enjoy roasting some s’mores around the fire pit.

Much like the benches on the deck, we are providing built in seating on the Belgard patio. Retaining walls, when built with the correct height in mind, not only provide the perfect place to sit, but also another way to define the space and create the flow.

With the design plan in place, Harold and his team were set to break ground and start constructing the Bentrotts’ Dream Backyard. Videos of the build throughout the process can be seen on Archadeck of Central Iowa’s YouTube channel.

After six days of finished work, a lot of construction has been done. Demolishing the existing deck and leveling the area for the structure were the first tasks. On day two on site, a lot of dirt needed to be dug out for both the base of the patio and all of footings on the space. The footings are essential to the safety of the structure and were needed for the deck and covered porch.

Unfortunately, there are some things we cannot control, like the weather. A few days of rain delayed us, but we are back on track! The deck framing is finished and the boards have been installs. The decking was provided by our contest sponsor, TimberTech. The color of the boards is Brownstone and they were laid in a diagonal patterns instead of the classic straight version.

The frame and roof of the covered patio have been installed. Underneath and beside the covered area is the patio itself which will be done using Belgard Pavers. What goes beneath the pavers, called base, is incredibly important with respect to the integrity of the structure. Without a good base, the homeowner may notice some uneven areas over time. A base layer of rock has been spread over any area where pavers will ultimately be.

We can’t wait to see the final product and how the Bentrotts will enjoy their new backyard space. In the meantime, if you have questions concerning any outdoor structure, please contact your local Archadeck office.

What to Invest in and what to DIY in your Outdoor Living Space

The best outdoor living spaces provide for just that, living outdoors. But with home and property obligations, it can be too expensive to have the best of everything from the beginning. We’re often asked what to invest in and what you can wait to save for. Well, here are thoughts and some ideas to make your space look fantastic without spending the big bucks.

When it comes to saving your dollars and investing in the outdoor spaces of your home, you definitely want to invest in the actual structure. While you can switch out furnishing relatively easily, you can’t do that with a deck, porch, patio, screened in porch or sunroom. You also want to know that whatever you have is built to code and will last for years.

If you are looking to add on smaller structures, like an outdoor kitchen, fire pit or fireplace, this is something we also suggest investing in because it will add value to the space and be there for a long time. Anything this isn’t mobile, we suggest investing in.

In terms of furnishings, this is where you can save in some areas and spend in others. If you are going to spend over a few hundred dollars, make sure that you absolutely love it and it will last. When my husband and I were looking for a new outdoor dining table, for instance, we set a threshold. We said if we were going to go over $XXX dollars, it had to be great quality and something we both loved. Below that, we could consider purchasing knowing that we may upgrade in a few years.

The smaller items in your outdoor living space are great places to save and create some easy Do it Yourself pieces. Here are some ideas that are cost effective, but also chic…

Plant it in something unique.
Anyone can go into a home improvement store, buy some planters or pots and plant some flowers in it. Some homeowners however may want something a little more special. Look for things that can function as a planter, but have some visual interest. My aunt has a birdbath on her property that she didn’t want birds in (too many mosquitoes) but was too beautiful to get rid of, so she planted some herbs in it. I’ve also seen people plant in old wheelbarrows like this one.

Don’t forget about the pots.
Just because planting in a terracotta pot may be predictable, doesn’t mean you can’t use them in your space. They are great bases for side tables. You can either flip it upside-down and place a piece of Plexiglas on top or sit it upright and do the same thing. If you keep it upright, you can also add something special in it, like shells or sea glass. Pots are also great ways to add color into the space. They not only are available in fun colors, but they are easily updated with spray paint.

Keep those pallets.
Old wooden pallets are as multipurpose as they get. They can be used in so many different ways. Using a pallet as the top of an outdoor coffee table is just one idea. You can sand and stain it or paint it any color you want. They are a great option that fulfills the purpose and looks great while you find something that you love.

Think about it before you throw it away.
Just because something wasn’t initially purchased for the outside of the home doesn’t mean it can’t end up there (this isn’t the case with all things). Take an old bureau or bookcase for example. If you treat it with an outdoor protectant to ensure it doesn’t rot, it could work incredibly well in a covered outdoor area, like a porch. An outdoor wet bar perhaps?

A gorgeous outdoor living space is normally a mixture of some “investment” pieces and some quick finds. The more important thing is that at the end of the day, you love it. If you have any questions, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Fall is the perfect time to build an outdoor living structure

Posted by: janegwalker

While spring and summer arguably are the best seasons to spend time outdoors on your deck, patio or other outdoor living structure, is it the best time to build your structure? At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we believe there are benefits to building an outdoor structure in the fall months.


Spring and summer are our busiest design and building months, but it is also the time when homeowners want to be outside. If you’ve ever had work done on your home, you may know that at times it isn’t safe to be in certain areas. Building in cooler months ensures that you get your project built before, not during the nice weather. The biggest benefit of building in cooler months is that when it turns warm again you have a completed space that you can enjoy.

Deck builders and contractors are typically more available during the winter months as the workload gets smaller. This means that the building phase can be done soon after you sign off on a final design and product is purchased.

I remember when we had a deck and patio built in our backyard growing up. While the finished project was gorgeous, we were surprised by how the construction phase affected the surrounding areas. It seemed to take months to get everything back to normal. This is less likely to happen when building in cooler months. Plants and grasses go dormant at the end of fall and winter, reducing the amount of damage they will incur.

If you are building with pressure treated wood, you may want to consider building in months that have less humidity. When the air is dry it allows wood to dry and stabilize more evenly than when it is humid out. Wood absorbs moisture in the air and when it is humid, it is more apt to warp or loosen. If you do decide to build a wood deck, wait until spring to stain or seal it. Building in the winter will give the wood time to cure, but it won’t be ready to stain until there are several consecutive days of sunshine.

One of the misconceptions about deck and patio building is that it can’t be done in the winter. There may be times when it doesn’t make sense due to weather, but our franchisees build almost all year round.

If you have question on building your outdoor structure in the fall and winter months, please reach out to your local Archadeck office.

Firepits and Outdoor Fireplaces Most In Demand Outdoor Living Feature

Posted by: janegwalker

In the last few years, we’ve noticed an increase in the number of projects that are including an outdoor fire feature, whether it is a firepit of fireplace. It’s not surprising when you look at the American Society of Landscape Architects’ (ASLA) Survey of the top Outdoor Living Features for 2013, firepits and fireplaces is at the top.

According to the ASLA, more U.S. homeowners are enhancing the outdoor areas around their home for added entertainment space. Nancy Somerville, Executive Vice President and CEO of the ASLA explains, “in this uncertain economy, homeowners want to get more enjoyment out of their yards. They want attractive outdoor spaces that are both easy to take care of and sustainable.” Source.

As people look to improve their outdoor living spaces, it doesn’t surprise us that firepits and fireplaces are at the top of the list of trends. Fire features are a great way to make a space feel more intimate and cozy.

At Archadeck, we see an uptick in interest in firepits and outdoor fireplaces in the fall when the weather begins to cool down. Personally, I love gathering around a fire on a cool fall or winter night with friends and family.

Outdoor fireplaces and firepits are great add-ons to existing structures that will extend the amount of time you can use your decks, patios, sunrooms and other outdoor areas. You may be forced inside as it cools off in September for instance, but with a fire feature, you can enjoy it into November possibly. At Archadeck, we custom design outdoor fireplaces and firepits to fit the spaces they are incorporated in. We’ll talk to our clients about how often it will be used, if it should be gas or wood burning and other aspects they may want to include.

The other outdoor trends mentioned on the ASLA survey align pretty closely with what our clients are asking us about. Here are the rest of the top 5:

2. Grills – Outdoor kitchens are growing in popularity and in most cases the grill is the focal point (you need somewhere to do the cooking, right?). Grills can be as simple or as complex as the client wants. Personally, I just need to know it can cook a mean burger.

3. Seating and Dining Areas – Outdoor living is truly about that, living. A deck or patio without a way to enjoy it is just a structure. The key to making sure that the space is as usable as possible is the design. Talk to your deck builder about how you intend to use the space so the size, shape and flow allow you to have the space you’ve always wanted.

4. Lighting – Gone are the days of floodlights attached to the side of the house. In are the days of beautiful outdoor lighting that accentuates the space entirely. Lighting will also allow you to spend more time outdoors and will illuminate traffic paths for safety and security.

5. Installed Seating – Installed seating can take the appearance of benches, seat walls, ledges, steps, etc. This plays into the seating and dining areas at number three. It is sometimes easier and better to create seating that is installed in some areas as opposed to pieces of furniture.

If you have questions on outdoor living spaces, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

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