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Do You Know What to Expect from Your Patio or Deck Builder?

Have you ever gotten to the middle of a project and realize, you don’t know what’s coming next? While that can be exciting in some ways, when it comes to large investments like outdoor living spaces, the unknown can be scary. If you’re considering enhancing your property, it’s important to discuss the process with potential patio and deck builders.

At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we’re very upfront with the designing and building process. Here’s how working with us goes:

Step 1. Connect

The first step in the client/Archadeck relationship is a connection. Whether you call or submit a lead online, a member of our team will call to schedule an at home consultation at a time that works well for you.

Step 2. Consult

One of our designers will visit your home to get to know you. We’ll have a conversion about what you need or want in your outdoor living spaces. While we’re walking and measuring your property, we’ll leave you with a portfolio of past designs to give you and idea of what we can create.

Step 3. Design

From our no-obligation consultation, we will have enough information to create a deck, porch, patio or other outdoor living structure that functions perfectly for you. Our trained designers will create a custom plan and 3D rendering so you can envision what the finished project will look like on your property. We’re happy to tweak and update the design so you feel comfortable with what you’re adding to your home.

Step 4. Build

We want the building process to be as seamless as possible, that’s why we’ve created a detailed Job Progress Methodology to make everything go smoothly. From filing for any building permits to the final walk through, Archadeck Outdoor Living wants to make sure you’re informed and satisfied with the building process.

Step 5. Enjoy

At the end of the day, Archadeck prides itself on enhancing the lives our clients with quality outdoor living projects. Our goal it to give you a space you’ll love for years to come.

If you want to discuss adding an outdoor structure to your backyard, please contact your local Archadeck office.

Choosing the Right Contractor can Make all the Difference

Spring has sprung and it’s time to think about moving family and friend time outdoors. Whether you’re in the market for a deck, patio, or just some new landscaping, you want to feel good about who you hire and invite onto your property. Many of us have had bad experiences with hired professionals when expectations weren’t met or communication was unclear. At Archadeck Outdoor Living we hope to make you feel comfortable about hiring us and want to leave you with the backyard of your dreams.

If you’re in the market for a patio or deck builder, visit our website and take a look at our Choosing a Contractor checklist. The checklist will help you to learn more about your choices and guide you as you make your decision. Some of the topics we include are:

Picking a contractor that understands your location. Each area of the country is different and what’s expected of a contractor is different as a result. A contractor should be able to clearly articulate what’s required for building permits and safety standards while also understanding the unique terrain and weather that may impact your structure.

Verifying their expertise and reputation. It’s one thing to say “we build beautiful decks,” but it’s quite another when a company can show you a portfolio of their work. Ask to see images of different projects they’ve built. Additionally, ask for some clients references if you’d like to speak directly with someone that they’ve worked with. A professional outdoor structure builder should have a list of happy clients they can easily provide.

Reviewing contracts is not always apples to apples. If you’re meeting with multiple contractors, be aware that not all bids can be the same. Be sure that you’re comparing estimates for the same scope of work and material quality.

Checking the warranties. If a contractor doesn’t offer a warranty on their work, not just the material warranty, there is no guarantee that everything gets completed as quoted and you may not be left with options if something goes wrong 3 months after the build date.

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

Archadeck Launches Enhanced Website

All of us at Archadeck Outdoor Living are excited to announce the launch of the new and improved Archadeck.com aimed at providing visitors with a user-friendly more beautiful experience.

Archadeck.com opens to a clean user experience with large scrolling images of some of Archadeck’s favorite projects. Throughout the entire site you’ll see images of Archadeck’s outdoor living designs including decks, porches, patios, sunrooms, outdoor kitchens and more. You’ll also have the option of connecting with Archadeck through our “how can we help” form. Let us know what you’re interested in and your local office will reach out to you as soon as possible.

The site’s main navigation makes it easy for the user to find what they’re looking for. It includes: design ideas, why Archadeck, our process, about us and connect.

Design Ideas is where users can go to get inspired by some of our best outdoor living projects. Separated into categories, we’ve put together photo galleries of all types of outdoor living spaces, be it front porches and porticos and wood decks to pergolas and outdoor kitchens. Feel free to pin or share your favorite images so it’s easy to find them when you’re ready to enhance your backyard!

Why Archadeck will illustrate what sets us apart from your typical deck builder and guide you as you hire a local builder. Take a look at our “Choosing a Contractor” checklist to ensure that you’re hiring a designer and builder that you can trust with your property. And, if you aren’t sure if you need a new deck, take a look at our deck safety page. We’ll show you what you can look for to evaluate if you should reach out to a professional to inspect the safety of your outdoor living structure.

Our Process is simple: we’ll walk you through the steps of what it’s like to work with Archadeck Outdoor Living in five simple steps: Connect, Consult, Design, Build and Enjoy!

Specific information about Archadeck Outdoor Living can be found under our “About Us” section. We’ll tell you our story, share testimonials from our happy clients, introduce you to our preferred partners and answer some of our Frequently Asked Questions.

Lastly Connect, a section dedicated to connecting with us, our sister brands and our online outdoor living magazine.

Throughout the entire site, if you are interested in finding your local Archadeck office, simply enter your zip code in the top right and instantly be redirected to your location’s page if one is available.

We invite you explore the new Archadeck.com.

Marrying Multiple Structures Together for the Perfect Combination Project

What does your dream backyard include? Is it a deck? Porch? Patio? Or maybe it is combination of several structures? For me, I’d love a screened in porch that opens up to a deck or patio with an outdoor kitchen and fire pit. That’s the dream.

Combination projects are a great way to create more space and designate different areas for different purposes. Here are three combo projects from Archadeck Outdoor Living to give you an idea of how multiple structures can work together.

This first outdoor living space includes a deck, patio and a multilevel pergola. While it’s pretty open, the different structures serve different purposes. The deck is mainly used for dining, while the patio is the area where people sit back and relax or chat with friends and family. Changing up the material and level creates the delineation of the spaces. The dining area is just a few steps up from the patio. Keeping the two spaces together is the retaining wall that incorporates colors from both the patio and the deck.

Our next example truly does have it all: a deck, open porch, stone patio and custom fire pit. Who wouldn’t want to spend time outdoors here? While designing this combination project, the Archadeck team had to consider all the different ways that owners use their outdoor space and how it can work together without taking up all of their property. First was cooking. They love to eat and dine outdoors. This was the easy decision in the design as it didn’t make sense for them to have their grill down a flight of stairs instead of right outside their kitchen door. The elevated deck created a covered space large enough for an open porch underneath. A rain decking drainage system was installed to keep the space dry so the owners could install outdoor furniture and a TV in the space for entertaining. And who wants to be forced inside at night? To fix that issue, Archadeck designed and built a custom designed fire pit on the patio.

The final example was created for owners who wanted space for sun and shade, so this screened porch, deck and patio combination was designed. The screened porch provides the shade and area away from mosquitoes from the homeowners. It has plenty of space for an outdoor living room set to host friends and family. The deck’s main purpose is dining. The lower level patio was designed as a place to lounge and enjoy the backyard.

If you’re considering updating your backyard in 2015 or later, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office. We’re confident we can help you create the backyard of your dreams.

Enjoying the Holidays in a Sunroom

I’m from the great state of Maine and with it being the holidays, I often reminisce about the holiday season back home. The family, the friends, the laughs, it was great. On Christmas Eve, my large family and I would go over to my aunt’s house for lobster stew and a holiday gift swap. Oftentimes the night ended with all the cousins playing games in the (heated) sunroom watching snow fall outside. It’s memories like those that make me miss family and having a sunroom.

Sunrooms may be a larger project than building a pergola or patio, but it is truly an addition to your home that you can use day and night, all months of the year. At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we design and build sunrooms that fit your home and your needs.

Sunrooms, like any outdoor living structure, are not a one size or design fits all scenario. There are so many aspects that need to be considered to create the perfect space: the size, shape, light, etc.

Some homeowners can be surprised at how much a sunroom can impact their existing home when not properly designed, lighting being one of the main effects. For example, an existing home may get a lot of natural light in the back during the afternoon. If you build a large sunroom off the back, it may impact the amount of light that gets to the main home. Archadeck may suggest adding skylights to the sunroom to ensure the difference isn’t too dramatic to homeowners.

The windows of a sunroom are also a large consideration when designing a sunroom. The style depends on the owners taste and sometimes their location. Some clients prefer a sunroom that has floor to ceiling windows. It provides and unobstructed and open view of the outdoors. It’s stunning, but it may not be perfect for a home in New England if the owner wants to use the space year-round. They would have to spend more in heating than if the windows were smaller.

These are just a few of the considerations that come into play while designing a sunroom. If you’re looking at adding one to your home, talk to a local sunroom builder, like Archadeck Outdoor Living, who will walk you through the options and process.

Happy Holidays from all of us at Archadeck Outdoor Living!

Archadeck of Raleigh Durham Featured in Veterans in Franchising

OK, so sometimes we just need to gush, and today is one of those days. Our very own Kyle Faulkner, owner of Archadeck of Raleigh, is featured on the cover of this month’s Veterans in Franchising magazine.

Kyle and his wife Paige joined the Archadeck system just over a year ago. Having spent 8 years in the military and based in California away from family on the east coast, Kyle and Paige wanted to be closer to family and settle down and raise one of their own.

When looking at different franchise organizations, Kyle wanted something that connected to his experience in the construction world. Both his father and grandfather were carpenters and as he says “I started out doing construction from the time I could swing a hammer.” Source. When we first spoke with the Kyle during the discovery process, we learned that he loved building, but also the outdoors, and Archadeck brought both of those passions together.

Since launching their Archadeck business, Kyle and Paige have grown their territory and their family, welcoming a baby girl last spring. They both enjoy the work/life balance Archadeck allows, spending the weekends with friends and family.

Kyle is just one of the veterans in the Archadeck system. We’re thankful and proud of all of them!

Archadeck Outdoor Living has been in business since 1980, positioning itself as the expert in custom outdoor living spaces. From a simple and functional deck to a robust outdoor living structure with a deck, patio, porch, pergola, outdoor kitchen or some combination there of, Archadeck does it all. Each project is custom designed with our clients’ needs, wants and tastes in mind, ensuring the finished project is just what they wanted.

If you have questions on the Archadeck business model and if it could help you achieve your personal and financial goals, please visit us at ArchadeckFranchise.com.

The Perfect Outdoor Kitchen Just for You

When it comes to design and needs, we’re all a little different, and it shows in both indoor and outdoor design. When creating an outdoor living space for one of our clients, our Archadeck designers are sure to discuss the clients goals and how they intend to use the space thoroughly. Even within the same type of project, the needs can be vastly different. Here are some examples of outdoor kitchen designs that were created with the household’s chef in mind.

The first project comes from Archadeck of Austin. They designed a covered patio with stained concrete for the homeowners. When the weather is nice, the owners prefer to cook and dine outdoors, so they needed a well-equipped outdoor kitchen. This curved design fit the needs by providing plenty of space for prep and cooking. There’s a grill and smoker as well as an outdoor refrigerator to store food and drinks. Counter space was of utmost importance and the curved U-shape provides the perfect result. Because the owners would like to talk as they cook and eat outdoors, a bar-height counter was included as a dining space.

The free form rock works perfectly with the stained concrete for the rustic look they were looking for.

This second example is much more classic in design with straight lines and natural stone square and rectangular pavers. While these owners only needed a grill and stove for cooking, they still wanted a lot of counter space for buffet style parties. One side of the outdoor kitchen was dedicated to counter space for food prep and presentation. It was also important to the owners that all the dirty dishes aren’t brought inside all the time so a corner sink was installed for on the go cleaning.

Our final project to display is the ultimate outdoor kitchen for the gourmet chef. The owners of this space LOVE to cook outdoors and they love pizza! A custom wood-fired pizza oven was designed and built to create the perfect pizza (there is even an area to store wood underneath). Additionally, there is a grill, stove, sink and refrigerator. With ample prep space, and a bar that can fit 6 diners, there is no reason to go inside!

All three of these outdoor kitchen designs are vastly different, but each of them fulfills the needs of the homeowner. If you’re interested in creating the perfect outdoor cooking space in your area, please contact your local Archadeck office.

The Many Uses of the Pergola

When designing an outdoor living space, Archadeck Outdoor Living looks to create functional, yet beautiful spaces. They have to work well for the client and their needs, but also their home and property. Sometimes a deck is the best option, sometimes it’s a patio or sunroom or other outdoor structure.

One of the most versatile outdoor structures is the pergola. With the ability to be built in a number of sizes, shapes and finishes, the pergola is a multi-purpose structure that works with both new and existing outdoor living spaces. Here are three different pergolas that service different purposes in their respective space.

This small pergola acts as the perfect entryway into the space past it. Instead of having a walkway between retaining walls, the homeowner wanted something more impactful and visually interesting. With all of the natural stone in the space, Archadeck of Charlotte designed this rustic pergola with dark stained wood and arched beams at the top. It’s the perfect transitional spot from the driveway into the outdoor living space.

This second example is larger than the first and comes from Archadeck of Columbus. It sits on a large low maintenance deck that has space for a dining table, outdoor fireplace and living area and hot tub. One of the design challenges of such a big deck is creating flow from space to space, otherwise all the areas just mash together. Retaining walls and this pergola were just some of the ways that Archadeck defined the purpose of each area. By building the pergola directly over the hot tub it essentially created a room outdoors. It’s very clear how that area of the deck is to be used.

The last pergola we’ll cover is from Archadeck of Austin. This home has a large pool in their backyard with surrounding low maintenance deck. The owners like to keep people outside as much as they can, but that task can be difficult during the hot Texas days. The pergola was added to provide a place for visitors to cool down. It not only offers shade, but fans were also installed to give some circulation to the area. Shade is one of the most common reasons why someone would be interested in adding a pergola to their backyard space.

If you have interest in adding a pergola to your yard, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Increasing Your Home’s Curb Appeal with a New Portico

Last year my husband and I sold our first home. Just last week I was in the neighborhood and drove past the house. I was surprised that the home looked different. The new owners had built a new portico and it made a big different. It truly did enhance the curb appeal of the home.

Front porches and porticos are great additions to any home when done well. They make the home more welcoming to friends and family as well as increase the curb appeal of your home. When they are not well designed, however, they stick out like a sore thumb because they don’t blend into the existing structure.

Here are a few examples of Archadeck Outdoor Living front porch projects that complement and blend seamlessly into the existing home. The owners of this first porch had some unique needs. The house is a beautiful brick and they didn’t want the porch to look like an add-on. Instead of front steps, they also needed a ramp for wheelchair access. Archadeck designed the perfect portico for them. They were able to get a brick patio and ramp that matched the home’s façade perfectly and the columns and eaves were finished in the same color as the rest of the home’s trim. For the ramp, they put it behind a flowerbed so passersby didn’t see the side of it.

To increase the usability of the structure, enough space was created for a small living area complete with and outdoor light and fan for the warm summer evenings. It’s the perfect place to have a drink with a neighbor.

Our next example is smaller, but still made a big impact on the curb appeal of the home. Before this front porch was built, the whole front façade of the home was flat across. There was no dimension. Creating this small portico added visual interest and depth to the building while also providing a sheltered space for visitors to stand waiting to be welcomed. The white trim and grey skirting matches the home’s exterior while the stained wood provides a rustic finish.

If you have questions on how to enhance your home’s exterior with an outdoor living space, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Enjoying Fall Nights in Screened Porch and Patio

To me, fall is the perfect season. The colors are beautiful and the cool temperatures call for nights cozying around a fire. When our deck builder in Rolling Meadows, IL and the surrounding areas shared this project with me that he completed this last summer, I couldn’t help but imagine spending my fall nights on it.

The owners of this home in Mokena, IL wanted to update their backyard with areas for shade, sun and plenty of warmth. The Archadeck of Chicagoland team designed a combination screened porch and patio with two fire features that will allow for plenty of use.

Attached to the back of their home, the owners wanted a roof structure that had room for both a living area and a dining area. The Archadeck team not only gave them what they asked for, but took it to the next level. The large screened porch easily fits a large couch/sectional and dining table for 6, but doesn’t feel at all cramped due to the square footage and the cathedral ceilings. Higher ceilings make spaces feel larger. At one end of the room, a large, and gorgeous fireplace was installed to make it feel cozy and to increase use.

While this room is technically a screened porch, the Archadeck team installed 4-track windows to make it a porch and sunroom in one. Tracks slide up and down as needed. The tracks may be open all spring and summer, but be moved up in the fall and winter as the nights get cooler.

Personally, I love the finishes of this porch. The pressure treated pine-decking complements the brick of the home and gives it that rustic feeling that is so beautiful.

But let’s not forget about the patio design! Right off the screened porch and next to the home are square pavers and then freeform stones were used around the custom fire pit. The two types of pavers work beautifully with the home’s subtle brick and provide transitions from space to space. Instead of a square or rectangular patio, Archadeck designed a curved patio for visual interest and flow.

The homeowners are thrilled with their new outdoor living space. To me, it’s a great example of how design can make all the difference. The combination of screened porch with track windows and outdoor fireplace with a patio with a custom fire pit is the perfect space for the Illinois area. It truly maximizes the amount of time the owners can enjoy it!

If you’re interested in updating your backyard, please reach out to your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Design Tips to Create the Perfect Outdoor Living Space

At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we love creating the perfect outdoor living spaces for our clients. Not only are no two clients a like, but there are no two properties that are exactly alike as well. Creating a beautiful and functional patio or deck design is something our Archadeck teams take great pride in. If you’re looking to enhance your outdoor living spaces, here are a few things to consider:

1.) Your home’s overall architecture. Any great porch, patio or deck design fits seamlessly into the overall look and feel of your home. For instance, a traditional colonial house would look silly with a deck with ultra-modern lines. The shape, structure and finishes of the structure should complement the existing architecture.

2.) The finishes of the home. The finishes of your home should play a role in choosing the materials and finishes of your deck or patio. For example, take a look at this deck. You can how the vertical deck boards and skirting are the same color as the window frames of the house. We at Archadeck always look to make sure our material choices work with the home. For instance, this same space would look overwhelming with a brick patio with the brick house.

3.) The grade and size of the property. The property itself will play a major role in the design and construction of any outdoor living space, especially for properties on a hill or slope. The size also plays a role, smaller yards call for smaller or smarter design. For those properties that do have a slope, we may need to adjust our recommendations based on the cost or complexity of install. Decks, for instance, are much better for elevated spaces.

4.) Function is everything. At the end of the day, if a space, be is a deck, porch, patio, sunroom or combination there of, doesn’t work for its intend used, it will not be used much. During your design consultation with Archadeck, you’ll be asked how you would like to use your yard, entertaining, dining, reading, cooking, etc. With its use in mind, your designer can create a space with a form and flow to fit the function. For example, this combination project called for both sun and shade with plenty of room to entertain friends and family.

If you’re interested in a new design for your backyard, please reach out to your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Warming up your Backyard for Fall

Happy Fall everyone! Welcome pumpkin spice everything, apples, football and changing leaves! I’m so excited to welcome autumn; it is my favorite season! Just because the weather gets cooler this time of year, doesn’t mean you should move indoors. Here are some tips to warm up your backyard from your outdoor living experts: Archadeck.

Fire features are one of our favorite outdoor structures and, not surprisingly, have been growing in popularity over the last few years. Outdoor fireplaces and fire pits easily become the center point of any outdoor living space and provide enough warmth to keep friends and family outside (not to mention great to roast s’mores in). At Archadeck, we design and build custom fire features that complement your existing outdoor structures.

If having a permanent feature on your property isn’t an option, but you’d still like to have an outdoor heating option, there are some choices. Propane fueled outdoor heaters are available in a number of sizes and can easily be added to or removed from a space very easily.

For some homeowners a fire feature or outdoor heater may be too much to add to their outdoor spaces, but you can still stay warm. Have a few warm blankets available for you and guests and you can still enjoy your backyard. Since it’s fall, look for blankets in warm reds, yellows and oranges.

When all else fails, have a warm drink for people to sip on outdoors on a cool night. It doesn’t need to be anything difficult, just delicious. Here’s a great apple cider recipe to enjoy:

What you’ll need:

  • 8 cups apple cider
  • 6 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 orange
  • 2 T whole cloves
  • Rum (optional)

Poke holes around the oranges and poke cloves into the holes. Place the orange in a crock pot with the cider and cinnamon sticks. Cook on low for 4 hours. Add rum to each glass as desired.

Happy Fall!

Creating More Living Space in a Small Backyard

This is an all too familiar sight: a backyard with a small concrete slab off the back of the home as the only true outdoor living space. As you can see with the fire pit, Adirondack chairs and outdoor dining table, these homeowners enjoy spending time outdoors. While there isn’t a lot of backyard space to work with, they needed to update what they had. Archadeck of Charlotte created the perfect patio design for the size.

The clients on this project knew there wasn’t a ton of space to work with, but they felt like their existing outdoor living areas were disjointed, primarily because some of it was on the grass. They were willing to lose a lot of the grass space as long as the new outdoor living structure felt open and addressed their current design dilemmas.

The patio designers at Archadeck laid out this curved paver patio that gives them all they wanted without losing their entire yard. The owners were clear in their desires: space to eat outdoors as well as a built-in fire pit around which to sit.

When planning the space it was clear that a standard square or rectangular patio wouldn’t work. Significant space was needed to fulfill the owners’ outdoor needs, but squaring it off would take up too much space leaving them with no lawn. It also may have resulted in less flow to the patio. By curving the edges of the patio, it gives a it a clear direction, not to mention it gives it a little more style and makes it feel more open.

By moving the fire pit closer to the home and making it a permanent feature, it not only gets more use but also becomes a focal point in the backyard. The feature was finished in the same paver color and design as the patio. A wide edge around the pit was created to give it more weight and provide additional seating when the fire isn’t lit.

Patio designs should be created with the homeowner in mind as each one is different and will use the space in their own way. At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we pride ourselves on getting an idea of what our clients’ dream backyard would entail and create a space around it. If you’d like to discuss improving your outdoor living space, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Relax Under an Awning

Last month, my husband and I went to a friend’s home for dinner. It seemed to be a nice night so we ate outside on the open patio. Shortly after dinner was served, we felt a few raindrops begin to fall. It wasn’t a lot of rain, but enough for me to consider picking up my dish and going inside, but without saying a word, the host got up and retracted an awning from the house, providing just enough protection from the rain.

Awnings are great outdoor living features for residential and commercial properties alike because of their versatility. Some homeowners want a space that provides for both sun and shade, but they have limited square footage to work with. Or, an owner may want a covered patio but doesn’t have the budget for the roof structure. In both of these cases, awnings would be an option.

Awnings are installed to the home’s façade and can be built in a variety of sizes to fit the outdoor living space. They retract from the home to create a strong canopy above a deck or patio and are available in both manual or electric.

At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we always design outdoor living spaces that work together; no component looks like an afterthought. With all the fabric and color choices you can choose for your awning, it is sure to complement your home façade’s color as well as the color of your outdoor furniture and accessories.

The benefits of an awning are plenty. The most obvious benefit is that it creates both an open and covered outdoor living space that can be changed as needed, but did you know it can impact the inside of your home? Awnings were incredibly popular on both windows and doors as well as outdoor living spaces 40 to 50 years ago because of how they impacted the home’s temperature. Awnings can reduce the heat making it inside of the house, reducing cooling costs.

Our trained Archadeck Outdoor Living designers can help you decide on which awning configuration will fit your outdoor living needs. Please reach out to your local Archadeck office with any questions you may have.

Deck Replacement Makes all the Difference

Whether the space is inside or outside, sometimes living areas need an update. A living room may need a new coat of paint, a kitchen may need a new counter and a deck may need to be resealed. When it comes to decks, however, they do need to be replaced periodically (the typical deck lasts 10 years).

This deck replacement project in Austin is a great example of how an old deck can be replaced to make a big visual impact.

This multi-level deck and large staircase had been better days. While the design and layout of the space worked well for the homeowners, the wood was warping and splitting. Deck safety is always a concern for older decks, but injuries can be more serious if the deck is set high off the ground like this one.

When looking at material for their deck replacement, the homeowners wanted to make it more visually appealing and to bring some color into the space. The current deck was done in a pressure treated wood that had dried out, weathered and greyed over time . The modern house needed a deck to match! In looking at different wood and composite decking options, Archadeck of Austin recommended tigerwood decking for its strength and color.

Tigerwood is an exotic hardwood gaining popularity in the US decking market. It naturally repels insects, fungus, and rot so it doesn’t have to be treated with additional chemicals. The lifespan of Tigerwood is longer than pressure treated wood meaning a deck doesn’t have to be replaced as often. It does however, need to be treated with deck oil periodically.

The color of Tigerwood, as you can see, is gorgeous. The deep reds and oranges are highlighted with streaks of brown making it visually appealing. It may not be an option for homeowners that want a solid consistent color, but on a modern home in a wooded setting like this, it’s a stunner. Archadeck of Austin finished the space with horizontal iron railings to provide the necessary safety, but it doesn’t compete with the Tigerwood at all.

If you have questions on deck replacement or different decking options in your area, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Warm Up this Fall by an Open Flame

This summer has truly flown by. It’s hard to accept that football is now on TV and kids are going back to school. As I look forward to autumn, I’m excited to spend time outdoors with friends and family. One feature that makes it more comfortable: an outdoor fireplace.

Fire features are a growing trend in the outdoor living category. Whether you have a fire pit or an outdoor fireplace, they often become the centerpiece of any outdoor living space; the perfect spot to sit and enjoy friends and family. When it comes to outdoor fireplaces, the perfect one can be designed and built just for you.

At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we design and build custom outdoor living structures for our clients. Each homeowner has different needs and tastes and we create spaces around their preferences. An outdoor fireplace is no different; just take a look at these unique structures to get an idea.

Some homeowners enjoy a traditional or classic style. This first outdoor fireplace sits within a screened porch and complements the classic finishes of the entire room. A clean red brick was used as the primary material to go with the crisp white trim and finishes. To bring extra attention to the piece, traditional sconces and wood mantle were added to the fireplace.

This large wood burning outdoor fireplace has a completely different look and feel than the first example. It anchors the patio that it is a part of. Instead of traditional brick, it’s made out of a neutral, natural stone. High mantles on either side were designed to define the space and make it feel like a true room that just happens to be outside. The sides also act as storage for the firewood for the piece. I love the rustic earthy feel of this fireplace.

This last example comes from our deck builder in Charlotte, NC. Their screened in porch includes a lot of earth tones and natural wood on the ceiling. A red brick just wouldn’t fit the overall design of the space. Instead a stone outdoor fireplace was designed with a wood mantle to complement the ceiling of the porch. Doesn’t it look like a cozy place to curl up?

Outdoor fireplaces not only allow you to use your outdoor spaces longer into the season, but are also a great design statement. From stone and brick to gas vs. wood burning options, Archadeck Outdoor Living will design the perfect fireplace for you.

From Structure to Outdoor Living Space

Be it a deck, porch or patio, many homes have some types of outdoor structure in the backyard. But just because you have a structure doesn’t mean you have an outdoor living space. An outdoor living space is place where people go to spend time, but it requires at least one of these attributes.

Function. To be a room that’s used, whether indoor or outdoor, it needs to have a function or purpose. Otherwise, it’s a wasted space. Homeowners are all different and use their outdoor spaces for different purposes. For some, they need a space to entertain friends and family, others want a place to cook, or maybe they just want a cozy space to read a book.

Function leads to the second attribute for an outdoor living space: design. At Archadeck Outdoor Living we pride ourselves on our patio and deck design. When the perfect outdoor space is created, it will invite the owners, friends and family outside and they aren’t all the same. The space created for the homeowner who enjoys cooking outdoors and entertaining friends and family needs a different space than the person who wants to sit and read a book. A great design will create a nice flow and define the areas of the structure.

The last attribute that makes a deck, porch, or patio a true outdoor living space is furniture or at least a place to sit. People will only go out and stand in an empty space for so long before looking for a place to sit. The furniture that’s added to an outdoor space should reflect its function and design. For instance, if you like to eat and dine outside, you may need a table and chairs, while a built-in bench may be enough for a space that’s just used for happy hours.

A professional deck designer and builder will help you to create an outdoor room that you’ll use. To ensure you get the best space possible, be clear on how and when you expect to use it. For questions or to speak with a deck designer about your outdoor space, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Considering a New Wood Deck? Go for it!

When it comes to large financial decisions, you want to feel good about your purchases. From cars to renovations, if you are like me, you weigh the benefits of moving forward with the investment now or waiting. If a new wood deck is on your list of renovations, rest assured, you’ll not only get more living space, but you’ll be adding value to your home.

Whether it’s adding a new bathroom, updating a kitchen or adding a deck to your backyard, return on investment should be part of your evaluation project. Will it add value to the home? A Remodeling Magazines Cost Vs. Value report ranks wood decks as the second highest Return On Invest project in the midrange cost (a new entry door was number one). According to the report, when homeowners add a wood deck to their property, they can expect to recoup, on average, 87.4% of the cost, adding value to your home.

Decks are great and easy way to increase the usable space on your property. Working with a professional and experienced deck builder, homeowners can have a space designed and built specifically for their needs. It can be as small or as large as you want, but deck design is important. If it isn’t designed properly and doesn’t fit how you intend to use it, you won’t. Make sure you are very clear with how you intend to use your new deck, be it cooking, entertaining, reading, etc. so you get the backyard of your dreams!

Over the last several years, we at Archadeck Outdoor Living have seen the composite decking category boom. Don’t get us wrong, composite is a great option for decking, but wood is still a viable and cost-effective option. Pressure-treated wood is getting better too, with new eco-friendly options.

Sometime the look of wood can’t be beat. For the homeowner that enjoys the knots and grain, pressure-treated wood is your best option for decking material. It can be stained in a variety of different colors to complement the finishes of your home, but you’ll still see the detail.

If you have questions on designing or building wood decks, please reach out to your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Increase Your Curb Appeal this Month

August marks National Curb Appeal Month which focuses on helping homeowners add value and design appeal to their home’s exterior. Do you have plans to increase the looks of your home?

The front of a house and surrounding property are your home’s first impression to visitors and neighbors. It is even more important when you are trying to sell your home as potential buyers will drive buy to take in the property. If you aren’t sure where to start when trying to update your home, here are some ideas:

Update the walkway. Friends and family enter your property and home often times via a walkway or sidewalk. Make sure that the edges are clean and the surrounding landscaping is well groomed. You may consider adding some flowers or plants along the edges if it makes sense. If your walkway is old, cracking or uneven, you may consider having it replaced. At Archadeck, we design and install beautiful paver walkways to guide visitors to the front of the home.

Pop the front of the home with color. Splashes of color can make a home look more fun and inviting. Color can be added to the front of the home can be done in a variety of ways. If you want something more permanent, you can paint your front door your favorite color. If you want something that can be easily changed over time, consider adding bright planters around the door or fun outdoor pillows on any furniture you have on your front porch. Flowers are also a great way quickly add more color to your property.

Update your front porch. A front porch or portico can make a great first impression when done well. At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we design and build front porches that fit the existing home. Whether it’s a porch that runs the width of the home, or a small portico to provide some cover for guests, a great front porch can add value and curb appeal to your home.

Add some unique finishes. The exterior of your home not only shows off your property, but also your personality. Look for ways to highlight who you are in your design. For instance, choose house numbers that have a fun or different design. Or, add some fun outdoor furniture to your front porch or patio.

Adding curb appeal can be as complicated as you want it to be. Both the large projects, like a new porch, or small ones like adding some flowers here and there, will make an impact.

Gather Outside to Watch the Game this Fall

It’s nearly August which mean we are just a few short weeks away from the NFL and college football season. If you’re like me, you can be found in front of a TV on Saturdays and Sundays taking in all the action. But do you know what’s better than watching the game inside with some food and beverages? Watching it OUTSIDE with food and beverages. With the right outdoor living design you can invite friends and family over to enjoy the sporting events and movies!

Outdoor entertaining is a topic we discuss frequently with our clients. We are always interested to know what type of entertaining they do so we can create a spaced tailored to that purpose. When it comes to hosting sports and movie parties, there are a few items and design ideas that make it even more enjoyable.

Something to watch the game on. You can’t watch the game without a screen of some sort, right? Technology has improved and evolved so much that there are a number of outdoor TVs on the market that work beautifully. When designing your deck, porch, or patio, however, you want to discuss with your designer where’d you like it. With the plan in place, cables can be run appropriately. If you aren’t interested in TV, there are also screen and projector options for you to consider!

Space. If you want to host friends and family, you need space for all of them to hang out and enjoy the evening outdoors. Let your porch, patio or deck designer know that you need ample room for everyone to view the screen without obstruction. If you like to have large parties, a 6 ft. × 6 ft. deck just won’t do!

A fire feature. The best games are often played in primetime and in the fall (and winter in playoffs) that can result in some cooler temperatures outside. An outdoor fireplace or fire pit is a great way to enjoy all the action outdoors comfortably (and maybe with s’mores!). If you want the area to really feel like a room, placing the TV above the fireplace works wonders!

Food. What’s a football game or movie without snacks? While your contractor may not be there to help you at kickoff, we can help you now! Here’s an easy recipe for delicious queso for your next party!

When you’re ready to have the ultimate viewing space in your backyard, please reach out to your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Adding some Privacy to your Open Deck

When my husband and I were looking at homes, that backyard was important to us. We didn’t need everything perfect right away, but we wanted to make sure that the yard and property was conducive to our overall plans. While we wanted an open, deck porch or patio, we wanted a feeling of privacy at least in part of the space. While trees, shrubbery and other landscaping can play a major role in creating a private backyard, so can a structure. This deck and porch project from Columbus, OH is a great example of how to have private and open areas in one outdoor space.

This existing deck didn’t have anything wrong with it. It provided the necessary space the owner’s need to both cook and eat outside, but they wanted a private area. The homeowners were looking to purchase a new hot tub, but didn’t want it out on the open deck. Rob Mitchell of Archadeck Outdoor Living, patio and deck builder in Columbus, designed and built the perfect solution.

The homeowners didn’t want to lose any of their existing deck space to a private area, so Rob recommended adding on to the space and creating an enclosed gazebo structure. The new space is essentially its own room for the hot tub!

Light and heat were two concerns for the new gazebo. While the hot tub is a place to relax and warm up, if the walls were completely enclosed the room would hold too much heat! To relieve heat concerns, Rob designed the upper half of the walls to be slatted. Additionally, windows with shutter shades were added to allow heat to go out.

The slatted walls and windows not only addressed the heat concerns, but also some of the light concerns. As you can see in the picture, light is able to come through the walls and windows. A large lighting fixture was added to the ceiling to provide adequate light at nighttime.

Patio and deck design should fit the needs of the homeowners. As the needs evolve and change, so can the space, just like this example. They didn’t need to tear down their existing deck. Instead, the outdoor living space was updated to add more privacy and the perfect “room” for their hot tub.

If you have questions on how to improve your outdoor living areas, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

This is Why you Don’t DIY a Patio

When it comes to outdoor living spaces and structures, there are aspects that you may be able to do yourself, and others that are just too complicated. When it comes to the structures themselves, we say leave it to the professionals. This article from the New York Times illustrates how hard it can truly be to build a patio yourself.


Small, low to the ground patios may look simple enough; can’t I just place the pavers on the ground? Trust the professional patio builders, there is more to it than you think. The author of the article, Bob Tedeschi, can attest to that. The witty article explains how something that looks so simple can, in reality, take days to complete. Here’s his explanation of the help you may need:

“… Get a multitude of muscle, spread out over at least two bodybuilder friends who owe you a huge favor. Ideally, one of those friends will own a truck and the other will own a skid-steer machine, like a Bobcat. If not, you should consider renting one of those, or finding more friends to help carry the load.” Source.

A beautiful paver patio can be a great place to sit back, relax and enjoy time with friends and family, but a lot of work goes into creating that space. First off the area for the patio needs to be dug out and leveled. This involves digging up any grass that is currently in the place and creating an even space to start with. This can be a tedious task on properties that have any type of slant or slope, but it is incredible important. If you don’t start with level ground, your patio won’t be level either.

After preparing the ground, base layers of gravel and sand are placed on top. Each layer has to be level too. The base keeps the pavers from moving around and allows water to flow through the base without pooling on your patio’s surface.

When all of that is done, pavers can now be placed and secured, creating a lovely patio. Concrete or polymeric sand are just two of the options to lock everything in position.

If you are considering adding a patio to your property, save yourself the time and hassle and hire a professional patio designer and builder. Not only will they do all the dirty work, but they will also work with you to design and create a space you’ll love for years to come.

Reducing Pollutants with Permeable Pavers

Summer. It can bring both beautiful weather and harsh thunderstorms and rains. Have you ever been outside after a long or hard rain and noticed the water along the sides of the streets going to the drain? Or worse yet, have you driven through puddles and splash water everywhere? That water carries harsh pollutants like oil and grease into our drainage systems. A newer paving system gaining traction in the U.S. cuts down on that storm water: permeable pavements and pavers.

Permeable pavements and pavers don’t push the water to the side like traditional asphalt or concrete pavement. Instead, they allow storm water to go through the pavements and into the ground below. It’s growing in popularity in the U.S. after being widely used in Europe due to its low-impact benefits.

Miles Chaffee, President and founder of Milestone imports explains: “it decreases impervious land coverage, provides a more stable load-bearing surface, and allows the water to go into the ground. It eliminates the need for detention ponds, which require additional space. And it takes off a lot of stress from the sewer systems when it’s done correctly.” Source.

Permeable pavers and pavements are not for high-speed traffic areas, but are great for driveways, walkways, patios, alleys and parking lots. The pavers sit on top of several inches of different types of base (sands and stones) that allow the water to pass through easily, eliminating any puddles on the surface of the structure.

Permeable paving not only controls pollutants and manages runoff, but it also can help bring more color to a city or town. By allowing the water to seep into the ground, it gives trees around the area more water to mature their root system and grow effectively.

While cities like San Francisco, Chicago, Portland and Richmond are using permeable pavements to handle their storm rain issues, it isn’t only for municipalities. Permeable pavers are wonderful for residential properties as well. At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we’ve designed and installed permeable paver patios, driveways and walkways. Not only are they more aesthetically pleasing than normal asphalt, but it can aid in landscaping and minimize standing water where mosquitoes can breed.

If you have questions on permeable paving and its benefits to your property, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

An outdoor living space that has it all

When it comes to creating a custom patio or deck design, we at Archadeck like to have a clear understanding of how you intend to use the space. Do you need space for cooking? Dining? Relaxing? Homeowners who may not know the type of structure they want still have an idea of how they’d like to use the space. From there, our trained designers can map out a space that is perfect for them.

When I saw this project from our Archadeck of Central Maryland office, I knew I had to share it. It has a ton of living space without being too overwhelming.

The owners of this property like to spend as much time as possible outside when the weather permits. By designing a multi-level space, John Barrett of Archadeck was able to create clearly defined areas for the owners, each one just as beautiful as the next.

At the lowest level (to the right on picture) is a large paver patio. It’s an open area that provides easy access to the yard below. A custom outdoor kitchen was constructed closer to the home’s back door so the chef can easily go to and from the kitchen. John and his team recommended a light stone paver with subtle grey variations since the home is brick. Brick would have been too overwhelming throughout the space.

Up a few steps is a small deck area with two lounge chairs. The homeowners enjoy laying out in the sun from time to time, and this spot is the perfect transitional area. The octagonal shape keeps it fun and interesting and because it has steps on all sides a railing isn’t necessary by law. Railings are incredibly important for safety purposes, but can make structures look closed off. Without railings, this deck is way more open to the rest of the yard.

Just one step up is a dining and entertaining area. The deck is just a few steps away from the outdoor and indoor kitchens, making it easy to serve dinner outside. Again, John and the homeowners didn’t want to block off the space with railings. Instead, a built in bench and planter were used. They not only look great, but the bench provides plenty of additional seating for friends and family.

The last level of the space is an open porch that works as an outdoor living room. Guests can escape the sun and cozy up underneath the roof structure.

If you have questions on designing outdoor living spaces to fit your needs, please contact your local" Archadeck":https://www.archadeck.com/ office.

A Deck Replacement and Patio to Increase Outdoor Living Space

As time goes on and changes, so may your outdoor living needs. What may have been the perfect space for you and your family 5 to 10 years ago, may not work for you now. This project from Archadeck of the Piedmont Triad is a great example of updating an outdoor living space to work better for the homeowners.

The owners of this North Carolina home had an existing elevated deck off the back of the house. It was large enough at the time for how they used the space, but it was in need of some updating. When it came time to replace the deck, they wanted to change the layout of the space to fit their current needs better.

When designing what turned out to be a deck and patio combination project, the homeowners asked for more outdoor living space, but they didn’t necessarily want a larger deck area. John Mallard of Archadeck of the Piedmont Triad designed a deck replacement and patio addition that would provide the space the family required and look beautiful.

The stairs on the existing deck were placed in the middle of the space. Not only did that break it up, but it didn’t allow for much space below it without taking up more of the yard. It was dead space. By moving the stairs to the side of the deck, it not only provided space needed below, but it also opened up the deck.

Down the stairs, a large curved patio was installed, connecting the area below the deck to the yard. Instead of using the same iron railings that were installed on the deck, John suggested having a retaining wall around the curved edge. Not only would it look beautiful (which it does), but it would also provide additional seating as needed when the family entertains.

Outdoor lighting was also added to the patio to ensure that it can be used night and day.

This space works much better for the family now that it is updated. They have all the outdoor living space they need to host friends and family all throughout the summer. The new deck and patio design is also much more open than it was before, allowing the homeowners to enjoy their yard.

If you have ideas or questions on how to improve and enhance your outdoor living space, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

A Sunroom to Enjoy the Surroundings

I’m in the lucky position where I see some beautiful outdoor living spaces. From decks and patios to porches and pergolas, our Archadeck locations design and build absolutely gorgeous custom outdoor living spaces and often share images with me. Just this week I got some images from our Archadeck of Greenville office that I just had to share.

This home in South Carolina sits on a small lake. The homeowner wanted a light and airy room where they can enjoy their view and the sunsets at night. It was important the new space worked seamlessly with the existing house as it is easily seen from the surrounding homes. Ronnie Ware of Archadeck of Greenville was able to design a space that was just what they were looking for.

With the view and light being two key desires in the room, Ronnie created a sunroom design that is focused on what is beyond on the walls. Large windows surround three sides of the sunroom. The windows have minimal panes so as not to obstruct the view of the lake. Come on, look at that view!

To allow for more sunlight, the space was designed with a high-pitched ceiling that provides space for a second row of windows on one side of the sunroom. Additionally, skylights were added to the roof to allow sunlight in from above.

The home’s existing exterior included both traditional brick work and yellow siding. Ronnie incorporated both finishes on the sunroom to make the transition from old to new as seamless as possible. The peak of the sunroom also complements the peaks of the home as you can see in this image. These design details are what make custom outdoor living spaces worth the investment. When it is clear an addition is addition it can result in an awkward interior or exterior.

If you are considering adding on a new outdoor living space to your home, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office. Our trained designers and builders will consult with you on your needs, tastes and budgets to design a space that is purely you.

Deck Collapse Puts a Damper on any Outdoor Event

Every year there are stories of deck failures. Either there are too many people on the structure, it’s not built to code or it is just too old. The newest viral video spreading online is from a dock collapse in Minnesota that sent an entire bridal party into the lake below as they posed for pictures.

They may have needed some time to dry off before the big wedding celebration, but the bride and groom are lucky that no one was hurt when this dock gave way.

Deck (and dock) safety is a serious concern. People are injured each year as a result of deck footings giving way or the deck detaching from a home. In the case of the video above, it may have been a case of too many people on a small dock. Over the past few years, videos of deck failures at special events, like weddings or proms, have been released online. If you are hosting a graduation party, wedding or other special event at your home, make sure you evaluate the safety of your outdoor structures.

Your deck may feel safe normally, but can it withhold the weight of a large number of people? If your deck has ever shook or felt at all uneasy before, it’s important to have it inspected by a professional deck builder. A professional will be able to look at the structure and tell you the overall shape it is in, what, if anything, should be addressed now or if it should be replaced entirely.

There are certain parts of a deck that are key components of the overall safety of the space, while others can be easily replaced or enhanced in the short term.

The structure, footings, connections and attachment are all very important to the deck’s safety. If one of these fail, it could cause the deck to collapse. Conversely, decking boards, stairs and rails can be updated or replaced until the entire structure is enhanced.

If you have concerns over the safety of your deck, please reach out to your local Archadeck office.

Keep it Outdoors this Summer

Spring has sprung and summer is just around the corner. At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we are passionate about enhancing our clients’ outdoor living spaces with our designs and builds. Our hope is that after our work is done that our clients spend more time outside.

When we talk to our clients about getting the most use out of their decks, porches, patios and other outdoor spaces, there are certain things we like to discuss and implement:

Places to gather. When it comes to entertaining friends and family outdoors, a clear area to gather and relax encourages people to spend time outside. This should be discussed during the patio or deck design phase, but can easily be created in existing spaces. Strategically placed patio furniture or built-in seating is a clear way to invite guests into a specific area of your outdoor spaces. You can take it one step further with both living and dining outdoor furniture in different areas of the space.

An area for cooking. The more you can stay outdoors will keep your guests outside too. An area for cooking will keep you and your guests outside on a nice day/night. While a grill is a great place to cook, an outdoor kitchen will allow you to do more than just the cooking. With counter space, you can prepare, cook and serve your delicious cuisine. At Archadeck, we design custom outdoor kitchens that complement your overall outdoor living design perfectly.

A fire feature. Personally, I don’t like to be forced inside on a lovely night just because the sun goes down and it gets a little cool. That is just one of the reasons that fire features have been growing in popularity over the last few years. Both fire pits and outdoor fireplaces emit enough heat to keep you outside on a nice night, and who doesn’t love to huddle around a fire, not to mention the s’mores?

If you have questions on how to get more out of your outdoor living spaces, please contact your Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Enjoying the Outdoors in a Gazebo

I recently went to a wedding at a small vineyard in Virginia. The couple had an absolutely gorgeous day with perfect temperatures and not a drop of rain. Their ceremony was performed under a simple gazebo overlooking the vines.


Gazebos are a classically beautiful outdoor living structure with their many sides. In many places, they are freestanding rooms, but recently we’ve been noticing more gazebos being added to patios or decks. They make a good addition to provide some needed escape from the sun.

Because gazebos have a lot of side and a sturdy roof structure, they really do feel like rooms outside the home. In the backyards I’ve visited that have had gazebos, they always feel like the natural space to sit down and enjoy company. I’ve seen them with both dining tables and benches and chairs beneath them.


Because the living space of a gazebo has protection with the roof structure, they truly can be used all year round. Adding a fire feature would allow you to enjoy the changing leaves in the fall and winter while a fan will make the warmer summer months more comfortable.

When I think about gazebos, my mind normally goes to the classic white gazebo frame with a dark grey roof, but there are many more design options. With the growing popularity of low maintenance decking, more homeowners prefer low maintenance gazebos as well. From reds and browns to greys and blues, the color options are endless. Additionally, post details are popular and ceiling designs vary.

At Archadeck Outdoor Living, each gazebo, deck, porch, patio, pergola or other outdoor living structure is custom designed for each individual client. With our design renderings, you’ll see exactly what your yard will look like with our proposed enhancements. If you are interested in updating your outdoor living space, please reach out to the nearest Archadeck office.

Relax in the Shade of a Pergola this Summer

When the weather is nice, I want to be outside. The fresh air, the breeze, it’s perfect. However, I don’t like to spend too much time in the sun. Not only is it bad for the skin, but it can get too hot (especially in the south) and becomes uncomfortable. If you are like me, having a shade structure in your outdoor living space is a nice addition.

Pergolas are one of the most popular shade structures that we design and build at Archadeck Outdoor Living. They can be designed and built to complement any outdoor living space, new or existing.

Shade is one of the most common reasons a homeowner requests a pergola. While part of it is open at the top, the beams at the top create ample shade below. Some homeowners also choose to add fabric to the top for pops of color in the space.

Shade isn’t the only way to cool off with a patio. Because it is comprised of framing, electrical can be run to the structure as well, making it a great place to add an outdoor fan. Shade and a breeze, sounds pretty good to me!

One issue that we’ve noticed with a lot of patio and deck designs is that there isn’t a clear form or function. The structure’s size and layout should work for the intended use of the space, whether it’s cooking, lounging, etc. Sometimes different purposes need to be defined and a pergola is one way to do it. The space underneath a pergola is almost like a separate room outdoors. Take this pergola for instance. It is very clear that the space underneath will be the “dining room” area of the patio with the living area beyond it.

Compared to outdoor rooms like open and screened porches and sunrooms, pergolas are more easily added to an existing outdoor living space. They are normally free standing and with a variety of shapes, sizes and finishes, they can look like they were always there.

If you have questions on adding a pergola or other shade structure to your outdoor living space, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Under Decking Creates Dry Spaces

There is something about the rain that makes me want to cozy up with a book or a glass of wine and enjoy the sound. I especially like it with the windows open, or better yet, when I’m in a dry outdoor space like a screened or open porch.

Open porches are great for enjoying the outdoors from a protected spot. They can be built with a roof structure or under decking to keep the space dry. We often get questions on what under decking is and it is pretty simple. Under decking a both a roof and drainage system for open porches or covered patios that have decks above them.

Decks without usable underneath don’t have under decking as it doesn’t matter if the rain goes underneath it. But if you wanted to enjoy your porch when it is raining, you need to have a drainage system to protect you! That’s under decking, or, as we sometimes call it, rain decking.

Under decking was added beneath this tall deck to create a dry, usable space underneath. Stone was added around the support beams to turn them into beautiful design features
Under decking is installed underneath the decking and framing of the elevated deck. It catches the water as it goes through the cracks between the deck boards and drains it at the side of the structure, keeping the space underneath dry and usable.

Keeping the porch dry is not under decking’s only purpose. It also allows the homeowner to create a space with more amenities, like fans, lights and even televisions. With the drainage system in place, your porch and deck builder and electrician can install power outlets. Without a drainage system, it would not be possible.

At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we use under decking to give our clients more usable space outdoors without taking up more of their yard. Instead of leaving the space beneath an elevated deck unfinished, you can use it for another purpose, dining, entertaining, etc. And if you can’t do it all at once, under decking can be installed after a deck is built. So, if you only want to tackle the deck now and the covered patio or porch later, you can do it.

If you have questions on how under decking can enhance your outdoor living experience, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office. We can help you plan and build the space you’ve always wanted.

Outdoor Living Projects Just Got Easier

At Archadeck, we pride ourselves on creating the backyards of peoples’ dreams. From porches and patios to decks and sunrooms, we work with our clients to design the perfect space that they will use and enjoy. Unfortunately, building projects of any kind, whether indoor or outdoor, can be expensive. Luckily for our Archadeck clients, it just got a little easier.

Archadeck Outdoor Living is now working with LightStream, a financing option through SunTrust bank. For customers interested in financing, who have good to excellent credit, LightStream is an easy way to get the money the backyard of your dreams!

It’s all done online at Lightstream.com/Archadeck. Here’s how it works, in three steps:
1. Apply online. You’ll need to fill out the specifics of the loan as well as some information on you and submit. LightStream is known to provide responses within minutes during normal business hours.

2. Once you’ve been approved, accept the financing loan agreement online with an e-signature.

3. Use your loan! You’ll receive the funds in a day or two and you can get started!

We’re thrilled to be able to provide this wonderful service to our clients that are interested and meet the necessary requirements. For more information, please visit lightstream.com/Archadeck.

Contact your nearest Archadeck location today to talk about just what you want in your new outdoor space. We’ll work with you to design the perfect deck, porch, patio, or combination there of!

Screening in your Existing Porch

Last night my husband and I went out to dinner with a friend of ours. He and his wife purchased a home last summer and learned some of its downfalls throughout the summer. One of the reasons they bought the home was that it has great outdoor space including a great covered porch. Well, they found out that they yard also has a ton of mosquitoes to the point where they couldn’t enjoy the space. They’re now looking to screen in the existing space, but weren’t sure of the process.

Screening in your existing open porch is definitely possible, but it involves more than just putting up some screens.

Building codes change over time to make sure that outdoor structures are safe and secure. Before adding screen panels to your porch, your porch builder will need to inspect and ensure that the existing structure is up to code. If not, it may require more work including additional footings, connections and more.

Depending on the type of existing structure, you make need to do some extra work for your screened porch to fulfill its purpose. For instance, in may cases a screened porch is built to provide a dry, shady space to enjoy the outdoor without bugs. Well, if you have a porch with deck boards as flooring, you’ll need to make sure that mosquitoes can’t come up through the board cracks.

When going through the process with your porch builder of enclosing the space, it’s the perfect time to consider updating the porch’s finishes. Take our friend for instance, his current open porch has a concrete floor and smaller columns. The floors aren’t in the best condition, so he’s considering having the floor updated to a more interesting tile option. Additionally, his home has a craftsman look and the small columns don’t really fit. While the porch builder is working on the projects, the homeowner has asked the builder to add some more weight to the columns.

If you are looking to enclose a porch or transform any existing outdoor living structure, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living offices. Our trained designers will work with you to create a space that you’ll love using!

Move it Outdoors with an Outdoor Kitchen

At Archadeck, we pride ourselves on enhancing the outdoor experience for our clients. We want them to use their outdoor living spaces as much as they can and one trend that we’ve seen growing and growing over the last few years is the outdoor kitchen.

Outdoor cooking has come a long way in just a few short years. What was once just a grill on the deck or patio is a now a fully functional outdoor preparation and cooking space with grills, sinks, stovetops, refrigerators and more. And they can be custom designed to fit your cooking needs, your outdoor living space, and your budget. Here are three very different outdoor kitchens that fit the needs of the homeowner.

This first homeowner has a multilevel deck in their yard. They wanted to transform the lower area into a full outdoor kitchen and dining area. Instead of creating a dining area with a table, they wanted to have an bar to eat at making conversation easy while the chef was hard at work preparing dinner. This family really enjoys cooking, so they wanted more than just a built in grill, they wanted a sink, a stove and a wood burning pizza oven for their homemade pizza. Under the pizza oven is an area for them to store wood. The large U-shape of the kitchen provides more than enough counter space and room for multiple people to prepare meals.

This next outdoor kitchen is much simpler than the first, but it was perfect for what the homeowners needed. They were looking for a space for a built-in grill, warmer and some counter space, but didn’t need room for eating. This L-shape kitchen did just the trick and it complements the finish of the patio that it was added to. The patio is made primarily of a grey concrete with some grey pavers in certain areas. Archadeck used stone with grey undertones to make both spaces work together.

Lastly, this example is in the galley shape and sits on a covered porch. The homeowners wanted a space that would work as an outdoor kitchen, an outdoor bar and a place to watch TV. The galley layout allows us to provide both along with plenty of counter and storage space. By using the space against the wall as the main cooking area (with a sink, grill and refrigerator) the other side can fit the bar need and face a wall mounted TV.

If you are considering an outdoor kitchen for your backyard, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office. One of our trained designers is sure to design a space that is perfect for you.

Deck Collapse is a Serious Risk

Temperatures are finally rising in many parts of the country and, if you are like me, you can’t wait to take advantage of it and spend some time outdoors. Before you do, however, make sure that your deck is safe to enjoy.

An Atlanta area deck collapsed earlier this week injuring four people. Two men were standing on the deck and two were below when the deck gave way and fell from the home and all four men were taken to the hospital with injuries. Unfortunately, stories like this are far too common.

The average deck lasts about 10 years before it needs to be replaced for safety reasons. During those 10 years not only will the foundation and structure weaken, but codes will change, often for safety purposes. At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we suggest that decks over 7 years old should undergo a deck safety inspection. You may need to have your deck inspected earlier if it is displaying any issues.

If you aren’t sure on how to evaluate the overall condition of your structure, we recommend the acronym BE SAFER.

Boards - Look for sagging or splintering of decking boards that may make it unsafe to walk on.

Every Connection – This may be difficult to check if you cannot see underneath the structure, but try to look at the condition of the metal fasteners that hold the structure together.

Structure – While you are looking under the deck, look at the posts, beams and joists. Is there any sagging?

Attachment – The majority of deck failures happen at the attachment of the house. Make sure it is attached with the necessary bolts and screws, NO NAILS!

Foundation/Footings – This part of the deck’s structure holds the weight. Check to see that it is in good shape, without any sagging, sinking or separation.

Exit – Check the conditions of the exits/stairs of the deck.

Rails – Railings are very important to the safety of your deck. Make sure that each is secure and does not shake/move when pressure is applied.

This past winter has been a tough one for many parts of the country with above average snow and ice. This could have affected the safety of your deck, so please make sure to check it. For questions, concerns or to have a professional deck builder look at the structure for you, please contact Archadeck Outdoor Living.

What are the Top Outdoor Living Trends in 2014?

Gone are the days of lawn chairs on a concrete slab in the backyard, in are the days of beautiful outdoor living spaces. The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) recently released the results to their annual Residential Landscape Architecture Trends Survey. Each year, the ASLA surveys residential landscape architects about what aspects of outdoor living will be big for 2014. I must say, we at Archadeck Outdoor Living aren’t that surprised, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t excited by them!

The survey is lumped into different categories. Number two in the Outdoor Design Elements in category is outdoor living spaces (kitchens, entertainment spaces, etc). 92% of the surveyed landscape architects said that outdoor living spaces will be popular or somewhat popular in 2014. At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we’ve been building custom outdoor structures since 1980, but we’ve seen an evolution of what that means in the last 5 to 10 years. What once was thought of just a simple deck is now considered an outdoor living space that serves a particular purpose.

More specific is the Outdoor Living Features category of the survey. The ones that we are often asked about the most are seating and dining areas (97.7%), fire pits and fireplaces (95.4%), grills (94.3%), and installed seating (89.6%). Not surprisingly, this goes well with outdoor living spaces, as to have a useful space it has to fulfill a need. The features are what make them living areas and not just a structure.

Nancy Somerville, ASLA Executive Vice President and CEO explains the interest in outdoor living: “Homeowners known that designed landscapes add value to their lives as well as their property values…They’re interested in livable, open spaces that are both stylish and earth friendly.” Source.

When designing a structure for a client, we at Archadeck Outdoor Living talk to the homeowner about the way the space will be used and how they envision it flowing. With the goals in mind, we can create a patio or deck design complete with the features to make the backyard of the client’s dreams.

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

Archadeck Outdoor Living Helps Launch E-Magazine

For over 30 years, Archadeck Outdoor Living has been designing and building some of the most beautiful outdoor living spaces. We’re truly passionate about outdoor living and are thrilled to announce the launch of a new electronic magazine that shares our love: Loving Outdoor Living.

Loving Outdoor Living is a free e-publication focused on all things outdoor living. It’s great for anyone who’s planning updates to their outdoor spaces or just enjoy being outside!

Archadeck Outdoor Living teamed up with its sister brands, Outdoor Lighting Perspectives, Mosquito Squad, and Renew Crew to launch the premier issue, available here. Articles cover all things outdoors including: vacation spots, enhancing your outdoor comfort, entertaining, recipes, lighting, mosquito control and fashion!

Loving Outdoor Living is a growing resource for the outdoor living industry both with the publication, but also with its growing blog.

At Archadeck, we’ve been dedicated to enriching the lives of our clients through outdoor living from the beginning. Our approach to deck building is different than your typical contractor…

It starts and ends with you. Our projects are not one size (or design) fits all. An Archadeck project starts with an at home consultation with you to discuss your needs and wants for the space. We’ll walk your property with you and discuss options that will fit your home’s architecture and the surrounding property.

After the consultation, we’ll design a space based on that conversation, and we’ll show you the design in a 3D rendering so you can envision the space easily in your backyard.

Once the design is agreed upon, we’ll build the project with the best quality products. From beginning to end, you’ll experience the Archadeck difference.

If you have any questions, please contact your local Archadeck office.

Screened Porch Details Create Warm and Inviting Space

Whether you are buying a car, hosting a party or building an outdoor living space, the details matter, and they can make a big difference on the final outcome. From colors and texture to shape and space, choosing the right finishing touches can take an OK outcome, to something you love.

This screened porch from Archadeck of Fort Wayne is a great example of a space where the details created a warm space for the family to spend time outdoors.

Before we talk about the great details inside the porch, let’s talk about the outside. As always, one of our goals at Archadeck is make sure the project doesn’t look like an afterthought. Baron Biedenweg of Archadeck of Fort Wayne used white on the outside of the porch to match the white trim of the home and installed the same railing around the screen porch and deck as was used on the small balcony off the second level of the home. Keeping the colors consistent makes sure that everything works together.

For me, the finishes inside the porch is what makes me want to have a drink or read a book in the room. Screened porches are a unique type of space because they really are both indoors and outdoors. screened-porch-designYou are inside a structure, but outdoor-friendly materials have to be used because rain, pollen and some other outdoor elements can get inside. Many homeowners choose to keep their siding on the wall that attaches to the porch to the home because it 1) matches and 2) is weather-proof. In this screened porch, however, Baron used a stone veneer on the wall. It makes a statement visually, but the warm tones also make the porch cozy.

There is a vast variety of flooring options for screened porches. I love how the wood flooring was finished in this space to feel like an extension of the indoor living space. It was treated with a shiny finish to mirror the floors that run throughout the home. That detail makes the transition from inside to outside even smoother.

When discussing your screened porch or other outdoor living space with your designer, make sure you tell them what mood you want to set in the finished space. From warm and relaxing to vibrant and full of fun, choosing the right finishing details will help you accomplish your goals. If you want to talk about ways to enhance your outdoor living areas, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Elevated Deck Creates Two Outdoor Living Spaces

When it comes to designing a new outdoor living space, one thing to think about is what square footage the project gives you. For many of our clients, they want to add to the usable living space to their property, and decks, patios, porches and other outdoor living spaces is a great way to do.

I was looking through some images of some of our locations recent work when I came across this great elevated deck in Des Moines. The homeowners were in need of an updated space when their current deck started to show its age. With their new outdoor living space, they wanted just that: space. Lucky for them, they reached Harold Cross of Archadeck of Central Iowa.

The old porch felt and looked like an isolated space. The homeowners really wanted to utilize the elevated space as well as space lower down. Harold redesigned the open porch area to flow onto a deck without a roof and then down to a patio.

The main living area of the home is elevated in the back. They need an elevated space so they don’t constantly have to go downstairs to spend time outdoors. The covered area provides shade and frames a great outdoor dining space, right off the kitchen.


One step down from the covered porch is an open deck where the homeowners can enjoy some sunshine. While the first space just had a covered area had a covered porch and then stairs heading down, this open deck provides an easier transition to the stairs and to the lower level.

The lower level consists of a patio that is partially covered. At Archadeck, we like to take advantage of the space created by elevated decks to craft additional living space. We use a process called under-decking to keep the space dry. Just like the open deck above, the open patio is both usable and a great transitional space. Without this part of the patio, the two levels would be too separate and wouldn’t work together like they do now.

Harold and his team designed and built this outdoor space to not only function extremely well, but it’s beautiful too. The colors of composite decking and the stone complement the home wonderfully.

If you have questions regarding outdoor living design, please reach out to your local Archadeck office.

Making a new space complement your existing home: it’s all in the details

Just a few weeks ago, I went to visit a friend who had recently purchased a new home. We walked through the living space as she pointed out things that they loved and projects they knew they would have to tackle. When we got to the back of the house, it was clear that a new sunroom/living space was on the project list. It was obviously an add-on, and not one that was done well. The finishes were a completely different design and architectural style than the rest of the home. It just didn’t fit.

At Archadeck Outdoor Living, when we design and build outdoor living structures, we want them to look like they’ve always been there. They should not look like an afterthought. Often, it’s the details of the project that make this a reality. Here are two examples that show how a space can fit right into an existing home.

The owners of this Augusta, GA home wanted to replace an existing deck with a screened in porch. They felt they would use a screened porch more, especially if it could include a fireplace.

Archadeck of Augusta designed and built the porch to fit the owners’ needs and tastes, as well as their home. As you can see, it looks like it has been there for years! There are two design details that make this happen: the white trim and the brick. The home has white trim along its roofline and windows. The crisp white looks great against the green. By having the framing, skirting and railings of the space be white, the screened porch “fits” with the rest of the space.

The outdoor fireplace brick, as well as the brick walkway, are a more subtle detail. You can barely see in the picture, but the foundation of the home is brick. The color and size of the bricks are nearly identical to the ones used in the porch.

This next example comes from our porch, patio and deck builder in Denver. Like the first example, this home had an existing deck. It was old and needed to be replaced. Instead of building another deck, the owners wanted a sunroom that they could use even when there was snow on the ground.

Curtis Crays of Archadeck of the Front Range designed the addition, paying particular attention to the windows and the color. The home’s color is unique and by being just a little off in the color, it would be noticed. Curtis worked with the homeowners to learn the exact color of the home’s siding and trim and was able to use the same ones. Can you imagine what it would look like if it were white?

The sunroom windows were also an important part of the design. The main home’s windows are pretty simple, without a lot of panes in them. Curtis used similar windows to make the transition to the sunroom smoother.

Whenever you are considering adding on an outdoor space to your home, make sure that you pay attention to the finishing touches, both inside and out. Your sunroom, porch, patio or deck designer should be able to work with you to define what details need to be incorporated into the site. And, as always, please contact your local Archadeck office for any questions or to discuss your outdoor living needs or concerns.

Unique Deck Design Allows Client to Enjoy More of their Property

There are so many components that have to work together to create the perfect deck design: tastes, budget, shape, flow and property. The physical property often plays one of the biggest roles in how a space will work.

This project from our deck builder in Austin is a great example of a deck design where the property is the star. The owners of this large Texan property wanted to take advantage of their gorgeous land. Not only does it have beautiful trees, but it also sits on a body of water. Unfortunately, before this project, much of it was covered with patchy vegetation and too many of the water views from the outside of the home were blocked by the trees.

The homeowners didn’t want to lose any of the trees, but wanted an outdoor living space that jetted out further into their property, closer to the water. Jimmy Odom, of Archadeck of Austin, designed this deck to work around the property and create amazing views for the owners.

The multi-tiered deck winds around the trees providing several spots to place some chairs or even an outdoor dining table. The owners can go past all the trees and have unobstructed views of the water, or they can stay in the trees’ shade and still enjoy their surroundings. Even their cows are interested in enjoying the space!

Pressure-treated pine was used to build the deck in Austin. Pressure-treated pine is a great decking option for many parts of the country. It’s a natural and less expensive than some other decking materials. The boards were installed in different patterns to add some visual interest to the space. With the numerous angles of the deck, it didn’t make sense to keep everything parallel throughout because it would have looked slightly “off” in different areas.

This project is a great example of how the property can impact design. The property does have a slight slope going down towards the water. If the owners wanted the same shape and size, the lower level would have had to be raised significantly. Not only could this impact cost, but it also would have impacted the view from the higher spots on the project. By designing a multi-level space, Jimmy was able to keep the view as the focal point while providing the space the owners wanted.

If you have questions on designing decks, porches, patios or other outdoor living space, please give your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office a call.

Converting a Patio to Open Porch

In life, it doesn’t always make sense to start from scratch with something. Working and enhancing what you have will sometimes provide you with the best end result. That was the case with this project from our patio and deck builder in Greensboro.

This home in the Piedmont Triad of North Carolina had a large patio off the back. As you can see, it was a raised patio that was accessible from many parts of the house. It had an area for an outdoor dining room and an outdoor living room. However, the homeowners didn’t feel they were getting much use out of it. They felt it would be better for them if the space had a roof.

Archadeck of the Piedmont Triad’s John Mallard was brought in to design and build the open porch. The existing patio was in good shape structurally, and it would be extremely costly for the homeowners to start anew. Instead, John suggested adding on to what was already there. The space and flow of the layout works well, all it needed was a roof structure.

The existing brick retaining walls called for the perfect spots to add some columns to support the roof. Only four were needed for the entire space. For the roof, John suggested a few design details to make the space interesting, usable and light. The horizontal beams of the roof were left visible in the space. By simply painting them white, it added a unique design detail that could be appreciated by the family. To me, it also make it cozy.

Outdoor ceiling fans were added over the dining and coffee tables of the space. While open porches provide shade and a cooler space to relax than out in the sun, they still can be warm, especially in North Carolina. Those fans can go a long way in making the space more comfortable.

Light can be an issue with any covered area, especially one as large as this. Shade is key, but when the sun is blocked, it not only impacts the porch, but also the rooms inside that it is connected to. To allow for more sunlight to come in, John did two things. First, he did not attach the roof structure to the home on the sides. There is still space between the roof of the home and the roof of the porch, allowing light to come down and into the space. Secondly, skylights were placed right above the doors to the main living spaces to the home, allowing more light to come through the glass.

The existing patio of this project was nice, but by enhancing it just a little bit, it is now absolutely beautiful. If you have questions on how you can improve your outdoor living spaces, please reach out to your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Reworking an Outdoor Living Space to Fit your Needs

From decks and porches to patios and sunrooms, outdoor living spaces are not one size fits all. What functions and works well for one homeowner may not be perfect for another.

When I initially saw this project from our patio and deck builder in Chicagoland, I thought the before picture was a pretty nice space. Seen in the picture to the right, the deck was large spanning across the width of the house, but it didn’t work for the homeowners. It wasn’t their taste and didn’t function as well as they believed it could.

The homeowners wanted to replace the existing deck with a patio. For how they envisioned the space working, they felt that a patio would work and look better than a deck. Luckily they worked with Kristen Berryhill of Archadeck of Chicagoland to design their new space and the end result was just what they were looking for.

The owners of this home enjoy entertaining and wanted space for cooking, dining and relaxing. Kristen created a unique patio design with multiple layers, materials and shapes give the clients exactly what they wanted.

The top level of the patio is where the family does their cooking. The grill is here and it has easy access to the kitchen doors. Access to the indoors is an important piece of outdoor design; it has to flow. Having the grill, for instance, on the opposite side of the space than the kitchen door would make it more cumbersome to use.

My favorite area of the space is down two steps from the grill, where there is a bar area with outdoor stools. It’s the perfect place to eat or just sit and have a drink with friends and family. The curved space makes it special and it overlooks their beautiful property. You can see how the curved perimeter is mirrored on the materials on the base of the patio. A darker paver was used set this particular area apart from the rest of the space.

Beyond the bar area is an open space that can be used for just about anything. Right now the homeowners are using it as an additional place for dining outdoors. In this area, you can really see why the homeowners wanted a patio instead of a deck. By keeping the space level with the ground no railings were needed and it opens up seamlessly to the beautiful yard!

And if you take a step back and look at the project as a whole, you really can see that this space is a step up from the previous deck. It complements the home’s finishes instead of looking like an afterthought. It’s a wonderful space and wonderful patio design from Archadeck of Chicagoland!

If you have questions on enhancing your outdoor living space to work better for you, please contact your local Archadeck office. One of our trained designers and builders can surely help!

Thinking about a new outdoor living space? Not sure where to start?

With all of these cold temperatures, I am counting down the days until the weather turns and starts to warm up again. I can’t wait to sit outside, relax and enjoy some time outdoors without a freezing face. If you are considering building a new outdoor living space, now is the time to start planning. Here are some things to consider that will help when it comes time to talk to a patio and deck builder.

How do you intend to use the space? Gone are the days of a one design fits all attitude to outdoor living. Say good-bye to the square deck or patio and hello to a custom space built for you and your goals in mind. Take some time to think about how you plan to use your new patio, deck, porch or combination there of. Is it an oasis for you to curl up with a book? Do you need space for grilling, dining and entertaining? With a clear idea of its use, your patio and deck designer can create something that will fit those goals.

What time of the year will the project be used? Spring and summer is the easy answer to the question, but outdoor living spaces can be used all year if it is designed correctly. If you live in the south, for example, it may entail building an outdoor fireplace or firepit, while you may need a sunroom if you live in New England.

Why type of structure or structures do you want? The first two questions definitely play a roll in deciding whether you want a porch, patio, deck, sunroom, outdoor kitchen, etc. You’ll also have to keep your property in mind. If you have a large slope off the back of your home, a deck may be a better choice than a patio for example. If you aren’t sure what is right for your goals, talk to your contractor about the best options for you. They will keep your goals and budget in mind.

At Archadeck Outdoor Living, the best project designs are often collaborations between the homeowner and us. To help guide those conversations, we created the Archadeck Design Guide a few years ago. This free download will get you thinking about what you want in your backyard right now and what you may want in the future. It will ask you questions about your goals, your property and your tastes. The guide is a great place to start if you are thinking about building a new outdoor living space.

If you have any questions on outdoor living considerations and options, please visit Archadeck.com or contact your local Archadeck office. Our trained designers and contractors are happy to help you in any way.

Building a patio – so much more than you see

Working at Archadeck Outdoor Living, I’ve seen some beautiful patios, walkways, outdoor kitchens, outdoor fireplaces and other hardscaped areas over the years that our offices have designed and built. The beauty of the finished product can be misleading however. At its surface, the patio looks gorgeous, but what lies below is what keeps it looking that way in the long run.

Building a patio that will hold its shape and structure is more difficult than the looks of it show.

The first step is to prepare the ground for the patio. This includes grading and digging footings. Grading is the process of leveling the ground. If the ground isn’t properly graded, it will lead to an uneven outdoor living space. Grading may include removing or adding more dirt to the space and packing it down until it is firm and even.


If the patio is a simple patio, footings may not be required while preparing for the build, but if you are adding something with extra weight, like an outdoor kitchen or outdoor fireplace, footings need to be created. Footings are essentially bases for extra large structures. For this example, let’s use an outdoor fireplace. Due to its weight, it needs more support from below. A large hole is dug underneath where the fireplace will ultimately sit. That hole is filled with concrete that, when hard, will be able to hold up the outdoor fireplace for years to come.

After the footings are dug and the ground is leveled, the layers begin. The first layer that is placed on the ground is called base stone. Base stone is key to keeping the patio level over time and seasonal changes. Once the stone is laid in place, it is then impacted down. Like the dirt below it, the base stone will be leveled.

After the base is all set and in place, sand is spread and leveled on top of it. Sand is a helpful as the pavers are placed down on top of it as it helps to keep it all in place before everything is locked in tightly.

Laying pavers can be as simple or as complex as you’d like. It just depends on how intricate you want the design of it to be. At Archadeck, we’ve done some that are simple rows and others with circular or curved patterns.

Once everything is in place, it has to be secured. Along the sides of the patio, there will be an edging materials that digs into the ground. It works as a barrier for the pavers. The most common way to lock your paver patio in place is to use polymeric sand. This sand is spread and swept on the surface of the patio, working it’s way into all the nooks and crannies of the entire space. Then it will be exposed to water. When it gets wet, the sand will harden, similar to concrete.

As you can see, building a patio is much more difficult than simply picking out a stone that you like. At Archadeck, we take great pride in our work and take the time to do it all correctly so you can enjoy the space for years to come.

If you have any questions on designing or building custom patios, please contact your local Archadeck office.

Patio and Deck Design, it’s all about the details

At Archadeck Outdoor Living, our motto is “better building, by design.” Not only is our construction and building top notch, but our patio and deck design in amazing. When it comes to creating something not only functional (although that is goal number one), but also beautiful, sometimes it comes down to the small details of the project.

Our trained designers think beyond the obvious and that’s what makes some of projects as stunning as they are. Here are just a few ideas of finishing details that can make your outdoor living space go from “nice” to “oh, wow.”

Different Decking Patterns – Decking boards are the base of a deck, but they can also be a beautiful design component. Our designers often place the boards in different patterns to define space or to make a deck a little more unique. We may use different color decking boards as well to add visual interest. Take deck for example; the boards were installed at different angles throughout the space. It enhances the space by helping to define each section of the deck.

Utilizing Multiple Materials – This goes along with number one, but outdoor living design isn’t about using one color or material. When designing and installing patios, for instance, we often incorporate different materials into one project either to define or highlight different areas. The gray stone on this patio clearly highlights the step down to the lower portion of the patio. By mixing and matching material the entire space is more aesthetically appealing.

Trimming out a post or a beam. Many decks and patio require a railing to meet building codes and requirements. While they may be necessary, they can also be decorative. Trimming out a beam or a post is adding a decorative detail to make it look nicer.

Sanding rail caps – sometimes the little things make all the difference. Simply sanding down the rail caps and their edges will make everything smoother and cleaner looking. Not to mention you’ll be less likely to get any splinters!

Consider the stairs – stairs are another area for subtle deck design. Whether it’s using different colors for the horizontal and vertical components or placing them at an interesting angle, it all matters. These stairs, for example, are cornered and take up more space, but they create a more open looking entrance to the deck.

The best patio and deck design ideas are often found in the details. Make sure you talk to your deck builder about your style so that he/she can create something that you will love. Please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office if you want to experience our better building, by design.

Gas or Wood Fired, what’s best for your Outdoor Fireplace or Fire Pit

One of the growing trends in outdoor living is fire features. More homeowners are including either an outdoor fireplace or fire pit to their decks, porches and patios to allow them to use the space more often. At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we design both fireplaces and fire pits that work seamlessly with your outdoor structure.

When considering an outdoor fireplace or fire pit, one of the questions that commonly comes up is: should it be gas or wood fired? While some people have strong feelings for or against an option (I can’t blame someone who loves the smell of a wood fire), here are some questions to consider as you make your decision:

Where do you live? Wood burning fireplaces or fire pits aren’t made for all parts of the country. If you live in a dry area of the country, you may not have easy access to firewood, making gas a better option. Conversely, gas is usually a better choice for heavily wooded properties as well. If there isn’t a clear opening above the fire, you’d want the control of a gas fire feature as opposed to wood. Wood fires give off more smoke and embers that shouldn’t go up into branches from trees.

What will be the cost of running it? Wood fire pits and outdoor fireplaces are more cost-effective to have if you have easy access to firewood. If your property abuts a wooded area for instance, you could probably grab wood for the fire for free. Conversely, with gas fires you do have to pay for fuel costs.

Do you need easy control and convenience? This question is especially important if you have any small children that may be around the fire. Gas flames are much easier to control and use. They are easy to turn on, off, up or down. So, if you need to turn it off in a hurry, you can. Additionally, there is no smoke and you don’t have to clean up any ashes. Wood burning fires cannot be easily turned on or off and there is always smoke. You have to watch it more carefully to make sure it isn’t getting too big or hot and from time to time, you will want to clean out any built up ashes.

Are you adding it on to an existing space? At Archadeck, we try to plan for all parts of your outdoor living space (even future additions) when we design a deck, porch, patio, etc. When you plan ahead, the choice of gas or wood can be easier due to gas lines. If you know you want a gas fire pit on your patio in the future, for example, you should have the line put in as you build the patio. If you are adding a fire feature to an existing space and hadn’t planned for it, it may cost more if anything needs to be torn up for a gas line. In that case, a wood burning fire feature may be your best option.

Is the flame important for you? Personally, I love the sound of a crackling fire and I love the smell of wood burning. A gas fireplace can’t give me that. If having the characteristics of a real fire isn’t important to you, however, you’ll be happy with what a gas fire pit or fireplace can provide you.

If you are looking to enhance your outdoor living space with a fire feature, please reach out to your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office. With our knowledge and expertise, we can help you to create a space that you can’t help but love.

A Contractor for your Outdoor Living Space

One of the most important decisions when building a new outdoor living space is choosing the right contractor. There are so many factors to deciding who is a reputable company and who will leave you unsatisfied. The following tips will give you the peace of mind that you’ve chosen the right contractor for your project.

1. Think Local

Choose a company with an established reputation in your area. Only someone who has built decks, porches, and outdoor living spaces in our community will have the local knowledge you need to ensure that your project is beautiful and functional. A local expert will know what types of weatherproofing your deck will need, implement the right treatments, and plan for protecting appliances in your particular climate.

2. Visit their Business

Don’t just meet with the contractor at your home, go to their place of business too if possible. Again, this lets you see yourself that this contractor is an established local business that is here and here to stay.

3. See the Work

Take time to personally inspect three or four projects the contractor has done near your home. Doing so will let you have full confidence that a specific contractor knows the local building codes and the landscape of the area. Seeing projects a company built and talking to several references is the only way to know for sure that other homeowners have had a good experience with a contractor. Reading online testimonials and reviews is another good way to see what others think of the contractor.

14. Verify their Level of Expertise

Especially if you’re considering an alternative design or elevation, you want to be sure your prospective contractor has considerable experience with multi-level decks, built-in outdoor kitchens, fire features, and the latest outdoor lighting systems. By looking at examples of their work, you can also see if a contractor has experience with the type of materials you’re considering for your project.

5. Check Regulations

Many states, but not all, require contractors to be licensed and/or bonded. Contact your state or local licensing agencies to ensure a contractor meets all government requirements.

6. Investigate Possible Complaints

Check with the government Consumer Affairs Offices and the Better Business Bureau to ensure they don’t have adverse files on record for the contractor.

By following these six steps, your are more likely to find a deck contractor that will leave you with the outdoor space of your dreams.

Winter: the Perfect Time to Plan your New Backyard

While I enjoy the winter season, it isn’t my favorite. I may enjoy cozying up by a fire in the fireplace, but I don’t enjoy running from my car to a building due to the cold. My husband and I often plan a trip or event in the spring so that we have something to look forward to. At Archadeck, we often tell people to plan their new outdoor space in the winter, not only to have something to look forward to, but also something you know you can enjoy in the spring.

Not surprisingly, the spring and summer months make up our busy season in the porch, patio and deck building industry. As the weather warms up and people move outside they often realize that they need to improve their outdoor living space. Unfortunately, it make take weeks or months to get a new outdoor living structure built, cutting down on the time you can actually use it.

At Archadeck we design and build custom outdoor living spaces. It takes time. First thing that has to be done is the design. In the design phase, we work with our clients to learn their expectations, likes and dislikes. Depending on the homeowner, we may do two or three designs to make sure it is exactly what they want.

After the design is finalized, building plans are drawn and submitted to the county for permitting. No building can be done during that part of the process. Some permitting takes a few weeks to get the go-ahead for.

After all of that, building can begin and, depending on the scale of the project, you can begin enjoying your new space in a few weeks.

So why am I telling you all this? We want you to enjoy your outdoor living spaces as much as possible and the earlier it can be done, the better. Planning is a big part of that. If you know that next year you want to build a new outdoor structure, call your deck builder now. While the ground may be frozen (only in a few parts of the country) and building can’t begin yet, designing and planning can.

The purpose of planning and designing your projects in the winter is so you can be on the top of the building list when ground can be broken. And, the earlier the building can begin, the earlier you can start enjoying your new deck, porch, patio, sunroom or other outdoor living structure come the warmer weather.

If you are interested in starting to design your new outdoor living space, please reach out to your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office. Our trained and experienced designers will work with you to create a space that fits your needs, tastes and budget.

Trends in Outdoor Living Ramp Up Comfort and Warmth

Home magazines, television shows and websites are showcasing outdoor living trends as never before. So it’s no wonder you’re itching to transform your old-school patio or cookie-cutter deck into an impressive and functional space. Start by looking at trends that fit your lifestyle and have the legs to make your home irresistible to future buyers. Here are some things to consider:

Seating Clusters

Tops in the comfort category are seating clusters. Thick, comfy cushions and strategically placed outdoor furniture arrangements can spark conversation and help build relationships with family and friends. Designers are big on outdoor furniture that brings people together, stands up to the elements and showcases personal style.

Fire it Up

Fire pits and fireplaces are still all the rage, adding both fashion and function. By night they create summer-camp ambiance from early spring right through the fall. A fireplace, paired with an outdoor television that has integrated speakers, adds a whole new dimension to game-day get-togethers.

Landscaping that Fits the Land

To give your outdoor living areas maximum appeal, choose an overall landscaping look that makes sense for your home, the weather and how busy you are. If you live in a dry desert climate, choose succulents that need minimal watering. If you’re retired, you may want to add a flower or raised-bed vegetable garden that becomes a favorite hobby. If you’re always on the run with work and your family’s schedule, don’t put in a complex landscape or garden that will need lots of maintenance.

Get in the Cooking Zone

Goodbye grill, hello cooking zone. Whether you call it your outdoor summer kitchen like they do in chic, seaside resort communities, the trendiest outdoor living areas all have places to let your inner chef loose in the great outdoors. Just like gourmet indoor kitchens, your outdoor kitchen can be built with warming drawers, outdoor cooking stations with integrated storage, even a prep station and mini fridge, along with a more traditional gas grill. Newer amenities include a hybrid grill that lets you cook both gas and wood or charcoal.

Easy-Care Conveniences

Kitchen appliances, advanced deck materials and high-tech spas are making it easy to adapt new design trends into your great outdoors. But be careful not to overlook the big picture. Your primary goal is to enjoy your new outdoor living space, rather than spend money maintaining it. Always ask if products are low-maintenance and easy to take care of.

It’s always best to talk to your deck builder about how you intend to use the space to ensure your patio and deck design works well for you and your family. If you have any questions, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Christmas Gifts for the Outdoor Living Lover

At Archadeck Outdoor Living we are all about enhancing your enjoyment of your outdoor living spaces. We take great pride in designing and building custom decks, porches, patios, sunrooms and more that our clients enjoy frequently.

With the holiday season just beginning, we wanted to offer some outdoor living gift ideas that any outdoor lover would enjoy. Hopefully one of these ideas will help you with someone on your gift list.

A great rug instantly transforms an outdoor structure into an outdoor living or dining room. The key is to make sure that it is outdoor-friendly and will stand up to the elements. When buying for someone else, think about some of the other items they have in the space, or their general design aesthetic, to find someone that complements the space. Outdoor rugs have come a long way with regards to design. To get you started, here are some that Frontgate currently offers.

If you have a chef on your list, consider some outdoor cooking tools as a gift. A nice grill set is something that they can use all year round. When looking at grill sets, there are a few items that will make outdoor cooking easier: a spatula, tongs, a knife, and a grill brush. The number one thing to check is that it is metal and won’t melt over the hot grill.

Color is important to any indoor or outdoor space. Think about ways to add a pop of color to an outdoor area. From a beautifully painted planter, like this one from Plow & Hearth, to a side table or pillow, any color will bring life and personality onto an outdoor structure.

For those that entertain a lot outdoors, think about ways to make their get-togethers easier. A beverage cooler of some sort keeps the party outdoors when people don’t have to go in and out to grab cold drinks from the refrigerator. Coolers are available in a variety of styles, price-points and sizes. For example, my mother has a beautiful stainless steel tub, while my brother has a wooden cooler that has a top that opens for ice.

A friend of mine hosts loves to have people over to tailgate and watch football. Last year his wife bought him an outdoor television so he wouldn’t have to carry their living room TV in and out of their open porch. Make sure the TV is weatherproof. Two companies to look into are Sunbrite and Skyvue.

From games to grills, an outdoor living gift is sure to be a hit with your friends or family. If you are looking for something a little more permanent, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office. Whether a shade structure like a pergola or arbor is best, or possible a fire pit, it is sure to please.

Defining Spaces in Outdoor Rooms

When I was little the idea of outdoor living didn’t mean the same as it does today. Back then it was a deck or patio off the back of the house were you put some basic outdoor friendly chairs to sit and enjoy a drink before dinner. My how things have changed. Outdoor living now is about truly living outdoors. From outdoor living rooms to a place to cook and eat dinner outside, outdoor spaces have come a long way.

Creating rooms outdoors is all about you and how you intend to use the space. Defining the space is one way to make it feel like a real room. When creating a patio or deck design, this is something that we at Archadeck consider. Here are some popular ways of creating definition and separation for an outdoor room.

deck-design-ideasShape and structure. Shape and structure are the foundation of any outdoor living space, but they are also the first thing to consider when defining different sections of a space. For example, imagine you want areas for both lounging and dining in your backyard. There are much more interesting ways to accomplish that than by having a simple rectangular deck on the back of your home. Maybe the space has a deck for an outdoor living set and then it leads to a patio for dining. Or, take this dining area for example, it has its own nook in a different shape off this deck.

Archadeck 2013 PhotographyPrivacy fences and railings. Indoors it is often walls that set one room apart from another. Well, the outdoors version of walls is privacy fences and railings. They are a great way to designate different areas of a room. Also, privacy fences help to make an outdoor space really feel like a room. Take this deck for example, the lattice privacy screens around the space make it feel like a cozy place to sit back and enjoy friends and family.

Pergolas. Pergolas are one of my favorite outdoor structures. Not only are they visually interesting, but they also a great option if you’re looking for a shade structure or a way to add definition to your space. Roof structures like porches and sunrooms are wonderful, but they can be pricy. Pergolas, in some instances, can play a similar role as a roof structure by defining a space, as seen in the image above.

Material. One of the easiest ways to break up an outdoor living space is to work with the material of the space. We’ve had franchisees change the color of deck boards throughout a space, or use different materials all together to create transitions. If you only want to use one material, for instance decking, you can still create different areas. Ask your deck builder to lay the boards in different directions.

If you have questions on how to create the best outdoor living space for you and your needs, please reach out to your local Archadeck office.

Decorating Your Outdoor Living Space for the Holidays

The holiday season is my favorite time of the year. Not only is it the season to get together with friends and family, but it’s also a time to add to the cheer. Beautiful outdoor decorations make everything so festive in the winter months when it is usually dark and cold. If you are looking for ways to dress up your outdoor living spaces, here are some ideas to consider.

What areas should you decorate? Because the holiday season tends to be cooler, focus on the outdoor areas where you either spend time or can be seen from the street. The goal is to not waste your effort and make sure your decorations can be appreciated. Your front porch is a great area to start with, then focus on the other spaces, like sunrooms, porches and decks.


Trees. Evergreen trees have become synonymous with the holidays. Growing up, my mom went crazy decorating with trees. Not only did we have some trees that were wrapped in string lights in our yard, but we put Christmas trees on our outdoor living spaces. Our front porch was just big enough for a Christmas tree that we decorated with outdoor ornaments. It was the perfect way to welcome visitors. And since we had a small sunroom off the back of our living room, we had a simple tree there that we could see from our couch.

Garland is a common way to dress up your outdoor living spaces. Garland can be strung over doors, around columns or along railings. They are beautiful if left in their natural form, but you can also dress it up if you wish. For example, if you have garland along your deck railings, consider adding bows where the garland connects to railing posts. Pinecones and holly berries are also popular decoration ideas.

Ornaments. While the majority of ornaments may be made for the indoors, there are some that you can use outside as well. If you have a covered porch, you can hang some ornaments with beautiful ribbon from the eaves and ceiling at different heights. Additionally, they can be hung in between railing posts.

Incorporate your favorite things about the season. We all have our favorite memories of the winter season. Why not try to fit that into your outdoor décor? I grew up in Maine with a lot of snow. When I think winter and the holidays, sledding is one of the first things that comes to mind, so I actually placed a sled on my deck a few years ago (which we can see from our family room). I put holly leaves and berries on top to dress it up. My friend, on the other hand, will hang bells instead of a wreath from her front door because it reminds her of Santa bells.

Lights. Personally, when I think holidays, I think lights. From simple candles in the front windows to stringing lights amongst all of your decorations, adding lights to your holiday décor instantly makes it more festive.

The most important aspect of holiday decorating is that you love it and it makes you happy. Have fun! From everyone here at Archadeck Outdoor Living, have a very merry holiday season.

Enjoying the Seasons with a Sunroom

One of my favorite parts of the fall is the color of the changing leaves. They are absolutely beautiful. However, it is also the time of year that the temperatures drop and we are often forced inside to warm up. Sunrooms are the perfect place to enjoy the outdoors all year round from the comfort of your home.

From escaping the summer heat to feeling as if you are in the middle of a winter wonderland while the snow falls around you, sunrooms allow you to appreciate the outdoors 365 days a year. A room is considered a sunroom when the walls (usually 3 of the 4 walls in a typical square or rectangular room) are made up primarily of windows, allowing sunlight to come in easily. When considering a new outdoor living space, a sunroom is a great consideration.

Sunrooms increase the square footage of your home. From a dining space or family room to a playroom for the kids, sunrooms are versatile rooms in your home that you can use however you need. In my parent’s house, they use their sunroom as a place to have drinks and appetizers before moving indoors for dinner.

As opposed to decks, porches and patios, sunrooms can be used all year round if built with that intention. As you work with your sunroom contractor to design the space, make sure you can tell your designer that you want the space heated in the fall and winter. When the weather is nice, all the windows can be open to let the fresh air and breeze, but when it is cool outside, you may need a built-in heating option. Generally, sunrooms are energy efficient, heating up with the sun’s rays, but there will be times a heater is needed.

When my parents added their sunroom to the existing home, we were all surprised by how much it affected the rest of the home. It not only allowed more light to come into the general living space (which was a nice surprise), but it also made the layout of the house flow better.

Design is key when adding on to your home in any fashion. Pay particular attention to detail if making it look like it has always been there is important to you. For example, if you have crown molding and a certain type of window throughout your home, you may want to include it in your sunroom design. Mimicking the style and architecture of the home is one method to make sure everything works together.

If you have questions regarding sunrooms and sunroom design, please reach out to your local Archaeck Outdoor Living office.

Check your deck before having company

Despite the cooler weather, fall provides its own set of outdoor entertaining opportunities. From homecoming get-togethers and tailgating, there is always a reason to be outdoors in the fall. Before having friends and family outside on your deck this season, make sure to have it checked for any safety issues.

Last Saturday afternoon, eight people were injured when a deck collapsed in Winona, Minnesota. A group of students were celebrating homecoming at an apartment with a raised deck when the deck broke away from the home and fell. The number of people on the deck at the time is unclear, but eight people were treated for injuries.

One student that was in the lower apartment heard a crack went to see what was happening; “I was in shock watching it because you don’t expect a deck with people, I mean everyone’s having fun, it’s homecoming, everyone’s out here having a good time seeing each other and then you look outside and people are falling to the ground.” Source.

Deck failures are, unfortunately, a common cause of injury in the United States. The average deck lasts about 10 years before it needs to be replaced, but it could be unsafe before then. At Archadeck, we suggest that decks should have regular deck inspections after 7 years or if any issues are noticed. A homeowner may, for instance, notice some creaking while walking on the structure or warping of deck boards.

Trained deck safety inspectors will look at all parts of the outdoor structure before providing the homeowner with recommendations on next steps. In many instances, there are simple replacements or improvements that can be made to make the deck last a little longer. In other instances, the inspector may recommend taking down the existing structure and replacing it with a new one that is up to code and deemed safe.

At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we use the acronym BE SAFER to explain the deck components we inspect when we look at existing structures: boards, exits, structure, attachment, footings and foundation, every connection and railings.

Fall is the best time of year for a deck safety inspection. Heavy snow, ice and yard debris in the winter months can weaken the deck’s structural integrity even more if not inspected before the harsh weather hits. If you need to have a professional deck builder and inspector look at your outdoor space, please contact your local Archadeck.

Get more out of your deck with lighting

We often talk about the importance of design when enhancing your outdoor living space. Size, structure, flow, material, it is all part of creating a space that you love to spend time in. But as the evenings get darker earlier, homeowners are often forced inside. Incorporating outdoor lighting into your patio and deck design is a great way to ensure that you get the most use out of your space as possible.

Deck lights come in a variety of different styles, but their purpose is clear: to increase the safety and usability of your outdoor living space. When it is dark outside, it becomes harder to see exactly where you are stepping. Lighting the areas where people are walking is the best way to make sure no one trips and falls on your property.

When it comes to design, there are sure to be deck lighting options that can be incorporated into your structure. The most common forms of deck lights are:

Step lights. Steps are arguably the most likely place a visitor may trip and fall in the backyard space. To minimize the risk of injury, we suggest including step lighting on all the stairways on your deck, patio, etc. Deck lights, like the ones seen here, are installed on the vertical portion of the step, shining downward to illuminate the step below. They come in a number of difference sizes, shapes and finishes. For example, maybe these dark colored ones aren’t your style. You may ask for a copper option that better fits your outdoor décor.

Post Lights. Post lights are down lights that are installed on the deck railing posts. Like step lighting, they increase the safety of the space, but they are also a major factor in usability. Take this deck for example, without the post lights (which you can see sporadically around the space) the deck wouldn’t be nearly as usable as it is now. The light invites the visitors outside to enjoy the space.

Cap lights. Like post lights, cap lights define the usable space on a structure and are located on the railing posts. They are specifically located on the top portion of the railing or the cap (hence the name). There are two main types of caps lights. The first is where the light is incorporate in the cap, like this picture to the left illustrates. The light isn’t noticed during the day and is a nice design feature at night. The second type of cap light is that which sit on top of the cap. These are more decorative in nature and can take the form of a path light or lantern like the one seen here. When considering your overall style of your space, you could look for cap lights that enhance the ambiance.

Deck lights are important piece of the safety of your space. No one wants their family and friends to hurt themselves while enjoying a nice night outdoors. While they are easier to install in the building phase, deck lights can be added to existing outdoor structures. Please reach out to your local Archadeck office for more information.

One Outdoor Space that has it All

When we meet with a new client, we ask them what their dream backyard includes. Do they eventually want a space that has a deck, outdoor kitchen, pergola and more? We want all our outdoor projects look cohesive and not an afterthought. A complete design plan is key to that. Not every client can build his or her dream backyard at one time, instead it may take years.

At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we believe that thinking ahead is the best way to make sure that the end project is indeed the outdoor living space the client has always wanted. Through the design, we can decide what pieces can and should be built when if it can’t be done all at one. We call this staged building.

This project from our patio and deck builder in Charlotte is a good example of a space that has everything the owners could ever want and could have been built in stages.

This picture shows the view from a nice screened porch off the back of the house. It looked out of over a large patio and pool. The portion of the patio around the pool and the screened porch would have been a good first step in creating this backyard space. They are the anchors of the final project of this backyard. Everything else could be added on from there.

Off the pool patio, there is another hardscaped area, mostly a large covered patio. The covered patio is really an outdoor room for the family. It is centered around cooking and dining. I love that enough space was allocated for both a good-sized outdoor kitchen and a dining area. It doesn’t make sense for them to be separated from one another. An open patio area is set to the size of the covered patio that has space for chairs around a beautiful fire pit. This would make a good portion of the project that could be done in the second phase of building.

Lastly, to the right of the screened porch, there is a private deck area that is used for an outdoor shower and hot tub. The high fence that surrounds it acts as a privacy wall around the space. It is set up as a more private “oasis” within this gorgeous backyard space. This could have been done in the last phase of the build.

A good backyard design keeps the present, future and the dream in mind. The homeowner then has an idea of what can be and can work towards making it happen. If you have questions on how to create a design based on building in stages, please reach out to your local Archadeck office.

Multipurpose Deck Design

At Archadeck, our goal is to create custom deck designs that work for our clients. That’s why every space is different. No two clients and homes are exactly alike, thus no two decks are the same.

Our Archadeck of Suburban Boston location recently completed a job that is a great example of a multipurpose deck. Their clients wanted an enhanced outdoor living space that would be used in multiple ways. They wanted a space for an outdoor dining table and space for an outdoor living room. Additionally, they wanted an area for their hot tub and wanted it all open to the yard to account for their kids.

Jim Finlay of Archadeck of Suburban Boston designed a deck that would span the width of the house with two distinct areas. On one side there is the entertaining space that has the outdoor living room furniture. Jim decided to incorporate the hot tub into this part of the deck. That way, people who are enjoying the hot tub can still talk with those that aren’t. To keep communication easy, the hot tub was not installed on the deck, but below. That way the people inside the hot tub are not above those that are outside of it, but right at eye level.

On the other side of the space there is a large open area that has enough room for the outdoor dining room the family wanted. With a deck this large, defining the distinct areas of the space can be a concern. While there are numerous ways to achieve the goal, the Archadeck team used the decking boards to do it. Take a look at this image of the dining space. The boards were installed at an angle. Then you will see a board going straight out from the house. This is a subtle way to block of the “dining” space from the “living” space.

To keep it open, the deck was designed without railings throughout the majority of the space. The deck is low-to-grade which means that it isn’t very high off the ground. Low-to-grade patios and decks are not required to have railings by law. This is a great option for homeowners who want the space to be open to the yard and have a home that doesn’t need a raised deck. Built in benches do act as a railing in a few areas while providing additional seating. The picture to the right shows how open the space is with the lack of railings. People on the deck can see out in the yard and vice versa. On another note, how smart was the slide idea for the kids to get down from the raised yard?

If you have questions on patio or deck design, please reach out to your local Archadeck office. Our deck contractors are sure to help answer all your questions.

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.

The Archadeck Grand Prize Winner’s Backyard Design

Posted by: janegwalker

Last week, we showed you the finished patio for the second place winner of Archadeck’s Dream Backyard Makeover contest. We received some requests for an update on the Grand Prize Winners’ home and who are we to disappoint?!

The last time we visited Merea and Rick Bentrott, their backyard looked like this, but Merea’s contest write up was hard to ignore:


“As parents of four kids under ten who, essentially, live outside the majority of the year, we’re in dire need of backyard help! Recently, we adopted two incredible kids from foster care and instantly became a family of six. The addition of these little ones enriched our lives, but shrunk our home! Hence, the move to a larger house with good bones and smarter space but also a need for serious updating. Since the move, we’ve slowly been saving money and fixing up the interior. Unfortunately, the backyard has received little attention as it’s been placed at the end of our long list of to-dos. Despite constant competition from technology, my continual goal as a parent is to keep my kids outside playing, imagining and dreaming. Currently, we rely on a homemade sandbox, trampoline, a rickety, hand-me-down play-set, and a deteriorating wooden deck. My backyard dream is to give my kids a safe, fun place to play and my husband a space to relax with a beer in one hand and grill tongs in the other, standing next to a Green Egg Grill. All I really want for myself if a comfortable spot to sit and watch it all happen.”

When the contest voting was over, we were thrilled to surprise the Bentrotts at home to tell them they had won:

Since then, Harold Cross of Archadeck of Central Iowa has been working with the Bentrotts to finalize a patio and deck design that will fit their needs. We are thrilled to announce that the design is now complete, and we should be breaking ground in the next few weeks! But, let’s talk about the design!

The Grand Prize Winners will receive a $70,000 backyard makeover that will include both a deck and patio component, with products from our partnering sponsors, TimberTech Decking and Belgard Hardscapes. Merea and Rick really wanted a place to entertain family and friends so Harold came up with a combination project that includes a deck, covered patio and outdoor kitchen. Doesn’t it look like a nice place to enjoy time outdoors?

Despite the condition of their current deck, the Bentrotts did like having a deck off their main living area and wanted to keep that in the design. Railings will be installed around most of the deck not only for safety (which is very important with four young kids), but also to guide visitors into the lower covered patio portion of the project. The patio has plenty of space for Merea and Rick to prepare meals with their new outdoor kitchen! Harold decided to cover the majority of the patio not only to define the space, but also to provide some shade and coverage from the sun, rain, and in Iowa, snow.

We are thrilled to start the building phase of the project. We will share images throughout the build through their first party on their new space!

If you have any questions about outdoor living structures, please reach out to your local Archadeck office.

Dream Backyard Second Place Winner Receives New Patio

Posted by: janegwalker

It’s been a while since we updated everyone on our Dream Backyard Makeover Contest. Some of the projects are in final design and build, but one second place winner is now the proud owner of a brand new Belgard patio, designed and built by Archadeck of Chicagoland.

This is what the Hall family had to begin with. Underneath the snow there was a small concrete patio that wasn’t the beautiful space they envisioned relaxing on. The family explained in their contest description that they bought this house only days after the birth of their first child. While they love the home, they really wanted a space to entertain friends and family outdoors.

The Halls were second place winners in the Archadeck Dream Backyard Makeover, which means they won a $7,000 patio project with material from Belgard Hardscapes. David Berryhill of Archadeck of Chicagoland worked with the family to design a space that fit the space and worked for their needs. The patio design, as seen in the picture below, was set off of their main family room. Existing walkways both from the other back door and the front yard, were left to work as additional entry points.

The property is on a corner lot which lacks privacy. While the Halls wanted a space that was open, a retaining wall was added to the design for a little privacy and to clearly define that side of the space (not to mention retaining walls make great seating!).

One of the most noticeable aspects of the design is its shape. David created a curved patio instead of the more common square or rectangular patio. Sometimes straight lines can make furnishing the space more difficult (unless the space is very large). Curved lines allow for more creativity.

The actual build of the space took about a week. Demo was the first step. There was a concrete slab off the back of the house to begin with that needed to be ripped out. While the team was chopping up and removing concrete, they also dug the space needed for the patio base and added drain tiles to make sure water doesn’t pool on the surface.

The patio was done in Belgard’s Holland Stone pavers and placed in a random pattern. Below the pavers are inches of base to anchor the space and keep it level and in place. There are 4 to 6 inches of crushed limestone covered with just under an inch of sand. The sand allows the patio builders to lay the pavers in place and keep them sturdy.

Doesn’t the space look great? We think that David did a great job! The Halls are now enjoying their new space, which we are thrilled about.

If you have any questions regarding paver patios or other outdoor living spaces, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Enjoy the Outside from the Inside with a Beautiful Sunroom

Posted by: janegwalker

I was recently in Maine visiting family. Like always, I did my duty as a loving niece and went around to each of my aunts and uncles’ houses for a visit. My aunt Linda had recently moved and it was my first time seeing their new home. As I received the tour there was a clear winner as to my favorite spot in the house, the sunroom.

The sunroom at my aunt’s house is set back off the kitchen and is surrounded by three walls of windows. They have a small backyard that abuts a wooded area behind it. The sunroom, to me, was the perfect place to curl up with a cup of coffee or a good book, relax and enjoy the natural beauty beyond the windows.

Sunrooms make great additions to the home because you can enjoy them, and the changing seasons, all year round. Take Maine for instance, it has a beautiful summer. When I visited my aunt, all the windows were open, allowing a nice breeze to go through the room and into the rest of the house. Unfortunately, Maine weather isn’t that spectacular all year round. The winters are cold, very cold, but that doesn’t mean that my aunt won’t be able to enjoy the sunroom. The windows will definitely be closed tightly, but it will still be a great place to enjoy the surroundings. Who doesn’t love to curl up and appreciate a good snow fall in a sunroom?

When having a sunroom designed, it’s important to tell your designer how you intend to use the space. Is it something that you want to enjoy all year round or just during the nicer months? Some people may think of sunrooms and think of rooms that they can’t use all the time, and that is true in some cases. If you want to use the space all year round, make sure your builder knows this so they can use enough insulation to ensure the room stays warm efficiently in the cooler months.

Flow in and out of the sunroom to the rest of the house is also an important piece of design. If the intension is only to use the space a few months a year, it may be OK if the space is a little more closed off from the rest of the house. If the space is going to be utilized all the time, you may want to have a wide doorway that provides a seamless transition.

At Archadeck, we aim to design and build custom sunrooms that fit the clients’ needs and budget. The existing home is a major part of that design, not only do we want it to flow nicely, but we take into consideration any way that the new home could be affected. For example, if the sunroom is more of a closed off space it may decrease the amount of light going into the rest of the home.

Finishes are important to design as well. Our goal is to make the sunroom seem like it was always there. Colors, architectural style and textures are a great way to make the whole space cohesive.

If you are interested in learning more about sunroom design or any other outdoor living structure, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Portico Welcomes Guests in Style

Posted by: janegwalker

We post a lot about the absolutely beautiful backyard spaces that our porch, patio and deck contractors design and build, but sometimes we don’t give enough credit to the front of the home. When I saw the pictures of this front porch I knew I had to share it. It’s classically beautiful that gives the home a true “wow” factor.

The owners of this property needed an updated place to welcome guests and entertain them. They live is a great neighborhood that they wanted to be able to enjoy from their front yard (and then have privacy in the back). Our deck builder in Boston created a space that spans the width of the house and includes both covered and open spaces.

When designing the space, the Archadeck of Suburban Boston knew they wanted a portico area that provided guests with some coverage. In the cold Massachusetts nights, the homeowners didn’t want friends and family waiting in the falling snow (or rain). The portico only covers the front door because if it too went the width of the house it would block too much sunlight into the home. Many deck and porch designers don’t take the inside of the home into account when creating the space, but an outdoor project can have a major impact on the inside of the house. The front windows wouldn’t allow much sun into the home’s front windows if the porch area were any wider.

While we didn’t want the covered area to be too wide where it affects light into the home, it is wider than the average portico. Most porticos aren’t much wider than the front door and that can oven make it look cramped. By creating more room under the roof structure, it makes the whole space look more inviting and accessible. The width is kept at the bottom of the front the stairs and then tapers down the to the walkway (which we will talk about below).

The columns, ceiling and railings were finished in white to give a clean look. If a darker color were used, it wouldn’t have the same crisp first impression. It’s so light.

While many front porches have stone floors, wood decking was used across this entire project. It makes it unique and the deep browns look great with the blue of the home and white of the railings.

I love the front walkway to this home because it isn’t cookie cutter. It’s special. The three colors are the perfect complement to the rest of the front facade. The dark lines bring out bring out the black shutters and door, but it would be way too dark for the entire walkway.

If you have questions on how to make your home more welcoming, please reach out to your local Archadeck office.

Deck and Patio Design Coming Together in Richmond, VA

Posted by: janegwalker

It’s been a long time since we updated you on the outdoor living structure that we designed and are building for our corporate office and we are happy to say that it is 99% finished. The remaining items on the list are primarily clean up. So what’s been going on since we last updated you? In short, a lot.

To recap, this is the boring side yard that we had at our office:

And this is what we have now:

It is quite the difference, right? In our last post about the project, we had just finished framing the deck and started laying the deck boards. As you can see, that and more has been completed.

The majority of the deck is a dark brown TimberTech composite material. It was installed at an angle for added visual interest with highlight boards that are a brick red color (I apologize for the shadows in the pictures). The composite material will minimize our need for regular maintenance. Pressure-treated wood, as opposed to composite, needs to be pressure washed and stained to ensure that water, dirt and other debris don’t settle in the wood cracks and cause splitting.

As you can see in the picture, the built-in benches have been added to the space. One of our goals in creating this outdoor living space at the office was to have a space that everyone in building would really use (not just look at). Seating is extremely important for regular use and with a commercial space that does get some traffic, the seating couldn’t be movable. While the retaining walls offer some seating, benches were added throughout the space to invite people to relax and take a seat.

With such a large amount of dark decking, our deck designers decided to complement the structure with white highlights in the form of railings and the pergola. Timbertech vinyl railing was installed around the open edges of the deck for safety purposes. Any deck that isn’t low to grade, meaning that it rises at least 36 inches off the ground, must have a railing by code. Once the railing was up, everyone here started to see the whole the project come together. The crisp white makes it really pop.

When the Archadeck Outdoor Living team discussed what they wanted in the space, a shade structure was a key component. The pergola was added to the design and covers nearly half of the 900 square foot deck. In a space that gets a lot of sunlight, the pergola offers a reprieve.

While the building part of the space is pretty much finished, there are a few finishing details that are still to come. Outdoor lighting is going to be installed for safety and security (as well as beauty). Besides that, we just need to get rid of any construction debris and we are ready to host our first barbecue at the office.

If you have questions on how you can enhance your backyard with a custom outdoor living space, please reach out to your local Archadeck office. Our trained designers will work with you to create something that works for you, your family, your needs and your budget.

Deck and Patio Design that Gives You All You Need

One of my pet peeves is wasted space. When my husband and I were looking at new homes, it was something that always jumped out at me. Getting the most out of a space is important to me; it has to have purpose. And that goes for outdoor living spaces as well. A lot of our Archadeck clients use their outdoor living spaces for multiple purposes which makes the patio or deck design all the more important. The flow of traffic and areas for different purposes have to be considered so that the homeowner gets exactly what they want, without wasted space!

This recent project from our deck builder in Boston really stood out to me because it is multi-purpose and laid out beautifully. The homeowners wanted an outdoor living structure that could be used a lot of ways, but they didn’t want it to feel completely disjointed. They love to be outside and wanted areas for sitting and relaxing, dining, a place for their hot tub, a shaded area and a fire pit for the cooler fall nights.

Jim Finlay from Archadeck of Suburban Boston was put to task to create a space that could fit all of these needs, and personally, I’d be thrilled to have a space like this. Because the main level of the house is two stories up in the back, it was clear that an elevated deck would be a large component of the space. The deck is used for seating and for dining. Having the dining area on the deck was a logical decision due to its proximity to the kitchen. To define the space, Jim designed a portion of the deck that is multi-sided and the decking boards were installed in a different direction. Small stone columns were added to the entryway of the space adding more definition.

The deck also acts as a sitting area. This section has a three-sided built in bench that provides adequate seating for multiple guests. As you can see in the picture, additional seating was placed around the bench to make it even more conducive to conversation.

Off the side of a deck is a staircase leading down to the other parts of the space. Because the hot tub is the only space they would like a little more seclusion (without being completely cut off from the deck and patio) that space was kept to the right of the stairs. To the left is a large partially-covered patio.

The patio was a perfect spot for both the fire pit and shade. Classic pavers were used for the patio. The fire pit section jets out past the deck and into the yard so that people on the deck can still see and speak with visitors below. One of my favorite details is the stone surrounding and defining the fire pit. They match the stone on the columns on the deck and underneath the porch.

Since the deck had to be elevated, it became the perfect place to escape the sun. Under decking was added to ensure that the space stays dry even when it is raining. The homeowners installed a television on the porch beams for nighttime entertainment outdoors. Talk about relaxing!

This patio and deck design fulfills all of the homeowners needs and is stunning. If you are looking to have a space designed for your yard, make sure you consider how you are using the space and even what furniture may be placed. If it doesn’t flow well, ask for changes. As always, your local Archadeck office is there to help you will all your outdoor living questions.

Deck Collapse Leads to Dozens of Injuries

Whether you wanted to Heat or the Spurs to win, it surely was an exciting matchup, but unfortunately watching the game took a dangerous turn for many fans in Florida.

Local basketball fans gathered on the 13th of June at a North Bay Village, FL bar and grill to watch the NBA finals game. Nearly 100 people decided to enjoy the beautiful Florida weather and watch it outside on the restaurant’s large wooden deck. What they didn’t know is that the deck was unstable and would collapse, dropping patrons into the bay below. There were 24 reported injuries with two being serious.

Since the collapse, the city has been investigating what went wrong on this commercial property that was inspected back in January. The owners had to have their establishment inspected in the beginning of the year, but although the property’s building was signed off on, the deck wasn’t included in the inspection. County officials are looking into why. When the collapsed deck, which practically split in half, was looked at the day after, the structural issues were very clear. Most of the steel used to support the deck had corroded over time and couldn’t withstand the weight of the group.

It is unclear when the last time the deck itself was inspected.

One thing that is clear is that the load was way too much for the deck to hold. Its capacity according to local records is 74. With 26 extra people, it isn’t surprising that the deck failed. Now the restaurant owner is being sued by his patrons. They claim the owners had a duty to properly maintain the deck to ensure safety for those that go to the bar and grill.

This situation, unfortunately, is a common occurrence. Decks, like any structure need to be maintained and replaced over time. Their frame work will corrode and deteriorate through the years as it is exposed to harsh weather, and in this case, salt water.

At Archadeck Outdoor Living we suggest that any deck over 7 years be inspected by a professional deck builder. If a younger deck is showing signs of needing work, we urge homeowners to have it looked at. A deck safety inspection will look at all parts of the deck, (boards, connections, structure, attachment, foundation, stairs, railings, etc.) and will evaluate where they are in its life. A checklist is done and recommendations are made. We sometimes see that while parts of the deck may need to be repaired or replaced, not everything has to. For example, boards may need to be replaced, but the deck frame may be just fine. Make sure to ask your inspector when the deck needs to be inspected again and when you should be ready to replace the entire structure.

Commercial decks usually have to carry a heavier load and receive more wear and tear. If you are a commercial property owner who has a deck, you have to make sure that it is safe for your patrons. Having regular safety inspections and making sure to do timely repairs will give you the peace of mind that your structure won’t collapse.

If you are worried that your deck isn’t in the best shape, please contact your local Archadeck office and have them come to your property for a deck safety inspection.

Source information for this blog are the Miami Herald and WCF Courier.

Fourth of July on the Deck

Whenever we are designing an outdoor living space for a client, we always ask how they intend to use the space. Many of our clients are sure to be using their deck, porch, patio, or other outdoor structure next week to celebrate the Fourth of July. If you are hosting friends and family for the holiday, here are some ideas that may help.

Make sure there is enough seating.
If you want to keep your party outdoors, you need to make sure there is enough seating to accommodate your guests. We often include built-in benches in our deck designs for those clients who entertain a lot. If you don’t have built in seating, most home improvement stores have outdoor chairs that aren’t too expensive or you can just bring some chairs out from around your kitchen table. As long as you remember to bring them in at the end of the night, you’ll be fine.

Think about the traffic flow.
Your outdoor living space may be set up perfectly for its everyday use, but it may need some tweaking to accommodate the flow of traffic for your party. Make sure that your furniture allows for people to move around and go to different part of the space. Consider having the food scattered throughout the space so everyone isn’t always hovering in one area.

Make sure it is safe.
If you have an older deck and you know that there is a good chance a lot of people will be on it at the same time, have it checked for safety. The last thing anyone wants in the middle of a Fourth of July celebration is a deck collapse. Call a professional deck builder and ask them to come out for a deck safety inspection. They will be able to tell you what needs immediate attention and what can wait. Trust us, the peace of mind of knowing your friends and family are safe is worth it.

Now that you know your outdoor space is ready for your party, let’s get to the fun stuff:

Make a festive drink.
Who doesn’t love a little red, white and blue on the Fourth? Here’s a yummy and easy Sangria that screams Independence Day. Cut up strawberries and star fruit and place in a pitcher. Add blueberries and a bottle of white wine. Refrigerate for at least 12 hours and enjoy!

Get the grill going.
If you aren’t in the mood for hamburgers and hotdogs but want something quick and delicious, flank steak is a great option. It doesn’t take a lot of cooking time and you can’t go wrong with this marinade: 1/2c dry red wine, 1/2c soy sauce, 1/4c olive oil, 4 garlic cloves (peeled and crushed), 1/4c parsley (chopped) and ½tsp black pepper (more if you like). Mix it all together and place in a container with the flank steak and refrigerate it overnight (or at least 10 hours). Your guests will love it.

Don’t forget dessert.
If you or your guests are anything like me, dinner doesn’t feel complete without a little something sweet. Entertaining can be tiring, so make dessert simple. Last year, I was served a Fourth of July kebab for dessert that was delicious. Get some kebab skewers and skewer on some marshmallows, strawberries, blueberries, and brownie or devils food pieces. It’s yummy and patriotic!

From all of us at Archadeck Outdoor Living, have a happy and safe Independence Day!

Building a Deck at Archadeck Corporate Headquarters

It’s been a few weeks since we updated you on the progress of our deck and patio installation at the Archadeck Outdoor Living headquarters, and there has been a lot done! We have a fully installed and functional outdoor kitchen and the large deck is in progress.

We didn’t show you in the last picture, but there is a smaller patio that is set down beyond the deck. It was installed at the same time as the rest of the Belgard paver patio and retaining walls. We designed the space with this extra patio for our outdoor kitchen as it could be a little removed from everything else. Our team of designers kept the layout of the kitchen simple, with a large grill (yes, we already broke it in) and some counter and storage space. The kitchen was finished with a natural stone to complement the Belgard patio pavers, but we chose a dark black countertop to dress it up a bit.

Once the patio and outdoor kitchen were complete, the Archadeck team of deck builders was hard at work on this 900 square foot composite deck. The footings were dug prior to the patio going down, but the deck frame took a few days to complete before the county inspected it. The frame was built using a pressure treated wood and you can see that each beam and joist were securely put in place with large bolts as no deck can be safely built with only nails (that’s a deck collapse waiting to happen).

After the county inspector came on site and passed the deck frame, we began laying our deck boards. For the decking material, we chose a TimberTech composite from their Evolution line. As we hope to get a lot of use out of the deck, including hosting corporate events, we needed something that would stand up against scratches and wear and tear, which TimberTech does.

You notice in the picture of the decking going down that you don’t see a lot of nails, and that’s because there aren’t any. These decking boards have hidden fasteners that lock everything in place without the need for nails, which helps create a clean look.

While building the deck, we also constructed the stairs leading down to the outdoor kitchen and small patio. The framing of the stairs were inspected at the same time as the deck and the decking began shortly after.

Unfortunately, as with many outdoor builds, Mother Nature hasn’t been too cooperative and has put us a little bit behind. The team is finishing the decking and then will begin on the railings. The railings will be white vinyl from TimberTech that will border the entire deck for safety and code purposes.

If you have questions about designing custom decks, porches, patios, sunrooms or some combination thereof, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Third Place Dream Backyard Makeover Winner Receives New Lighting Package

It’s been nearly a month since the winners of the Dream Backyard Contest wrapped up. While the first and second place winners are currently having their new outdoor structures designed by the respective Archadeck Outdoor Living offices, the third place winner is already enjoying his prize: an outdoor lighting system from Outdoor Lighting Perspectives.

Outdoor Lighting Perspectives is our sister company who designs and installs residential, commercial and holiday outdoor lighting. They were gracious enough to offer up an outdoor lighting system (a $3,000 value!) to our third place winner. Our third place winner, William Jakes, is located in the Columbia, South Carolina area and had an unfortunate experience when trying to update his backyard:

“We hired a contractor to rebuild our deck and he did about half the work and abandoned the work site. After inspection, we found out that nothing was to code and he did not have a contractor’s license. This was part of our retirement savings and now we will have to wait until we can save up the money to have the deck torn down and rebuilt.”

William’s story is all too familiar and something we heard over and over again the contest submissions, people left stranded by deck contractors mid-way through a job to find out that they weren’t a reputable company. We were thrilled to award the Jakes family with a lighting system to enhance their home and sent Kenny Kaufman of Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of Columbia to the house to design and install a system. Understandingly, William decided to have the system installed in his front yard as opposed to his backyard (he didn’t want to install lighting on a space that doesn’t get any use right now due to unsafe conditions).

The Outdoor Lighting Perspectives team installed architectural and landscape lighting around the front of the home. The house itself had some interesting textures with its siding that Kenny wanted to highlight using well lights that shine up on the house. Column lighting was added to the porch columns to accentuate the covered porch structure and to allow some additional lighting on the porch as well. In front of the porch, there is a paver patio that didn’t have adequate lighting for family and friends. Copper path lights were installed in the surrounding planters to light the patio.

It not only looks great, but William and his wife are thrilled with the results. Here’s an email we received from him last week…

“I cannot express the excitement we had in winning 3rd place in a national contest. It was fantastic and the lighting is unbelievable. Since it was installed, we have stayed up at night to watch the lights. It really showcases our house. Also, I want to that your company and Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of Columbia, especially Kenny Kaufman. They were very professional and have restored my faith in having work done on our house. I just wish there were more professional companies with your work ethic.”

We are so happy that the Jakes are happy with their lighting system and can’t wait to see the next steps for the grand prize winners as well as the second place winners. Our Archadeck Outdoor Living owners are currently designing the winners’ new backyards and then permitting and building will begin!

If you have questions on how to enhance your outdoor living space, please reach out to your local Archadeck office. Whether it’s a deck, porch, patio, pergola or other structure, our locations are trained to design and build custom projects that fit your property, tastes, needs and budget.

Patio Design Installed at Archadeck Office

In this next installment chronicling the new deck and patio combination project at the Archadeck headquarters, I’m happy to announce that we can check the hardscape installation off as complete! Our beautiful walkway, large patio, fireplace and retaining walls were finished yesterday and it looks great!

Prepping the ground to lay pavers is a time-consuming process. As we’ve covered in previous posts, the ground first had to be leveled out so that the entire space is even. Once the ground was leveled and the footings for the retaining wall were complete, a layer of base stone is packed on the ground and then a layer of sand. Grading, base stone and sand ensures that the paver patio is level and will stay that way.


In our case, the majority of our pavers are from Belgard Hardscapes’ Dublin Cobble line. The pavers are very classic but have subtle variations of color that add visual interest. Because the building itself is brick, as is our main entrance walkway, we needed to incorporate another paver design so that nothing looked like an afterthought. Had we done the smaller walkway in Dublin Cobble, it wouldn’t have flowed as nicely. Instead we used a classic brick look lined with the Dublin Cobble. It really marries the two areas and finishes nicely.

Once all the pavers are set in place, polymeric sand is brush across its surface, filing the cracks between each paver. Polymeric sand is the best way to lock the patio in place. The sand, while dry, is just like any other sand, working its way into all the small spaces between pavers, but when it gets wet, it hardens and locks in place like cement. Without the sand, the pavers could become loose.

While prepare to lay patio pavers can be time consuming, laying them down doesn’t take too long, unlike building retaining walls. I am lucky enough to have a window that I can see the process and progress on our patio and deck installation. It was very interesting to watch the installation of the retaining walls as opposed to the patio. The team carefully checked the level frequently while building, making sure everything was even throughout. Those repeated checks definitely made it take longer, but it is an important step that shouldn’t be overlooked if you want a sturdy and secure retaining wall.

The next step in the build process is the deck. Our team of deck builders will be on site tomorrow to get started. The large deck will be built with TimberTech decking and will abut the patio and retaining walls (the walls will also act as built-in seating for the space). The deck footings were dug at the same time as the patio footings so that we could have them all inspected at once.

Just to recap, here is what we started with….

And now…

It has been really fun for our entire team at Archadeck Outdoor Living to watch the entire design and build process. We’ll keep you posted on the next step!

Patio and Deck Renovations for Our Second Place Winners

A couples weeks ago, we announced Rick and Merea Bentrott as the Grand Prize Winners of our Dream Backyard Makeover Contest, but they weren’t the only winners! When evaluating the Facebook and panelist votes, second place was a very difficult decision, so we settled on two second place winners! One will receive a patio renovation with Belgard pavers and one will receive a deck renovation# with TimberTech decking.

The patio renovation will go to Amanda Hall out of Illinois. Amanda and her husband purchased this house as first time home buyers in 2012, just three days after the birth of their first child. As Amanda explains,

“it’s the ‘forever house’ where we will raise our family. It’s a great house, but it needs some TLC here and there. One of those places is the backyard. Our house is on a corner lot and the house is situated at such an angle that the back yard is very exposed to the street. The exposure makes the curb appeal for our backyard as important as our front yard! We would love to have a beautiful new back yard to have parties and hang out with our friends and get to know our new neighbors.”

We are excited to help the Halls enhance their backyard with the design and installation of a Belgard patio. David Berryhill of Archadeck of Chicagoland will work with the family to design a patio that fits their needs and tastes. As always, I’ll be updating you on the progress of the project.

Our second second prize winner comes to us from Ohio. Stephanie Carll submitted the following description along with her photo description:

“My family and I are fortunate to live in a wonderful neighborhood surrounded by beautiful trees and great neighbors, but our fixer-upper leaves much to be desired. We recently purchased this home with stars in our eyes, creativity in our hearts and a shoestring budget. The first words that came out of my husband’s mouth when we were viewing the backyard with our realtor were: ‘someday this will be the most amazing spot for a deck.’ Our dream is magnificent, but our reality is daunting. The current state of our backyard makes me cringe every day when I open the curtains, or chase down my toddler and tell him ‘no no, you can’t go back there.’ Our dream deck would replace vines, a pile of concrete, construction debris, and other unsightly features that make the space unusable. We envision a tiered outdoor living space where we can grill, unwind, entertain, get to know our neighbors, let our toddler out to play, and enjoy the natural beauty of our neighborhood. We have a blank canvas on an amazing lot that is full of possibilities. We just need help to turn our dreams for this space into reality!”

The Carlls will be receiving a new TimberTech deck designed and built by Archadeck of West Central Ohio. Tim Stephens and his team are sure to take good care of this family. And hopefully that little boy of theirs will have a beautiful and safe place to play!

Our third place winner, William Jakes, lives in the Columbia, SC area. He and his family will be receiving an outdoor lighting system from our sister company, Outdoor Lighting Perspectives. Outdoor Lighting Perspectives designs, installs and maintains custom outdoor lighting systems for residential and commercial properties. They even do holiday lighting!

I hope to share all the details of all the projects as they go on. Congrats again to our winners.

We Have an Outdoor Fireplace!

S’mores anyone?

It’s week two of our patio and deck build here at the Archadeck Outdoor Living corporate office and a lot of work has been done. The once grassy patch to the left of our building is now a construction site with bulldozers, dirt, sand and holes!

Over the last week the construction crew has been hard at work leveling the space and digging the footings for the deck and outdoor fireplace. We mentioned footings last week, but here’s a picture if you can’t quite picture it. Footings, as you can see, are just holes at this point in the build (they have since been filled with concrete since I took this picture).

The largest footing was dug for our outdoor fireplace. The fireplace itself is very heavy, so the ground beneath it has to be supported by the footing (imagine an extra-large hole).

Once the footings were inspected by the county, we were able to start building our retaining wall around the space. Concrete was mixed on site to place in between each and every paver. Without that, people would run off with them they look so good! The retaining wall is serving a few purposes for us. First off, it is used to define the edges of the patio space. The patio is low to grade which means that it doesn’t by code need a railing, however we had to dig into a hill to clear the space for the project. If we didn’t have the retaining wall, everyone would be enjoying the sight of a wall made of dirt. I prefer the pavers. The second purpose it serves is as a place to sit. We are going to have built in benches and retaining walls around the space to make sure everyone can sit when wanted.

Once everything was all set, we were able to move the Belgard outdoor fireplace into its position. Outdoor Fireplaces come in a variety of shapes and styles. Many are gas burning, but we chose to use a wood burning one. Isn’t it pretty? My favorite part is the iron accent on the chimney section. It’s small details like that that give that warm/homey feeling. Overall it’s a very classic look.

The patio pavers are starting to be installed around the base of the patio and then outward. We are very pleased with the progress thus far. We’ve gone from this:

To this:

We are all anxious to use the space. Just a few more weeks and I’ll be sitting outside writing this blog!

If you are interested in learning more about outdoor fireplaces and fire pits, please reach out to your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office. I’m confident we could find something that would look great in your yard!

Archadeck Outdoor Living Surprises Grand Prize Dream Backyard Makeover Winners

We’ve been waiting for this day since February 1st! Back in February we launched Archadeck’s first Dream Backyard Makeover Contest. For nearly three months we received photo submissions along with descriptions of backyards across the country. From over 2,000 submissions, we narrowed the field down to 6 finalists and opened up Facebook voting then the decision fell in our panelists’ hands. They had an extremely difficult time choosing the Grand Prize Winner, but ultimately the decision was made!

On Friday morning, Rick and Merea Bentrott had what they thought was a normal appointment with Harold Cross of Archadeck of Central Iowa. Harold had called earlier in the week asking to see the yard as the last part of the contest decision making process. Little did they know that they had already been named the Grand Prize Winners! When Harold walked them around their house to the backyard, they were greeted with other members of the Archadeck of Central Iowa team, a Belgard representative, balloons, wine and a large sign claiming them the winners. I think their faces say it all:

Rick and Merea were one of our March finalists. Their photo description not only described why and what they wanted in a new backyard space, but it also gave us insight into how fantastic this couple is:

As parents of four kids under ten who, essentially, live outside the majority of the year, we’re in dire need of backyard help! Recently, we adopted two incredible kids from foster care and instantly became a family of six. The addition of these little ones enriched our lives, but shrunk our home! Hence, the move to a larger house with good bones and smarter space but also a need for serious updating. Since the move, we’ve slowly been saving money and fixing up the interior. Unfortunately, the backyard has received little attention as it’s been placed at the end of our long list of to-dos. Despite constant competition from technology, my continual goal as a parent is to keep my kids outside playing, imagining, and dreaming. Currently, we rely on a homemade sandbox, trampoline, a rickety, hand-me-down play-set, and deteriorating, wooden deck. My backyard dream is to give my kids a safe, fun place to play and my husband a space to relax with a beer in one hand and grill tongs in the other, standing next to a Green Egg Grill. All I really want for myself is a comfortable spot to sit and watch it all happen.

I was lucky enough to speak briefly with Rick and Merea on Friday and needless to say they were beyond happy and surprised to be chosen our Grand Prize Winners (they are as sweet as can be too!).

After visiting the property, we could tell that it isn’t the safest spot to occupy four young active children. The existing deck is deteriorating and splintering which is a cause for concern. Additionally, there are wooden beams on the property that are rotting away.

On Friday’s visit, Rick, Merea and Harold discussed their dream backyard project. The outdoor living structure will include both a deck and patio component with products from Archadeck suppliers TimberTech and Belgard. We know that we’ll be able to provide the safe and beautiful space that they desire and we’ll be sharing each step with you. Next up is the design phase. Armed with the Bentrotts’ needs, wants and tastes, Harold is creating a 3D rendering of the space.

More information to come on the 2nd and 3rd place winners.

Congrats to the Bentrotts!

Deck and Patio Installation Begins at Archadeck Headquarters

Several weeks ago, we announced that we at Archadeck Outdoor Living’s corporate office are getting a new outdoor living area. We are thrilled to let you know that after some weather delays, we officially broke ground today!

To recap, up until now, our corporate office has been of void of any outdoor living structures (we know, it’s sad considering what we do). This year, we decided to change that and designed this custom deck and patio combination project. A large pergola will cover part of deck for shade and built in benches and retaining walls will provide places to sit throughout the space.

Last week all of the patio material was delivered and trust me, it is a lot of pavers. Included in the material is the outdoor fireplace that will be installed on the project.

In preparation for the first phase of building, we had to file for building permits. After the county reviewed our plans and specifications, we were able to grid out the deck and patio on the property. Victor, our Director of Construction and Drafting who is spearheading the build for us, went outside with members of his team and sprayed a pink paint to illustrate where the building will take place. This allows the sub-contractors to envision the space and know exactly where to build. With the paint and permits in place, we were ready to build! Of course, Mother Nature had other plans for us. After a few days of rain, the ground needed to dry out a bit before we started digging. And finally today we were ready!

The first phase of the build is the patio and footings for the deck. This morning, bright and early, bulldozers started digging into our lawn to grade the area. Grading is the process of leveling out the ground. For us, the land that we are building the patio is uneven, sloping down to the road. The bulldozer cuts out the grass and dirt to level the area so that when the patio is built is it sturdy and level. It has been pretty interesting to see the difference in just a day, these guys are fast! Grading is also key for the drainage of the patio. Uneven surfaces hold water and puddle instead of properly draining and may cause future problems.

The footings for the structure will also be dug this week. Footings are the load bearing parts of an outdoor living structure. Before we start building the deck portion of the project, a county inspector will come out and test the ground and evaluate our footings. When they are all given the green light, we will be ready for to start the deck!

Everyone here is more than excited for an outdoor space at the office. On a beautiful day like today, it would be wonderful to have a nice spot to sit and hold a quick meeting while enjoying the sunshine. Our goal in designing the space was to create a combination project that not only features some our most commonly built structures, but also to create a space that is usable. By including the outdoor fireplace and outdoor kitchen, we are ensuring that it is used. The other offices that are part of the building are just as excited to have a space to enjoy the outdoors as well!

Have Your Deck Checked During May’s Deck Safety Month

The North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA) declared May as Deck Safety Month back in 2006. May is the month that many homeowners start to spend extended time outside on their decks as the weather turns nicer. Unfortunately, a lot of homeowners don’t have their deck’s safety evaluated properly. Just because it is standing, doesn’t mean that it is safe!

According to NADRA, there are over 40 million decks in the United States that are over 20 years old. This is a scary idea for deck builders like us at Archadeck. Building and code requirements have changed drastically in the last 20 years. Those decks that were built 20 years ago most likely would not be considered safe or up to code by today’s standards.

At Archadeck, we suggest having any deck over 7 years old checked for safety. A professional deck builder can come out to home and check all the components of your existing structure. From there, you should get a list of any issues and how they can be addressed. When we do our deck safety inspections, for example, we often find problems with the deck that can be fixed quickly to extend the life of the structure. There are times, however, that we find that it is best to just replace the deck entirely to ensure that those enjoying it are safe and secure.

So what are deck inspectors looking for when they evaluate your deck? At Archadeck, we use the BE SAFER acronym to explain what we are looking at:

Boards – While most wood decking will show cracks over time, the overall condition of the boards need to be considered.

Every Connection – Hardware is key when considering deck safety. Every connection and fastener should be looked at to ensure safety and stability.

Structure – What is the condition of the posts, beams and joists that make up the skeleton of the deck? Is there any visible sagging?

Attachment – It’s imperative to check how the deck was attached to the house as that is where most deck failures occur.

Foundation and Footings – This part of the deck supports the weight of the structure and those who enjoy it. Foundations and footings need to be checked for sinking, sagging and separation from beams.

Exits – Are all of the exits from the deck, like stairs and ramps, in good condition?

Rails – Check that all parts of the railing system, posts, pickets and balusters, are sturdy, properly built and the correct height.

Before you host a barbecue with twenty friends, make sure that you have a deck safety inspection, especially if your deck is more than 7 years old. It will give you the peace of mind that you need to truly enjoy the spring and summer months. Call your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office to set up an inspection at your home.

Curved Deck and Sunroom Add Functional Space to Connecticut Home

When looking at our franchise locations’ outdoor living spaces, I always notice the unique ways that deck, porches, patios, sunrooms and other structures add functional space to a home. Space that doesn’t serve a purpose is just lost space, right? This project from our sunroom and deck builder in Connecticut is a great example of adding space in a different and interesting way.

The owners of this Devonwood, Connecticut home wanted an addition to their home as well as more outdoor space. Making all of it feel natural to the home was very important as they didn’t want anything disjointed. Phil Brown and his Archadeck of Central Connecticut team designed and built a custom sunroom and deck that fulfills all their needs.

The common sunroom is square or rectangular in shape and has windows on three of its sides. Sunrooms allow people to sit and enjoy the nature that surrounds the home without actually being inside. The common sunroom, however, was not what these homeowners wanted. Instead, Archadeck of Central Connecticut designed an octagonal sunroom. Being set on the back of the house, the room is very cozy, but still spacious with enough room for a couch and chairs.

Instead of a flat roof, a gazebo style roof was added to the sunroom. The pine ceiling adds to the warm and cozy atmosphere and the large Anderson windows allow the sunlight to flood in. I love how the windows don’t have panes that can obstruct the wooded views of the property. It gives it a very airy impression.

Outside, Phil designed a deck that fit all of the homeowners’ needs. The majority of deck space is taken up by the large curved deck below. It serves as a place to sit and eat dinner on a nice New England night. Off the sunroom is a smaller deck that is used to sit and relax and right off the back of the house is a rectangular deck that is the perfect go-between from the house to dining portion. A grill sits on that deck since it is so convenient to the kitchen.

The entire deck was finished with IPE decking. IPE is a very dense Brazilian wood that is rot and insect resistant. It is very durable and will easily stand up against increased traffic and usage. The warm tone of this IPE wood looks gorgeous against the yellow of the home and the wooded areas surrounding the property.

The best deck designs take the homeowners and their passions into account. In this example, one of the homeowners is an avid gardener, so when Phil designed this deck, he wanted a place for her to keep her tools and pots. The grill deck, as a result, also serves as a roof structure for a potting shed below, keeping that covered space as usable. Genius!

If you are looking to enhance your property with the addition of a custom outdoor living space, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Voting is Now Open for Archadeck Dream Backyard Makeover

The time has come! Voting is now available for the Archadeck Dream Backyard Makeover Contest. Out of over 2,000 photo entries, we’ve narrowed the field down to six and here’s where you come in. Logon to the Archadeck Facebook voting page to vote for your favorite finalists! Public votes will help us decide who the final winner will be. I can’t wait to announce the grand prize winner in mid-May!

After the winner is revealed, we’ll be keeping everyone abreast of each step of the process, from deck and patio design through construction and the final project. I’m particularly excited to learn more about how the winner envisions using the space and how we can make that a reality through our custom outdoor living design!

Congratulations again to all of our winners. Please visit the contest voting page to vote for one of these six finalists:

We hired a contractor to rebuild our deck and he did about half the work and abandoned to work sight. After inspection, we found out that nothing was to code and he did not have a contractors license. This was part of our retirement savings and now we will have to wait until we can save up the money to have the deck torn down and rebuilt.

We bought our first house last summer (2012), 3 days after the birth of our first child. It’s the “forever house” where we will raise our family. It’s a great house, but it needs some TLC here and there. One of those places is the backyard. Our house is on a corner lot and the house is situated at such an angle that the backyard is very exposed to the street. This exposure makes the curb appeal for our back yard as important as our front yard! We would love to have a beautiful new backyard to have parties and hang out with our friends and get to know our new neighbors. And when they all ohh and ahh over our awesome back yard, we’ll be sure to tell them that we owe it all to Archedeck! Be sure to leave plenty of business cards because I know we’ll be handing them out to friends and passers-by alike! Pick me! : )

As parents of four kids under ten who, essentially, live outside the majority of the year, we’re in dire need of backyard help! Recently, we adopted two incredible kids from foster care and instantly became a family of six. The addition of these little ones enriched our lives, but shrunk our home! Hence, the move to a larger house with good bones and smarter space but also a need for serious updating. Since the move, we’ve slowly been saving money and fixing up the interior. Unfortunately, the backyard has received little attention as it’s been placed at the end of our long list of to-dos. Despite constant competition from technology, my continual goal as a parent is to keep my kids outside playing, imagining, and dreaming. Currently, we rely on a homemade sandbox, trampoline, a rickety, hand-me-down play-set, and deteriorating, wooden deck. My backyard dream is to give my kids a safe, fun place to play and my husband a space to relax with a beer in one hand and grill tongs in the other, standing next to a Green Egg Grill. All I really want for myself is a comfortable spot to sit and watch it all happen.

My husband and I are brand new homeowners and first time parents to a son…all within the same year. Both my husband and myself never had a private backyard to play in when we grew up (he grew up in the Bronx and I grew up in Queens, NY). So when we saw this house in Greenwich, CT with a private backyard overlooking a pretty pond we overlooked the ugly red, 1968, totally not up to code, beat up porch and thought this could be a great place to raise a family. We had to do a gut renovation of our house but didn’t have the funds to do any work on our backyard. This will be our first summer where our son can really enjoy the outdoors so we would love the opportunity to give him a space that is safe and enjoyable for friends and family BBQs. The photo is of my husband on our porch when we got the keys to our very first home.

We are of family of 8 with 6 kids ranging in age from 2 up to 11. That doesn’t include numerous neighborhood kids that all love to come over and play at our house. They all enjoy the outdoors and we would like to make our backyard a safe and fun place for them all to play as well as a beautiful spot for my husband and I to relax and enjoy. Our home is situated on a hill and the backyard is terraced. The retaining walls, made with railroad ties, are rotting away and our deck is falling apart. We would love to have a sturdy deck that we could sit on in the evenings, grilling out, and serving up a bunch of fun to all the kids.

My family and I are fortunate to live in a wonderful neighborhood surrounded by beautiful trees and great neighbors, but our fixer-upper leaves much to be desired. We recently purchased this home with stars in our eyes, creativity in our hearts, and a shoestring budget. The first words that came out of my husband’s mouth when we were viewing the back yard with our realtor were: “someday this will be the most amazing spot for a deck…” Our dream is magnificent, but our reality is daunting. The current state of our backyard makes me cringe every day when I open the curtains, or chase down my toddler and tell him “No, no – you can’t go back there”. Our dream deck would replace vines, a pile of concrete, construction debris, and other unsightly features that make the space unusable. We envision a tiered outdoor living space where we can grill, unwind, entertain, get to know our neighbors, let our toddler play, and enjoy the natural beauty of our neighborhood. We have a blank canvas on an amazing lot that is full of possibilities. We just need help to turn our dreams for this space into reality!

Multi-Level Deck Opens Up Yard in Arkansas

We’ve discussed at length the importance of a good deck design. It not only has to work for the intended use, but also for the home and the rest of the yard. All components of the property should complement one another instead of combat it. When our deck builder in Little Rock, Tom Duncan, shared the following project with me, I noticed it was a great example how design can impact a yard.

This particular backyard had an existing pool, but no deck. Instead, it had an enclosed area under the the small roof structure seen in the picture. The two spaces didn’t work with each other and inhibited interaction between people using the outdoor areas. The enclosed area was too small to entertain guests and the only access to the yard was on the opposite side of where the pool was. It just didn’t make sense for homeowners who like to entertain and have pool parties and barbecues when the weather is nice.

Tom and his team looked to create an open entertaining space that created a smooth transition from the deck to the pool. They designed a multi-level deck with wide steps Deck-builder-arkansasto open up the space. By having only three steps at any one place, the different levels, although separate, don’t feel disjointed and invite conversation and interaction between people throughout the whole yard. It also created a low-to-grade deck at the lowest level. A low-to-grade deck or patio is low to the ground and doesn’t require a railing by code. Without a railing blocking views, it invites the eye out into the pool area and yard. The higher parts of the deck do include a railing for code purposes, but the homeowners enjoy the definition and seclusion of those areas.

Access to the pool and the yard was one of the biggest issues with the home’s existing outdoor living space, but the Archadeck of Central Arkansas opened it up. Not only is all of one side of the pressure treated deck open to the pool area, but there is also an opening from the far deck area to the yard below.

This once closed off and fragmented space is now open and conducive to entertaining and interaction. There is space and areas for everyone to enjoy. The built in bench on the low deck offers a place for people to sit and enjoy the sun, while the now open porch is perfect for the person who would like some shade. It was important to the homeowners to incorporate the existing roof structure into the space. By keeping the bones and support of the structure, it was a perfect shaded addition to the structure.

Tom and the Archadeck of Central Arkansas team enhanced the utility of this backyard completely by creating a space that truly works. It all comes back to design. A good design makes for a useful space. A bad design inhibits it. If you aren’t sure what will work best in your yard, make sure you consult a professional outdoor living designer.

On an unrelated topic, we at Archadeck Outdoor Living are thrilled to open voting for our Dream Backyard Makeover contest tomorrow, April 23rd! Make sure you place your vote for the homeowner you want to win the $70,000 backyard makeover!

Four Days Left to Enter Dream Backyard Makeover!

Over the past two and half months, we at Archadeck Outdoor Living have been thrilled to be running the Dream Backyard Makeover Contest. Unfortunately, there are only 4 more days to enter! If you haven’t submitted a photo of your current backyard along with a description of what you would like in your dream backyard, make sure you do it by April 22nd, 2013! Voting on the six finalists will be begin on Wednesday, April 23rd and the contest winner will be announced on or around May 6th.

As of this morning, there have been just under 1,700 submissions. It’s been wonder reading all of the entrants’ stories and learning more about how they intend to use the space (some of you have great plans!). The grand prize is obviously the $70,000 backyard makeover which will include both a deck and patio component using TimberTech and Belgard products. Recently, I’ve been receiving questions on how the deck design will be settled on and built, so I wanted to describe the process the winner will be experiencing.

Our deck designers and builders take their job very seriously. It is our goal to provide you with a space that is not only beautiful, but also usable and the homeowner is key to that conversation. After the winner is chosen, our local Archadeck owner will visit with the homeowner, survey the entire yard and discuss the needs and wants of the family. By knowing the intended use of the space as well as some of the homeowners likes and dislikes, a custom outdoor living environment can be created that will make everyone happy.

Just like the typical Archadeck Outdoor Living client, the Dream Backyard Makeover Contest winner will be given a 3D design rendering of the space so they can easily envision the end outcome and what it will look like in their backyard. I must say, it can be incredible to see the before, the design and the after.

Once the design is settled on, Archadeck will pull all the necessary permits and get all the necessary building materials ready to get started. And, from there, the transformation begins! Our franchisee and their local team will work to get the space built so that the homeowners can once again enjoy their backyards. Everyone at Archadeck can’t wait to get started on the contest winner’s backyard. Only a few weeks until the winner is finalized!

As always, we’ll be here updating you on the project along the way.

Again, if you haven’t yet submitted your entry yet, you have four more days to do so! You can enter at DreamBackyardMakeover.com.

Good luck everyone!

Deck and Patio Design for Optimal Outdoor Entertaining

Outdoor entertaining has emerged as a large theme in outdoor living. Many people really want a place for family and friends to gather and spend quality time outdoors.

When it comes to outdoor entertaining, it helps to have an outdoor space that was designed to accommodate that. A good patio or deck design will address flow and layout so that your outdoor parties are enjoyed by all.

Before we get into deck design ideas, if you are planning to have a barbecue or outdoor party and have an existing outdoor structure, make sure you have a deck safety inspection if you haven’t recently. The average lifespan of a deck is 10 years, but at Archadeck Outdoor Living, we suggest having your first safety inspection when the structure is 5 to 7 years old. Just because the deck looks OK, doesn’t mean that it is structurally sound. A professional can come and give you an idea of the current shape of your deck as well as tell you what small fixes you can do to make it last longer.

When considering a new porch, patio, deck or combination outdoor project, make sure you tell your deck designer how you intend to use the space, especially if you are looking to entertain outdoors. Be specific so they can create a space that will fit all of your needs and wants. Planning to have your guests sit around in an outdoor living room is very different than needing an outdoor dining room.

Defining the different areas of your outdoor space is key to keeping the flow open and useful. Take this deck for example, I love that the dining area is clearly defined. In this instance it was done by elevating the area a bit, but this can also be achieved by adding a pergola or other roof structure to create a “room” or by switching the material pattern.

A space that is well designed for entertaining takes into account that entertaining means people and people means space to sit. For some homeowners that means an open space where they can place outdoor furniture. That allows for some flexibility if furniture needs to be moved or if you would like to switch out the furniture periodically. Other deck builders will include a built-in seating bench or retaining wall to accommodate guests. Normally benches or retaining walls are used both as a place to sit and a way to designate the use of the space.

When people entertain outdoors they sometimes like to do the respective cooking outdoors too. For that, an outdoor kitchen is perfect, however, the design should be able to hold more than just the chef. This outdoor kitchen is perfect for entertaining, for example, because it has space for people to circle around and talk while people cook on the grill or outdoor pizza oven. It keeps the chef in the middle of the action and conversation.

The key to any good patio or deck design idea is that it checks off your list of needs and wants. An outdoor living structure can be pricey, so it is best to be very clear with your deck builder what you want out of the space. If you aren’t sure, download our free Archadeck Design Guide. The guide asks a series of questions that will help you envision the backyard of your dreams.

March Dream Backyard Makeover Finalists Announced

It has been a busy month for Archadeck and its Dream Backyard Makeover Contest. We are thrilled that so many people have taken an interest in the contest. With over 1,000 entries, it was extremely difficult to pick two for the month of March, but somehow we did it.

We are still accepting entries through April 22nd, 2013. On April 23rd voting will open for all six finalists. If you need a reminder on the prizes, here they are…

First prize – a $70,000 backyard makeover sponsored by TimberTech Decking and Belgard Hardscapes. The winner of this will have an absolutely gorgeous new outdoor living area with both a deck and hardscape component design and built by Archadeck Outdoor Living.

Second prize – a $7,000 deck or patio renovation by Archadeck Outdoor Living.

Third Prize – a $3,000 outdoor lighting system from Outdoor Lighting Perspectives.

The full descriptions of the finalists’ photos will be posted on the Archadeck Facebook page when voting opens, but here’s a glimpse at the March finalists!

The first March finalist comes to us from Connecticut. The first time homeowners and parents fell in love with this home despite the old, not up to code deck and porch. The backyard has great potential to be the perfect space for this growing family. This house is not only the first home the couple has owned, but the first backyard both of them have ever had after growing up in the city! We at Archadeck Outdoor Living see the possibilities!

The second finalist comes out of Iowa. This family had to move to a larger home after adopting two kids from foster care. Now with four young kids (under the age of 10), the homeowners would like an outdoor space for the kids to play away from the television and computer. The parents hope to have a space to relax (maybe cook) and watch their kids enjoy the outdoors. With a large yard like this, the options for a Dream Backyard Makeover are endless!

Congrats to our March finalists! For everyone else, keep the entries coming. The last group of finalists will be announced on April 22nd! There is still time to enter!

Outdoor Kitchen Tools that Enhance Your Cooking and Dining Experience

At Archadeck, we love creating custom outdoor kitchen designs that fit our clients’ needs, tastes and budgets. The majority of the outdoor kitchens we build include a built-in grill and counter space. Having a space outdoors to prepare and cook your food is great, but a set of simple tools will enhance your outdoor cooking and dining experience even more. Here are some tools and accessories that we find incredibly helpful.

A good grill set. When it comes to cooking outdoors, you need more than just a spatula. At the very least, we recommend a high-quality grill set that includes a spatula, tongs, basting brush and grill fork. There are some sets that have upwards of 10 pieces, but these four pieces will cover the majority of your grilling needs. When choosing your grill set, make sure that they’re sturdy (stainless steel is a popular choice) so they last for multiple seasons.


Grill brush. Have you ever looked at a grill that had the burnt crust on the grates? I sure have. That happens when a grill isn’t properly cleaned before or after cooking. A grill brush with steel bristles will remove the majority of if not all built up dirt. The grates should be cleaned off after each use to make it easier as you go.

Meat thermometer. This is especially important for those picky eaters. It can sometimes be difficult to determine how well cooked a piece of meat is while grilling. A reliable meat thermometer will ensure your meat is prepared just how you like it.

Grill Basket. When it is grilling season, I like to cook the majority of my meal components right on the grill. That, however, can be difficult without a good grill basket. Baskets for the grill come in a variety of shapes and sizes. I have a simple square one that I use to cook veggies, but there are options for specific purposes as well, like fish and corn. Baskets make sure that whatever you are cooking doesn’t fall through the grates and become inedible.

Barbecue Light. Don’t let the sun going down stop your grilling fun and keep it going with a grill light. Custom outdoor kitchen designs often include some type of lighting component, but there are plenty of light fixtures that are specifically designed to be around the grill. When looking for one, make sure that they are indeed built to withstand the heat (there are specific barbecue lights, like these, that are made for grilling).

Unbreakable dishes and glasses. For me, it’s always easier to use unbreakable dishes when entertaining or eating outdoors. You never know when something may slip and fall and it’s more difficult to clean up glass outside than in. Just because you aren’t using glass dishes doesn’t mean you have to abandon your sense of style, however. There are a ton of great outdoor dishes, like these options from Pottery Barn. Melamine and plastic are both good materials for outdoor dining.

These are just a few of the outdoor cooking accessories that are available, but we at Archadeck are big fans of anything that makes your outdoor living experience more enjoyable. If you have questions regarding outdoor kitchens, contact your local Archadeck office.

Pool Decks for Every Yard

It’s the official beginning of spring which means the warm days of sunshine aren’t too far away. On a nice sunny day it is hard to find me anywhere but outside and one of my favorite spots to put my feet up and take in the sun is around my parents’ pool. They have a great pool deck that is a great place to spend some time outdoors.

A spa or pool without a deck looks incomplete. The outdoors should be an extension of your home with space to sit and relax around the pool as the kids jump inside. The size, color and material of pool decks are endless. There is a style for everyone, but the function is what is most important. A material that tends to be slippery when wet, for example, wouldn’t be a good idea around a spa or pool. At Archadeck Outdoor Living, our franchisees have designed and built custom outdoor living spaces that fit all types of pools and spas. Take a look at these…

This first design is from our deck builder in Charlotte. The homeowners have a large backyard, but they wanted a mini sanctuary for their hot tub and outdoor shower that was private. They essentially wanted a room outdoors. Our designer designed a space that was beautiful, private and safe. The biggest issue when designing a spa deck is the weight of the spa. The weight of the tub, as well as the water needs to be accounted for to make sure the structure is safe for everyone using it. Additional foundation may be needed underneath to ensure there is no sinking. Our Archadeck of Charlotte team designed the space with this beautiful wood in mind. The wood decking for the deck and fence gives the area a spa like feel that I would love to relax in.

This pool deck in the Tri-Cities is on a large, rural property. The homeowners had an above ground pool that they weren’t getting enough use out of. They thought that having a deck built at the pool’s height would make the area more inviting. Our Archadeck designer decided to build a pool deck that had enough room for several lounge chairs and a slide for the kids. Because the homeowners had young kids that they wanted to keep away from the pool at times, the entire space was fenced in using vinyl deck railing. The only way to climb into the pool is off the deck.

I wouldn’t mind having this view from this pool deck in Charleston. This commercial area in South Carolina has a small in-ground pool and beautiful view, but until recently didn’t have the outdoor structure needed to pull it all together. The property owners wanted a space that visitors could sit and relax or dine on while enjoying the view and the pool. The pool already had pavers surrounding it and the Charleston deck designer was able to create a smooth transition from one space to another by adding a step onto the pool deck. The grey TimberTech decking complements the grey tones of the pavers beautifully.

This last pool deck comes from Austin, TX. The homeowners built a beautiful pool and spa area in their backyard that had a unique shape and wanted the new pool deck to mirror its curves. Our Archadeck of Austin team designed a low to grade curved deck to surround the pool on three sides. By making the deck low to grade, the deck was not only at the same height as the pool, but no railings were necessary for safety. The designer and homeowners agreed that adding railing would make the space more cut off from the rest of the property and obscure the views. I love the deep red color of the wood; with the spaces more natural surroundings, it goes with the more earthy feel of the space.

Pool decks are a great way to make a pool the center of an outdoor area. They make the space more welcoming to the homeowners and their guests. If you have an unfinished pool area or your current one needs an update, contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office. Our trained deck designers will make sure to create a space you love.

Archadeck Outdoor Living Gets Dream Backyard of its Own

We at Archadeck Outdoor Living pride ourselves on being the experts in outdoor living structures. Whether it is a deck, porch, patio, pergola or other project, we design and build the backyards of our clients’ dreams. I hate to admit it, but despite being America’s oldest and largest deck builder, our corporate office’s outdoor living space is lacking. Actually, it doesn’t really exist right now, but we are thrilled to say that that will be changing soon!

Since we are currently in the middle of a $70,000 dream backyard makeover contest, we decided it was time to build our dream space too! Our corporate design staff of draftsmen have designed the perfect outdoor living space for our corporate offices that will soon be underway. I, of course, will be sharing photos and details of how it is coming throughout the process. To start, I want to show you what the plans look like.

As you can see in the first 3D rendering and the photo, our corporate office’s property doesn’t look like a place the outdoor living experts work. We, along with the other companies that we share our building with, wanted a place to enjoy the outdoors when the weather permits. Since we would be the ones designing and building the space, we created a combination structure to show our corporate partners, franchisees and potential franchisees.

The first step in the process is to get permission from the building owners to make the significant enhancements to the property. Much like our system of porch, patio and deck builders do with their clients, our corporate team presented them with several options to consider. An outdoor living project is a significant investment and it’s important to us that our clients feel confident in their purchase when they sign a contract. To ensure that is the case, our design options are presented in 3D renderings that depict what the space will look like on their property. These renders have our entire office waiting impatiently for the space to be available.

These renderings show the final design that is currently with the county for permits. The project will consist of a new paver walkway that leads to an upper paver patio surrounded by seating walls and a fireplace. There will be two entrances off the patio to a 900 square foot composite deck loaded with benches throughout. Since Virginia can bring plenty of hot summer days, a large pergola will cover and shade a large part of the deck. On the far end of the deck there will be a set of stairs that lead to a lower paver patio with outdoor an outdoor kitchen (company cookouts, here we come!)

For the detail-oriented, here are the specifications of the space: The deck will be a little over 900 square feet. In addition, it will have 105 linear feet of white, vinyl railings, 38 linear feet of composite bench, composite trim and solid board skirting. There will be a total of two pergolas, an entrance one, comprised of 34 square feet and the second one that covers part of the deck will be 484 square feet.

As for the paver component, the space will have a total of 1,020 total square feet of Belgard Holland Stone, 108 linear feet of seating wall and 4 stone columns. On the upper patio there will be a 9 foot wide fireplace and an outdoor kitchen on the lower patio.

We are all excited to build and enjoy the new outdoor living space. We are currently waiting for all of the local permits to go through before we break ground on the space. Sit tight for updates!

Picking a Contractor that Won’t Leave You High and Dry

Over the past month I’ve been spending a lot of time reading and looking at the Archadeck Dream Backyard Makeover submissions and themes have started to emerge. One that seems to be recurring is homeowners being left high and dry by their deck contractors.

Several entries have shown (including one of our February finalists) decks that are half or barely finished. The descriptions reference a contractor that they found out wasn’t licensed and the building they did do wasn’t to code. It’s no wonder why so many homeowners are hesitant to invite contractors to do projects on their home.

Deck construction is a serious topic that can lead to personal injury or damage to the home when done incorrectly. To ensure that the person you hire is going to treat your property as if it were they own, make sure that you ask all of your candidates these questions:

What’s your contractor license number? Many homeowners ask prospective contractors if they are licensed, but reading the contest entries has made me realize that sometimes people lie. You should be able to get the contractor license number from the people you are thinking of working with. That way, if something happens, you have it on file.

How are you insured? A good contractor has the appropriate insurance to protect you against damage that is done to or on your property. If something happens, it shouldn’t have to go through your homeowner’s insurance.

Will you pull the local building permits and have them on file? Any structures built on your property need to be built to the local code. Permits must be pulled and inspections must be made (sometimes a few times during the building phase). A contractor who is good at patio and deck construction will do this for you, but you should have access to permit numbers if needed.

What warranties do you have? No one wants to invest is a large home improvement project just to have it break or fail. It’s even worse when there is nothing you can do about it. At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we pride ourselves one having 2 guarantees to protect our clients. Additionally, if you have an issue with the material, we will work with you to get in touch with the manufacturers to look at their warranties.

Could I have some references? It’s understandable that homeowners are careful about who they invite into their home. Every deck contractor should have a list of clients that you can reach out to and ask questions.

Asking these questions will help you to choose a deck construction provider that you know you can trust. If you have questions regarding our process, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

2013 Outdoor Living Trends

As Spring is just around the corner, it is time to look at what is hot in the outdoor living category for 2013. Every year we at Archadeck Outdoor Living find our clients asking for different finishes or types of projects that would enhance their outdoor living spaces. The America Society of Landscape Architects, or ASLA, recently released survey results on what is hot for this year. Here are some of the highest ranked projects:

Ninety-seven percent of respondents rated fire pits or outdoor fireplaces as in demand. We’ve discussed the growing popularity in fire features over the last few years. As outdoor living spaces have evolved into true extensions of the home, we see that outdoor fireplaces are being added to include the homey feeling outdoors. Not to mention they allow homeowners to use the space well into the fall. Who doesn’t enjoy bundling up by the fire and enjoying s’mores or hot cocoa? I know I do.

Rated just under outdoor fireplaces and fire pits were grills. Grills have been popular additions to outdoor living spaces for years. When it comes to grills, and outdoor kitchens, the possibilities are endless, but they should also be planned for. We’ve all seen grills that are placed on a deck or patio but don’t really seem to have a place. Even if the grill isn’t built into the outdoor structure, make sure to tell your patio or deck builder to create a space for the grill. When it has a designated space, it increases the flow and design of the space.

Third and fourth on the list were seating and dining areas and outdoor lighting. This doesn’t surprise us at all. For an outdoor living space to be an extension of the home and to be used, it has to have purpose. No one spends time in the empty rooms of their house, why would they outside? When considering adding a deck, porch, patio, sunroom, screened porch or other outdoor structure to your property, make sure you tell the designer how you intend to use the space. You may find that you want separate areas for different purposes: one place to sit and read a book and another to dine with friends and family. And, if you want to use the space after dark, add outdoor lighting. Outdoor lighting can be added to outdoor living spaces at any time in most cases, but will be more seamless if you plan to add it while the project is being built.

The trends in outdoor living spaces do change, but as Nancy Somerville, ASLA’s executive vice president and CEO 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.”

If you are interested in enhancing your outdoor living spaces, contact your local Archadeck office.

And in case you’ve forgotten, it’s not to late to enter Archadeck’s Dream Backyard Makeover Contest! The first set of finalists will be announced in just a few days. Make sure to submit a photo of your backyard and let us know why your yard deserves the $70,000 grand prize!

Outdoor Kitchen Design Ideas for the Ultimate Cooking Experience

As many of you know, Archadeck Outdoor Living is in the middle of the $70,000 Dream Backyard Makeover Contest (make sure you enter!). The entry form asks for a 250 word description of a photo of your backyard. Many entrants have included what they would like to see in the backyard design. One common theme is the outdoor kitchen, a perfect place to cook and entertain friends and family.


There are number of outdoor kitchen design ideas to consider. With different sizes, shapes, layouts, finishes and appliances to look out, the possibilities are practically endless. So how do you decide what is right for you? Answering these questions may help you define what exactly you want in your outdoor kitchen?

How do you pictures using your outdoor kitchen? If you are simply going to throw your food on the grill, a big outdoor kitchen may not make sense. A built in grill and small counter space may work just fine. For those people that like to prepare, cook and eat outside, more space is needed in the layout.

What appliances are necessary? Most outdoor kitchens include a grill of some sort, but outdoor appliances go well beyond the grill. We’ve designed and built outdoor kitchens that have included sinks, ice makers, small refrigerators, smokers, pizza ovens, stoves and more. When thinking what appliances you need, think about how you like to cook and what you would rather have right there with you as opposed to those things you can walk inside for.

How many people will be cooking with you? No one likes to feel crammed, especially with the heat and dangers that may accompany cooking. Consider how many people may be with you while you are cooking. Some of our clients will add a place to sit so that whoever is cooking can have company. If several people in your family are known to man the grill simultaneously, you may want to look at larger outdoor kitchen designs.

What finishes should be included? We at Archadeck Outdoor Living are big believers in integrating new outdoor living features in with the old structures (and the home) seamlessly. We don’t want a new outdoor kitchen, for example, to look like an afterthought. When thinking about your outdoor kitchen, think about what is needed to make it complement what’s already there? Do you have a brick patio? Maybe a brick finish will work. What color counters would look good?

Outdoor kitchens, like indoor kitchens, can be very personal to the homeowner. What seems extremely functional to me, may not work for my best friend. A professional outdoor kitchen designer and builder should ask you questions like these to make sure you get the most out of your new space. If you have any questions regarding outdoor kitchens, our outdoor living in general, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Decks Ideas to Fit Your Style

When it comes to large home projects, I do my research. Before reaching out to any companies or contractors I’m considering working with, I like to have an idea of what I want so I can provide clear guidance to whomever I choose to work with. At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we recommend our clients visit our website to get patio and deck ideas to spur our thinking.

Everyone’s tastes, styles and budgets are different. What works for me and my house may not work for my neighbor. Looking at images will inspire likes and dislikes that should guide your designer to create an outdoor living space that you love and complements the structure and finishes of your home.

When looking for different patio and deck ideas, keep these things in mind:

Color and Material – Fifteen years ago, the majority of decks were wood. If you like the natural wood look, look at different types. Do you like the standard pressure treated pine? Or maybe the IPE is a better option for you. Between decking stains, paint and composite options, your designer should be able to find the perfect color for your deck that enhances your outdoor space.

Material is also a key component of patio design because the options are so varied and are a large part of the design. Some people prefer the look of the traditional red brick, while others like a more natural flagstone finish.

Skirting – Unless you keep the space beneath your deck in beautiful shape, you may want to include some type of skirting to your design. Skirting gives the deck a finished and streamline look while adding another detail that some homeowners may not think of. A few types of skirting are lattice and solid board skirting. Lattice skirting, as seen to the left, has a crisscross look that you may also find on privacy walls. Solid board skirting can be installed in both vertical and horizontal patterns and is similar to the finished look of a fence.

Railings – Railings are not only necessary for safety concerns, but they are also a great place to add a design feature. From iron and glass to vinyl and wood, there are options of every kind.

Built-in features – the last component I would look at for ideas is built-in features. These can include anything from fire pits, fireplaces, kitchens, benches, planters and more. I personally like something that’s a little more functional, so while I think a planter is great, I would add a wider border to it so it can also work as a bench. Other people, however, are fine with just having something that looks great.

To get some patio and deck ideas that may work for your space, take a look at The Archadeck photo galleries. Also, if you want your Dream Backyard and want us to do all the thinking and doing to make it happen, don’t forget to enter the Dream Backyard Makeover Contest.

Archadeck launches contest for $70,000 backyard makeover

One of the reasons my husband and I bought our house was the potential we saw in the outdoor living spaces. It has space for a large deck and good sized patio. While we have major plans that we would love to tackle all at once, we know it will need to be done over a few years as time and money allows.

Unfortunately for me, I am unable to enter the Archadeck Dream Backyard Makeover contest that just launched. Oh wait, I forgot, a $70,000 Dream Backyard Makeover! The lucky winner will get an unbelievable project designed and built by Archadeck Outdoor Living with materials from our awesome sponsors, TimberTech decking and Belgard hardscapes.

Ok, so here are the details. Starting today, homeowners can enter to win the backyard of their dreams on our Archadeck Facebook page through April 21st. A photo of your current outdoor space will ensure that we design a space that will complement your current home. Additionally, our judges want to hear from you! Tell us how you would like to use the space and what you envision.

Two finalists will be chosen for the months of February, March and April. On April 23rd, fans are invited to vote for their favorite finalist and the final winner will be announced by May15th!

We couldn’t give away just one prize though (what can we say, we like to give). The second place winner will receive a $7,000 deck or patio renovation and the third place winner will get an outdoor lighting system!

What are you waiting for? Go enter to win! I’ll be updating everyone on all the different steps as it happens. Good luck!

DreamBackyardMakeover.com

Patio Designs for Every Space

The common denominator to any great outdoor living space is a great design. A great design not only takes the clients wants, tastes and budget into account, but also the existing home and the property that it is being built on. When it comes to great patio designs, the opportunities are endless.

At Archadeck outdoor living, we have built over 100,000 outdoor living spaces, many of which have included a patio structure. Our designers take great pride in creating patios that are gorgeous and functional. There are several pieces to the design that they pay particular attention to:


Shape. Too many homes have the standard 5ft by 5ft concrete slab off the back of their home. What a waste! So much more can be created and built. Many of our clients want a space that has straight lines that mirror the lines of the home, while others want something different. Curving the edges of the patio is a different style that is just as nice. A softer line often creates a more fluid open feel to an outdoor space.


Material. A good patio design takes the existing property into account and enhances it. What the patio is made of is a key component. There are so many different styles of patio products that we are positive there is something for you. If you like a classic look, a brick or rectangular stone may work beautifully in your space. If you prefer a more natural look, there are natural stones, or products that look like natural stone that may hold up better. Stamped concrete is another popular product as it can be colored or stamped with numerous designs.


Layout. If an outdoor living space is going to be utilized for numerous purposes, it is important the different areas are defined. While this can be achieved with outdoor furniture, it can also be done through design. Adding multiple layers is one way to do this. One area may be used for cooking and eating that has an outdoor kitchen and dining table and two steps down there may be a living room set up with couches and chairs. Another way to define spaces is done through the installation of materials. A different finish may be used or the same product may be used but placed in the opposite direction.


Lastly, a great patio design incorporates design features that are practical. Design features can take numerous forms including retaining walls, planters, benches, outdoor kitchens, fireplaces and fire pits. It all depends on what the client wants. These finishing touches don’t always have to be part of the original build, but rather added later.

If you have questions about patio design, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Outdoor Fireplaces: Some Design and Practical Considerations

Outdoor fireplaces are a great gathering space for friends and family. Available in a wide range of styles (for a wide range of budgets), the type of outdoor fireplace you choose for your home shouldn’t be taken lightly. Take time to consider what works best for your home and you’ll enjoy not only your time around the fireplace, but also a return on investment when it’s time to sell your home.

Design Considerations

A beautiful, modern design may include a concrete fireplace with a concrete bench attached. It’s stunning on the pages of the magazine. But, it doesn’t fit the style of your country home in the Midwest. So how do you know what works best for your home?

  • Identify the style of your home. Friends or family may know, or you can browse the Internet for this information.
  • Look at your design elements you utilize. The types of items you choose in your home will also appeal to you outside your home.
  • Browse the Internet and the pages of your favorite design magazines to find styles that appeal to you. Even if you can’t have that exact fireplace, you’ll have a better idea of what kind of fireplace you want.

Practical Considerations

The perfect outdoor fireplace may need some adaptation so it’s the perfect outdoor fireplace for your backyard. Look at your options practically so you know the fireplace you choose is the best option.

Zoning Regulations

Outdoor fireplaces are not allowed in every neighborhood. Check with city officials to find out if you can obtain a permit to install an outdoor fireplace.

Weather

Materials you choose for your fireplace should stand up to your climate. If you live in an area with ample rainfall, the materials you’re able to choose from will be different from areas with desert-like climates.

Sun

Consider the area where you will install your fireplace and make sure the setting sun doesn’t blind you when you gather around it.

Safety

Sparks generated by the fireplace should not be able to reach power lines or trees. It’s also important to keep a fire extinguisher nearby. An outdoor fireplace can also bring the most elaborate deck ideas to life, but be sure to choose materials that can sufficiently contain the flames and keep your deck out of harm’s way.

Space

A small yard may not accommodate a large fireplace. Alternately, if you have a large space, you need a fireplace that looks proportional.

With a little planning, and a lot of dialogue with a great contractor like Archadeck, you’re sure to enjoy an outdoor fireplace that’s both enjoyable for your family and a good investment for your home.

Screened In Porches – Rooms You’ll Use

As a kid, I remember visiting my aunt and uncle’s house to see their new screened in porch. It was nice, a square room that had 3 screened walls. It fulfilled its purpose as a place to sit and enjoy the outdoors without bugs, but it wasn’t special. It was pretty standard for screened porches of the time, but man have things changed. Knowing what I know now, I see that the plain square screened room is a lost opportunity for a really special space in your home.

Our Archadeck franchisees design and build some of the most beautiful screened in porches I’ve ever seen. As I look at them, it becomes more apparent that the custom design is the key to making sure the room is a true outdoor living space and not just another room added on to the house. Before designing the space, our porch designers will ask questions like: how do you intend to use the space, what time of the day do you want to do use it, how many people does it need to accommodate, etc. These questions lead to projects like these:

This screened in porch in Des Moines is beautiful inside and out and may be one of my favorite examples of an “outdoor” structure that is truly usable. The homeowners wanted an additional porch where they could have a drink with friends and family, enjoy the outdoors without the elements, but most importantly, they wanted an additional outdoor living room. From there, our porch designer in Iowa, Harold, designed this space. You can see from this angle that the structure itself blends perfectly with the finishes of the home. To ensure the inside get optimum amounts of light, windows surround three of its sides and skylights were installed on the roof. While the outside looks beautiful, it’s the inside and its details that define the screened in porch as a living room. Take look at that outdoor fireplace! The large stone fireplace warms up the space both literally and figuratively, and its mantle and hearth give it a homey look. The placement of the TV is key to making the space it a true living space. It clearly isn’t an afterthought. I also love the lantern like light fixture on the roof.

The needs and wants of this homeowner in Charlotte were a little different. He wanted to add a screened in porch to back of his home for an additional place to sit and relax, but needed it to also be a smooth transition to his outdoor patio. His neighborhood is newer and because of construction as well as close neighbors, he needed the ability to block off some of the sides from time to time. Archadeck of Charlotte designed a simple space that fit all of the homeowner’s requirements. All of the woodwork was finished in whites and creams to provide the brightness. Archadeck 2012The transition between porch and patio was achieved by using the same concrete inside and outside the space. The last issue to work through was privacy. The homeowner didn’t want anything permanent and building in any privacy walls would take away from the airiness of the porch so they decide to install some curtain rods along the exterior that can be opened and shut as needed or wanted by the homeowners.

If you have questions regarding screened in porches and how one may add to your outdoor living experience, don’t hesitate to call your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Build a Romantic Escape Right in your Backyard With Above-ground Pool Decks

Above ground pools are sure to bring hours of enjoyment for your family, but they aren’t known for looking pretty. A beautiful patio design could transform your above ground pool from an eyesore to a resort.

Add a Deck

Sure, that rickety white ladder allows you to climb inside your above ground pool, but does it make you feel like you’re enjoying a getaway? Adding a deck is how you spruce up your pool design and make it more functional. Pool decks make it easier to get into your above ground pool, they add space so you can sit poolside, and they hide the unsightly sides of the pool.

For a look that really stands out, consider adding multiple levels to your deck. This could be as simple as a landing a few steps off the ground, or you could have a level of the deck that overlooks your pool. Additionally, the finishing touches of your deck are important. Don’t skimp on the rails that surround your deck; they make your space feel private… just like you would feel at a high-dollar resort.

One thing is for sure… if you don’t do anything else to your above ground pool, adding a deck will instantly help it feel more like a vacation.

Add Greenery

Beautiful flowers, hedges, and succulent plants require minimal landscaping but offer maximum appeal. “Pool decks”https://www.archadeck.com/design-ideas/decks/multilevel-decks/deck-offers-greater-pool-enjoyment/ are a great space to add some greenery. Flowers and plants in pots or planter boxes around the deck bring softness to the deck and the pool area. You can also plant hedges or flowers around the side of the above ground pool (where the deck doesn’t already cover) to draw your eye away from the pool siding. Highlight it with some mulch and anyone who visits your pool will feel like they’re in a top-dollar vacation destination.

Add Functional Furnishings

A resort lifestyle includes sitting by the pool, and you can enjoy that in your own backyard with functional furniture. Look for fabric that can withstand your climate and fabric designed to catch your eye. Try out the furniture before you buy it to make sure it’s comfortable. After all, you want it to be something you’ll be able to relax in.

Taking money you would invest in a vacation and investing it in your backyard is a great option to enjoy a lifestyle of luxury. Archadeck can help you find your solution to resort living… right in your own backyard.

Enjoy Your View on an Elevated Deck

I recently visited my mother and father-in-law about 45 minutes away. During our visit, my husband and I walked the dog around the neighborhood as it has expanded significantly over the last few years. While we walked around, I noticed a theme on many of the houses: elevated decks. You see, the neighborhood itself is VERY hilly and many of the lots slope in the back. The main living space is anywhere from 20 to 40 feet above the ground below. Elevated decks allow them to easily enjoy the outdoors.

When properties have slopes, raised decks are a great way to provide a seamless transition between the indoor and outdoor spaces without any steep staircases connecting them. Imagine having to go down a 20 foot staircase just to throw your burgers on the grill when it could be so much easier?

The building of an elevated deck, however, does involve more than the standard deck. At Archadeck Outdoor Living, safety is our number one priority, both for the clients and our team of deck builders and we make sure we do everything to make the process go smoothly. It’s all in the planning of the build.

The first thing we look at is the skeleton of the deck. Elevated decks have to withstand a greater load so the footings are usually wider and set deeper into the ground. We also test the ground dirt to see how much it can bear and then use the required amount of cement at the base of the structure.

The taller the elevate deck, the taller the support posts have to be and the better the bracing. Bracing is used to strengthen the structure and prevent any sway which can cause safety concerns, especially with taller decks. The support posts, depending on weight may need to be larger than the standard width.

Different materials may also be used on elevated decks that don’t need to be considered for lower grade decks. For instance, steel may need to be incorporated for support.

Elevated decks, although they can be more difficult to build, allow for some great design features that aren’t available for other decks. For instance, under decking creates dry, usable outdoor space underneath the tall structure. And porches or rooms can be added to the structure. Take a look at these great Archadeck elevated decks.

Pergolas: An easy addition for a new year

I’m one of those people that is constantly changing, updating and tweaking my home. One space never stays the same for too long. It may be a small change like switching out pictures, or something larger like a new paint color or new furniture. In 2013, my husband and I have decided to be put some extra time and effort into our outdoor spaces. Because of their versatility and design options, one thing we are considering is adding a pergola to our existing outdoor living spaces.

Pergolas are a great add-on to an outdoor living space. The finishes can match the structures that are already there. At Archadeck Outdoor Living, our offices design custom pergolas that enhance a space without it looking like an afterthought (even though it may be).

My husband and I are thinking about a pergola to define our space. Our outdoor living area has a few different components and we are looking to make one part a little cozier. Pergolas are a great way to define a space as a separate area. Much like a porch (without the cost of a porch), a pergola frames out a section of the property. For us, we are looking for a cozy place to sit, read or have a drink. Look at this curved pergola for example. Although it is part of a larger structure, this is clearly a separate area. I’ve seen pictures of pergolas that are built over living and dining areas as well as outdoor kitchens.

One of my favorite aspects of pergolas is that they do provide some shade while still allowing for sun as well. For the most part, I enjoy the sun, but there are times that I want a reprieve but don’t necessarily want to go inside. Some homeowners that want more shade also purchase pergola covers to block more of the sun.

Pergolas can be as simple or ornate as the homeowner would like. Our pergola designers take the existing space into consideration and create a plan around it. Here are some examples of some different custom pergolas from our Archadeck offices:

If you would like to learn more about pergolas and how they can enhance your outdoor space, please contact your local Archadeck office.

Proper Deck Design Leads to Increased Use

I’m a true believer that when you enhance a space, whether through renovation or furniture, that you should get your money’s worth in its use. What’s the point otherwise? When it comes to building or replacing a deck, it all comes down to design. A good deck design will lead to it being used.

I went home to Maine this summer and visited some family friends and saw first-hand how a poor deck design doesn’t work for homeowners. Our friends recently had their outdoor living space updated with a deck and patio. While it was large, I realized that all the furniture was placed in only 2/3rds of it. When I asked what they were planning for the other part they said nothing. They weren’t sure how or if they were going to use it. That area was completely useless to them, and in my opinion not worth the added cost.

At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we pride ourselves on “better building by design.” All of our projects are custom designed to fit the clients’ needs, wants, tastes and budgets. Function is one of the most important considerations our deck designers make. How is the space going to be used normally? Will it be used as a place to cook and eat? Is it a space to have quiet time? Based on answers to questions like this, a space can be created that will look beautiful and be functional.

The existing home’s architecture plays a large role in deck design as well. Our goal is to make the new space look like an extension of the home, not an afterthought. I hate looking at outdoor living spaces that look like they were bought out a magazine and simply placed on the property. The style and finishes just don’t match and it just looks odd.

Very few Archadeck outdoor living spaces are square decks added to the back of the home. The boxy nature of a deck like that, while it works in some instances, doesn’t always allow for the flow and function that homeowners truly want.

Here are some great deck before and after photos from our franchisees:

This homeowner had a small patio that wasn’t big enough for entertaining family friends. They wanted to expand over this unused mulch bed. The local Archadeck deck designer in West Central Ohio was about to created a curved deck design with a built-in bench that invites conversation. The railings and posts were finished in the same color as the window trim to make a seamless transition from house to deck. deck-central-ohio

This deck in Austin had seen better days. While it has a great view (see the canal in the background), it didn’t have much space. The property owners wanted one main place for cooking, entertaining and relaxing in the sun. Below is the final outcome. It’s a big difference; don’t you agree? The outdoor kitchen is really the anchor to the space, but everything is open to the view, making it a big focal point. This home has a very contemporary architecture so our designer stuck with minimal lines and open iron rails to match existing features.

This outdoor space in the greater Boston area was just too small. While the homeowners, liked the small patio area for dining they wanted a more inviting space. Our deck designer created a space will several areas for sitting and entertaining. By adding new french doors and a deck that’s pushed back towards the tree, it pulls people outside into the new space. I love the white trim on the deck and pergola that brings the clean white trim from the windows into the outdoor space.

If you are wondering how a custom deck design could enhance your outdoor spaces, please contact your local Archadeck office.

Under Decking Creates More Outdoor Living Space

I was recently looking through some of our Archadeck Outdoor Living projects when I noticed a theme. A theme that was both useful and beautiful: under decking.

For those that are unfamiliar with under decking, it is a type of drainage system that is installed on the underside of a deck, creating a space below that is dry and usable as another outdoor living space. While some decks don’t need or wouldn’t benefit from under decking because they are too low to the ground, it’s perfect for raised decks.

So, how does under decking work? A sloped drainage system is added on the underside of the deck that catches water that falls between deck boards and leads it away from the structure to a gutter, leaving the space below dry. The bottom of the system can be finished in a variety of ways that look like any other type of ceiling.

Under decking creates more dry space that can be used in a variety of ways. The most common use is having a porch below. Many of our clients essentially have outdoor rooms below their decks that can be used as living rooms or dining rooms. Because the ceiling of the structure stays dry, lights and fans are often added to finish the space.

Some of our clients have also added enclosures of some type under their decks using under decking. Screened porches and sunrooms can be built under an existing or new deck to create more space.

Here are some great examples of under decking:

Combinations of Outdoor Living Spaces Define Use

One of the first questions our outdoor living designers ask our clients is “how do you intend to use the space?” Without that answer the design won’t be as good as it can be. Answers to that question can vary from cooking with and entertaining friends and family to sunbathing and relaxing. For many of our clients their outdoor living spaces need to multifunctional. If that’s the case, the designer needs to create a project that has a flow that defines the separate spaces for different functions.

Many of our clients choose combination outdoor living spaces, meaning a deck with a pergola, patio with outdoor kitchen, etc. Using different structures is a clear way to define separate areas within an outdoor living area. Here are some beautiful examples from our Archadeck Outdoor Living franchisees.

This project from our patio and deck builder in Boston transformed this backyard into a multipurpose space using a patio, deck and sunroom. The sunroom is a beautiful extension of the home that looks as if it’s always been there. It can be used most of, if not all, year when the cold Massachusetts weather may keep the homeowners off the patio. The sunroom is a great place to sit and relax or have a glass of wine with friends and family. The patio’s main use is dining. You can see that dining area is clearly defined by a circular paver pattern that’s different than the rest of the space. Changing the pattern of a building product, deck or patio, is an easy way to break up a space. Lastly, a small raised deck was added as an entrance into the hot tub.

The homeowners of this project wanted space to eat, entertain, enjoy and escape the sun. Our deck builder in Newton created a space that could encompass all those uses. The bottom patio level is made from brick pavers and is the perfect place to enjoy the sun whereas the screened porch is the best place to escape it. The deck is really two spaces with the pergola creating isn’t own space to the right.

While this project is all one deck in Nova Scotia, its multi-level design break it up for its numerous purposes. On the top level, a custom outdoor kitchen, table and chairs define that space as the dining area, while the built-in bench and fire pit create a great place to sit and relax on a cool night.

Talk about a multi-purpose space! This project from our patio contractor in Macon has it all! The custom outdoor kitchen has a large eat in bar to sit or stand at while cooking and the fire pit is clearly defined with a different colored paver. The large patio surrounds a pool where everyone can sit and relax.

If you are interested in learning how a combination project can enhance your outdoor living space, contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Decorating Your Outdoor Spaces for the Holidays

It’s that time of year again, Christmas time. I love to go on walks and drive around neighborhoods this time of year to see the different outdoor decorations on display. Some are traditional while some have wonderful themes. When growing up, there was a house in our town that every year had a who-ville theme from the Grinch Who Stole Christmas.

If you are looking for some ideas to decorate your outdoor living areas this holiday season, take a look at these:

Christmas Trees. Instead of lighting up the trees in your yard, buy a Christmas tree for your deck, porch or patio. You can get outdoor string lights and ornaments that can withstand the harsh winter elements. Doesn’t this deck in Atlanta look beautiful with the tree?

Use what you have. If you have outdoor features that mainly go unused in the winter, dress it up for the holidays! Placing greenery with berries or pinecones in a bird bath and planters or around a statue will make it stand out and it’s easy!

Garland. While garland is beautiful when placed around columns, railing and doors, hanging it in unexpected places can dress up your outdoor living spaces. For example, if you have an open porch, arbor pergola or gazebo, hang garland from the roofline or in the lattice as seen in this picture from Better Homes and Gardens. You could also hang it off the back of your outdoor furniture.

Wrap it up. If you have outdoor pillows, tie a Christmas ribbon around them making them look like presents. To see what I mean, take a look at this post from Worthing Court.

Lights. Lights are obviously a key component of the holiday season. Placing lights in, above or around a space instantly dresses it up for the holidays.

Anyone else have some ideas?

Archadeck Outdoor Living Named to Qualified Remodeler’s Exterior 200

We at Archadeck Outdoor Living are thrilled to announce that we have been named to both Qualified Remodeler’s Top 500 and their Exterior 200.

Qualified Remodeler releases their list of Top 500 companies each year based on analysis from remodelers across the entire nation. Nationally, Archadeck Outdoor Living has been ranked number 21! We want to thank and congratulate all of our franchisees on such a great ranking. We were also named the top performer in the deck category.

Archadeck Outdoor Living was also named to Qualified Remodeler’s Exterior 200 for those companies that reported that the majority of their work in the categories of decks, doors, outdoor living, roofing, siding, sunrooms, windows and other exterior work.

Rob Heselbarth, editor of Qualified Remodeler stated “Considering the economic conditions facing our nation, your achievement of this double recognition is even more remarkable. Your success illustrates homeowners’ keen awareness of the value of professionally installed remodeling projects.”

Our Archadeck franchisees and their sales and support staff do such an incredible job day in and day out creating stellar custom outdoor living spaces while providing wonderful customer service. It’s nice to have that work rewarded.

Curved Deck Adds Charm to Georgia Home

At Archadeck Outdoor Living, our motto is “better building by design.” We take great pride in the fact that each and every one of our outdoor living projects is different and custom designed to fit the homeowner’s needs, tastes and budget. We have a needs assessment that guides our designers as they create the perfect space for their clients. Our deck builder in Hawkinsville, GA recently created an outdoor living space using an old feature of the property as his inspiration.

Stephen Denton, the owner of Archadeck of Central Georgia, was asked by his clients to create a deck design around an old well that the home had. The house was built in the 1800s and had some beautiful charm as a result of its age. The old well had been filled in and works as a flowerbed, but the homeowners did not want to get rid of it due to the history behind it. Instead, they wanted a unique outdoor living space that mirrored its shape, thus the curved deck was born.

The curved edges of the deck enhance the curve of the well that sits in the center of the deck. Rounded decks, however, don’t work on certain properties due to the landscape. In general, decks must having railings for code and safety issues (no one wants an injury), but curved railings are expensive. They have to be specially made because you can’t bend wood or rail caps to follow the unique curve. Luckily this project didn’t need to have railings. The evenness of the yard allowed Stephen to build a low-to-grade deck which means the structure is low to the ground. If the deck is less than 30 inches off the ground, code says that the structure doesn’t need railings, so the sides of this project were left open. The homeowners are thrilled that the view from their deck isn’t blocked by railings and is completely open to the backyard (not to mention it saved them money). Railings were added to the straight edges of the deck and stairs so visitors have something to hold on to while traveling around some parts of the space. The railings on the side also give the deck added definition.

When considering what the deck in Hawkinsville should be made of, the homeowners were clear: they wanted low maintenance. Stephen used TimberTech composite decking in a deep walnut color so his clients can easily keep the space looking like new and don’t have to worry about rot, mildew or bugs as the boards age. Archadeck of Central Georgia was able to build the deck without breaks in the boards too. No two boards are right next to each other on the ends, creating a clean finished look.

The last part of the deck design was the trellis. Not only can the homeowners use it as a place to hang or grow vegetation, but they also added an outdoor curtain that they can open and close for added privacy.

I love projects like these where a request to keep and highlight a special feature, like this well, drove the deck design. It’s a unique project that the homeowners love. It’s functional, yet charming.

To learn more about designing an outdoor living space that you and your family can enjoy, download the Archadeck Design Guide, or contact your local Archadeck office.

Checking Your Outdoor Living Spaces after Sandy

Our thoughts and prayers are with those that are recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. At Archadeck Outdoor Living, our passion is improving outdoor living spaces for families to enjoy and unfortunately strong storms and hurricanes like Sandy can bring havoc on such areas of the property.

As the weeks and months of recovery beginning, we wanted to offer guidance to those that were impacted regarding their outdoor living areas. High winds and rains can cause damage to decks, porches, patios, etc. and it’s important to look for that damage and have it repaired by a deck professional.

Here are some things to look for:

  • Exposed or washed out footings/foundations. Especially in areas where flooding occurred, it’s important to check and see if you can see the foundations of your deck or if the structure seems to have sunk. This is one of the most important safety components of your deck, so if you are worried about the structure, call your local deck builder to come and take a look.
  • Erosion under your deck or on your patio. The ground underneath a deck helps support the foundation of it. When the ground is washed away either by high winds or rain like many areas experienced due to Sandy, it weakens the structure. For patios, the pavers are locked in by compacted dirt and sand. Under harsh conditions some of the sand may be swept away, leaving the pavers loose and unsafe to walk on.
  • High winds may weaken decks, especially older decks. If any deck boards, railings or steps are loose and shaky, it’s important to have a professional come and look at the structural integrity of the project.
  • For structures that are attached to the house, check for any water infiltration at the place of attachment. For many homeowners that will be in the crawl space or basement of their home. If there is water dripping, it can cause damage to the structure of not only your outdoor living space, but your home.

Mother Nature can cause safety issues when it comes to outdoor living spaces. After big storms like Sandy, you should have an outdoor living contractor come and inspect your spaces. At Archadeck, we offer a deck safety inspection where we check all parts of your structure and provide recommendations as what you may need to do now and what you can plan for in the future.

Outdoor Classrooms Gain Popularity

I periodically visit the college I graduated from (go Spiders!) to see how the campus has grown and changed. Since I was there as a student, numerous changes have occurred including a new International studies building. It’s beautiful, but one of things I found most interesting was actually outside the building. Behind the building there was an outdoor classroom. It has a few rows of retaining walls made for seating and an outdoor chalk board for teachers to write notes.

Outdoor Classrooms, according to Newsday, are gaining in popularity as they provide an opportunity for students to spend more time outdoors instead of constantly inside. Some schools are using their outdoor classrooms as a place to learn about nature and science. For younger students, this could be a great place for some of the messier experiments that usually are done inside.

The designs of outdoor classrooms vary widely. While some, like the one at my alma mater, have rows and a chalkboard, others are a little more unconventional. At Mount Olive College in North Carolina, their outdoor classroom is circular and from above creates a Celtic cross. It was created for outdoor lectures and can hold up to 30 people.

To me, this is an exciting development. I can’t remember how many times throughout school I wished we could go outside for a class.

At Archadeck Outdoor Living, our hardscapes or covered porches would make for great outdoor classrooms. An important design feature is to make sure that anything new on a particular property doesn’t look like an afterthought, but as an extension of the space. If a school, for example, consists of all brick buildings, the finishes on the outdoor classroom should be brick as well.

Another point to consider is how the space will used as some components may not be portable. Should it have rows? Are tables better? Will a chalk board of some kind be necessary for students and teachers to write notes to follow along? These are all things that your outdoor living designers and contractor should be asking you so you get an outdoor classroom that not only looks great, but will be used.

If you have questions about if an outdoor classroom is right for your school, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Construction Details that Make Your Deck Last

Deck safety is a topic that we cover regularly on Beautiful Back Yard blog because it’s important. We at Archadeck Outdoor Living want your deck, or other outdoor living space to not only last, but stay safe as time goes on. After each completed project we survey our clients regarding their experience with us and our craftsmanship is a common theme:

“The materials and workmanship are very high quality” – customer in Birmingham

“High quality of workmanship delivered with excellent communication in a very professional manner" – customer in Golden, CO

“The whole experience was positive – from the planning phase, to the construction, and then finally the finished project. We’re extremely happy with the result.” – customer in Kansas City

“The sturdy construction, the ingenuity and the way it looks like it was always meant to be on the house.” – customer in Pittsburgh

The way you build a deck is the key to making both beautiful and worth the investment, that’s why we make sure that go above code requirements. On average, our projects are built to exceed code by 40-60% to guarantee that our clients have a solid and secure structure. Strong craftsmanship is often noticed in the details. While nails can be used to add decking to a structure, Archadeck Outdoor Living regularly utilizes screws or hidden fasteners that are less likely to back out of the board with time.

How the boards are placed is also important, especially if it’s wood. Whenever we can, we place the boards so the grain is perpendicular to traffic so that the splintering becomes less of an issue as it ages.

Our Archadeck standards also emphasize the small details that make a big difference. Risers are incorporated on stairs, trim hides unsightly board ends, and hidden fastener systems are employed where applicable. These are the finishes that make your space extra special.

If you have questions regarding Archadeck Outdoor Living and our construction process, please contact your local office.

Enjoy Your Neighborhood from Your Front Porch

I have two rambunctious nephews that cannot sit still. They’re 5 and 3 and as you can imagine, full of energy. They live in a great neighborhood with a ton of young kids. Like clockwork, when everyone is home from school, the kids race outside to play. I was visiting them a little while ago and watched the outdoor antics all from my brother’s front porch.

My brother lives in a newer subdivision in South Carolina. There are five or six floor plans for people to choose from, but it’s the outside finishes which stops them from looking all the same. One of those finishes is the front porch. Some have just a simple stoop, others have a front porch that spans the width of the home and others have wrap around porches.

Front porches and porticos are a great way to add personality and function to your home. My brother’s porch was the perfect place sit back, catch up and still have a clear view of my nephews. Neighbors stopped by for a few minutes, chatted and went on their way. What can I say? Porches make great outdoor living spaces for spur of the moment visitors.

Growing up in Maine (yup, I just made the jump from South Carolina to Maine), our front porch was where we took off our muddy or wet shoes before we stomped our ways through the house. It was essential to my mom’s sanity. When it was raining or snowing, we would slip out of our boots and step right inside. We were safe from the elements and didn’t have to track dirt inside.

Beyond functionality, front porches and porticos add personality to a home. Custom" porch designs":https://www.archadeck.com/design-ideas/porches/front-porches/covered-front-porch-entrance-with-extended-front-deck/ make sure to add to the beauty of the home while not making it look like an afterthought. The colors, trims and finishes should complement what is already there. Here are some examples of beautiful front porch designs from Archadeck Outdoor Living:

This homeowner in Rhode Island wanted a extra space on the front of your home. The porch and added gazebo were finished with the same roofing and trim that was on the house previously.

If you are interested in how a new front porch or portico can enhance the front of your home, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Incorporating Nature in your Outdoor Living Spaces

A family friend of mine has a stunning oak tree covered with Spanish moss on their South Carolina property. It is a defining feature in their backyard, but when they were considering adding on to their already existing outdoor living space, they contemplated removing it. Luckily, they worked with a great patio designer who created a space around the large oak and it is now a focal point of the patio and deck.

At Archadeck Outdoor Living, our custom designs often incorporate the natural features of the property since many of our clients want to keep the outdoor elements in their outdoor spaces? One of the most common issues/design concerns are existing trees. While some homeowners may be OK with removing a few trees for an enhanced deck or patio design, others like to include the trees in their space. In these two examples, you can see that the deck is built around the trees. Here the decking is close enough to the trunks of the trees where additional railing isn’t needed, but sometimes it is necessary for added safety. Both of these projects remind me of tree houses, which I love.

Built-in planters are also a great way to bring some plants and flowers into a space in a clean, organized way. While they are permanent design features in the space, what fills them can also be changed out by the homeowner to fit the season. Daisies and petunias would be great in the spring and summer, while yellow and orange mums are perfect for the fall months. Whereas purchasing new outdoor furniture can be expensive, changing flowers and foliage in built-in planters is a great way to update the look and feel of a space quickly. Here are some great examples of ways to incorporate planters in your outdoor living space:

If you are looking to renovate your outdoor living space, ask your designer if there are ways for you to incorporate natural elements. To talk to an Archadeck Outdoor Living designer, please contact your local office.

Privacy Screens Block Unwanted Eyes

I live in a hilly neighborhood that I walk with my dog all the time. Whenever I walk, I always look around at the houses and wave to neighbors. Recently I started noticing that the change in elevation truly impacts the amount of privacy that me and my neighbors have in our backyards.

When my husband and I bought our house there was already a small deck off of our kitchen. While most of it is open to our yard, there is a privacy screen of lattice on one side. If it wasn’t there, everyone walking on the street (we live on a corner) would be able to look right onto our deck as the top of our six foot fence is below our deck height on that part of the yard (the yard slopes). Although our privacy screen isn’t completely solid, it gives me enough privacy so I don’t feel like I’m on display for the rest of the neighborhood.

Privacy is a keep component to an outdoor living design. While some homeowners enjoy an open design where they can easily see and interact with neighbors, others want a more room-like feel complete with privacy walls incorporated.

Privacy walls come in a wide variety of styles that we can design to complement your outdoor living space. While some may be built of solid wood, others, like mine, incorporate lattice. Some privacy walls also include built in planters so you can switch the look as you see fit (daisies in the spring and mums in fall).

Here are some great examples of Archadeck Outdoor Living privacy walls:

Sunrooms, enjoying the outdoors from the indoors

I am the proud granddaughter of the cutest 93 and 91 year old ever. They may not be young bucks anymore, but they have a routine that they love. A few weeks ago I flew up to Maine to visit them in their new apartment at an assisted living complex. My grandmother raved about the whole place and said that there was only one thing she missed from her house: the sunroom.

About 10 years ago, when Gram and Gramp were still living in the house my mother grew up in, they added a sunroom to the side of their house. It quickly became their favorite spot to sit throughout the day and the epicenter of the home.

My grandmother’s reasoning behind adding the room (because she makes all the decisions) was that she wanted a brighter, more open room to enjoy the day. She liked watching the neighborhood kids walking to and from school and my grandfather cutting the bushes in the yard. When it was originally built, I thought they would only use it in spring and summer when it wasn’t too cold (it was Maine and all), but I was wrong.

Despite the frigid air, the sunroom builders created a room for all four seasons. When it was warm out, my grandparents would open all the windows and turn on their ceiling fan if needed. In the cooler months, they used a space heater that was installed in the wall that efficiently heated the room. It turned out to be the perfect spot to curl up and enjoy a cup of hot chocolate (grandparents always have hot chocolate) while the leaves turned colors and snow began to fall.

At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we design and build custom sunrooms that transition perfectly into the client’s existing home. Transition is important when considering adding a sunroom. While in general sunrooms do add significant value to your home, it’s important to have it planned out properly. The new project shouldn’t take away from the existing architecture of the home, but instead be a flawless addition.

For our clients, sunrooms are the perfect place to enjoy their outdoor surroundings from the comfort of the indoors. Because they can be built to be used all year round, they truly add to the amount of usable space of your home. Here are some great examples of Archadeck Outdoor Living sunrooms:

Garapa Deck in Old Greenwich, CT

I was recently looking for pictures of some new Archadeck Outdoor Living projects when I came across this one from our deck builder in Greenwich, CT, Rick Crossman. I thought the before and after photos from the space were incredible, making the space not only bigger, but more open and usable.

When Rick first visited these homeowners, they had an old bi-level rectangular deck and railing. Their biggest objective for the new deck was to increase the amount of livable space. Their original deck was too small and the dining and seating spaces were too close together for their liking.


Rick designed a space for them that would better fit their entertaining and relaxing needs. Two design components that really helped open up the space was keeping the deck on one level and removing the railings.

Multi-level decks are a great way to separate different parts of an outdoor living space that needs to serve multiple purposes, but if it isn’t done correctly it can cut off part of the space. The one level deck Rick designed was large enough to have clear areas for dining and for lounging while still having an open feel.


The homeowners wanted their new deck to open up to their backyard and garden. The original railings were cutting those off completely. Rick suggested removing the railings and replacing them with stairs and a built in bench to keep from obstructing the views, and man, did it open it up.

Once the design was finished, Rick and the homeowners had to decide what to materials to use in the build. The homeowners wanted wood as opposed to composite or pvc decking. Rick decided that Garapa decking (with an Azek trim), a Brazilian oak, would be the best choice for their home. Garapa is an exotic wood that is intrinsically hard and is naturally resistant to rot and insects. Garapa projects are known to last over 20 years in some cases.

If you have questions regarding outdoor living spaces and how they could enhance your home, please contact your local Archadeck office.

Happy Labor Day from Archadeck Outdoor Living

Labor Day weekend marks the unofficial end of the summer. Kids will be going back to school and the nights will start to get longer. At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we don’t think the cool fall nights should force homeowners indoors. Instead cozy up around a custom fireplace or fire pit.

I grew up in a home where family time was spent around the fireplace. I loved it. As an adult, I had to have a fireplace when we were looking for a new home. And as we were looking to update our backyard, my first idea was to add a fire pit. Outdoor fireplaces and fire pits come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and finishes so they don’t look like an afterthought but a natural extension of the home.

Our Archadeck Outdoor Living franchisees design custom fireplaces and fire pits that are sure to enhance your outdoor living spaces. Do you need an edge around the pit for food and drinks? No problem. How about storage along the side of your fireplace for wood or accessories? You got it. Your outdoor project will be designed with you, your home, your tastes and your budget in mind. Take a look at some of these beautiful Archadeck fireplaces and fire pits:

If you are interested in learning more about custom fireplace and fire pits, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Rustic Deck in Colorado brings Australia to America

I know, I know, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, but some of the outdoor living spaces that our Archadeck Outdoor Living franchisees design and build are so unique and beautiful. I saw this one from our deck builder in Arvada and after getting the details on the project, I had to share. Not only is it a great space anyone would be happy to have, but it is VERY personal to the homeowner.

Our Archadeck of the Foothills owner, Ben Wood, met these homeowners back in February at a local home show. They were interested is changing their outdoor living space, removing part of their stamped concrete patio and building a deck at ground level and a smaller deck off their bedroom. As Ben says, “they wanted to create a saloon feel for the lower deck.” One of the homeowners is originally from Australia and wanted to incorporate Australian cedar that she brought to the U.S. from her childhood home in the Australian Outback, a piece of home at their new home!

The wood wasn’t the only place they wanted to incorporate Australia, they did so in the outdoor kitchen as well. Instead of having a stone finished to the body of the outdoor kitchen, they decided to incorporate corrugated metal instead in homage to the tin roofs in the Outback. The upper deck included an overhead drainage system to make sure the kitchen and dining space stayed dry and could be used in any weather.

Ben created a 3D rendering of the rustic design which included French doors from their bedroom onto the upper level deck and a great “pub table” on one of the posts (this was going to be a space for entertaining after all). 3D renderings are a great way for clients to see how the space will look on their home before it’s built.

When it came to building, the Archadeck team paid special attention to keeping the homeowners’ rustic saloon in mind and the outcome was great. Check out these photos!

Outdoor Living Safety, it Doesn’t End at the Deck

Over the last few weeks there have been a few stories of deck collapses in the news where people were injured. We’ve talked about the importance of making sure your deck is safe to use, but safety in your outdoor living space doesn’t end at the deck.

A friend of mine spends a lot of time in his backyard doing projects. He’s cleaned up a lot of the dead trees and branches, cut back bushes and much more. After he removed a large tree, he decided to make a fire pit out of the stumps. For a while it was fine, but eventually the stumps burned up as well and parts of his yard were scorched that weren’t meant to be. Luckily no one was hurt and there haven’t been any more fires in the pit sense, but it did get me thinking about safety. Now I’m not DIYer, but I know a lot of people that really enjoy building things outdoors, but when building something you have to make sure that you are paying attention to local building codes, how you are going to use the space and what materials you are using.

Fire pits are one of the most commonly DIYed projects in outdoors. They’re small, so they must be easy to build, right? Wrong. Not all materials that people think would be fine for a fire pit are. You have to make sure you are getting the right type of stone, the right type of concrete, etc. Make sure that you talk to a professional about the best course of action to taking on that project.

Outdoor fireplaces, like indoor fireplaces, needs to be inspected from time to time to ensure their safety. Soot can build up in the flu and create blockages for the smoke. Also, because they are outdoors year round, they can be affected by the elements. Make sure you are checking for wear periodically.

Patios, walkways and retaining walls also need to be checked for safety periodically. People are constantly stepping on the edges of hardscapes (and sometimes sit on retaining walls). If the project is older some of the pavers or stones may become loose. If one slips when someone is on it, it can result in injury.

If you have any questions regarding the safety of your outdoor living areas, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office. We will come out and check it to see what changes you need to make now and help you plan for future changes and upgrades.

Aging in Place Goes Beyond the House

A recent article from the ARA titled “Remodeling for Aging in Place Today will Help Sell Your Home Tomorrow” discusses changes you can consider to make your home more appealing to an older generation of buyers. “Aging in Place” is a term used for “design features that make it easier for older adults to live on their own longer. These modifications are the fastest-growing segment of the home remodeling industry, says the National Association of Home Builders.” Source.

I can relate to Aging in Place. My parents moved a few years ago and needed to take their age into consideration. Will they want stairs in the house in a few years? Do you need more lights in certain areas? Are wider hallways necessary? They thought about it all. But aging in place design goes beyond the inside of the home. There are features that can be considered to make your outdoor living spaces more convenient as you age.

Stairs are necessary evils sometimes, but certain design features can make them easier on your knees or can provide more support. They can be built wider both length and width wise with a smaller height change. It may result in more stairs, but less pain. Additionally, easy-to-grip railings are a good way to make sure you can keep your balance as you age. My grandparents even had brackets attached to the side of their doorways to help pull themselves up into the house if they needed.

For those people that can’t use stairs at all, ramps are a good option, but they don’t have to be the normal wooden ramps that you so often see. You can have them designed so they flow seamlessly into your space. For instance, instead of the wood skeleton, stone walls may line the edges.

At Archadeck, creating designs that work for you and your family now and in the future is important. How you’ll use the space in 5, 10, 20 years is an important thing to consider when you are investing a significant amount of money so make sure you tell your contractor your future plans.

If you have questions about aging in place design, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Invite Friends and Family Outside with an Outdoor Structure

Archadeck of Augusta’s manager, Tom Leonard was recently interviewed by Columbia County Magazine. While the piece focused on gazebos, pergolas, ramadas and arbors, it was Tom’s quotes that stood out to me; “outdoor structures are a way of drawing people into the yard…they might offer people a different view of their yard or give them a reason to use a certain part of their yard.”

I couldn’t agree more with this notion. Friends of mine bought a home with a large back yard last year. They bought it in large part due to the yard’s size. They saw the potential, but when they bought it, there wasn’t much to the outdoor space. They would host get-togethers where some drinks and food would be outside, but their guests were always indoors. The reason? Besides the food there wasn’t an inviting space outdoors that you would want to sit down and relax in, just grass and dirt. Gradually, our friends have updated their outdoor living space with a large patio off the back of the house that’s perfect for al fresco dining and a fire pit further in the yard. Now when they have people over, their guests are on the patio, out towards the fire pit and everywhere in between. No one is ever inside.

At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we view decks, porches, patios and other projects as more than just structures. They are outdoor living spaces that increase your home’s usable space. When designing a space, “homeowners need to look at the function” of their outdoor living space, says Leonard. Is it a dining area, living area or just a place for you to curl up and read a book? Whatever the function, the size, structure and layout of the space has to mirror its primary use. If completed well, you will want to spend time in it.

A few years ago I visited one of Archadeck of Central Virginia’s clients. They had this beautiful porch off the back of the house which led down to a nice deck. The size of the porch was perfect. Just big enough for an outdoor couch, chairs and space to move around. Sheer curtains were added to the backside of the porch for added privacy as well. Their goal in building the space was to have a homey area outside where they could host friends and family. Trust me, if I was visiting that home, I would want to sit on that porch. And while sitting there, I could take in the beauty of the property (this particular homeowner had quite the garden).

If you are researching the best way to enhance your outdoor living space, take a look at the Archadeck Design Guide. It will ask you all the important questions for you to consider while you are in the planning and designing phase.

Screened Porch and Patio Combination in Chicago Area

In previous posts we have talked about planning your entire backyard space at once and building it in phases as schedules and budgets allow. A recent project from our deck builder in Chicago did just that. David Berryhill owns Archadeck of Chicagoland and last year was contacted by a customer who wanted to upgrade their outdoor living area.

The homeowners originally called David to take down their existing deck and build a new screened porch in its place. While there, they talked about possibly adding a patio in a year or two when they were ready. Knowing the future plan, Archadeck of Chicagoland built the screened porch in 2011. They constructed it out of pressure treated pine that was finished to complement the home’s siding and trim.

Inside the screened porch, two skylights were installed to let more sunlight in as well as a ceiling fan for those hot days. The ceiling itself has wood finish with exposed beams for a more rustic look.

After enjoying their screened porch for a year, the homeowners were ready to add the patio they had initially talked to David about. The low to grade patio was constructed using Belgard Mega Arbel product that has a stone appearance with slight variations in color. For added visual interest, Archadeck Outdoor Living finished the spaces with curved edges instead of the normal straight lines.

Because the addition was planned at the start of the original build, the combination of the screened porch and the patio work extremely well together. Check out these photos of the final product:

Deck Collapse Sends Four to the Hospital

I love the Fourth of July. The barbecues with family and friends, fireworks and the red, white and blue always makes me smile. But unfortunately, for one family, an annual holiday party turned scary when their deck collapsed on Tuesday night before the Fourth.

Earlier this week, a family was having party on their deck in Littleton, CO when the structure broke away from the home at about 9:30pm. Those people who were on the deck at the time of the failure where dropped more than 10 feet to ground level. Luckily for everyone, no one was too seriously injured, but four people were sent to the hospital with bruises and broken bones (they were later released).

This probably wasn’t the holiday party the homeowners had hoped for. Upon looking at the structure, it became apparent that the deck was not up to current building code, resulting in the deck failure. As we discussed during Deck Safety month in May, when a deck is attached to the side of the home, it is strategically bolted to the structure of the home using what is called a ledger board. Instead of bolts, this deck in Littleton was attached using nails.

Nails are inadequate when it comes to providing the safety a deck connection needs. According to Structure Tech Home Inspections, nailed connections are probably the most common cause of deck collapses because they can easily pull out of ledger boards when significant pressure is placed on it.

The ledger board of a deck can usually be seen when accessing the deck from below. If you take a look at your deck from below and only see nails on the board (as opposed to bolts), make sure to call your local deck builder or contractor. Depending on the size of the structure and access to the ledger board, this can be easily fixed.

If you have a deck that you think needs to be replaced or have questions about overall deck safety, please call your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Stamped Concrete – the chameleon of the patio world

I love looking at images of our franchisees projects. They do an amazing job of transforming outdoor spaces into absolutely beautiful retreats. The other day I was on the phone with a franchisee that was showing me an image of what I thought was a flagstone patio. Come to find out, it was concrete. I was floored. It looked so much like flagstone that it took him a little time to convince me otherwise.

Working with Archadeck Outdoor Living I’ve learned a lot about stamped concrete patios and its uses and why it’s a great option for a lot of homeowners. The possibilities, like with so many other outdoor living options, are endless when it comes to concrete patios, driveways, walkways and more.

Stamping concrete became popular in the 1970s as a budget friendly option for homeowners to expand their outdoor living spaces. Since then, the options for colors and finishes have expanded exponentially while it still remains a cost effective finish for many properties.

Paver patios, although beautiful, can be expensive. For homeowners that want the beauty without the price, concrete is a viable alternative. Concrete, like I mentioned in the title, is the chameleon of the patio world as it can take on the look of other materials including flagstone, slate, tile, brick and even wood. So how do patio builders achieve the final look? They do it through coloring and stamping the concrete.

When I think of concrete, my mind goes to the bland grey color, a far cry from the look of tile or brick. A base color, in the form of color hardener powder, is added to the concrete to dye it the right color. Concrete takes color well and can be as vibrant as the client wants. Accent colors are then added to produce the texture. It can come in both powder and liquid forms.

The stamp itself is the key to transforming the concrete into another material when looking at it. Most stamps are made of polyurethane and pushed into the top of the concrete shortly after it’s poured and before it dries. Once dried, the concrete can be stained for more color or accents or sealed to help hold up against the elements.

Stamped concrete has been used both indoors and out for years. If you are interested in learning more about stamped concrete, contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Outdoor Kitchens – the perfect addition to your outdoor living space

This past weekend brought my college reunion. To make sure that we got the most out of having everyone in one place at one time, a friend of mine hosted a barbecue on Saturday. He has a large deck that provides a great place to sit back and relax, but what we learned was it wasn’t great for entertaining 15 or so people.

To make sure that our host wasn’t doing all the work, all of our friends brought food to snack on or throw on the grill. The problem was there wasn’t a convenient place to put it all. There is a small table outdoors that could fit some of the food, but everything else was balanced on the railing of the deck, resulting in some close calls for the burgers.

Whether it’s the lawn, bathroom or furniture, the host of this party is constantly updating his house. During the party we talked about his plans for the future and he mentioned that he’s interested in adding an outdoor kitchen to make it easier in the spring and summer months when he grills out four or five times a week.

Outdoor Kitchens have become more popular in the last few years as people have looked to upgrade their outdoor living spaces. They provide the perfect place to prepare food for friends and family when the weather is nice and can be as multi-purpose as you’d like. While many outdoor kitchens have some counter space and a grill, refrigerators, sinks and ice makers are becoming more popular for added convenience. If having a place for your friends to sit and chat with you as you cook is important, an eat-in bar can be added as well.

One benefit of including an outdoor kitchen in your space is that you can easily incorporate it into your already existing outdoor living structure, whatever it may be. The size, shape and finish can be completely customized to your outdoor space so that it fits in seamlessly. At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we have designed and built outdoor kitchens that include tile, granite, brick, stone and more. Check out these outdoor kitchens:

This L-shaped outdoor kitchen includes a built-in grill, burner and seating to provide a lovely place to prepare food for friends and family. It’s finished with stone and tile for a clean look.

The brick base of this L-shaped outdoor kitchen complements the brick finish of the home perfectly. It has granite countertops for easy clean up and a built-in grill and warmer.

Who wouldn’t enjoy an outdoor kitchen like this? This a classic galley style kitchen. Since it is under a porch providing some protection from the elements, a TV is mounted to the back wall for the viewers pleasure. It has a gas grill, sink and dishwasher so you don’t have to carry the platters, dishes and utensils back and forth. Instead, what’s meant for outdoor dining can stay outdoors.

Lastly, this is a custom-shaped outdoor kitchen with everything that a chef may need. Not only does it have, a grill, sink, burner and dishwasher, it also has a wood burning pizza kitchen for that perfect pizza. Yum!

With outdoor kitchens like this, I’m not sure I would need an indoor kitchen (just kidding). If you are interested in learning how an outdoor kitchen could be added to your space outside, please contact your local Archadeck location.

Outdoor Remodels Continue to Payback

A recent study by Harvard University’s Remodeling Futures Program reported that home remodeling will increase by year’s end. And according to Hanley-Wood’s Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value report, upgrading your outdoor living space may be a good place to start.

Whether it’s a kitchen, bathroom or living room, any remodeling project can cost you money and hassle. Deck and outdoor living remodels, however, tend to be less expensive than those projects that take place in your home, and according to Hanley-Woods, offers more than 60% payback when it comes time to sell your home. And since they take place outside your daily life isn’t uprooted as much as with some other projects.

In recent years, we at Archadeck Outdoor Living have seen that more homeowners are investing in their outdoor living spaces instead of looking to purchase a new home. Some of the projects have been large decks, patios, porches, sunrooms, screened rooms or a combination, but it doesn’t have to be a big project. Instead of a complete replacement of what you have, an outdoor remodel can be updating what you already have. For instance, a home may have a good sized deck that is structurally sound, but may need a bit of freshening up. A thorough cleaning and fresh coat of paint can make a deck look like new. Some homeowners will also change out their railings to give their deck or porch a new appearance.

If you like the outdoor living spaces you have, but wish it were bigger, add-ons can be an option. Have you always wanted a patio off of your porch? No problem. Would you use your space more if you had an outdoor kitchen or fire pit? Great ideas! Adding on to your outdoor living spaces is a great way to increase your outdoor living space while sprucing up the look and increasing its value.

As we’ve mentioned before, outdoor living spaces are becoming more and more popular with homeowners and potential buyers. If you are interested in learning how you can increase the value of your home by remodeling the outdoors, please visit us online at Archadeck.com or call your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Poor Deck Safety Leads to Proms Gone Wrong

Prom, it’s one of the best days in many students’ high school careers. Girls spend hours on their hair, makeup and nails before putting on their dresses and waiting for their dates to arrive. Pictures, pictures and more pictures are taken to make sure the memory lasts forever. 2012 is no different, except for two groups of students whose pictures sessions took an eventful twist.

Two groups of students (one in Wisconsin and one in Indiana) were taking pictures when the decks (one was a dock) collapsed. Luckily for them, no one was hurt and everyone was able to make it to prom.

Featured on the Today show (see video on Hulu here), this group of 13 Indiana students got together at one family’s home before heading to prom. As parents are taking pictures upward, the deck collapses. Looking at the video, it seems that the front part of the deck gave out by either due to a footing failure or a failure at the connection from the band/beam to the post.

This second deck failure comes from Wisconsin. Take a look here.

A joist connection failure or board failure could be the cause of this deck collapse. Joists are used to build the frame of a deck (or dock in this particular case). Here, a joist would have been located between the outside frame boards of the deck. When it failed, it could no longer support the boards holding the students.

In both of these examples, the students were lucky that no one was hurt, but that isn’t always the case. Injuries are likely to happen if someone is on an outdoor living structure when it fails. As a structure gets older, it’s important to have a professional come out and inspect its safety. They’ll make recommendations as to what needs addressed now and later so you can be confident in your deck’s safety when you are enjoying your outdoor spaces.

Deck Safety Starts at the House

A few years ago there was a big story here in Richmond about a deck that had collapsed during a weekend barbecue. A group of friends had gotten together to cook out when the deck detached from the side of the house and collapsed. Several people were injured and unfortunately, this is a common occurrence.

In celebration of May’s National Deck Safety month, we want to discuss one of the key components to making a deck safe: the connection to the house. When designing and building a deck for a client, the deck builder has to decide whether to build a free-standing deck or a deck that’s attached to the house via a ledger board. Some homes, such a brick, stone and stucco veneer homes, cannot have attached decks due to code or other site conditions.

For those decks that are attached to the house, a ledger board (band that supports one end of the deck joists) is secured to the house band (horizontal band that’s a part of the house structure). This connection is key to the safety of deck. If it fails, the deck has the possibility of collapsing. As building codes and requirements have changed in the last few years regarding connection, it’s important to have a trained professional come out and inspect your ledger connection. Here are a few things they should be looking for or at:

Flashing – Also known as drip edge, flashing is a material that stops moisture from entering the home. Deck flashing is placed between the house band and the ledger board. An inspector would check to make sure that the flashing is still in place and intact to prevent rot and decay.

Fastener Type and Spacing – Simple nails cannot hold the weight of deck and shouldn’t be used to fasten the ledger board to the house band. ½ inch lag screws or through bolts with washers need to be place 2” from the bottom or top of the ledger and with 1’ of the end. Additionally, they need to be staggered strategically along the horizontal ledger.

Corrosion – With metal fasteners being the keep component to holding your deck together, it’s important to check that all of the pieces are in good working condition. Corrosion can occur over time weakening the system making it more susceptible to breakage or failure.

Rot – Rot is most common at the house band (especially if it isn’t properly flashed), but can also occur along the ledger board. Rot and decay, if not properly inspected and fix can lead to structural decay within your home and ledger failure, causing your deck to collapse.

If you have a deck that is over 7 years old or in questionable condition, we at Archadeck suggest having a trained deck professional come out and inspect the safety of your deck. They will be able to tell you what you need to repair now and what you will need to repair in the coming years. For more information, please visit us at Archadeck.com or contact your local Archadeck office.

May is Deck Safety Month – BE SAFER on your Deck

In the last six years there have been over 179 deck failures resulting in 1,122 injuries and 33 deaths. Those are incredible statistics. It’s May, Deck Safety Month, and we at Archadeck Outdoor Living encourage those homeowners with decks over 10 years to have a thorough deck safety inspection (the average decks lasts 10 years).


“Many of us have delayed home repairs and improvement until they are absolutely essential,” says Rob Haislip, vice president of Archadeck. “Even then, sometimes homeowners don’t have enough information to decide when something is optional or truly a safety hazard that could result in an injury.” That’s why Archadeck offers deck safety inspections to those looking to see if they are in need of a deck repair or replacement. Our deck safety professionals will look at all parts of the deck and make recommendations regarding its safety so you can feel comfortable spending time on your structure with friends and family. It’s important to BE SAFER, an acronym we came up with to make deck safety easy to remember:

B- Boards. Look at the condition of your deck boards. While most wood will show some minor cracks and splits over time, boards should be good and not rotting or damaged.

E- Every Connection. Decks should be built using a variety of fasteners and metal hardware connectors. Check every connection on the deck to make certain that they are not corroded or compromised. Look for nails backing out, red rust and other sings of corrosion that can weaken the integrity of the deck.

S- Structure. If visible, look at the posts, beams and joists that provide the structural framework of the deck. Is there any noticeable sagging between supports?

A- Attachment. The attachment of the deck to the house is where most deck failures occur. Ensure that the deck is properly attached to the house with bolts (no nails!) and is properly flashed for water protection.

F- Foundation/Footings: The foundation/footings support the weight, also known as the load, on a deck and the columns that bear on them. A footing that is sinking may cause a noticeable sag in an area or a column to separate from a beam.

E- Exits. Check the areas where people exit from the deck, usually stairs. Check the condition of the material used on the stair stringers, stair treads and risers. Do the stairs require a handrail? Is there adequate lighting to safely use the exits at night?

R- Rails. Look at the condition of the rail posts and sections of railing to make sure that they aren’t loose or wobbly. Verify that the pickets/balusters are fastened securely and spaced no more than four inches apart.

If you think your deck is in need of a safety inspection, please call your local Archadeck office and ask them to come and evaluate your existing structure.

Archadeck of Harrisburg builds handicap ramp for Helping Hands

We at Archadeck love to hear about the projects that our franchisees build across the country, but we love the ones where our franchisees give back even more.

In March, the Helping Hands of the Builders Association of Metropolitan Harrisburg, their not-for-profit division, received a letter from the Miller family of Boiling Springs, PA. A family member of theirs had become ill with cancer and was having difficulty getting in and out of their home as she now used a walker or wheelchair to get around. To make it easier for the woman, Helping Hands decided to have a handicap ramp built off their porch.

Archadeck of Harrisburg owner, Mike Bowser, who designs and builds decks in Harrisburg and the surrounding areas, gladly donated his and his team’s time to install a larger, handicap accessible door on the porch and build the handicap ramp. “It’s nice to give back;” says Bowser “this family was very deserving and knowing that it’s now easier for Mrs. Miller to go in and out of her home is wonderful. We are thrilled to have been a part of this build.”

Helping Hands is part of the Builders Association of Metropolitan Harrisburg. They frequently work with the local Habitat for Humanity and Center for Independent Living of Central PA (CILCP), “Helping hands is a great way for the builders association members to donate their services to the community,” adds Bowser.

From franchisees working on local Extreme Makeover Home Edition (like our deck builder in Columbus) to smaller projects like this handicap ramp in Harrisburg, we at the corporate office of Archadeck are so happy to see our franchisees give back to their local communities.

Here’s the full story on the Helping Hands build.

Paver Patio in Colorado's Front Range Makes Huge Visual Impact

We at Archadeck love to see all of the custom designed projects that our franchisees create for their clients. Like we’ve mentioned before, whether it’s a patio, porch or deck, each of our outdoor living spaces is created with the customers’ tastes, budget and lifestyle in mind. Recently, Curtis Crays, the owner of Archadeck of Front Range, created the perfect paver patio for clients who had been saving for 10 years for the backyard of their dreams.


The before picture to the right shows the not-so-special outdoor living space they had before. There was a small area that was covered with rocks and a stone path going through it. There was nothing special or comfortable about the space that invited you to spend additional time outdoors overlooking the beautiful foothills of Golden, Colorado. The homeowners knew they wanted the perfect outdoor space and saved for years to make it happen.

When Curtis initially visited the homeowners, they had a clear idea of what they wanted in the space: a large paver patio, stucco wall, an iron gate and some kind of fire feature. And boy did they get it. Look at these after pictures! Wow!


“They deserve to have the space they always wanted,” says Crays. “And we were happy to give it to them.” The Santa Fe style space includes a 160 foot long stucco wall in Valparaiso Clay that provides a clear border to the space, creating an outdoor room. Adds Crays; “that wall is such a focal point to the space. It’s visually interesting but still defines the space and provides additional privacy.”

The patio, constructed with borgert pavers, includes neutral greys to provide an even base and sporadic red pavers that complement the vibrancy of the red stucco. And with 1,000 square feet of patio, the homeowners now have the perfect place to relax or entertain friends and family.

The finishes of an outdoor living space often “make” the space and that’s the case with both the iron gate and the fireplace of this project. The iron gate, with its intricate design, is the perfect “door” to this outdoor living room. An outdoor fireplace was a must for these homeowners and it became a standout feature of this space. Adds Crays “most outdoor fireplaces are low to the ground, but we wanted to do something different. By raising it a few feet it becomes a piece of art on the wall and the lights on either side enhance it even more.”

Although we think this paver patio in Golden, CO is absolutely stunning; in the end it’s all about how the client reacts. In this case, the homeowner had a very clear and concise reaction to the space: “This is exactly what I dreamed of…we absolutely love it.”

Outdoor Dining Rooms – the Perfect Place to Host Friends and Family

This past Tuesday I got together with a bunch of my girlfriends for dinner. It had been a while since we were all in the same place at the same time, and we decided to take advantage. We all went over to my friend Kerri’s house where we prepared the food together while nibbling on appetizers and sipping on some cocktails. It was a great time until I realized, there really wasn’t a whole lot of room in her dining room for all of us. Just when I was about to say something, Kerri ushered us outside.

Off the back side of their house, Kerri and her husband have small deck that is set up perfectly for outdoor entertaining. It has a large dining table that easily fit 8 chatty ladies and the tree lined fence along the side of the yard provided privacy. It was lovely.

Outdoor rooms, as opposed to just some plastic furniture on a deck, porch or patio, have been gaining popularity in recent years. With all of the furniture and accessories that are now available from both big box stores and specialty store, it is easy to create the same homey feeling you have indoors, out. In the case of Kerri’s outdoor dining room, the table was lovely and she had placemats and accessories that were made to stand up to the natural elements. She finished off the space with candles and flowers that made it feel like a true room.

In warmer months it’s nice to spend time outdoors and the opportunities are endless. Check out some of these outdoor rooms that were created on some Archadeck Outdoor Living Structures:

Add Square Footage to your Home – Outside

A new show that has recently caught my attention is Interior Design with Jeff Lewis on Bravo. If you aren’t familiar with Jeff Lewis (you’re missing out) he is also the star of Flipping Out and a high profile interior designer, house flipper and remodeler. He’s a character to say the least. In Interior Design, he and his assistant Jenny (who is great in her own way) move in to the clients’ home and remodel a room or two (along with addressing some of the clients’ personal issues). It is incredible to see what they are able to accomplish in just 5 days.

In Wednesday’s episode, Jeff and Jenny worked with Ross the Intern and his partner Sal. The couple lives in California in a small house that didn’t have the square footage to accommodate the company they liked to entertain. Instead of remodeling a room inside the house, Jeff decided to redo the garage and driveway (which they didn’t park in) and create an outdoor dining room that could fit all their guests, increasing their living space. Over the course of the week, Jeff, Jenny and their team tore up the existing cement driveway and installed large concrete pavers to create a large, and beautiful, patio. They finished it with an outdoor dining room set and bar. Needless to say, Ross and Sal loved it.

The outdoor living industry has grown over the last decade and has really turned into just that, living outdoors. I have experienced this transition first hand. Growing up, my family and I had a simple deck on the back of our house. We sat outside in a few plastic Adirondack-style chairs for a little while and then would go back inside. Although nice, I wouldn’t say it was a great outdoor living space. Now that my parents are retired and live in South Carolina, that’s changed. They have great outdoor living spaces where we spend a significant amount of time when we’re visiting. They have a great outdoor kitchen for preparing, cooking and serving dinner, a dining area where we can eat and a few different lounge areas to enjoy a nice day.

The reason we spend so much time outdoors now is that the spaces we have are truly outdoor living rooms, not just decks, porches, patios, etc. There are so many options for outdoor living now: outdoor furniture, rugs, accessories and more that create a comfortable, homey atmosphere.

Outdoor structures have transformed into true outdoors rooms where homeowners want to spend time. Additionally, by creating these extra spaces, they increase the useable square footage of their property. Last year, for instance, my husband and I decided that we wanted to have our rehearsal dinner at my parents’ house. This would have been a problem had it not been for the outdoor spaces. The house itself just couldn’t hold enough people, but when the doors were opened, guests flowed inside and out and sat wherever they wanted.

At Archadeck, we’ve helped create thousands of outdoor rooms for our clients. It is important to us to understand how you are going to use the space so we can design the perfect project for you and your needs. For some, a screened porch works, for others, it’s a covered porch and patio. Every space is different. If you are interested in increasing your home’s square footage by moving it outdoors, please contact your local Archadeck office.

2012 Design Guide is Now Available!

Featured in this month’s Traditional Home and Country Living is the Archadeck Outdoor Living’s 2012 Design Guide (it is also available to download on our outdoor living website). If you haven’t downloaded the Design Guide, it guides you through the process of creating an outdoor living space. It includes questions to ask and things to consider when planning your outdoor space including:

  • How you will use the space?
  • What views are important to you?
  • How do you want your existing landscaping incorporated?
  • Where in your yard will the project be built?
  • What do you want to put on in your space?
  • Answering questions like these will guide the design phase of your space. It will help you decide what you want to build whether it is a deck, porch, patio, pergola, gazebo, outdoor kitchen or a combination.

If you are thinking about enhancing your outdoor living space, please download our design guide or contact your local Archadeck office.

Power Washing Your Deck – the good, the bad and the ugly

With all the warm weather we’ve been having on the East Coast, more and more people are opening their doors and stepping outside. Spring is less than a week away and it’s now time to prepare your outdoor living spaces for the coming months, including, you guessed it, cleaning.

For those who have wood decks, renting a power washer to clean your deck can make a huge difference, but when done incorrectly, it can also result in unwanted damage. We’ve seen some homeowners who had to replace decking boards after trying to power wash their space because they weren’t 100% sure on how to use the machine.

The key word is “power.” It’s called power washing for a reason. That thing is strong! Power washers (or similar machines) are used to clean grimy streets and etch bricks so it’s not surprising that it can do a number on your deck if done incorrectly. Before using the machine on your deck, take it to an area where you can test it and become familiar with the pressure. A driveway, sidewalk or street will work.


The pressure. On most residential projects, you will rarely need a machine that is more than 1500 pounds per square inch. Even that setting may be too much and cause some damage to both wood and composite decking. The only way to tell if the setting is too high is to watch as you clean. If you see more than dirt coming off your deck, turn the setting down.

The nozzle. The nozzle of the pressure washer can be adjusted to different angles so it can be used for multiple purposes. For the standard deck, a 40 to 60 degree fan nozzle setting is best as it spreads out the power over a greater area as opposed to a zero degree setting that would blast your deck too strongly and will damage boards.

Also, it is important to be careful and not stand too closely to the area you are cleaning. You should be able to stand comfortably while spraying the area 3-4 feet in front of you. If you are too close to the surface being power washed, you can cause unnecessary damage to both your deck and yourself. The water can bounce back at you if you are too close.

Here is a great guide from the Family Handyman on how to use a pressure washer efficiently, effectively and safely.

If you have any questions on care or replacement of decks, please contact your local Archadeck office.

Outdoor Living is Here to Stay

We all know the recession and current economic situation has changed the way we buy. In general, consumers are taking more time with bigger purchases. Despite the uncertain economy, the National Association of Home Builders recently announced a five-year high in the remodeling index in the past fourth quarter. It seems that many homeowners are continuing to spend money updating their current home rather than moving.

According to the Chicago Tribune there are three remodeling trends that are growing in popularity despite tough economic times:

1) In- Law Suites
2) Smarter Kitchens and
3) Outdoor Living Spaces

Prior to the recession, many homeowners were investing significant money in creating their dream backyards and many still are, just to a lesser extent.

“The recession many have dinged this corner of the remodeling industry, but the concept survives. In fact, investing in outdoor living spaces has been a major part of even budget-minded upgrades within existing home footprints. Consumers may be scaling back their wish list, but they’re not cutting back on outdoor entertaining and family time.” – Chicago Tribune

The outdoor living industry is one that continues to grow in popularity. In the Spring and Summer months, it’s hard not to see advertisements or news about outdoor games, recipes, accessories and more. And let’s face it, with barbecues, hammocks and corn-hole, who wouldn’t want to increase their outdoor time?

While the majority of our customers enhance their outdoor areas so they can truly enjoy it, it will add value to their home when it is time to sell. Some experts say that a seller can expect a 75% return on the investment of a new deck for instance.

If you have any questions on how a new outdoor living space can add value to your home, please contact us at Archadeck.com.

Columbus Deck Builder Included in Extreme Makeover Home Edition

I’m a big fan of Extreme Makeover Home Edition. I can’t get through one episode without a few tears streaming down my face, but it’s worth it. It is truly a feel-good show. As you can imagine, I was elated to hear that our Archadeck of Columbus office recently participated in the show’s Christmas build (aired on 12/16/2011).

The house was built for the Rhodes family. The Rhodes had recently opened their home up to their adult daughter who was recently diagnosed with brain tumor and her four kids, however, the house they had at the time was slowly falling apart and was WAY too small for seven people. That’s where the Extreme Makeover team comes in!


Mike Reeder, the owner of Archadeck of Columbus, was asked to be a roof-top deck over a detached garage for the family. He installed a Timbertech deck with aluminum rails, stairs and a beautiful cedar pergola (if you haven’t seen this episode, it’s available online).

Here’s Mike’s memory of the day:

“I was asked to arrive on the 4th day of the build. I got there at 6am and left at 1am the next day, a full 19 hours. Upon arrival, you could feel the love. For the first four hours, we helped with the interior framing of the house. Despite being up all night, the framers were working to finish that step. And boy did they! In the one day I was there the framing was complete, electrical and drywall was installed and painting was started.
The rooftop deck that we built was great, the perfect getaway for the family to grill out and watch their beloved Ohio State football team.
The Extreme Makeover build was a great personal experience for me. It was amazing to see the amount of volunteers. They weren’t just construction workers, but people who just wanted to give back to this family and the community.”
Columbus Deck Builder


We are so proud of Mike and his team for their work on the Rhodes home. Not only was it a wonderful project, but it went to a well deserving family. The only negative? He didn’t see Ty.

Plan Your Dream Backyard Now - Built It In Phases

We’ve said it before and we will say it again, but at Archadeck Outdoor Living, we want to help you make your backyard dreams come true. You want a new deck? Great! A patio off that deck? No problem. How about an outdoor kitchen for the chef in your family? Sounds wonderful. We can design a custom outdoor living space that encompasses all of that, but that doesn’t mean you have to build it all at one time.


Building new structure or updating old structures in your outdoor spaces can be expensive and something that many people save for for years. Spreading the build across a few years may make more sense for you and your family. This is called staged building and it’s something that we think is an important part of the design process.

When you are looking to change your outdoor living space, designing the dream backyard from the start will save you time, money and frustration later. Although you may not add the second piece to the space until a year or two after the first, you don’t want it to look like an afterthought. Instead, you want every aspect of your backyard to work seamlessly with each other. In the initial design phase, it’s important to see how the pieces work together to make sure everything “fits.”

Developing your backyard design in advance may also save you money in the long run depending on what you may be building. For example, if your end goal includes a fire pit, fireplace or outdoor kitchen, you will want to run your gas lines early if they run under your other projects. Small things like this will save you from having to tear up parts of your existing structures to include others.


When talking to your outdoor living contractor, it’s important to mention everything that you eventually want to include in your yard. Ask for “staged” plans showing you how your space will look after each part of the project is built. If you aren’t exactly sure what you need or want, ask yourself questions like “how do I envision myself using the space?” Our design guide will give you further direction on what may fit your needs and lifestyle and give you the best backyard you can imagine.

If you have any questions on staged planning and building, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Creating Outdoor Great Rooms with Pergolas

One of the many benefits of adding an outdoor living structure to your property is that it increases the amount of livable space to your home. Outdoor rooms are becoming increasingly popular and are often used in multiples ways: a living room complete with couches, dining areas, outdoor kitchens, etc. The possibilities are endless when it comes to outdoor living spaces.

You can define different spaces of your outdoor structures in numerous ways, but one of our favorites is the pergola. Seen here to the left, a pergola is shade structure that can be added to new or existing projects.

Pergolas make a dramatic addition to any outdoor living area, creating the feel of a true room at the fraction of the cost of a sunroom or screened porch. Pergola designs vary in size, shape and finish. A fan or triangle pergola may work better for your backyard than the more commonly used square or rectangle pergola. At Archadeck, we work with our clients to not only make sure their new pergola complements their home seamlessly but also that it works well with how they are going to use their space. If the space is going to be used for dining, do you need to include an overhead light? Do you need a fan to combat the summer heat? No problem, these are both easily incorporated to make your space work for you.

Some Archadeck clients are opting to include awnings or louvered roofs to their pergolas for increased shade and definition. A louvered roof gives the homeowner the ability to let sun stream into the space or close it off for a more porch-like feel if wanted. Pergola with awningWith numerous options to consider, pergolas offer a lot of versatility that other structures don’t.

If you’re interested in learning how a pergola or other structure can transform your yard, visit Archadeck.com for inspiration or contact your local Archadeck office.

Plan Your Outdoor Living Space Now and Enjoy it More this Year

It has been unseasonably warm throughout many parts of the country which makes me look forward to the warm days of Spring and Summer. I’m currently in the process of planning a lot of house projects, trips and events for the upcoming months. Why? Well, for one I’m a type A planner who likes to have things organized, and two, some of these things take time and I want to make sure I can enjoy them to the fullest, like updating my deck. You see, I know my deck needs some TLC and I want to make sure I can spend as much time as possible on it this Spring, so that means I need to get the ball rolling.


If you’re like me and enjoy your outdoor living spaces but are thinking of making some changes or may need to address certain aspects of the space, start now. Depending on what types of updates you would like to make to your outdoor living space, it may take some time.

Do you want new outdoor furniture? Look to see how long it will take to get it ordered and shipped so you have it at the beginning of the season. Some companies may have a quick turnaround while custom orders may take up to 12 weeks.

A custom outdoor living space can take up to three months from the first contact with a contractor through design and permits to the completion of the build. The longer you wait to start the project, the less time you get to enjoy it on the sunny and warm days of Spring and Summer.

Even if you aren’t in the market for a new deck, porch, pergola or gazebo, you may want to have your existing structure inspected for safety. Winter conditions will wear on an outdoor living structure so it is important to have it inspected by a professional if it is older than 5 years. You may not need a full replacement, but you may need some extra screws or a few new boards. A quick inspection now will ensure you can safely use your structure the rest of the year.

Outdoor Living is important to all of us here at Archadeck and we want to make sure you get the most out of your spaces outside. If you have any questions, please visit Archadeck.com.

Sunroom or Screened Porch? Why not have both?!

Deciding on a new outdoor living space is a big decision. There are so many options now, decks, patios, sunrooms, porches, outdoor kitchens and more, and they all have their own benefits. In preparing and budgeting for your projects, it’s important that you weigh what is most important to you. Is it size? Material? Budget? These are all questions that you should be able to tell your contractor when the time comes.

One question we at Archadeck Outdoor Living often hear is what’s best, a sunroom or a screened porch? In short, both are great outdoor living options that can add significant value to your home. But now, you don’t have to make the decision of sunroom or screened porch. You can have them both, in one project.

Our customers love sunrooms as they can use them all year round while still being surrounded (on three sides) by the outdoors. Those with screened porches love to sit in the shade and feel the breeze without being bothered by bugs. And then there are the lucky few that have both.


Sliding and removable panels are becoming more popular in the outdoor living category because they provide customers with a variety of ways for their rooms to be used i.e. as both a sunroom AND a screened porch. PGT Eze-Breeze is a vertical sliding panel of vinyl windows that are backed with screens. When the weather is right, slide them down for a screened in porch, and pull them right back up when it’s raining! The panels are custom-made for your project and available in a variety of colors to make sure they complement your home perfectly. The vinyl window is lightweight to make the sliding easy and still provides the same view as regular glass.

Vinyl windows may not work for every location. Some homes need something more durable and insulating. For those customers, we have removable glass panels and windows. In the warmer months, the panels/windows can be removed so that the sides are just screened. And when it gets cold again, just put them right back into place. It’s all about options people!

If you are planning an outdoor living space and aren’t 100% sure what you want, it’s important to start asking yourself some questions, like how are you going to use the space? What views are important to you? The Archadeck Design Guide can help guide your thinking and prepare you for future meetings with contractors. And, as always, feel free to contact us, or your local Archadeck office for more information.

Backyards that Dreams are Made Of

I admit it, I’m a HGTV and DIY Network junkie. Although I in no way consider myself a DIYer (does raking your own yard count?), I am a homeowner and constantly dream about updating spaces all the time. My favorite shows? House Hunters, Yard Crashers and The Outdoor Room with Jamie Durie. Two of the three obviously have to do with outdoor living spaces, but outdoor living plays a large role in House Hunters too. How many episodes feature couples who want a great deck with a view or a nice space to spend time outdoors with their kids?


I’m going to focus on Yard Crashers and The Outdoor Room for the sake of this conversation. Why do I love them? 1) Because I love spending time outdoors, 2) our yard has plenty of outdoor space with a lot of potential and 3) it allows me to dream. I dream of a large deck with a lower level patio with a fire feature in the corner. Or maybe it would be better with a covered porch for entertaining friends and family. How about having it all? Oh the possibilities.


The possibilities could be a reality with Archadeck. I work with our Archadeck franchisees every day who tell me about different projects they are designing and building for their clients. And you know what? They are truly DREAM backyards. Whether it’s a smaller deck or a project that has it all, they are all beautiful, custom and perfect outdoor living spaces for the homeowner.

Among outdoor structures the pergola rises to the top

Sometimes it is the small things in your outdoor oasis that make the biggest statement. Take for example the pergola. Pergolas give you the capability of turning an outdoor space into an outdoor room for very little cost.

The pergola is among the fastest growing elements in backyard building. In addition to being able to provide a small intimate environment, pergolas provide loads of ambiance to your outdoor living area and landscape.

Gone forever are the days of two posts with a board across the top. Today’s pergolas come in a myriad of shapes, sizes, materials. Today’s pergolas often have all the electrical accoutrements that are available in outdoor areas such as patios and porches. These accoutrements include speakers, lighting, fans and much more.

Remember the pergola of the past that served as a decorative feature at the end of the pool? Pergolas today are used as hot tub covers, swing covers, garden area covers and patio covers.

Pergolas can be attached to other structures such as patio covers and even screen porches. On average we see a 50/50 split of stand alone pergolas versus attached. Modern pergolas are being built nowadays to promote the feeling of a room, and a vast majority of them have lighting so it can be used in the evening as well as the daytime.


In order for the pergola to fully function like an outdoor room you want to be able to provide shade as well as protection from the elements. Companion products are the answer and continue to transform your yard by dressing up your pergola and giving it either more sun protection, more wind protection, or both. These are things like shade fabric that is built into the roof of the pergola, curtains made of weather resistant plastic, and drop down weighted blinds to add more shade or wind protection on one side and even awnings. Once you put an awning inside the pergola, you get protection from the wind, rain and a place to provide much-needed shade which is still much less expensive than building a room. The construction of the pergola itself can be made more conducive to providing protection from the elements by the space variance between the cross beams located atop the pergola as well. The closer the beams are set, the more protection your pergola will offer.


Popular materials for pergolas include unique materials, and material combinations. We are getting more requests for the beautiful rustic beauty of cedar, and redwood. We also use combinations of wood, PVC and even fiberglass columns. Most of the fancy rafter detailing which is hot right now comes from using wood because PVC and other synthetics don’t lend themselves to ornate detailing. One of the unique facets of the pergola’s design is that there are no set standards so your pergola can really become a creative piece that you can add your own personal touches and character into. From shape, size, function, location and materials the world is your oyster.

Contact Archadeck to design and build the pergola of your wildest dreams. When it comes to the design and functionality possibilities of the pergola, the choices are endless! You can find the Archadeck location nearest you by visiting our locations list located on our website.

If you are still yearning for examples of the pergolas beauty and uses, visit our pergola and trellis gallery located on our website.

Archadeck turns one deck into two outdoor living spaces with the installation of their dry deck system


Many homeowners ask us what to do with the unused space that is located under their second story, or multi level deck. In many of these cases the area located underneath the deck can be used as an additional outdoor living space that works like a covered patio or covered porch. It can be used when the weather won’t allow you to use your deck, or as an extension of living space perfect for reading or relaxing on those warm sunny days when all you really want is a shaded spot for peace and quiet. Being able to create that special spot is as simple as constructing or re-decking your multi-level or second story deck with the proper solutions to take advantage of your under deck space. Archadeck uses a dry deck system, also referred to as a rain deck to turn the space into an oasis for you and your family.

A dry deck system entails adding certain waterproofing materials and building techniques that facilitate a dry space. This also keeps moisture away from your existing home and your deck’s sub-structure. To do this we us a specialized roofing membrane that keeps moisture from penetrating the surface and enables you to have a complete, cohesive dry roof underneath the deck. By placing the roofing membrane atop the framing members and installing a gutter which can catch and divert rain and moisture off and away from the deck and home. You then have a worry free answer to creating a dry space you can enjoy for many years to come. Archadeck of Austin recently took us to a project where they had recently installed a dry deck system to a second story deck that was built with tigerwood, and we had the opportunity to videotape the details

Along with Archadeck of Austin, many of our locations throughout the country recommend the use of a dry deck system, or rain deck to put the space located under their decks to good use. Archadeck of Columbus wrote an article that showed us the importance of using a rubber membrane to prevent rot and decay, you can read the article by visiting

Using a dry deck system is like having your cake and eating it too. Our dry decking system is perfect for multi-level, second story and rooftop decks as well. Contact your local Archadeck location to learn more about our dry decking system process and to create a double outdoor living area that will double your enjoyment with this simple step. Visit our locations list located on our website to find an Archadeck location near you.

Archadeck uses creative hardscaping to build functionality and style into our designs


When thinking about building a memorable hardscape such as a patio, outdoor fire pit or outdoor fireplace or even an outdoor kitchen, it is the details and subtle nuances present in the design that make it a cut above the rest. Seeking areas to add design oriented touches and beauty can not only make your hardscape a pleasure to look at, but sometimes adding these touches can also add to the functionality of your structure as well.

We like to call these nuances and design details, creative hardscaping. Thinking outside the box when it comes to creating a backyard hardscape takes experience, and design expertise. One example of creative hardscaping is creating a seating or relaxation area with little more than an idea and additional hardscape material. For example, you can create a seating area to complement an outdoor fireplace or fire pit by incorporating a roomy hardscape ledge or hardscape bench seating. With this added seating area, there is no longer a need to bring in outdoor furniture for a place to sit while the fire pit is in use.


Using hardscape materials in an innovative manner is not exclusive to fire pit designs. There are endless possibilities of ways to use hardscapes to enrich and expand your outdoor living enjoyment through design. A simple patio can become a place of enchantment for a child by extending the patio area to include an area that shines new light onto the typical playful sandbox of yesteryear. An outdoor kitchen and grilling area becomes an outdoor bar perfect for entertaining with just a little imagination.


If you are planning an outdoor structure with hardscapes in your near future, contact Archadeck to plan, design and build a hardscape that uses the art of creative hardscaping in each and every design. Not only will you be the envy of the neighborhood, but the functionality it will add to your backyard enjoyment will astound you as well. To find an Archadeck location close to home visit our locations list, located on our website.

See more stunning hardscape designs by visiting our patio and hardscapes gallery also located on our website.

Put a little holiday in your step with a new deck by Archadeck

In many parts of the country a deck is an outdoor structure that can be enjoyed year round. With mild climates and the prospect of an “Indian summer” coming to call, homeowners in many areas of the country can enjoy the holidays outside just as easily as within the confines of their home. Taking advantage of crisp, fresh air and the true sights and sound of the season are a privilege to experience. Watching squirrels gather nuts and berries, feeling the wind blow through a majestic southern live oak tree and tickle your senses and even the smell of a cedar growing close by can all be enjoyed from the ultimate vantage point, atop your custom-built deck by Archadeck.

These Atlanta homeowners are doing just that from their new deck that is truly a deck for all seasons. This Christmas deck is courtesy of the talents of Jeff Mullins and Sol Elisha of Archadeck of Greater Atlanta. This stunning deck is all decked out for the holidays in style. A scene like this gives new meaning to the old saying that there is no place like home for the holidays! This stunning multi-level diagonally installed composite deck has separate areas for lounging, eating or dining, and entertaining. The addition of recessed lighting carefully integrated into the staircases design ensures safe passage from one level of this stunning deck to another, and promotes an essence of romanticism as well.


This already breathtaking deck has been make even more so by being decorated for the holidays. Can you imagine peering out your window on Christmas Eve and seeing this welcoming design of Christmas decorations and lights upon your deck? The homeowners creativity and talents really shine through. I don’t believe Ole’ St. Nick could have pulled it off better himself. The entire creation sets the stage for a perfect spot to make holiday magic come true and is also a spot to create lasting holiday memories.

Archadeck specializes in designing and building many other genres of outdoor structures, including stunning and versatile decks. Can you imagine a covered patio used as an extension of your living and entertaining space complete with an outdoor fireplace integrated into the design? You could even top off the season with stockings hung with care by your outdoor fireplace, or maybe adorn the structures interior with whimsical Christmas decorations and lights. Remember that Santa doesn’t mind coming to call in your exterior room when it is all decked out in style for the holidays to welcome his arrival.

Archadeck also makes the perfect gift this season. A new deck, patio or pergola is the gift that keeps on giving all year through. What could be more amazing than receiving a gift that offers years of outdoor living enjoyment?


To learn more about laying the foundations of creating your own “Christmas deck” much like the ones you see here, or to give the ultimate gift this year. Contact the deck and outdoor living experts at Archadeck. Give yourself and your family the gift of a deck this Christmas, and next year you can stage a scene that will remind you of the magic and beauty of the holidays.

To find an Archadeck location near you visit our locations list, located on our website.

This three-season porch by Archadeck of Central Connecticut becomes a hero

There are certain things that are part of our daily lives that are made to protect us from harm and disaster. Automobiles are equipped with seat belts and air bags to protect us in the event of a crash. Medications are packaged with child-safety caps to keep our children from harmful medications. The list of items that are designed to keep us safe can go on and on. But who would dream a 3-season porch would be on that list? We just added this 3-season room built by Archadeck of Central Connecticut to that list.

In the quiet of a recent Sunday morning at around 1:30 a.m. in Central Connecticut, something happened to these homeowners while there were fast asleep in their beds. A huge tree fell within their yard and was heading straight for their house. Fortunately, the tree hit their 3-season porch built by Archadeck of Central Connecticut first. Although the tree was tall enough to hit the main house. The tree removal people told us that it would have “sliced the house open” were it not for the porch taking the brunt of the tree’s falling force. This means that not only did the structural quality of the porch sustain the blow of the tree and keep it from destroying the home, it quite possibly could have saved their lives as well.

The only damage to the porch, other that some slight damage to the rake edge of the roof, was a large branch that punctured the upper half of the Artistic Enclosures Contemporary panel. This tragedy is proof of how crucial it can be to choose a qualified, reputable custom builder to engineer and build your outdoor structure.

Very often, homeowners will take the easy way out by choosing a less-reputable builder to construct their outdoor living space. Usually this decision is made to save a little money, or to get their project completed sooner. Unfortunately, for many homeowners this decision proves to be a mistake in the long run. Shoddy workmanship, and inferior quality materials may not be visible to the naked eye early on, but after only a short time the faults will come to the surface. As was the case with this Connecticut homeowner, making the decision to hire a reputable professional builder really paid off. Archadeck prides themselves on quality products and expert design and craftsmanship on every structure we build.

Archadeck’s construction standards are mandated across the entire Archadeck network. This is just one facet of the pride and care we take in every outdoor structure we build, other facets include…

  • Archadeck Unified Structural System governs construction process.
  • Strict adherence to our proprietary Construction Master File documenting all construction details.
  • Construction to and above local and national code.
  • Professional project documentation throughout.
  • Meticulous attention to finish details assure aesthetic integrity.
  • Constructed as an extension of your home, not an “attachment.”
  • Entire process reflects professional craftsmanship and utmost respect for your property.


With Archadeck, you get more than just a well-built outdoor structure, you get the experience and integrity to go along with it. A professionally designed and built outdoor structure from us gives you the peace of mind that you are getting the most from your investment, and peace of mind as well. Contact Archadeck to learn more about the “Archadeck difference”, you will be glad you did. Contact us today to learn more.

To locate an Archadeck location in your area visit our locations list, and locations map, located on our website.

Thanks again to Phil Brown, owner, and his entire staff and crew at Archadeck of Central CT for keeping this family safe from the storm.

Tip-toe through the tulips with a custom patio cover by Archadeck that showcases your own patio garden


When you think of the reasoning behind building an outdoor structure such as a patio cover in your backyard you have to really focus on the term “outdoor”. Homeowners make the decision to ultimately add such a structure because of a deep love for the outdoors. It can be the way the wind feels in your hair. It can be the smell of the brisk fresh air after a summer rain. It can be the way you love to gaze upon the clear night sky. Or maybe you love the way the sun feels on your face. Whatever the personal reason, it all comes down to mother nature and all she has to offer us. Among the many reasons homeowners choose to build an outdoor structure maybe the number one reason that comes to mind is the love of flowers, and gardening.

One way to incorporate flowers and the joy of gardening into your lifestyle and bring it closer to your home is by way of the patio garden, and no patio garden would be quite as enchanting without a patio to enhance the beauty and folly associated with cultivating and nurturing your own patio garden. Covered patios, or patio covers are the perfect way to bring the beauty of the patio garden to life and share the beauty of your bountiful blooms within closer proximity than having to venture into your backyard.

Patio covers can also add valuable outdoor living space to your backyard. They can be incorporated into a design that includes a deck, where the deck would spill into the patio cover adding an abundance of added functional space. Patio covers can also be designed to include other luxurious outdoor amenities such as outdoor fireplaces and outdoor kitchens. There is no limit to what can be included into your patio cover design, the choices are as endless as your own imagination. In terms of working in correlation with a patio garden, your structure can be designed with custom planting areas, so you can watch season to season as the colors and textures of your plantings change.

The same artful design elements that go into creating a patio garden, are also used to create the perfect covered patio as well. Patio covers are usually constructed of hardscaping materials. Whether you choose a synthetic or natural stone, concrete, or even pavers; elements like color, shape, size and location all play a major role in a well designed patio cover. The same can be said about the elements you choose to fill your patio garden with as well.


Archadeck uses high quality materials and expert workmanship as the basis for all their patio cover installations. One of our most popular hardscape materials to use when constructing an outdoor structure such as this are Belgard pavers, as well as various natural stone variations and flagstones. These materials, among the many other choices we offer, have a huge style and color selection available for homeowners to choose the perfect size, shape and color as the foundation of their patio covers design.

Of course when you take the facade of the patio cover into consideration you can’t leave behind the beauty and functionality of the interior. We can create a covered patio that will not only complement your gardening skills, we can also turn the patio cover into a place of endearing relaxation by adding ceiling fans for those warm days and even if you so desire, outdoor water features, outdoor fireplaces, and an outdoor kitchen as well. We can finish out the interior ceiling of your patio cover to make it as beautiful from the inside, as it is from the outside, by the use of design elements such as bead-board ceilings, and even open rafter systems to bring out the rustic side of you. Whatever you fancy, we can incorporate your desires into the design of your patio cover.


If you are ready to “tiptoe through the tulips” by creating a serene environment to enjoy the benefits of a patio garden and any other luxuries mother natures bounty has to offer, contact Archadeck to create a patio cover design that is tailor-made for your love of the outdoors.

To find an Archadeck location close to home visit our locations list which is available by visiting our website.

You can also see more photos of patio covers by visiting our patio and hardscapes gallery also located on our website.

Don't let the chill in the air discourage you from enjoying your outdoor living space

The chill in the air is beginning to become more noticeable all around the country. It signifies the end of summer splendor and its long balmy days spent enjoying your deck. Just because summer has ended doesn’t mean you have to cuddle up inside to keep warm and miss mother nature’s splendor that is still unfolding all around you. Many homeowners are considering the ever-popular option of closing in their existing deck, or a portion of their deck and creating a three or four season room or other outdoor structure that can extend your outdoor living enjoyment into and beyond the cooler months of the year. In order to determine if closing in to create an extended season outdoor living structure would be right for you there are several considerations that have to be bought to the forefront.

The first consideration that has to be addressed is the structural integrity of your existing deck. In order to accommodate the weight of a roofed structure. Many decks are not built to withstand the weight of adding a roof. In order for a deck to be able to withstand the weight of a roof. The foundation of the deck will have to extend all the way to the corners of the structure. In cases where the foundation does not extend to the corners, changes must be made to have the foundation extended and new footers will have to be added in order to safely support and hold the weight. Determining whether or not your deck fits conversion criteria can be answered from a quick inspection by a professional outdoor structure builder, and depending on their findings will let you know how you wish to proceed with getting the deck structurally compatible to withstand a conversion such as a three or four season room, a screened porch or even a sunroom.


Once the issue of foundation reinforcements has been addressed, the next step is to decide which type of conversion would best suit your individual needs. Screen porches are very popular and can be enjoyed late into the fall in many areas around the country, but this all depends on your geographical location and whether the area you live in experiences mild autumns or more harsh, cold autumns. Making the decision to convert your deck or a section of your deck into a screened porch will have benefits even in the warm summer months by keeping insects at bay and protecting you from the sun. Screen porches can be in use even during inclement weather since they are roofed. This means that the backyard dinner you had planned won’t be put on hold with a little rain because you would have a roofed screen porch to utilize. Many homeowners also opt to use a sliding window panel system to make use of their screened porch later into the year. A convertible windows like the EZE breeze sliding panel system and the Artistic Enclosures Screen Plus System offer you the ability to convert your screened porch into a three season room on demand. These convertibility systems use sliding glass panels that mimic the function of a sliding door and can be set into place very easily and quickly. By adding a space heater to the structure you can utilize the space for longer periods through even the chilliest season. By using a convertible system on your screened porch you can still feel the warm breezes of summer, and when the temperature drops you have the peace of mind knowing that your screened porch also offers more function with added cold weather protection as well.


Another viable option when making the decision to enclose a deck or portion thereof, is a four season room or a sunroom. These type of structures function as an extension of your homes living area as well as an extension of your outdoor living area. Four season rooms, as well as sunrooms give you an unobscured view of nature by the use of numerous windows that sometimes even feel as though they are window walls. These structures can be used year round, snow or sleet because sunrooms and four season rooms require a HVAC system, or instill the use of a wall mounted electric inversion heating and cooling system that offer individual room control like those offered by Mitsubishi electric. In essence the presence of HVAC, or heating and cooling system creates a dynamic where you actually are getting a room addition when you choose to convert to a four season room or sunroom.


Another benefit of converting your deck into a sunroom or four season room is the freedom of material choices that can be used within it and to finish out your structure. A whole new set of design choices open up to sunroom and four season room owners. All of the same materials that can be used safely within an interior room inside your home can become finish options for your sunroom or four season room. These include sheetrocked walls, carpet, hardwoods and a myriad of other design choices. An added benefit is that the furniture used within your structure won’t have to be weatherproof when considering using it on your sunroom or four season room. The world is truly your oyster.

If you are on the fence about considering an enclosure or conversion of your deck, or a part of you deck into a screened porch or three season room or even a sunroom or four season room Archadeck can make it happen. Contact us today to learn more about improving the lifestyle you lead on your deck.

To learn more and find an Archadeck in your area, see our locations list located on our website.

You can also get more ideas and design inspirations by visiting our screened porch gallery, sunroom gallery, and our three and four season room gallery, also located on our website.

Archadeck of Chicagoland gives us two different patio designs, both breathtaking in terms of beauty and function

It all begins with an image in the homeowner’s mind. Excited homeowners who have decided to add to their back yard look to us for guidance and to design the outdoor structure they have been dreaming of. Every outdoor structure is different – as different as each of our customers that incorporates their individual style, and intended function into the design. This week we take a glimpse into two very different patio designs by Archadeck of Chicagoland, and see the way the hardscapes can be designed to suit the individual owner’s needs.


We are featuring two stunning hardscape patios for customers in Wheeling, IL as well as Libertyville, IL. Each of these homeowners were looking to benefit from very different functions in their new outdoor structure and Archadeck of Chicagoland was able to deliver all their needs, wants and desires into two patios that will make both homeowners the envy of their neighborhoods. Here is a glimpse into some of the gorgeous hardscape patio designs from Archadeck of Chicagoland…

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First we take a trip to Libertyville, IL where David Berryhill and his talented design staff were able to create an area that made the homeowner’s existing backyard more accessible and easier to view since this is where the children’s play set is located. The homeowners were only initially looking to have Archadeck of Chicagoland build a deck and create more access to the rear of the yard. We were able to deliver a functional hardscape structure that met all of their needs. The patio is more conducive to the grade of their lot so they created a multi-level patio that followed the natural grade of the landscape and provided flow to their children’s play set area. The patio is constructed from a combination of Brussells block pavers by Unilock and Brussells block dimensional stone for the curvilinear walls.


Our second spotlighted patio by Archadeck of Chicagoland is located in Wheeling, IL. The homeowner’s wish was for a patio, a fire pit and an area outdoors to dine and be able to grill. Their answer was to build a patio that had separate areas for dining, and a separate grill and cooking area, and of course a stunning custom fire pit complete with a custom hardscape seating wall built right into the curves of the patios grand design. For this patio we used Cantebury pavers and Brussells dimensional stone .

If you and your family are looking for the perfect outdoor builder to bring your dream to life, contact Archadeck today. We can meet with you and prepare a design rendering that will capture the very essence of your wants and needs, and then we can begin bringing it to life. In the Chicago area contact Archadeck of Chicagoland at (847) 359 – 8002
(630) 505 – 7688
[email protected]

For more awe-inspiring patio and hardscapes visit our photo galleries on our website.

Archadeck of Chester County provides these Kennett Square, PA homeowners with a little less deck and a lot more action


It is time to turn the spotlight on another Archadeck location that is doing spectacular outdoor living designs that are not only beautiful but functional as well. This creation by Archadeck of Chester County includes a sunroom, deck, outdoor kitchen and a custom fire pit located on the lovely patio. It also includes a stone trimmed built-in spa, not to mention a gorgeous pergola for the icing on the proverbial cake. This combination of outdoor structures gives new meaning to the term “stay-cation” because with a outdoor living area as well-appointed as this, who needs to leave the comfort of their backyard home to renew and relax?


When Juan Cardona and the design team at Archadeck of Chester County met with these homeowners in Kennett Square, PA, which is known as the mushroom capital of the world, to create this masterpiece in outdoor design, they had an existing deck that was in dire need of replacing as well as an open deck at the rear of the home with an unsightly concrete slab patio under the deck. The homeowners wish was to create an outdoor area that incorporated a sunroom, less deck and a patio on the lower level. They also wanted to include a built-in cooking area, spa area, and a custom fireplace or fire pit to accommodate their desire to have room and suitable entertaining areas for larger gatherings down below as opposed to having an all-open deck on the second level. The obstacle that had to be overcome was the fact that their yard was on a rather severe slope. In order to deliver the outdoor oasis the homeowners desired, we would have to install some retaining walls to make it happen.

Archadeck of Chester County, PA teamed up with a professional stone mason and together, they quickly put together an integrated plan to totally re-build and re-structure the entire rear of the home. The extensive use of stone walls was used to match the overall look of the existing home, since the entire front of the home was already finished in stone. The suggestion of using stone within the new design offered a dramatic look that harmonized well with the existing property.

The deck was constructed using low maintenance TimberTech XLM in Mountain Cedar which harmonizes perfectly with the old world appeal of the stone used throughout the project. Archadeck of Chester County black Fortress iron railings on TimberTech posts for continuity and fluidity in the deck’s design. On the interior floor of the stunning sunroom they used IPE tongue and groove flooring. The exterior of the room was finished with a stone veneer to match the rest of the patio which includes stone retaining walls, an outdoor kitchen and a custom fire pit. The sunroom also includes Anderson windows. Under the sunroom there is a built-in custom spa also trimmed with stone. The finishing touch to the project was the addition of a maintenance-free pergola of AZEK composite that was painted to match the decking color. The whole design flows effortlessly from structure to structure and looks and feels original to the existing home, which requires perfection in the design and the execution of the design in order to achieve.

If you are ready to turn your backyard into an orchestrated oasis of beauty, style and relaxation, contact Archadeck today and you will be on your way to creating beautiful harmonies within your own little slice of heaven. Schedule a free design consultation or contact us by calling 804.353.6999 or emailing us at [email protected] locate an Archadeck near you to get started.

See more awe-inspiring images of before and after completed jobs by visiting our web site photo galleries

Archadeck invites you take the plunge with a stunning hot tub or spa deck

When those chilly autumn winds start to blow, thoughts turn to cozy and unique ways to get warm but still enjoy the scenic panoramic views and crisp, clean air of the season. One way to knock off the chill of fall and take advantage of mother nature’s beauty is to take a dip, or two, in your very own hot tub or spa. The soothing warm water and sound of the bubbles can not only work wonders on your muscles but your spirits as well. Imagine soaking in your spa with the harvest colors of autumn as you backdrop enjoying a glass of your favorite beverage while wafts of steam mingle into the cool air that surrounds you. This imagery sounds tantalizing enough to the senses but the location and surrounding area around your hot tub or spa can really make or break the whole experience. Incorporating a deck or patio into the design of your hot tub’s location can really improve the appeal and aesthetics of your entire backyard.


Hot tub decks and spa decks help turn the functionality of the hot tub or spa into a total experience. A deck can add valuable outdoor living space for entertaining , grilling and dining as well. When you think in terms of how you will use your spa or hot tub deck it is important to factor in the little nuances that will add to your enjoyment of the spa. Hot tub and spa decks can be built to include storage areas for towels and other accessories you will need when the spa is in use as well as built-in bench seating for sitting and removing your shoes so, if you so choose you can just dangle your feet over the side of your spa if you don’t feel like taking the whole plunge. The variations and range of hot tub decks and spa deck design is endless. We pride ourselves on thinking outside the box when it comes to getting the most out of your deck’s design even moving the hot tub or spa out of the usual centered location on the deck and placing it in a location within the deck that will give you better views while using your spa and create more usable deck space for other outdoor living endeavors.

If you are considering a hot tub or spa deck one important consideration is the decking material and the underlying strength that is needed to properly house a hot tub or spa. When the spa or hot tub is filled with water it will add a tremendous amount of weight. Archadeck pays close attention to these needs and added requirements and builds a spa support deck with many of our hot tub and spa deck installations. The use of a support deck will take the excess load off the deck itself and make the deck and the hot tub or spa safe and free of any areas that might compromise your structure. Archadeck of Fort Wayne recently installed a spa deck for homeowners that wished to incorporate a Micheal Phelps swim spa into the decks design and as you can tell by reading the article about this particular installation, that if you are thinking of buying a spa strong enough for Micheal Phelps then it is important to have a deck that is equally as strong. When considering materials for your hot tub or spa deck you want to choose a material that is kind to bare feet and will not splinter or retain an excessive amount of heat. Another key factor is reducing or eliminating slippage when those bare feet exit the hot tub and are wet. There are many high quality decking choices available for use on spa decks that offer little or no heat retention and decrease slippage.


Some key considerations to remember when you make the choice to build a hot tub or spa deck are you want the hot tub or spa to be where it is 18" above the deck and not flush to the deck so you will be able to sit on the sides and swing around when necessary. You also want to ensure you can enter and exit the deck from all sides with adequate walk-around room at a minimum of 4 feet , by having 6 feet you will have room for bench seating to sit down and remove your shoes, etc. Another key element in good spa deck design is never place your spa deck under a window because it will become an eyesore when looking out from the interior of your home.


If you are ready to take the plunge by building a hot tub or spa deck then contact Archadeck to learn more. We can design and build a hot tub or spa deck that will make you never want to leave the comforting warmth of your hot tub or spa when it is surrounded by the beauty of one of our masterpieces of deck design.

[email protected]

To see more delectable pool, hot tub and spa decks visit our photo galleries

Archadeck of Charleston breathes new life into this deck in Summerville, SC

When choosing the materials for your anticipated outdoor structure it is important to look at things from the “big picture”. I think a lot of times the homeowner makes decisions based on visualizing their completed outdoor structure from afar, like a distant wish or the way we perceive a star in the night sky when looking up above from down below. It is important to try to visualize your outdoor structure from the vantage point where you and your family are most likely to view the structure itself while in use. The main idea is to make design and material choices based on the inside looking out, rather than the outside looking in, after all you are the one who will be using and enjoying the structure. Case in point is a recent upgrade and re-decking that was completed by Archadeck of Charleston, which gives a perfect example of what a huge difference detailing can make.

Clyde Hess and the crew from Archadeck of Charleston were able to breathe new life into this 20-year-old deck for these Summerville, SC homeowners. Their deck not only had a little age on it, it also had been the victim of many amateur repairs during it’s lifetime. The existing deck was treated wood decking as well as the framing which was attached solely with nails. This situation of using “only nails” had turned into a constant problem of having to continually re-nail the structure to try to compensate for the fact it was coming apart. The structure had no joist hangers, no bolting of any manner and no columns to joist. The railing was only tied in by toe nailing and had become dangerous to lean on. This dilemma was not only structurally inept, it carried the potential to become a safety hazard.


Archadeck of Charleston efficiently addressed all the issues present with the existing deck and set out to make it structurally sound and also make it a feast for the eyes. Using 2×10 drop beams for the front and back for free-standing, we began adding support and strength to the deck in anticipation of the re-decking. The beams were supported and double bolted onto notched out 6×6 posts secured in a 16" concrete footing. We then added Cox columns as rail posts in line on the deck, double bolted to the deck band and blocked. We then added stairs out to compensate for the property line setbacks and water runoff due to the steep grade of the lot. We then re-decked the entire structure with #1 premium grade Yellow Pine pressure treated wood. The homeowner decided to upgrade the wooden railing to a metal railing for aesthetics as well as strength, this decision also opened up the view where the homeowners can now take in all the lovely vistas of their backyard. These views were not as visible before with the old wooden railing.

Making the decision to replace the old style railing with the metal railing opens up a world of possibilities for these Summerville, SC homeowners and they are elated. By changing this one simple element of the deck, they feel like they have more room and definitely more of a view. This is a fine example of looking out as opposed to looking in at your outdoor structure#. The new railing and new deck is certainly beautiful from the outside, but from the inside it is breathtaking and adds more style and functionality as well. Making sure your outdoor structure# is structurally sound from the bottom up is crucial, as is the little nuances and changes that can certainly breathe new life into your outdoor structure. Making elemental changes within the design when re-vamping an existing deck can make a world of difference as to how you use and perceive your deck. The addition of railings, directional changes in a staircase or even using built-in benches or planters in lieu of railings if you have a low-to-grade deck can really change the feel and personality of the entire structure.


If you are ready to transform your existing deck into a masterpiece of strength and design contact Archadeck of Charleston to learn more. Get the most out of your outdoor structure today at (843) 873 – 6236
[email protected]

You can also take a tour of other beautiful decks by our Archadeck locations all over the country by visiting our galleries http://www.archadeck.com/pickYourProject/Decks.html
804.353.6999 • [email protected]

Skylights that have come full circle and inspire us to let the sunshine in

The outdoor structure has evolved, now I don’t mean a “Darwin” type of evolution but rather an evolution of style and luxury. Many of the same pampering elements we enjoy within our homes is available in our outdoor rooms as well. Screened porches, covered porches and patios, sunrooms and 3 and 4 season room have begun to receive the royal treatment in terms of the accoutrements that are now commonplace among professional outdoor structure builders. Features such as wrapped beams, decorative columns, detailed ceilings, ceiling fans, recessed lighting and all the outlets, plugs, areas reserved especially for your HD flat screen TV’s, and more multi-media hookups than you could ever imagine are being seen within today’s outdoor structures. These features, make for convenience and are oh so easy on the eyes to boot.


One such element that we often install in our outdoor structures is the skylight. Gone are the days of the skylight just simply being a skylight. Sure, they allow for your structure to receive more sunlight, which really opens up your space and gives the space a feeling of airiness. But today’s skylights offer many other features as well. Velux skylights are the skylight of choice for many of our! Archadeck locations throughout the country, and for good reason. They offer high quality skylights with a myriad of available features with your convenience in mind.

The Velux skylight slogan is “add drama to any space”, and Velux definitely delivers on that promise. With a 10 year no leak warranty and features such as remote control operation, insect screens and blinds that are built right with choices like classic venetian blinds to systems that block the light entirely. Velux skylights also offer an open and close feature that comes with a sensor that detects the first raindrop and automatically closes the skylight so you don’t have to. Imagine sitting on your lovely screened porch enjoying a mild autumn afternoon with your skylights open enjoying the fresh air and the blue skies. A scene like this is reminiscent of that first drive in a Corvette with the T-tops down, a “wind in your hair” kind of freedom that is unforgettable.

If you are ready to let the sunshine in on your outdoor room, contact Archadeck to learn more. We can help you pick the right spot, the right accessories and the right angle to best suit you and your families needs. Skylights not only look the part, they will make you feel the part as well. 888.687.3325

[email protected]

Archadeck and Eze Breeze enclosures give you a breath of fresh air without the headaches

We’ve all been there. We eagerly await going out on the screen porch for some morning coffee or to do our daily crossword puzzle or relax for a few minutes and grab the sports scores or weather before heading out for the day. Only some days, mother nature puts a damper on those plans. Maybe you live down south and are greeted with a yellow covering of dust all over everything. Maybe it rained last night and there’s a faint moistness to your fabric-covered chairs. Maybe it’s just too darn cold out there.

There is a way to “convert” your screen porch without having to sink a fortune into windows.

There is a company called Eze Breeze that has a convertible enclosure system allowing you to convert your screen porch into more of a multi-season room. These screens can add protection from temperature as well as the elements.

We have been using this system for homeowners who want to get access more time on their screened porch. Eze Breeze systems are easy on the eye and on your wallet in terms of adding more seasons that you can spend on your porch.

Extending the time frame for use in your screened porch is not the only reason many homeowners are using the Eze Breeze system, other factors are influencing their decision as well. Let’s face it, sometimes you want the freedom of the screen but you don’t want the negative things that can still get through that screen. Screens keep out the insects and the harmful direct rays from the sun but pollen still comes through a screen, as does the wind, some the rain and the cold. Eze Breeze makes it possible to enjoy your porch without those negative factors getting in the way of your enjoyment. When the weather turns cold, you can also add the use of a space heater within your porch with Eze Breeze and turn your structure into a 3-season outdoor living room as well. The beauty is that anytime you want to take advantage of the favorable weather or an unobstructed view, this system can be slid out-of-the-way either horizontally or vertically, depending on which system you have, to get you back to the very reason you wanted a screened porch in the first place – to be closer to mother nature and take advantage of all that fresh air.

Our Archadeck location in Charlotte sums it up in this short clip about the Eze Breeze system :


Eze Breeze enclosures are easy and affordable, here’s how they work- the system is made from 10-mil vinyl glazing that gives you the same clarity of glass. This innovative material is not susceptible to cracking or breaking and with many mishaps will return to its original shape within minutes. The enclosures can be installed either horizontally or vertically and the panels can be slid out-of-the-way to obtain a unobstructed view and take advantage of the “feel” of nature. Eze Breeze presents homeowners with a win/win answer to having your cake and eating it too!

Contact Archadeck to learn more about Eze Breeze enclosures and start maximizing your outdoor structures function and beauty. If you are interested in turning your outdoor structure into a safe haven from the elements, the insects and the pollen and don’t want the expense or building constrictions that are present with glass, contact Archadeck today 888.687.3325 or 804.353.6999 • [email protected]

Outdoor Fireplace or Outdoor Fire Pit? Some Considerations.

Fall is in the air, maybe you have noticed it in the wisp of the wind that seem a little crisper than usual, or the way night is upon us sooner with each passing day. There is no denying that the masterpiece that mother nature paints for us each autumn is just around the corner. With cooler temperatures come less insects, less humidity and more time to enjoy the outdoors. Certain outdoor structures just seem to be tailor-made for the fall. Custom outdoor fireplaces and fire pits are among the best candidates for fall focal points within the landscape. Imagine the crackling fire, roasted marshmallows, hot cocoa and conversation. Even though both of these structures offer the warmth and glow of one of natures most intoxicating elements, they differ in many aspects. Deciding which kind of structure is right for you all depends on what you most want to get out of the structure in terms of functionality.

Even though it might seem simple, there is a lot more to it. Most folks think in terms of their budget, they assume that if they have more to invest they will go with the custom outdoor fireplace as opposed to having less, in which case they assume that a fire pit is the lesser investment. Both structures have their advantages, and both structures can be constructed as elaborate or as simple as you wish.


An outdoor fireplace makes a statement within the landscape, or when used in conjunction with another outdoor structure such as on a" patio":https://www.archadeck.com/design-ideas/patios-hardscapes/ or even a covered porch. The fireplace offers a more intimate setting to its users with a typical 90 degree radius of room for entertaining, or to gather around the structure. Outdoor fireplaces require the use of many elements such as design, position, stonework, masonry, gas and plumbing. An experienced licensed builder can assist you in making many of the decisions, but there are many options available with today’s fireplace that can make a simple fireplace an amazing fireplace. From customized mantel pieces, to compartments custom-built within the fireplace to store wood and accessories. Fireplaces can be built in all shapes and sizes and in a variety of beautiful hardscape mediums such as brick, natural stone, and man-made hardscaping materials such as those offered through Belgard. The source of the fire itself can be obtained through gas or propane with a ceramic log that looks like real wood without the messy cleanup , or in some cases a wood burning fireplace may be your best option. Your fireplace design is only limited to your imagination, whether you choose a modern streamlined fireplace with no hearth, or a rustic beauty of natural stone, an outdoor fireplace can really heat up the conversation and the intimacy when entertaining, as a focal point of beauty and relaxation.

Custom fire pits have become a work of art within the world of outdoor structures in their own rite as well. A fire pit can offer you that same ethereal glow and ambiance , and can lend itself to dazzle a larger crowd. Fire pits offer a typical radius area of 180 degrees for entertaining and enjoyment. The addition of a ledge can add seating and a vantage point to enjoy the glow of the fire without having to purchase additional furniture. Fire pits can also be constructed with a large selection of materials, much like the fireplace but can also serve double and even triple jobs that can change from season to season. A fire pit can be easily equipped with a drain which makes it possible to be used as a planter during the summer. It can even serve as a tranquil water feature as long as there is an exterior outlet nearby. Archadeck of Austin wrote a story about a homeowner who created an “all season” structure with her fire pit, you can read the story by visiting" http://austindeckandpatiobuilder.com/2011/03/14/a-flame-of-many-colors-a-fire-pit-with-multiple-personalities-integrated-into-the-design/":http://ww1.austindeckandpatiobuilder.com/ Custom fire pits can also be equipped with a dazzling array of glowing glass fire rocks that come in a wide variety of colors. Fire pits that are powered by gas can even have a gas star installed where the flame is emitted in a unique star pattern.


Even though both these fireside outdoor structures differ greatly, they both have the ability to set a mood and change a mood for the better. Archadeck can plan, design and build a custom outdoor fireplace or fire pit that is ablaze with quality and style, and can turn your autumn into something really “wonderfall”. Contact us today to learn more 804.353.6999 • [email protected]

You can also see more tantalizing outdoor fireplaces and fire pits by visiting our photo galleries at http://www.archadeck.com/pickYourProject/PatiosAndHardscapes.html

Patios Covers that deliver function and style


Imagine having that one spot in your landscape that you can retreat when the day has been long and you need to renew yourself. Imagine an area that offers shelter from the elements, the wind, and the sun, and a place that offers shelter from the storms of a stressful day. Having a special spot of your own is easy with a patio cover from Archadeck. A covered patio, also referred to as a patio cover can transport you to a place of relaxation and refreshment. Patio covers are also a good way to show off the beauty of your home and landscape, by introducing elements to compliment both. Patio covers can be constructed with a mixed medium of materials that include natural stone, tile, hardscape materials such as pavers, composite and PVC materials, hardwoods, brick and concrete. Planning a new patio cover by Archadeck can turn the blank canvas of your existing backyard and transform it into a masterpiece with beauty and quality that will make your structure a feast for the eyes as well as the senses.

At Archadeck we keep receiving more and more requests for patio covers. Many patio covers you see at the “do it yourself” big box stores are aluminum and lack the quality or beauty that Archadeck is renowned for. Now that being said, Archadeck patio covers not only talk the talk, in terms of aesthetic appeal, but they walk the walk as well with functionality, by broadening the spectrum of uses for your outdoor space.


Patios in their own rite, are still a stunning and useful way to add livable outdoor space to any home or landscape. Patios can be used in conjunction with other outdoor structures such as decks, pergolas and much more. Is your patio able to be used on hot days when the sun is beaming down on you? Are you forced off the patio and indoors whenever the clouds thicken and the sky threatens rain? If you answered yes to either of these questions, then maybe a patio cover is an ideal way to get more hours of enjoyment out of your patio. Maybe you are “on the fence” as to build a patio that is covered or uncovered. Archadeck wants to make your patio decision an easy one, with your comfort and lifestyle in mind.

Archadeck of Fort Worth and Archadeck of Austin are both heavy hitters when it comes to building patios, covered and uncovered. Here are some photos of both locations stunning work to serve as an inspiration when deciding what path to choose for your new patio. Archadeck can take your existing patio and add a cover to create an outdoor room great for entertaining, or just reading a good book. With a patio cover you can enjoy the beauty of a summer rain while having a glass of your favorite beverage without the worry of getting wet. How many living rooms can offer you that kind of versatility?


This patio cover by Archadeck of Austin serves as a triple threat with the clever and unique use of twin pergolas encompassing the central patio cover.


This detached patio cover by Archadeck of Austin has natural rustic detailing and includes a fully functioning outdoor kitchen and dining area, perfect for entertaining, or a simple dinner date for two.

This patio cover by Archadeck of Austin has all the comforts of home, enjoyable outdoors. A great place to watch the summer rain or maybe the football game on your TV which is mounted in your patio cover.


Another view of this patio cover by Archadeck of Austin shows just how much versatility this space offers. An outdoor bar and gully functioning outdoor kitchen are built right into the structure which showcases the beautiful spa area as well.


Archadeck is America’s premier builder of outdoor structures such as these. Imagine a patio that becomes an extension of not only your living space, but an extension of your personality and tastes as well. From dining and seating areas, to outdoor kitchens and ceiling fans, Archadeck can plan, design and build a" patio cover":https://www.archadeck.com/design-ideas/patios-hardscapes/ that will leave you breathless.

Contact Archadeck to learn more 804.353.6999 • [email protected]

Archadeck lays the foundation to your fantasy with the perfect patio.


There is nothing quite like summer. We all wish for an endless summer of sunshine, a landscape of forever green, flowers that never stop blooming and cherished time spent with family and friends among the great outdoors. With a beautiful custom-built patio “Archadeck”:http://example.com you can make this wonderful time of the year even more special. Whatever your mood, walking onto a stylish patio by Archadeck can turn even the cloudiest day into sunshine.


The origins of the patio come from deep within the history of Spain. The actual word itself was borrowed from Spain and means “an inner courtyard or paved area that is adjacent to the home”. With today’s homeowners discriminating tastes, we offer patios custom-built in a manner to express your individuality . From scored and stamped concrete, natural stone and hardscapes such as Belgard pavers. From modern to rustic we can build a patio to suit your needs and complement your homes integrity, creating the kind of backyard you dream about.


Of course, today’s patios wouldn’t be complete without the proper accoutrements to define and complement your space. The perfect patio furniture and accessories create the perfect way to turn up the style on your patio by Archadeck. Patio furniture such as those seen in catalogs like Frontgate offer European inspired outdoor furnishings, and those in Grandin Road offer a more casual, contemporary feel. From Teak, to wrought iron to the elegance of wicker, the choices are endless.

If modern, clean, crisp lines are your style imagine a stain and stamp patio finished with a stunning suite of contemporary metal furnishings with a sleek design. The pairing of carefully chosen outdoor furnishings on your patio can pull everything together like a harmonious work of art.

Maybe a laid back rustic country chic attitude is more your choice. The vision proceeds with rustic old world hardscape detailing underfoot along with washed wooden furniture with overstuffed cushions to wisp you away to comfort. Whatever your taste, whatever your fancy Archadeck can lay the foundations to your fantasy with a custom-built patio or outdoor structure.


Patios, whether covered or uncovered create the perfect place for entertaining, cooking, relaxing and spending quality time with the ones you hold close to your heart. Not only do they provide function, their form provides the perfect complement to your home and landscape. A patio is a wise investment in terms of adding value to your home. Constructed of durable and long-lasting materials that withstand the elements better than wood, a patio is a solid choice in terms of materials and as an investment.

Contact Archadeck today to find out more about creating the perfect patio to fit your lifestyle. 804.353.6999 • [email protected]

You can see more beautiful patios in our photo gallery by visiting http://www.archadeck.com/pickYourProject/PatiosAndHardscapes.html

Archadeck of Des Moines makes a stay away from home a little more beautiful with this breathtaking courtyard pergola.


Archadeck is so proud to highlight the accomplishments and milestones of our many valued locations across the country. Today we turn that focus onto Archadeck of Central Iowa with the gorgeous pergola they completed for Holiday Inn & Suites in West Des Moines, Iowa. The pergola itself, in its classic white and crisp architecture goes a step further in its design with the magical radius angles. This project takes pergolas to a whole new level and the customers were so delighted they called Archadeck of Central Iowa back for a second helping of quality, beauty and design on another project.


The developer for the Holiday Inn & Suites in West Des Moines contacted Archadeck of Central Iowa and hired them to build a pergola in the courtyard area of their newly built hotel. This is not your average, run of the mill courtyard though. The wall of the hotel itself is curved and the hotel’s initial requirement is that the beams of the pergola be radiused as well, to stay in line with the design of the wall. After careful consideration and a lot of communication with the developer, Archadeck of Central Iowa decided that ultimately straight beams following the arc of the wall would be just as effective. The rafters coming off the wall give the impression of a true radius look that is more noticeable than the beam. They were able to deliver an unforgettable structure with creativity, ingenuity and a little magician-like creative design.


The developer has another hotel in the works to be built and have asked Archadeck to build another pergola on the upcoming hotel. The new hotel will have the same radius wall design as part of their courtyard feature as well.


The details of the pergola itself are that it was constructed of durable vinyl with 10’ tapered round columns. It also has 2×8 beams, 2×6 rafters and 2×2 strings all with vinyl as well. Archadeck of Central Iowa created a memorable structure, and in doing so, forged a positive relationship with this well-known hotel chain. They are looking forward to working with them again and continue to create beautiful, quality built outdoor structures for commercial venues such as this one, and also in back yards all across Des Moines.


To learn more about commercial and residential outdoor structures by Archadeck of Des Moines you can contact them at (515) 266 – 8844 or email them at [email protected]


You can also see more breathtaking pergolas in their photo galleries by visiting
http://central-iowa.archadeck.com/pickYourProject/PergolasAndTrellises.htm

Belgard introduces Archadeck as a new addition to their authorized dealer network with rave reviews.


Belgard recently introduced Archadeck as a new addition to their authorized dealer network and we couldn’t be more ecstatic. Belgard is one of the industry’s top manufacturers of hardscapes such as pavers and retaining walls. Archadeck is proud to be authorized dealers of Belgard in our locations throughout the country. Our partnership with Belgard reinforces our goal of using the finest materials to create America’s best outdoor spaces.

Belgard uses a multi-step design guidance presentation that incorporates design, color, shape and texture. Their motto is “be prepared for company”, and by using this design guide in preparation for having Archadeck build your outdoor structure, you can rest assured the structure you get will be the envy of the neighborhood.

The design guide helps homeowners with four basic steps.


The first step is to decide what your outdoor structure be used for. Will it primarily be used to entertain? Or will it just be used as a sanctuary for relaxing with the family? Considerations in your personal tastes and how you want your outdoor structure to impact your life will play a key role in what type of hardscapes will work best in your design.

The second step is to consider your owns home’s architecture. The goal with any good outdoor structure is to work in harmony with your existing structures and complement their differences and what they have in common. " You want to work with the grain instead of against the grain" in terms of how your outdoor hardscape structure will affect what you already have.


The next step when creating a memorable hardscape design is to extend the visual line from the corners, doors and windows in order to incorporate your landscape design into the big scheme of things by creating shapes to play up the landscape in your own backyard. The goal here is to see the package in its entirety and not draw the eye to one specific area, a good hardscape design harmonizes with your home, and your yard.

Finally, size matters. When you imagine your perfect outdoor hardscape structure in your mind once it is finished and every little detail is in place, do you see your outdoor furnishings? Are your chairs neatly tucked in? When considering what size structure is best for you always remember that you need ample space to move around when the furniture is in use. Take leg room into consideration, and pull out room for the chairs as well. This is a simple step, but a crucial one in how much enjoyment you get from your structure in terms of “real life” use. Those pretty pictures in magazines are depicting the area not in use. Thinking outside the box will help you achieve optimal pleasure when using your structure.

You can learn more about Belgard’s design guide at http://www.belgard.biz/


If you are ready to enjoy your outdoor to the fullest with a hardscape outdoor structure custom-built by Archadeck and using the beautiful Belgard products contact us today to learn more. With Archadeck and Belgard you get quality and beauty underfoot. 804.353.6999 • [email protected]

You can view our beautiful gallery of hardscape outdoor structures at http://www.archadeck.com/pickYourProject/PatiosAndHardscapes.html

A paver patio by Archadeck is built tough from the ground up.


Paver patios can be simply extraordinary in terms of design and the rustic elegance they encompass. Paver patios are full of personality and the selection of patterns, textures and hues they come in can be customized to reflect a homeowners personal taste and style. Taking all this into consideration, pavers are even more amazing because of their strength. A professionally installed paver patio can withstand several thousand pounds of pressure. I am sure your average dinner party or family get-together outside on the patio would never put this to the test, but the fact of the matter is the cohesive combined strength which is evident in a paver patio is not only strong but it is versatile. A paver patio can be extended in the future if you so wish, and replacing an individual paver is easy. Many people don’t realize what elements go into constructing a paver patio, but I am here to tell you, they are built tough from the ground up.


Archadeck begins by digging out the area where the patio will be installed. They do this by digging down about 9 inches. Then “roadbase” is brought in, which is basically a rock filler. It is then compacted down with a machine that will bring it to 6 inches of thickness. Once the roadbase is well compacted, sand is put down. The pavers are then placed atop the sand and compacted down using the compaction machinery again, this will cause the sand to come up through the joints of the pavers. Following this step a layer of Polymeric sand is put atop that, which is again compacted and the sand is brushed in. The top layer of sand has an added polymer which when water is applied, acts as a binder, which binds the sand so there is no loose sand. To ensure nothing washes away beneath these layers Archadeck installs a geo-grid to hold everything in place.


In the case of a paver patio if there are any upward pressure points or issues this generally happens early on, within the first year following installation. If this happens it is an easy fix, by breaking out any area that is presenting a problem and fixing it. The key to a paver patio is the base, making sure it is leveled and properly compacted.

Paver patios also pack another punch, they are less likely to fade than a stain-and-score concrete patio and will not show signs of wear. Concrete patios such as a stain and score are also more likely to crack, whereas part of a paver patios charm are the cracks themselves (joints) and any give will affect the joint and the paver itself will not crack.


Pavers can be used in more designs than just patios. Today’s paver is not a one trick pony, it is used to build retaining walls, benches, fire pits, fireplaces# and so much more. Archadeck uses Belgard pavers. Their quality, style, textures and color choices are unsurpassed in the industry. Most of the pavers sold in your “big box” home improvement stores lack the quality to withstand the test of time, and offer very little selection.

If you are ready to take the leap and add a patio to your backyard, contact Archadeck to get you started on your way to a real eye catcher with the muscle to match. 888.687.3325

You can also visit our photo gallery to view patio designs that will take your breath away http://www.archadeck.com/pickYourProject/PatiosAndHardscapes.html

Turn your outdoor space into one worthy of celebration with Archadeck

Yes, the July 4th holiday has come and gone once again. As the nation celebrated its birthday, was your outdoor structure worthy of the celebration? Many of us had outdoor get-togethers and cookouts to celebrate the holiday, many of those celebrations were conducted in or on an outdoor structure that is a little worse for wear or is not as functional as you wished it could be.

Don’t let another holiday leave you feeling unfulfilled with your outdoor structures appearance or lack of functionality. Archadeck can transform your backyard into a space worthy of celebration with the help of our new design guide. The design guide covers all the major considerations that go into proper planning and design of an outdoor living space. The first of which asks the question of functionality. What do you want your outdoor space to be used for? Whether the answer to that question for you is entertaining, dining or just relaxing the design guide focuses on the form and function that would work best for you.


Since outdoor structures are our specialty our design guide also asks the question of how “outdoorsy” you would like your outdoor space to feel. Many homeowners like the look of the outdoors and the feel of the outdoors but not the insects and the suns harmful rays that sometimes come along with it. One of Archadeck’s screened porch or covered porch designs might be a solid choice for this scenario. Our design guide outlines key considerations like this in a step-by-step manner outlined to ultimately bring you to the recommendation of what outdoor space would be perfect for you.

Many of us have a “wish list” that we carry around either in our minds or actually written out of ways to make your outdoor space better, or even creating the outdoor space of your dreams from scratch.The design guide shows you how to create the outdoor space you have been craving with an easy step-by-step process that defines key components focusing on your individual needs. With this design guide Archadeck can help you choose the outdoor structure, or structures that is best suited to you and your family and then goes a step further to set the wheels in motion to meet with one of our talented design consultants for a free consultation based on the areas covered in the design guide.


Archadeck is the leading designer and builder of affordable, functional and innovative outdoor spaces since 1980. Whatever your dream, we can build it. Whatever your need, we can build it. Whatever your want, we can build it. The sky is the limit when it comes to the uniqueness and functionality of our outdoor spaces. Our design guide puts you in the driver’s seat. Visit http://www.archadeck.com/guide/index.html to download your free design guide and learn what we mean when we talk about the Archadeck difference.

Don’t let your next outdoor event make you sigh and say " I should’ve". If you would like to talk with one of our talented and knowledgeable representatives you can contact Archadeck at 888-687-3325 or [email protected]

We're not talking turkey, composites have it all

Have you ever wondered just why things that claim they are “better” than the original often emulate characteristics of the very thing they are touting they are better than?


I use yesterdays breakfast as an example. I was cooking turkey bacon along with eggs and toast for me and my family. Now, turkey bacon does not claim that it is better tasting than the regular pork bacon that we are all familiar with, it does however emulate the “look” of turkey bacon with its perfectly scalloped edging and striping which is added to make the turkey bacon look more like “the real thing”. The turkey bacon is indeed better for us, it is lower in fat, sodium and cholesterol. In the big scheme of things the turkey bacon is better from a health standpoint. I then wondered since it is obviously the better choice then why did the company who made the turkey bacon find it necessary to add the little aesthetic touches to emulate real bacon? After some thought I then realized that every product, material and item we are accustomed to using or consuming comes with an emotional attachment. I believe we are hardwired to perceive things a certain way by the memories we retain from using ,or in the case of the bacon, consuming in the past.


Millions of products on the market have proven to be better than the original. Much the same can be said about composite decking versus wood decking.

Composite decking materials such as AZEK, TimberTech, Trex, Fiberon and many others have successfully emulated the look of real wood. Composites have been tried and true with the advances in technology to be stronger than real wood decking, insect and fungus resistant, mold and mildew resistant and they won’t warp or fade from the elements over time. Many of today’s composites are backed by industry warranties that cover staining and fading in some cases for over 25 years. A deck constructed of quality composite materials becomes a deck that no longer needs laborious maintenance, staining or upkeep. With all these intensely positive attributes of composites, why have they been cultured to emulate real wood? I will tell you why…


Locked deep inside our memory banks is a fond memory that involves wood. It may be your mother telling you not to run around the deck of your backyard pool without your sandals because “you’ll get splinters”. It may be the warmth and aroma created from roasting marshmallows over a bonfire on burning hardwoods while at summer camp. It may be the warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you think of visiting grandma’s house on Sundays for fried chicken in her dining room with beautiful wide plank hardwood floors. Wood is part of our heritage. Wood promotes warmth, security and pleasantries within us. The beauty of wood is rustic, earthy and natural.


It is only natural that composites emulate the look of real wood. After all you are getting the best of both worlds with composites, strength, durability and the aesthetics and graining characteristics of real wood, a winning combination indeed.

To find out more about composite decking contact Archadeck today. We can help you decide on the composite deck that is right for your individual tastes and needs. Call us at 888-687-3325 or email us at [email protected] and find out more about the Archadeck difference.

Composites come full circle


Do you want to enjoy your deck and not have to think about splitting, cracking, staining, warping, discoloration, mold, or having to scrub it year after year?

Guess what- you don’t have to. That’s right, with solid PVC decking and composite decking, to a degree, all these worries and chores are a thing of the past.

Composite decking such as TimberTech, AZEK, and Fiberon are worry free, strong, durable and beautiful as well. Archadeck is proud to build with these high quality composite brands to you along with our highly skilled installers and award-winning designs.


Today’s composites provide you with the flexibility and freedom to create designs within the deck itself that just aren’t possible with woods such as pressure treated pine. The design possibilities are endless and are reminiscent of meticulous wood inlays. Composite decking now has the natural look of real woods such as Ipe,cedar and redwood to name a few-and you will never have to stain it.


Today’s composites are also sustainable, being constructed to varying degrees, with recycled materials by using polymer technology. So you not only get a solid, and carefree material, you also get the pride of knowing your deck is eco-friendly as well.

TimberTech’s Earthwood Evolutions has a 25 year stain and fade warranty along with its superior scratch resistance. TimberTech’s XLM composite is designed to withstand heavy traffic and is super slip resistant and a solid choice among composite pool, spa decks and general decks.


AZEK composite decking also boasts superior stain and scratch resistance as well as mold and mildew resistance. It is also long-lasting and durable and comes in many hues to suit even the most discriminating tastes.

Fiberon decking has a 25 year stain and fade warranty as well as offering superior scratch, stain and mold resistance. It also comes in a myriad of true-to-life wood tones that you will have to see to believe.

Seeing is believing when it comes to the composites of today. To see more visit Archadeck or call us today to set up a free design consultation featuring your new composite deck. 888-687-3325

The Hard and Beautiful Truth About Exotic Hardwoods


Brazilian hardwoods- they are beautiful, strong, naturally resistant against insects and durable just to name a few qualities. Brazilian or exotic hardwoods are quite popular in uses such as flooring, decking, furniture making, docks, pool houses, and even to finish out ceiling in structures like" covered porches":https://www.archadeck.com/design-ideas/porches/open-porches-patio-covers/, sunrooms and some homes. Their exotic and intoxicating beauty is unique in its variation and veining as well as their coloring.


Brazilian hardwoods include Brazilian Walnut (Ipe), Brazilian teak ( Cumaru), Brazilian cherry (Jatoba), Brazilian redwood (Masaranduba) and the unmistakable Tigerwood. The natural colors of each of these woods is so desirable and unique it doesn’t require any staining or color additive.

Ipe is possibly one of the hardest woods available on the market today. Ipe is rated to last an astounding 100 years! Ipe has a class A fire rating which is same rating given to concrete as well as steel. Exposure to weather, including moisture has very little effect on the structural quality of the wood, this is why it is a popular choice among dock owners. Archadeck of Maryland recently focused on the use of beautiful Ipe in this blog story about an Ipe deck in Potomac MD.


Tigerwood is another great option when considering exotic hardwoods. Tigerwood will not rot or decay over time. It is also quite disease- and fungus-resistant which make Tigerwood another viable option for use around a pool area, or area that is exposed to moisture. Another great article on Tigerwood was done by Archadeck of Austin, to read more just click the link below…


Even though some hardwoods are better known to consumers such as Ipe and Tigerwood, there are many more of these exotic woods on today’s market. Exotics require different installation than a typical wood application. Pre-drilled holes are required to ensure the decking will not split due to the hardness and resiliency of the wood. All Brazilian hardwoods carry at the very least a 25 year guarantee. We do recommend treating the deck on a regular basis to maintain those rich warm tones. Eventually all exotics will weather to a beautiful silver patina over time.

If you are interested in re-decking or new decking with Brazilian hardwoods. Archadeck has the expertise and experience of working with these exotics. We can design, plan and build your next outdoor structure. Contact us today to see the Archadeck difference. 888-687-3325 or email us at [email protected]

An Outdoor Fireplace Adds Instant Ambiance to Any Landscape

Chilly evenings are still around in some northern US cities and towns. Locations such as Cape Cod, and other northern towns are well-known for their warm days and chilly evenings all the way into the hottest parts of the summer. Even out west, dry arid daytime conditions lead into rather cool evenings. The sometimes-extreme differences in temperature from daylight to dark add to the charm of these locations.

The outdoor fireplace is a perfect addition to those cool evenings. Imagine relaxing with family and friends on the cape with the ocean as your backdrop. An evening of laughter, roasting marshmallows, ocean air, conversation, a crackling fire and making memories that will last a lifetime.

Archadeck can make that dream a reality. We can design and build that outdoor fireplace you have been dreaming of. With a huge variety of shapes, styles and colors to choose from. We can build your fireplace of natural stone or faux stone. We can design a large fireplace that will really make a statement to your landscape, or an intimate fire pit with room to pull up a chair and relax. The choices are only limited to your imagination.

Even if you live in an area of the country that doesn’t experience cool evenings an outdoor fireplace is still a great addition to your summer landscape. Not only does an outdoor fireplace create an instant “gathering” area for conversation and ambiance even when not in use. When in use it deters bugs from entering the area and trying to ruin the fun.

If you are thinking it is time to build that outdoor fireplace you’ve been yearning for, summer is a great time. Contact Archadeck to find out more about heating up your landscape with this beautiful addition.

It Can All Happen Under One Roof

I am sure each one of us would agree that a roof is a pretty important detail in any structure. It keeps us dry and out of the elements. It helps secure other structures that are attached to it. It becomes a component of the stability of a structure it is atop. All these explanations are “no brainers”. A roof is so much more than all of these. A roof can add character and presence to a structure. What type of roof you decide to put atop your structure can really determine how sound it is, and how attractive your structure ends up. That is why it is so important to pick the right roof for the right structure.

One important factor when you decide on the addition of a structure such as a covered patio, screened porch or sunroom is to choose a roof style that matches and fits with the existing architecture of your home. For instance if you have a hip roof, it is usually a good idea to carry that through when building your addition, this will keep the structural integrity of your home and the additional roof will flow into your existing roof. This “flow” is most crucial when the structure is going to be directly connected to your existing house.


The same rules usually apply when you have a gabled roof. If you want to add pizazz and originality to your new addition with a gabled roof there are gable-end designs now available to add a custom look with a lot of flair.

The use of a gabled roof also lends space for higher ceilings which can be a canvas for arched windows, bead-board ceilings, the addition of ceiling fans and unique lighting choices. The design choices available to structures with high ceilings are endless nowadays.


Whether you are anticipating the addition of a sunroom, patio or screened porch Archadeck can show you all the choices and design a roof and living area plan to fit with your home’s architecture beautifully. Give us a call and we can make your dream come to life under one roof.

Take a look at our website at Archadeck.com to see lots of pictures and learn more.

There is More Than Than Meets the Eye When it Comes to Privacy Screens


When you think of a privacy screen you think of a structure whose sole purpose is to block the view of something you don’t want to be seen or don’t want to see. Today’s privacy screens are made for so much more than just privacy. Sure, they still block the view, and add intimacy and privacy in the setting in which you use them in. Privacy screens are also used as design elements and a way to perk up a space without going overboard. There is so much more than meets the eye with today’s modern privacy screens.

There are any number of possibilities for privacy screens depending on your likes and dislikes; any homeowners associations requirements you may have; budgetary constraints; or simply what seems to fit your particular design preferences or your property. Different designs have regional popularity.

The following designs were custom designed and built by our" Archadeck of Chester County office":http://chester-county.archadeck.com/. Owner Juan Cardona and his staff enjoy coming up with creative solutions for creating privacy using a variety of materials and finding the perfect solution for each individual home.

Made from a Brazilian hardwood to match the deck, the privacy screen below uses a shadow-box design.

Similar to above, here is another privacy screen using a shadowbox design however this one is made of composite decking materials.

This privacy wall below uses cedar lattice with an AZEK trim


Cedar privacy fence in solid board style with aluminum balusters incorporated to match the deck railing that was already there.

In this instance, the homeowner’s association dictated this design. This privacy wall uses stained cedar with the slats on a 45 degree angle.

A serving Bar can also provide some privacy as you see in this picture. This particular screen blocks out the heat of the daytime sun to make this area a place of refuge even when the temperatures soar.

The vinyl privacy fence below incorporates a decorative pergola-style top. This decorative element is also great for hanging plants.

As you can see, there are a myriad of options and likely more than one option that can be right for you. The best thing to do is call your local Archadeck office for some ideas and suggestions. It’s what we do all day long.

If you live in the Chester County PA area and you are thinking of building a deck, sunroom, screened porch or other outdoor structure in the Chester County area, give Archadeck of Chester County a call. (610) 696 – 3340. Or, email us a [email protected]

Archadeck is Thinking Outside the Box When it Comes to the Location of Your Outdoor Fireplace


When you think about outdoor fireplaces, your mind probably immediately takes you to a crisp Autumn evening with you and your family sitting around the outdoor fireplace, sitting in Adirondack chairs and roasting marshmallows over a crackling, welcoming fire…did you visualize the fireplace in an outdoor setting? Of course you did. The image in your mind automatically takes you Outdoors.


At Archadeck we think outside the box. We have started to place the outdoor fireplace in a setting we usually think of as indoors. Imagine, how calming a crackling fire would be on your screened porch or covered patio. That’s right, you and Archadeck can design a plan that is innovative and challenges the way we classify the outdoor fireplace.

We have constructed many beautiful fireplaces within beautiful additions to your outdoor space enjoyment. We can add a fireplace to a screened porch or covered patio. Either attached or separate from your home. All of these spaces after all are just an extension of your outdoor living area. When not in use a lot of our clients add a flat screen TV over the fireplace mantel to make a formidable use of the space even when there isn’t a crackling fire abound. Even without a TV, the fireplace, as in every setting, becomes the center and a gathering spot for fun, conversation and a place to make lasting memories with your family and friends.

We abide by all county and state fire codes and setbacks when we build a fireplace in a setting such as this. Safety is our number one priority, so when considering an addition such as this, make sure your licensed contractor has checked with all the proper legalities to obtain important rules regarding a fireplace.


Gorgeous detailing draws you to this fireplace built into the corner of this screened porch
If you would like to entertain the idea of adding an outdoor fireplace to your screened or covered porch, give Archadeck a call, we can keep those home fires burning. 888-OUR-DECK

Imagine your Outdoor Oasis with Hardscapes


Imagine your outdoor oasis…a stone fireplace with surround patio floor of contrasting pavers set against the backdrop of nature and the sky. Have you taken a deep breath yet? Or maybe a pool patio hardscape with a covered patio flowing out into the horizon. The dream is yours- Archadeck can make it a reality.

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Transforming your outdoor place into an unforgettable space is a lot easier than you think. Archadeck has many hardscapes to satisfy even the most discriminating customer. We now offer the Belgard products in addition to our other hardscapes. Belgard is unsurpassed in quality and style. We custom design each job with your input and we have hardscaping to fit any budget.


If you are considering a change from the deck or patio you have now, or if you are starting from a blank canvas, Archadeck turn your backyard into a work of art.

Multi-level hardscapes have become a staple in outdoor structures and beautification. The true meaning of a hardscape is the man made part of the grounds surrounding a building, as paved areas and structures, but it is so much more than that. The beauty and variety of today’s hardscapes take on a personality of their own. Hardscapes can be used to create barriers, driveways, sidewalks, walls, floors, water features, railings, fire features such as fire pits and fireplaces, planters and many more structures. The choices in hardscaping materials are as large as all the things you can build with hardscapes. Hardscapes can be natural or man made, such as stone, pavers, concrete, brick and the list goes on and on.

The Perfect Union of Comfort and Beauty- The Pergola Swing

Move that swing off the porch and into the beauty of the landscape by building a pergola swing . You might already own a porch swing. You probably never thought that the swing itself could be moved to work in unison and complement a pergola in your own backyard. It is true, pergola swings are becoming a very popular addition to the American backyard.

A pergola is a structure that provides shade. The origin of the word comes from the Latin word pergula which means a projection or overhanging eave. The pergola’s origins are based deep throughout history and were originally created to support hanging vines ( such as grapes) and to also connect separate buildings by way of this open passageway we now call the pergola.

Today we still use pergola’s in much the same manner. Many pergola owners plant decorative vines and climbing bushes such as fragrant roses at the base of the structure for aesthetic appeal. Many homeowners also use a pergola , sometimes built-in separate levels to serve as a passageway from the yard itself into a porch or onto a deck. The possibilities for uses of this lovely structure are endless and stretch as far as your imaginations allow. The addition of a swing installed into the pergola is not new. The Victorians were the ones whom originally perfected this concept. With the ornate Victorian architecture and detailing we still see in design to this very day.


The idea of a pergola swing is to get the best of both worlds. Not only will the pergola serve as shade and an oasis from the heat on a warm summer day, the swing will entice you to relax and absorb the beauty of nature that encompasses you. The amount of shade that is prevalent in your pergola depends heavily on the style of the pergola you choose. Larger slats, or timbers that are closer together will provide more protection from sunlight than an open design. Determining the proper location when building your pergola is important for shade value too. To maximize the amount of protection from direct sunlight we recommend careful planning to avoid direct afternoon sun, or a location that receives indirect sunlight throughout the day. Other influences can be added such as ornamental flowers or vines and even a new product called Polygal to deflect the hazardous UV rays. Polygal (Polycarbonate multi-wall sheets) is a thin sheet virtually transparent that can be applied to any structure, it keeps out the harmful ad damaging UV rays but still lets the natural warmth of the sun through.


Above all let’s not forget the fact that a pergola swing is a beautiful addition to any backyard. Not only will you have a beautiful place to relax, the addition of a home improvement structure such as this increases the value of your home for years to come.

Archadeck can help you plan, design and build your new pergola swing in the perfect location with comfort in mind. Give us a call for a free estimate today.

From Victorian to gothic, country to modern; the gazebo possibilities are endless.

I know for many people January is a time when we begin to think about spring. All the holiday hustle and bustle is over, and even though winter is hardly over, we start to think of the ice melting, lighter sweaters and planning outdoor projects for the upcoming season.


But, even though it might not feel that way, Spring is just around the corner. This is the perfect time to plan your outdoor project. Whether you are planning which colors to put in your annual spring garden, or the addition of an outdoor structure to compliment your home and garden, now is the time to start.

When thinking of outdoor structures a beautiful and classic structure comes to mind, the gazebo. A gazebo is a pavilion structure, sometimes octagonal. They can be either freestanding or attached to another structure such as a deck or a wall. They are roofed yet open on all sides.


The origins of the gazebo go back over several millennium. Gazebos have been in the literature of China, Persia and many other classic civilizations. George Washington had a small eight-sided gazebo at Mount Vernon. Thomas Jefferson wrote about gazebos and called them summerhouses or pavilions. Today this classic structure is as popular as ever. Gazebos not only provide shelter and a place to rest, they are a wonderful ornamental addition to your landscape. Archadeck prides itself on the diversity and aesthetic appeal of their gazebos. With a vast assortment of elements and materials to choose from, Archadeck can build anything your imagination can dream up.


Gazebos can turn your garden into an enticing treat and provides the opportunity to create an outdoor room. There are endless options to choose from when planning a gazebo. From location, to material, to shape and size. Gazebos can be screened to create an insect free spot that you can enjoy year round, regardless of the weather. Gazebos can be finished out with built in benches, this eliminates the need to worry about seating. There is also a large selection of outdoor ceiling fans and outdoor lights that can be added to give a personal touch and create tranquility in your gazebo.

You can raise a gazebo a few steps to take advantage of garden vistas, this also solves the problem of a tricky slope. Gazebos are an excellent choice to cover existing hot tubs too. They can be large or small, from octagon, square and even round. Design preferences range from using your homes design and carrying the style into your landscape, or can be totally different. From Victorian to Gothic, country to modern and sleek- the possibilities and individuality are endless.

If you are considering adding an outdoor structure like a gazebo to your landscape, just give Archadeck a call. Their talented and experienced staff can guide you every step of the way. You will be ready to have tea for two (or twenty ) on your new Archadeck gazebo by the arrival of Spring.

The color wheel is still the real deal when picking outdoor structure colors

Once you’ve decided on adding an Archadeck structure to your home and landscape most of the major decisions have already been made like size, type of material, and accessories.


Whether you have chosen a deck, a sunroom, a pergola or even a patio, you will have to decide what colors to use. Archadeck has a talented and trained staff to guide you through from start to finish to assist you with your new addition. There are a wide array of colors and textures to choose from when deciding on what materials to construct your structure out of. Choosing colors to use can be a daunting task in itself.

Based upon your individual taste and the colors of your existing structures, color selections can be fun and interesting. You want your structure to reflect your taste and your individuality and be as unique as you are. Many interior designers and building professionals use the convenience of the color wheel and color theory in helping their clients make their color selections. Color theory is a body of practical guidance to color mixing and the visual impacts of specific color combinations. The color wheel is a simple color chart in which complementary colors are arranged on opposite sides of a circle. The color wheel was said to be invented by Sir Isaac Newton in 1670. The principles of color theory also first appeared in the notebooks of the famous painter, sculptor, and architect Leonardo Da’vinci (one of his greatest works being “The Mona Lisa”) as early as 1490.The uses of color theory and the color wheel are not all ancient history, it is alive and well and being used in the 21st century. Below is an early color wheel from Goethe’s color wheel from his 1810 “Theory of colors”.

By effectively using the color wheel you can decide what colors complement each other. For example, if you have a Terra cotta color brick home and are planning on building a deck attached to your house. You would find your brick color on the color wheel, then look directly across from the color on the color wheel and you would find the color that best complements your brick color. In this example Terra cotta is an orange/red color, directly across from the orange/red color is a gray/blue color. By reading the color chart you can see that a darker gray deck or stain may be the best color choice to complement your Terra cotta brick.


Color as you know can also enhance or set a mood. When you discuss color choices you have to take into consideration above anything else, your personal tastes. Did you know that certain colors have a “psychology”, meaning that different colors can affect your mood? Yes, just like certain scents have mood altering effects on the brain, color does too.

The color wheel is split into warm and cool colors. Warm colors such as red, orange and yellows can give you a feeling of warmth, enthusiasm , strength , and passion. Your cool colors such as greens and blues give you the feeling of depth, trust, freshness and tranquility. Much can be said about the neutral tones that are most often used in the construction of outdoor structures. Brown is of course the color of the earth and is considered to be comforting and reassuring. In design brown can add depth and warmth to your structure. Gray is subtle and can be calming. Black is Elegant. Black is usually used to make something stand out and will draw attention to detail and is often used in ornamental details. Whites are classic and timeless. White is clean and fresh like a new fallen snow. So as you can clearly see. Colors can set a mood and promote a feeling you want to convey when enjoying your outdoor structure. Spending time on your sunroom with deep brown flooring accented with white trim can make you feel as if you are curled up with a big slice of warm apple pie a la mode!

Now that you armed with the knowledge you need to make great color choices plus the uniqueness of your favorite colors don’t be afraid to dive into the color selection process. Archadeck has a rainbow of choices to guide you and the talent and know how to make your experience unforgettable.

Can a back seat car charger be the reason someone buys a $25,000 car?

Sure. Should something as small as a back seat car charger be the reason someone buys one car vs. another? Perhaps. When it comes to vehicles, the difference in price between a “basic” car and the car that fits our lifestyle is really usually not that much as a percentage. So, in doing a financial analysis, we can have a motor with 4 wheels and scratchy seats for one price and a car we enjoy riding in for 5% more. Take into account that we will use this item every single day for the next 5 years or so, the cost of having all the comfort we really want could be as little as pennies per day.

My husband constantly tries to help me see this fact and often it takes a literal financial analysis to help me see it. I tend to get sticker shock – especially during this bad economy. I’m embarrassed to say but I can remember more times than I care to admit when I’ve purchased the cheap item only to have it break or be completely useless and had to buy the more expensive version in addition spending nearly twice as much as I spent originally.


Our Archadeck owners tell me that they often get calls from homeowners who had a “cheap” deck built for them and not much later they realize they should have spent a little more to get the deck that they really wanted. This could be because of the size or the construction or very often as a result of the deck missing one or two critical features to make it an area that they really want to spend time.

As a recovering first-time cheapskate, I urge you to take a look at the product you really want and do a financial analysis to find out how much more the product I want really costs. These days, a new deck can last 30 years or more. That’s a purchase that’s worth spending a little more to get your “back seat car charger” type feature that’s really going to improve your quality of outdoor life in your yard.

Call an expert near you to have your deck built right the first time.

A drab deck turns into a fabulous sunroom in Olathe Kansas

When Steve Folsom of Archadeck of Kansas City first started talking with homeowners in Olathe Kansas, they were looking for replacement for a two-story rotted deck that adjoined their kitchen and living rooms. They wanted an upper sunroom above a new lower deck to replace their old two-story deck.

They didn’t know all the features and final design details they wanted for the room but they did know he wanted to use it as much as possible, both winter and summer, and throughout the year as much as possible.

The planning process becomes a really interactive discussion at this point. Since the homeowners were not sure about the details, here are some of the things that Steve recommended. They wanted to install new french doors from the living room and keep them open a large part of the time so Steve suggested a fully insulated room with auxiliary heat and cooling.

Steve suggested low-e double pane energy-efficient windows to maximize comfort and year round occupancy. Then for the design details, in order to give unique architectural look to the room, Steve suggested tongue and groove cedar ceiling trim with painted beadboard wall trim.

The total project included:

*a new sunroom with new Pella french doors

If you live in the Kansas City area and you’re thinking about an outdoor project – whether it’s a sunroom, deck, porch, pergola, outdoor fireplace, outdoor living room or another vacation spot in your back yard, give Steve Folsom of Archadeck of Kansas City a call. (913) 851 – 3325. [email protected]

Do you have a deck that you NEVER spend time on?

Yet our deck is the room right outside our back door and we let that become an abandoned old rickety un-functional room in our house. Yet, it’s the only room in our house where we can feel the breeze. It’s the only room in our house where we can smell the fresh air. It’s the only room in our house with tremendous natural lighting which is so good for physical and mental well-being.

I think a lot of times we put off getting our decks up to snuff because we fear the price of such an upgrade. But now is really the best time to get a quote. We’re going into 2011 and we will make a lot of new spending decisions. We may again decide to put off a vacation even though we annually have some money earmarked for it. We can put that toward upgrading the vacation spot in our back yard. We may put off getting a newer car even though we had some money budgeted for it. The reason we may put these types of things off is because the return on these investments is slim-to-none. At this point in the economy, we can’t afford to spend unless it’s an investment. The return on this investment is high financially and otherwise.

Go ahead and get a quote and a design from a professional who can help you envision the right outdoor space for you. These homeowners in Chadd’s Ford PA had the type of deck we’ve been talking about. It was just too small and it was very old and run down.

Juan Cardona at Archadeck of Chester County worked with this family to design a bigger deck that also had a nice area for shade so they could enjoy the room outside their back door both in moderate and direct sun conditions.

Here’s a note from Juan Cardona

“These homeowners were looking for a larger deck than what they had which was 12’X14’ and very square. They wanted to work with a newer material (no wood) for low maintenance. They originally wanted a porch attached to the house on top of the deck, but the house configuration did not allow for what they wanted. I suggested that she consider a free-standing gazebo as an option and this is what we finished up with.”

The new deck materials are Timbertech Desert Bronze PVC decking with Timbertech radiance Railing with aluminum balusters from Deckorators.


If you live in the Chester County PA area and you’re considering a new backyard project or want to have a free consultation, call Juan Cardona. Phone: (610) 696 – 3340. Or email: [email protected] Visit http://chester-county.archadeck.com/ or visit their Facebook page.

Comment:

James commented “I really love how you refer to decks as “vacation spot in our back yard.” That’s so true! So why not take the time and make the investment to make it as great as it can be? The project that Juan Cardona did with the free standing pergola is beautiful! I’m sure the homeowners are loving it!”

Outdoor fireplaces and fire pits are the perfect way to welcome the cooler weather

Last night was a very cold Halloween so we carted our very small but wonderful portable metal fire pit out around to the front of the house and made a big fire to keep us warm as we sat out and gave out candy. My husband, not knowing all the beautiful jobs I write about every day, was wishing our portable outdoor dream environment could somehow have a big screen TV. He mused about how nice it would be to have a permanent outdoor room.

Although the portable fire pit does make for one nice evening, an outdoor room is what’s needed to enjoy many evenings outdoors. Our Archadeck location in Charlotte just finished building a screened porch over a deck. Here is a quick video overview of the project.

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This house in Charlotte had an existing deck that needed to be torn down. The homeowner knew they wanted a screened porch with an outdoor fireplace. They also knew they had some drainage issues that they needed addressed during the build.

Archadeck of Charlotte proposed a screened porch with a corner fireplace and Eze-Breeze windows.

Here is an after picture.

You can see that part of the design was also to build an extended portion of the deck that was open. When building an outdoor living space, that’s precisely the time to explore creating a space with multiple “rooms” or multiple unique living areas. This can be accomplished by having a portion of the deck or patio covered. It can be done by having a portion of the deck screened in. It can even be accomplished with multi-level decks and patios. Just the same way different members of your family have their own favorite room of the house, this allows multiple outside living areas for different pursuits.

Here is another after picture from inside the screened porch.

Inside the screened porch with a view of the fireplace
This screened porch is a nice generous size – 17′ × 19′. There’s plenty of room for furniture and to still have some open floor space. The fireplace is a functioning gas fireplace.

Here is an image of the second section of the deck which is the uncovered section.

Again, this area is large enough to easily accommodate furniture and still provide walking and other room.

As I mentioned before, the client was concerned about the slope of his backyard. Archadeck installed some drainage counter-measures to make sure the rain didn’t rush against the house. They installed a catch basin and drain tile to work in concert with river stone placed under the deck and porch.

When looking for a builder for your next outdoor project, it’s important to have them explore all of these different ideas and considerations with you. Tell them how you want to live and if you have concerns about things like drainage. A good builder should be able to explain the choices of materials and give you the pros and cons. They should be able to come up with creative ideas you might not have thought of as well as create to the specifications that are important to you.

In Charlotte, you can call Archadeck at (704) 944 – 1350.

You can visit the Archadeck of Charlotte website here or read their blog here.

Deck? Patio? Pergola? Sunroom? Make sure you know exactly what you're going to get

I had a very interesting set of experiences this week. I’m looking for new carpet for my home. Archadeck is a franchise company I like to work with other franchise companies. The reason why is because just like a McDonalds, you get a proven process and a well-honed experience. It’s nice to know there are rules, guidelines, and lots of support behind the person who comes out to your home. I saw an advertisement for Empire Carpet on TV so they seemed like a good choice. I went to their web site and found it was very easy to request a consultation.

The nice gentleman came out, explained my choices and measured my home. Several times he told me things like “I could choose to get paid on charging high prices or selling lots of carpet and I choose to make the price good for you and sell lots of carpet”. The price was quite a bit higher than I expected and I had trouble envisioning what the finished job would look like. I then went to Lowes and paid them $35 to come out and measure my home. They showed up on time, measured quickly and told me the store would have my measurements ready the next morning. They did. The gentleman who sold me the measuring called me to give me his hours and encouraged me to come in and pick out carpet the next day.

These are all things you can expect from working with a national company. You have confidence in the quality standards of their work and know you have somewhere to turn if you are not happy.

proven process
well-honed experience
consistent experience
efficient timely work
say what they’re going to do and do what they say
follow-up
After pricing the carpet and much consideration of flooring, I decided I would much prefer to tile my entire bottom level. The problem was that it was just impossible to envision what this would look like.

That’s why at Archadeck, our professional builders are expertly trained on using state-of-the art architectural design software to show you exactly what your home addition is going to look like. We don’t show you pictures of other homes. We show you your home with your exact addition built to your specifications.

Here are a couple of the design renderings we show our clients:

Here is what this home looked like before, the 3-D rendering and the after picture.

Here is another before, rendering and after.

https://d10k7k7mywg42z.cloudfront.net/assets/55661bfbedb2f37735027980/pergola_before_after_render.jpg!!

For more information on a design rendering for your upcoming project, take a look at the list of Archadeck locations. To reach the office that did the above design renderings and projects, contact Archadeck of Arlington/Fort Worth/Tarrant County, TX or call their office at (817) 496 – 3325.

Archadeck's new Design Guide puts you in the drivers seat


Archadeck is helping to make backyards in North America more beautiful and functional one home at a time. Archadeck Outdoor Living is inspiring homeowners with some great ideas thanks to our new Outdoor Living Design Guide. This design guide shares our expertise and knowledge and puts it right at your fingertips. It is now available for a free download online at http://www.archadeck.com/guide/index.html


This full-color design guide features outdoor living space photos, ideas, tips and hints to give you a starting point in planning your new outdoor space and make your backyard the best it can be. It takes you on a guided tour of where to begin in planning the backyard you have always dreamed of.

The first step begins with functionality and helps you determine exactly what you want to do in your outdoor space. For example, within the patio and hardscape portion you will be asked to answer questions like do you want to dine, entertain, garden or just relax in your outdoor space. As you answer the questions it will lead you into ways to incorporate nature into your outdoor space because after all that is what makes these spaces so special. Do you want sunshine streaming in? Or maybe an outdoor space free of insects?


The view from within your outdoor space is of utmost importance and Archadeck has made this another point of focus in our design guide as well. This guide also aids in deciding where to place your outdoor space by taking into consideration the direction your backyard faces all the way to your lot and soil conditions.

A well planned outdoor space can complement not only your home’s exterior but the interior as well. With this in mind we show you how to plan a structure that allows for easy transition from interior spaces into your outdoor space.

This wonderful tool puts you in the driver’s seat and puts you in a better position to meet with your Archadeck Design consultant by having a better idea of the outdoor space that will suit your wants and needs. For a sneak peek on how the design guide works visit “http://bit.ly/dreamyards”: today. You can also call us at 888-687-3325 or email us at http://www.archadeck.com/ContactUs.html

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