Blog Deck Information

Creaking Deck? Call for a Deck Safety Inspection

I recently visited some family friends that have a beautiful backyard space and view. We decided that before dinner we’d have a drink on their deck since it was a lovely night. Their deck is high off the ground and is pretty large. While it felt sturdy enough, it did creak a bit as all 7 of us walked around it. Lucky for them, they already have plans to have it replaced later this month.

As you enter fall, it’s a good time to think about the safety of your deck. It’s (hopefully) withheld the busy spring and summer months, but it’s now going into fall and winter when the elements can be tough. Especially in northern areas, decks have to stand up to the weight of large snowfalls and ice. Before winter really sets in, check your deck for signs that it needs to be repaired or replaced. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

How old is your deck? The typical deck last 7-10 years. Five years after construction is a good time to start taking notice of the condition of your deck to make sure that it lasts. You may be able to get more mileage out of it if you address any concerns when they first start.

Is your deck starting to sway or shake? A shaky deck is not a safe deck. It is one sign of an attachment or footing that is weak. Deck collapses can very serious when an attachment or footing fails. If your deck sways, make sure you call a professional deck builder to come perform a deck safety inspection.

Are you deck boards splintering a lot? Cracks and splinters in wood is normal over time, but if they are splintering a lot, it’s a sign of the boards starting to dry out. Replacing a few deck boards can be an easy fix and doesn’t require the entire deck to be replaced.

Do you rails feel steady and secure? Deck railings are a very important safety aspect of your outdoor living structure. Make sure that your railings are not unstable or shaky.

If you think you are in need of a professional deck safety inspection, 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.

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.

Check your deck before having company

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get more out of your deck with lighting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Deck and Patio Design that Gives You All You Need

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deck and Patio Installation Begins at Archadeck Headquarters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have Your Deck Checked During May’s Deck Safety Month

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

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.

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.

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.

Curved Deck Adds Charm to Georgia Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Checking Your Outdoor Living Spaces after Sandy

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

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

Here are some things to look for:

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

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

Deck Collapse Sends Four to the Hospital

I love the Fourth of July. The barbecues with family and friends, fireworks and the red, white and blue always makes me smile. But unfortunately, for one family, an annual holiday party turned scary when their deck collapsed on Tuesday night before the Fourth.

Earlier this week, a family was having party on their deck in Littleton, CO when the structure broke away from the home at about 9:30pm. Those people who were on the deck at the time of the failure where dropped more than 10 feet to ground level. Luckily for everyone, no one was too seriously injured, but four people were sent to the hospital with bruises and broken bones (they were later released).

This probably wasn’t the holiday party the homeowners had hoped for. Upon looking at the structure, it became apparent that the deck was not up to current building code, resulting in the deck failure. As we discussed during Deck Safety month in May, when a deck is attached to the side of the home, it is strategically bolted to the structure of the home using what is called a ledger board. Instead of bolts, this deck in Littleton was attached using nails.

Nails are inadequate when it comes to providing the safety a deck connection needs. According to Structure Tech Home Inspections, nailed connections are probably the most common cause of deck collapses because they can easily pull out of ledger boards when significant pressure is placed on it.

The ledger board of a deck can usually be seen when accessing the deck from below. If you take a look at your deck from below and only see nails on the board (as opposed to bolts), make sure to call your local deck builder or contractor. Depending on the size of the structure and access to the ledger board, this can be easily fixed.

If you have a deck that you think needs to be replaced or have questions about overall deck safety, please call your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Deck Safety Starts at the House

A few years ago there was a big story here in Richmond about a deck that had collapsed during a weekend barbecue. A group of friends had gotten together to cook out when the deck detached from the side of the house and collapsed. Several people were injured and unfortunately, this is a common occurrence.

In celebration of May’s National Deck Safety month, we want to discuss one of the key components to making a deck safe: the connection to the house. When designing and building a deck for a client, the deck builder has to decide whether to build a free-standing deck or a deck that’s attached to the house via a ledger board. Some homes, such a brick, stone and stucco veneer homes, cannot have attached decks due to code or other site conditions.

For those decks that are attached to the house, a ledger board (band that supports one end of the deck joists) is secured to the house band (horizontal band that’s a part of the house structure). This connection is key to the safety of deck. If it fails, the deck has the possibility of collapsing. As building codes and requirements have changed in the last few years regarding connection, it’s important to have a trained professional come out and inspect your ledger connection. Here are a few things they should be looking for or at:

Flashing – Also known as drip edge, flashing is a material that stops moisture from entering the home. Deck flashing is placed between the house band and the ledger board. An inspector would check to make sure that the flashing is still in place and intact to prevent rot and decay.

Fastener Type and Spacing – Simple nails cannot hold the weight of deck and shouldn’t be used to fasten the ledger board to the house band. ½ inch lag screws or through bolts with washers need to be place 2” from the bottom or top of the ledger and with 1’ of the end. Additionally, they need to be staggered strategically along the horizontal ledger.

Corrosion – With metal fasteners being the keep component to holding your deck together, it’s important to check that all of the pieces are in good working condition. Corrosion can occur over time weakening the system making it more susceptible to breakage or failure.

Rot – Rot is most common at the house band (especially if it isn’t properly flashed), but can also occur along the ledger board. Rot and decay, if not properly inspected and fix can lead to structural decay within your home and ledger failure, causing your deck to collapse.

If you have a deck that is over 7 years old or in questionable condition, we at Archadeck suggest having a trained deck professional come out and inspect the safety of your deck. They will be able to tell you what you need to repair now and what you will need to repair in the coming years. For more information, please visit us at Archadeck.com or contact your local Archadeck office.

Outdoor Living is Here to Stay

We all know the recession and current economic situation has changed the way we buy. In general, consumers are taking more time with bigger purchases. Despite the uncertain economy, the National Association of Home Builders recently announced a five-year high in the remodeling index in the past fourth quarter. It seems that many homeowners are continuing to spend money updating their current home rather than moving.

According to the Chicago Tribune there are three remodeling trends that are growing in popularity despite tough economic times:

1) In- Law Suites
2) Smarter Kitchens and
3) Outdoor Living Spaces

Prior to the recession, many homeowners were investing significant money in creating their dream backyards and many still are, just to a lesser extent.

“The recession many have dinged this corner of the remodeling industry, but the concept survives. In fact, investing in outdoor living spaces has been a major part of even budget-minded upgrades within existing home footprints. Consumers may be scaling back their wish list, but they’re not cutting back on outdoor entertaining and family time.” – Chicago Tribune

The outdoor living industry is one that continues to grow in popularity. In the Spring and Summer months, it’s hard not to see advertisements or news about outdoor games, recipes, accessories and more. And let’s face it, with barbecues, hammocks and corn-hole, who wouldn’t want to increase their outdoor time?

While the majority of our customers enhance their outdoor areas so they can truly enjoy it, it will add value to their home when it is time to sell. Some experts say that a seller can expect a 75% return on the investment of a new deck for instance.

If you have any questions on how a new outdoor living space can add value to your home, please contact us at Archadeck.com.

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 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]

We're not talking turkey, composites have it all

Have you ever wondered just why things that claim they are “better” than the original often emulate characteristics of the very thing they are touting they are better than?


I use yesterdays breakfast as an example. I was cooking turkey bacon along with eggs and toast for me and my family. Now, turkey bacon does not claim that it is better tasting than the regular pork bacon that we are all familiar with, it does however emulate the “look” of turkey bacon with its perfectly scalloped edging and striping which is added to make the turkey bacon look more like “the real thing”. The turkey bacon is indeed better for us, it is lower in fat, sodium and cholesterol. In the big scheme of things the turkey bacon is better from a health standpoint. I then wondered since it is obviously the better choice then why did the company who made the turkey bacon find it necessary to add the little aesthetic touches to emulate real bacon? After some thought I then realized that every product, material and item we are accustomed to using or consuming comes with an emotional attachment. I believe we are hardwired to perceive things a certain way by the memories we retain from using ,or in the case of the bacon, consuming in the past.


Millions of products on the market have proven to be better than the original. Much the same can be said about composite decking versus wood decking.

Composite decking materials such as AZEK, TimberTech, Trex, Fiberon and many others have successfully emulated the look of real wood. Composites have been tried and true with the advances in technology to be stronger than real wood decking, insect and fungus resistant, mold and mildew resistant and they won’t warp or fade from the elements over time. Many of today’s composites are backed by industry warranties that cover staining and fading in some cases for over 25 years. A deck constructed of quality composite materials becomes a deck that no longer needs laborious maintenance, staining or upkeep. With all these intensely positive attributes of composites, why have they been cultured to emulate real wood? I will tell you why…


Locked deep inside our memory banks is a fond memory that involves wood. It may be your mother telling you not to run around the deck of your backyard pool without your sandals because “you’ll get splinters”. It may be the warmth and aroma created from roasting marshmallows over a bonfire on burning hardwoods while at summer camp. It may be the warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you think of visiting grandma’s house on Sundays for fried chicken in her dining room with beautiful wide plank hardwood floors. Wood is part of our heritage. Wood promotes warmth, security and pleasantries within us. The beauty of wood is rustic, earthy and natural.


It is only natural that composites emulate the look of real wood. After all you are getting the best of both worlds with composites, strength, durability and the aesthetics and graining characteristics of real wood, a winning combination indeed.

To find out more about composite decking contact Archadeck today. We can help you decide on the composite deck that is right for your individual tastes and needs. Call us at 888-687-3325 or email us at [email protected] and find out more about the Archadeck difference.

Composites come full circle


Do you want to enjoy your deck and not have to think about splitting, cracking, staining, warping, discoloration, mold, or having to scrub it year after year?

Guess what- you don’t have to. That’s right, with solid PVC decking and composite decking, to a degree, all these worries and chores are a thing of the past.

Composite decking such as TimberTech, AZEK, and Fiberon are worry free, strong, durable and beautiful as well. Archadeck is proud to build with these high quality composite brands to you along with our highly skilled installers and award-winning designs.


Today’s composites provide you with the flexibility and freedom to create designs within the deck itself that just aren’t possible with woods such as pressure treated pine. The design possibilities are endless and are reminiscent of meticulous wood inlays. Composite decking now has the natural look of real woods such as Ipe,cedar and redwood to name a few-and you will never have to stain it.


Today’s composites are also sustainable, being constructed to varying degrees, with recycled materials by using polymer technology. So you not only get a solid, and carefree material, you also get the pride of knowing your deck is eco-friendly as well.

TimberTech’s Earthwood Evolutions has a 25 year stain and fade warranty along with its superior scratch resistance. TimberTech’s XLM composite is designed to withstand heavy traffic and is super slip resistant and a solid choice among composite pool, spa decks and general decks.


AZEK composite decking also boasts superior stain and scratch resistance as well as mold and mildew resistance. It is also long-lasting and durable and comes in many hues to suit even the most discriminating tastes.

Fiberon decking has a 25 year stain and fade warranty as well as offering superior scratch, stain and mold resistance. It also comes in a myriad of true-to-life wood tones that you will have to see to believe.

Seeing is believing when it comes to the composites of today. To see more visit Archadeck or call us today to set up a free design consultation featuring your new composite deck. 888-687-3325

The Hard and Beautiful Truth About Exotic Hardwoods


Brazilian hardwoods- they are beautiful, strong, naturally resistant against insects and durable just to name a few qualities. Brazilian or exotic hardwoods are quite popular in uses such as flooring, decking, furniture making, docks, pool houses, and even to finish out ceiling in structures like" covered porches":https://www.archadeck.com/design-ideas/porches/open-porches-patio-covers/, sunrooms and some homes. Their exotic and intoxicating beauty is unique in its variation and veining as well as their coloring.


Brazilian hardwoods include Brazilian Walnut (Ipe), Brazilian teak ( Cumaru), Brazilian cherry (Jatoba), Brazilian redwood (Masaranduba) and the unmistakable Tigerwood. The natural colors of each of these woods is so desirable and unique it doesn’t require any staining or color additive.

Ipe is possibly one of the hardest woods available on the market today. Ipe is rated to last an astounding 100 years! Ipe has a class A fire rating which is same rating given to concrete as well as steel. Exposure to weather, including moisture has very little effect on the structural quality of the wood, this is why it is a popular choice among dock owners. Archadeck of Maryland recently focused on the use of beautiful Ipe in this blog story about an Ipe deck in Potomac MD.


Tigerwood is another great option when considering exotic hardwoods. Tigerwood will not rot or decay over time. It is also quite disease- and fungus-resistant which make Tigerwood another viable option for use around a pool area, or area that is exposed to moisture. Another great article on Tigerwood was done by Archadeck of Austin, to read more just click the link below…


Even though some hardwoods are better known to consumers such as Ipe and Tigerwood, there are many more of these exotic woods on today’s market. Exotics require different installation than a typical wood application. Pre-drilled holes are required to ensure the decking will not split due to the hardness and resiliency of the wood. All Brazilian hardwoods carry at the very least a 25 year guarantee. We do recommend treating the deck on a regular basis to maintain those rich warm tones. Eventually all exotics will weather to a beautiful silver patina over time.

If you are interested in re-decking or new decking with Brazilian hardwoods. Archadeck has the expertise and experience of working with these exotics. We can design, plan and build your next outdoor structure. Contact us today to see the Archadeck difference. 888-687-3325 or email us at [email protected]

Adding an Outdoor Structure Today Can Add to Your Homes Value Tomorrow


Homeowners make improvements to their homes for a myriad of reasons. Reasons include adding additional living space, remodeling to update a space or style, or upgrades to interior and exterior spaces just to name a few. Home improvements are classified as anything that makes a positive alteration to your home or your land. Today many homeowners are adding new decks and outdoor living structures to their list of improvements.

When an appraiser comes to appraise your home before you put your house on the market, he takes a lot of information into consideration before coming up with that magic number. Appraisers look at land size, square footage, age of the home, the numbers of rooms, the type of home it is, the condition and the quality of the home, and the comparable value of all the other homes around you. Any type of home improvement that adds livable space of any kind, whether it is heated or unheated square feet, does increase your home’s value.


Building a deck for example, can greatly increase your home’s value. Some research shows that up to 75% of the deck cost can be recouped if the home is sold within a year of adding the new deck. Even if you don’t have a lot conducive to adding a deck, a patio is also a solid choice for sellers looking to re-vamp their backyard in preparation to put their house on the market.

Covered porches make an impression to appraisers and prospective buyers when selling your home
Any structure that adds character to your home or land will add value. Any structure that makes you stand out above the competition will add value, and also help get your house shown more often, and thus, sold quicker. You have to think in terms of relativity to the competition around you. Adding an outdoor structure such as covered porch, a gazebos or a pergola can add enough character to make your home stand out from all the rest. Think in terms of the potential buyer’s standpoint, they are going over the houses they have been shown and have to choose from in their price range and they come across yours by memory in their conversation…" yes, that was a nice home, lots of open space, well maintained interior, right amount of bedrooms and it had that beautiful backyard with that lovely covered porch, nice". An addition such as this can often make such a positive impact on your home that the chips will become stacked in your favor.

Keep in mind as well that adding an outdoor space to your home is the most affordable way to expand your home’s value. Archadeck can help you decide on the right outdoor structure for you, from planning, to design, to construction. We can help you every step of the way. 888-OUR-DECK

How to Combine a Patio and a Porch

When it comes to updating your backyard, you may think of just one project at a time. A porch OR a patio. A gazebo OR a deck. So how can you combine more than one of these elements without overdoing it?

Check out this project to see how multiple outdoor areas can be combined to give a cozy and relaxing feel to your backyard. The project features a screened porch, a stone patio, and a fire pit, fully decorated with an outdoor dining area and spa.

What Is IPE And Is It Right For Your Deck?

You may have heard of decks made with IPE. You may have heard people gush about their durability and resilience. So what is it?

IPE (aka Ironwood) is one of the commercial names for a group of trees from the species Tabebuia. The trees typically grow from about 140-150 feet, but can reach heights of up to 200 feet. They can be found in Central and South America, but primarily grow in Brazil.

IPE’s tough, resilent properties have given it increasing popularity in the decking and outdoor furniture world. Along with being incredibly durable, it’s also naturally resistant to decay, wet conditions, and infestation by termites and borers. Additionally, it has a Class A fire rating-the same rating given to concrete and setel.

IPE’s heartwood is olive brown to black, and tends to feature striping. Its sapwood is much lighter, usually white or yellow.

Deck Safety

Each year the North American Deck and Railing Association sponsors a “deck safety month”. The goal is to make people aware of the dangers of not maintaining their current deck, or replacing an older one. Here are some scary facts and figures that I found:

“According to the National Deck and Railing Association, between 2000 and 2006, there have been:

At least 30 deck collapse-related deaths reported.
More than 75 percent of people on a deck are injured or killed when it collapses.
There are 40 million decks in the U.S. that are over 20 years old. At a conservative 1 percent, that means 40,000 decks are currently in need of repair or replacement. Taking that estimate to 10 percent brings the total number of unsafe decks to 4 million.”
Decks and patios are a natural spot were many people congregate to either share a meal, enjoy a party, or countless other reasons. A deck collapsing in the middle of a dinner party would be quite a mood killer! So if your deck is in need of a repair or maybe you are looking into purchasing a new one, check out Archadeck.

Choosing the Right Deck for you

Whenever I see a neighbor hanging out on their deck, I feel a little jealous.

I want a great deck too; somewhere to enjoy a warm day, or have a barbecue. But where do I start? What kind of shape would I use? What size works best for my yard? What kind of deck can I afford to build?

What I didn’t realize was the designers at Archadeck can take the guesswork out of building a deck. Not only will they customize every project for your needs and wants, they can give you more options than you ever expected. They design and build everything from porches to pergolas. They even build outdoor kitchens.

So now I no longer have a big question mark hanging over me. I know exactly what will suit my house best. Now to work on decorating…

To look at examples of outdoor living spaces designed by Archadeck, check out this page.

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