Blog deck Design

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.

How to Decide What You Need in an Outdoor Living Space

Updating and enhancing your outdoor living space is a big decision and can be a big investment. As you go through the process, you want to be confident that the final product will be a space that you love. At Archadeck Outdoor Living, our design process is incredibly important to ensure that the right structure and space is built, leaving you with an area you’ll enjoy and use.

When creating the perfect design and structure, we ask a lot of questions, including:

How do you intend to use the space? It’s easy to say “I want a bigger deck,” but that’s too simple. Getting a clear understanding of how you’d like to use the space makes form and function a goal. Someone who wants to have a glass of wine on an outdoor couch needs a different type of space than the homeowner that hosts large parties and eats in the backyard every night. The more ways you want to use the space, the more planning that’s involved. For example, if you want to use your outdoor space into the night, it makes sense to plan for outdoor lighting and a fire feature.

What’s the topography of your yard? Do you have a flat yard? Does it slope? The topography can make a big impact on the best structure types for your property. If you have a large slope or your main living floor is higher off the ground, a deck may be the best option. Flat land is more forgiving in structure type, be it a deck, patio, porch or other structure.

Do you have favorite views of your property? If you love looking out onto the rolling hills to the east of your home, your deck designer and builder should create a space that allows you to appreciate that. Where and how the deck, porch or patio is built impacts your view.

How is your property situated? Do you need area for shade and sun? Some people like to spend time in the sun, while others prefer the shade. If you like the shade, why have a deck that’s in direct sunlight most of the day? It doesn’t make sense. Archadeck Outdoor Living often combines projects to fulfill both needs. You may have a porch that leads to a patio or a deck with a pergola.

Getting the perfect outdoor living space really depends on your preferences. We often ask our prospects and clients to download and fill out our FREE Design Guide to help guide our conversations.

If you have questions on enhancing your backyard, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Updating Your Existing Outdoor Living Space

It’s spring which means it is time to move it outdoors and enjoy the nice weather. Creating beautiful outdoor living spaces that you want to spend time in is one way to ensure that you aren’t cooped up inside all the time. If your existing deck or patio isn’t as inviting as it should be, it doesn’t mean you need to completely replace it. Instead, look for ways to update and enhance it. Here are some ideas from the outdoor living experts at Archadeck.

Seating/furniture options. In one of my first homes, I had a great little patio, but I barely used it. While I had furniture outside, it wasn’t comfortable furniture that I wanted to spend a lot of time on. Looking back, had I updated my seating options, I would have spent more time outdoors. If you aren’t sure of spacing, have a deck and patio builder visit your property and discuss built-in seating with benches or retaining walls. This is a great way to increase the amount of seating you have.

Shade. Having shaded areas in your outdoor living areas creates a space for you and guests to escape the hot sun if needed. Shade options are varied and include awnings, arbors, trellises and pergolas, all of which can be installed on an existing space. Pergolas are one of the most popular shade options. The size, shape and design and can be tailored for you, your tastes and your budget.

Color. Color adds life into any living area whether indoors or outdoors. Take a look at this deck, doesn’t its colors make you want to spend time on it? Colors can be added in a lot of ways. If you have existing furniture, consider purchasing some new decorative outdoor pillows to liven up the space. Or, add an outdoor rug, not only will it add color, but it will also help define your space. Adding planters with flowers and greenery to a deck or patio is also a great way to add some color, and they’re easy to change every season!

Outdoor Lighting. Eventually your outdoor living spaces will get too dark for you to enjoy them when the sun goes down, unless you have outdoor lighting. Many of our Archadeck Outdoor Living locations install deck lights on their projects to make sure it can be enjoyed all day and night. Lighting will keep you outside and provide sure-footing as you move around your outdoor living space. If you are in need a more extensive lighting system, take a look at our sister company, Outdoor Lighting Perspectives.

As always, Archadeck Outdoor Living is here to help you enhance your outdoor living spaces. Please reach out to any of our locations to learn more.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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!

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!

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!

First Finalists Announced in Dream Backyard Makeover Contest

With the first month down, we at Archadeck Outdoor Living are happy to announce the first two finalists for Archadeck’s Dream Backyard Makeover. We had just under 350 entries in the month of February, making it extremely tough to pick just two deserving families.

If you haven’t entered the contest yet, make sure you do at DreamBackyardMakeover.com. Two finalists are chosen for the months of February, March and April. On April 23rd the photo descriptions and photos will be posted for online voting. The winner of the $70,000 makeover will be chosen as a result of panelist votes and Facebook votes. TimberTech Decking and Belgard hardscapes will be used in the final project.

Here are the two finalists for February (full owner descriptions will be posted when voting begins on April 23rd).

The first is out of South Carolina where the homeowners were unfortunately taken advantage of by a lousy contractor. They hired and paid a contractor to build a new deck off the back of their house only to have the contractor disappear in the middle of the project. To make matters worse, the homeowners found out that none of the work was done to code leaving an unsafe structure!

The second finalist comes from the Chicago area. The homeowners purchased this house only 3 days after welcoming their first child. They hope to raise their family in this house, but it needs some work. They plan to host friends, family and neighbors in the backyard of their dreams if chosen for the backyard makeover.

Congrats to our two finalists!

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!

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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:

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!

Homeowners Move it Outdoors

Outdoor Living is both a fun and growing category. As Angie Hicks, from Angie’s List explains,

“In our Angie’s List annual project poll, we found about 35 percent of the respondents plan to invest in the exterior of their house…When it comes to making outdoor living spaces, they can become elaborate these days. More of us want to spend time outside, but if you are on a budget, be very clear and upfront when you are planning the process. Potentially, get your project broken into phases so you can do parts of it in any given year.”

At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we totally agree with Angie. We know that the “dream backyard” can be expensive depending on what your dream space includes, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tell your contractor what you eventually want. As we’ve discussed before, we build in phases when needed, but we like to design the space completely from the beginning. Whenever you are talking to your deck and porch builder, tell them everything that you would ultimately like included in your outdoor living space and then prioritize them. Maybe the patio is most important now because you want to be able to host friends and family sooner rather than later, but the outdoor fireplace can wait for a better time.

Many of our franchisees ask their potential clients to download the Archadeck Design Guide to spur their thinking so we can design the perfect space for our clients. The Design Guide asks a series of questions that when put together will aid in creating an outdoor space that you are sure to love.

Angie’s List also recently provided their tips to kicking off your outdoor living project:

  • Check rules and regulations. This is incredibly important as you may not be aware of the regulations or codes that may impede your building process. Unfortunately, this research and figuring out what you do and don’t need to pay attention to can be difficult. At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we handle all parts of the permit process so you don’t have to.
  • Who to hire? Make sure that you are hiring a contractor that can manage your outdoor living project. Some builds may require multiple professionals (for instance a plumber or electrician) so be sure to ask what contacts your main contractor has so you are working with a trusted source.
  • Set your goals. Like we said, tell your deck or porch builder everything that you eventually want out of your space so they can design it accordingly.
  • Establish a budget. Be realistic about what you can invest in the space now and what you may have to save for. Give your contractor a hard number so there isn’t any confusion.
  • Create something you will use. If you aren’t going to use it, why build it?

If you are interested in learning more about Archadeck Outdoor Living process, contact your local office to schedule a consultation.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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 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]

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]

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]

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!”

Ocean view multilevel TimberTech composite deck with ocean view and bench seating

When Maurice Meagher of Archadeck of Nova Scotia starts a new deck design job, the part he looks forward to most is designing the structure to fit the way the homeowners want to live. It’s not about building the biggest deck or using the hottest new materials.


Standing atop the second deck level, gazing at the lower deck
It’s about designing the right structure with the best materials for the family. After all, this is a new part of their house. It is an extension of where they live and should reflect how they live and how they want to live.

This family in St. Margaret’s Bay in Nova Scotia had a couple requirements. They wanted a 2nd story living space so they could enjoy the ocean view behind their lovely home. They also wanted a deck on the first story to tie into the garden and backyard. They wanted no barrier or rail on the lower level deck so traffic could flow from the deck into the yard and to the beach area.


On the top level, they wanted to dine, entertain and grill. Grilling on this ocean view property could be affected by the breeze coming off the ocean. The family wanted to be able to enjoy the ocean view but still have some protection from the wind. So, Maurice built a glass railing so as not to obscure any of the beautiful view.


The stairs were designed to be equally beautiful and functional. With the ocean view and the beauty of the deck down below, the scene from the staircase was exceptional. The white rail post used from the second level extends down the stairs and a decorative white picket was used on the deck stairs.

The deck itself was made of" TimberTech Earthwood Teak":http://timbertech.com/products/ with TimberTech Radiance railing.


The deck’s lower level included a corner bench and another bench as well as steps on both sides going out to the garden.

This deck is not only beautiful and functional but also award winning -

It was awarded “Most Outstanding Exterior Renovation” by the Nova Scotia Home builder’s Association.

Here is the “before picture”. Wow!


For more information or to schedule a free consultation, contact Maurice Meagher of Archadeck of Nova Scotia

(902) 444 – 3325

[email protected]

Depth is almost as important as length when designing your deck or patio

So here you are. You’ve decided it’s time to go ahead and start talking to contractors about building your dream porch or sun room or deck. You have in your mind whether or not your structure will be covered on top and likely approximately how much of the back of your house you want to cover. You’ve probably gone out back with a tape measure and measured the length of the area you have earmarked for your new structure.

What you probably haven’t thought about is the depth of your deck or patio or sunroom. I had the good pleasure recently to ride to some job sites built by Archadeck of Austin. Several times I learned about being able to convince customers of adding an extra two feet.

I learned that often homeowners will make a decision based on what feels or sounds about right. Or, they may even select their outdoor furniture ahead of time and base the depth on the measurements of the furniture plus adding space to move out chairs.

So I pondered this idea overnight at the hotel where I stayed. The next morning I came down to wait for my ride and noticed the furniture in the lobby

It was just too tight to effectively seat anyone that wanted to sit there. The furniture grouping included a table, a sofa and two chairs. Although the furniture fit (literally) in the area, there was only about 6 inches between the chairs and the table. The chairs could not be pulled out. This made it impossible for people to get by anyone sitting in the chairs without the person having to get up.

So, it’s a great idea to have measurements for your outdoor furniture before you build a new structure. A good contractor should also be able to help you determine how much room is needed around that furniture set to be able to use it effectively.

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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