Blog Decks

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.

Deck Replacement Makes all the Difference

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

Deck Collapse is a Serious Risk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Fall is the perfect time to build an outdoor living structure

Posted by: janegwalker

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Firepits and Outdoor Fireplaces Most In Demand Outdoor Living Feature

Posted by: janegwalker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Archadeck Grand Prize Winner’s Backyard Design

Posted by: janegwalker

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

Building a Deck at Archadeck Corporate Headquarters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Third Place Dream Backyard Makeover Winner Receives New Lighting Package

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Patio Design Installed at Archadeck Office

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

And now…

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

Patio and Deck Renovations for Our Second Place Winners

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Archadeck Outdoor Living Surprises Grand Prize Dream Backyard Makeover Winners

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Congrats to the Bentrotts!

Deck and Patio Installation Begins at Archadeck Headquarters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have Your Deck Checked During May’s Deck Safety Month

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Curved Deck and Sunroom Add Functional Space to Connecticut Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Voting is Now Open for Archadeck Dream Backyard Makeover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Multi-Level Deck Opens Up Yard in Arkansas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Four Days Left to Enter Dream Backyard Makeover!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good luck everyone!

Deck and Patio Design for Optimal Outdoor Entertaining

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March Dream Backyard Makeover Finalists Announced

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pool Decks for Every Yard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Archadeck Outdoor Living Gets Dream Backyard of its Own

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2013 Outdoor Living Trends

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

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

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

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

The trends in outdoor living spaces do change, but as Nancy Somerville, ASLA’s executive vice president and CEO explains; “In this uncertain economy, homeowners want to get more enjoyment out of their yards. They want attractive outdoor spaces that are both easy to take care of and sustainable.”

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

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

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.

Outdoor Design makes the Difference

My aunt is an extremely creative person and has been for as long as I can remember. It wasn’t surprising to me when she went back to school to learn how to restructure homes to make them work better for the homeowner. Her specialty is working with existing homes and drawing out changes that improve the flow or usability of the space. A family friend recently turned to her to help with her beach house and the before and after is amazing. A simple change of the layout or design changed the space entirely.

Outdoor living design, like interior design, can increase the function of a space, as well as make the structure look beautiful. With decks, porches, pergolas, patios, sunrooms, outdoor kitchens, etc, the possibilities in outdoor design are endless, but it has to be done correctly. At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we ask our clients about their needs, wants, tastes and budgets to create a design that will achieve their goals.

Last week, I mentioned the Archadeck dream backyard makeover contest. One lucky person will receive a $70,000 backyard makeover that will include a deck and patio component. I honestly cannot wait to see what out franchisees come up with for the design. Some of the photos I’ve seen come in will benefit greatly from someone truly thinking about the space, the surrounding areas, the house and how the space will be used. We are thinking way beyond the concrete slab people!

We are accepting entries for the contest through April 20th. You can submit your photo and a description of your dream backyard on our Facebook page here. Make sure to tell us, in 200 words or less, how you envision using the space, that way your deck and patio design will be just what you wanted!

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

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

Add a Deck

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

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

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

Add Greenery

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

Add Functional Furnishings

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

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

Enjoy Your View on an Elevated Deck

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Proper Deck Design Leads to Increased Use

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Under Decking Creates More Outdoor Living Space

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

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

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

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

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

Here are some great examples of under decking:

Combinations of Outdoor Living Spaces Define Use

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Decorating Your Outdoor Spaces for the Holidays

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyone else have some ideas?

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.

Construction Details that Make Your Deck Last

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Garapa Deck in Old Greenwich, CT

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

Check Your Deck this Fall to Ensure your Deck is Safe

There has been influx of news regarding deck safety in the last few months. Both the Today Show and local news have covered deck safety and how, when not built or maintained properly, decks can be very dangerous.


Decks in general have to withstand a lot of outside influences including rain, snow, wind, temperature changes. Additionally, a lot of homeowners don’t invest in the routine maintenance that decks need. All of these factors can result in a deck failure that can cause serious injury.

According to the North American Deck and Railing Association, there are more than 40 million decks in the United States that are 20 years old or older. We at Archadeck Outdoor Living, recommend checking the structure of the deck each fall and spring if your deck is over 7 years old (the average deck needs to be replaced every ten years).

To help homeowners determine if their deck is safe or not, we have come up with the Acronym “BE SAFER.” Go outside and take a look at the be safer components. If you have concerns or questions regarding the safety of your structure, have a professional come and perform a comprehensive deck safety inspection.

  • Boards – check the deck boards for signs of rot, softness or major cracking.
  • Every Connection – Look for screws or nails that are breaking away from the deck or have rusted.
  • Structure – look at the posts, beams and joists that make up the framework of the deck. Pay special attention to any sagging that may be present.
  • Attachments – the attachment to the house is very important as it is where most deck failures occur. Take a look under your deck and verify it is connected to the house using the proper bolts (not nails!) and flashing for moisture protection.
  • Foundations/Footings – Look for sinking or sagging.
  • Exits – Check the exits of the deck (usually stairs). Are they sagging? Does the rail need replacing?
  • Rails – Look at the rail posts and rail sections and make sure everything is tight and not loose or wobbly.

Again, if you have any questions regarding the safety of your deck, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Rustic Deck in Colorado brings Australia to America

I know, I know, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, but some of the outdoor living spaces that our Archadeck Outdoor Living franchisees design and build are so unique and beautiful. I saw this one from our deck builder in Arvada and after getting the details on the project, I had to share. Not only is it a great space anyone would be happy to have, but it is VERY personal to the homeowner.

Our Archadeck of the Foothills owner, Ben Wood, met these homeowners back in February at a local home show. They were interested is changing their outdoor living space, removing part of their stamped concrete patio and building a deck at ground level and a smaller deck off their bedroom. As Ben says, “they wanted to create a saloon feel for the lower deck.” One of the homeowners is originally from Australia and wanted to incorporate Australian cedar that she brought to the U.S. from her childhood home in the Australian Outback, a piece of home at their new home!

The wood wasn’t the only place they wanted to incorporate Australia, they did so in the outdoor kitchen as well. Instead of having a stone finished to the body of the outdoor kitchen, they decided to incorporate corrugated metal instead in homage to the tin roofs in the Outback. The upper deck included an overhead drainage system to make sure the kitchen and dining space stayed dry and could be used in any weather.

Ben created a 3D rendering of the rustic design which included French doors from their bedroom onto the upper level deck and a great “pub table” on one of the posts (this was going to be a space for entertaining after all). 3D renderings are a great way for clients to see how the space will look on their home before it’s built.

When it came to building, the Archadeck team paid special attention to keeping the homeowners’ rustic saloon in mind and the outcome was great. Check out these photos!

Outdoor Remodels Continue to Payback

A recent study by Harvard University’s Remodeling Futures Program reported that home remodeling will increase by year’s end. And according to Hanley-Wood’s Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value report, upgrading your outdoor living space may be a good place to start.

Whether it’s a kitchen, bathroom or living room, any remodeling project can cost you money and hassle. Deck and outdoor living remodels, however, tend to be less expensive than those projects that take place in your home, and according to Hanley-Woods, offers more than 60% payback when it comes time to sell your home. And since they take place outside your daily life isn’t uprooted as much as with some other projects.

In recent years, we at Archadeck Outdoor Living have seen that more homeowners are investing in their outdoor living spaces instead of looking to purchase a new home. Some of the projects have been large decks, patios, porches, sunrooms, screened rooms or a combination, but it doesn’t have to be a big project. Instead of a complete replacement of what you have, an outdoor remodel can be updating what you already have. For instance, a home may have a good sized deck that is structurally sound, but may need a bit of freshening up. A thorough cleaning and fresh coat of paint can make a deck look like new. Some homeowners will also change out their railings to give their deck or porch a new appearance.

If you like the outdoor living spaces you have, but wish it were bigger, add-ons can be an option. Have you always wanted a patio off of your porch? No problem. Would you use your space more if you had an outdoor kitchen or fire pit? Great ideas! Adding on to your outdoor living spaces is a great way to increase your outdoor living space while sprucing up the look and increasing its value.

As we’ve mentioned before, outdoor living spaces are becoming more and more popular with homeowners and potential buyers. If you are interested in learning how you can increase the value of your home by remodeling the outdoors, please visit us online at Archadeck.com or call your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Deck Safety Starts at the House

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May is Deck Safety Month – BE SAFER on your Deck

In the last six years there have been over 179 deck failures resulting in 1,122 injuries and 33 deaths. Those are incredible statistics. It’s May, Deck Safety Month, and we at Archadeck Outdoor Living encourage those homeowners with decks over 10 years to have a thorough deck safety inspection (the average decks lasts 10 years).


“Many of us have delayed home repairs and improvement until they are absolutely essential,” says Rob Haislip, vice president of Archadeck. “Even then, sometimes homeowners don’t have enough information to decide when something is optional or truly a safety hazard that could result in an injury.” That’s why Archadeck offers deck safety inspections to those looking to see if they are in need of a deck repair or replacement. Our deck safety professionals will look at all parts of the deck and make recommendations regarding its safety so you can feel comfortable spending time on your structure with friends and family. It’s important to BE SAFER, an acronym we came up with to make deck safety easy to remember:

B- Boards. Look at the condition of your deck boards. While most wood will show some minor cracks and splits over time, boards should be good and not rotting or damaged.

E- Every Connection. Decks should be built using a variety of fasteners and metal hardware connectors. Check every connection on the deck to make certain that they are not corroded or compromised. Look for nails backing out, red rust and other sings of corrosion that can weaken the integrity of the deck.

S- Structure. If visible, look at the posts, beams and joists that provide the structural framework of the deck. Is there any noticeable sagging between supports?

A- Attachment. The attachment of the deck to the house is where most deck failures occur. Ensure that the deck is properly attached to the house with bolts (no nails!) and is properly flashed for water protection.

F- Foundation/Footings: The foundation/footings support the weight, also known as the load, on a deck and the columns that bear on them. A footing that is sinking may cause a noticeable sag in an area or a column to separate from a beam.

E- Exits. Check the areas where people exit from the deck, usually stairs. Check the condition of the material used on the stair stringers, stair treads and risers. Do the stairs require a handrail? Is there adequate lighting to safely use the exits at night?

R- Rails. Look at the condition of the rail posts and sections of railing to make sure that they aren’t loose or wobbly. Verify that the pickets/balusters are fastened securely and spaced no more than four inches apart.

If you think your deck is in need of a safety inspection, please call your local Archadeck office and ask them to come and evaluate your existing structure.

Spring Has Sprung. Are your Outdoor Spaces ready?

The time for barbecues, outdoor games and deck sitting is almost here. The grass is turning greener and the flowers are starting to bloom. Just like your house, it’s important to prepare your outdoor living spaces with some spring cleaning and upkeep so you can enjoy it all season long without worry or work. Here are a few tips:

  • Sweep and hose off (or power wash if necessary) your outdoor living structures. Leaves, dirt and other grime can build up on your structures during the cooler months. Wash all of it away and start fresh each spring.
  • Check for safety. If you have an older deck (5+ years), have a professional come out and conduct a deck safety inspection as the winter elements can weaken outdoor living structures. The inspector should check all aspects of the deck including the boards, railings, stairs, etc and give you recommendations on if or when you may need to take action. It will give you piece of mind knowing that your deck is safe when you have guests at your next barbeque.
  • Scrub your outdoor furniture and rugs. No matter where you store your patio furniture, cushions or rugs, they will need some cleaning, but be careful to clean with the proper solution. Wood furniture will require a different cleaner than aluminum or plastic furniture. Read the directions on the bottle to make sure you aren’t going to harm your furniture or outdoor fabrics.

  • Take notice of your landscaping. Are there bushes or trees that have grown into your outdoor living spaces and need to be trimmed? Are there flowerbeds lining your structures that need to be tidied up or freshly mulched? If you do need to do some work, watch out for flowers that may bloom in the spring. For instance, we have azaleas alongside our deck that need to be trimmed, but I’m holding off until the blooms are gone and before they get their buds for next year. Here’s a great guide on when to prune different types of plants.
  • Check your outdoor lighting. Whether you have coach, deck, landscape or overhead lighting, make sure that everything is working properly. Do you need to have any bulbs replaced? Is anything obstructing the light spread?
  • Get the grill ready. Grills often need a good cleaning or tune up after a long season without use. Make sure everything is working properly before you are ready to throw on the burgers and hot dogs.
  • Get rid of any standing water. Unfortunately the warm weather has brought out the mosquitoes earlier this season than usual and they breed in standing water. Tossing over object like dog dishes, kids’ toys and loose tarps will cut down on the breeding sites in your yard (if you have a bad mosquito problem, check out our sister company Mosquito Squad).
  • Enjoy. By spending some time checking and cleaning your outdoor living space you are ready to sit back and enjoy your space throughout the spring and summer months.

Power Washing Your Deck – the good, the bad and the ugly

With all the warm weather we’ve been having on the East Coast, more and more people are opening their doors and stepping outside. Spring is less than a week away and it’s now time to prepare your outdoor living spaces for the coming months, including, you guessed it, cleaning.

For those who have wood decks, renting a power washer to clean your deck can make a huge difference, but when done incorrectly, it can also result in unwanted damage. We’ve seen some homeowners who had to replace decking boards after trying to power wash their space because they weren’t 100% sure on how to use the machine.

The key word is “power.” It’s called power washing for a reason. That thing is strong! Power washers (or similar machines) are used to clean grimy streets and etch bricks so it’s not surprising that it can do a number on your deck if done incorrectly. Before using the machine on your deck, take it to an area where you can test it and become familiar with the pressure. A driveway, sidewalk or street will work.


The pressure. On most residential projects, you will rarely need a machine that is more than 1500 pounds per square inch. Even that setting may be too much and cause some damage to both wood and composite decking. The only way to tell if the setting is too high is to watch as you clean. If you see more than dirt coming off your deck, turn the setting down.

The nozzle. The nozzle of the pressure washer can be adjusted to different angles so it can be used for multiple purposes. For the standard deck, a 40 to 60 degree fan nozzle setting is best as it spreads out the power over a greater area as opposed to a zero degree setting that would blast your deck too strongly and will damage boards.

Also, it is important to be careful and not stand too closely to the area you are cleaning. You should be able to stand comfortably while spraying the area 3-4 feet in front of you. If you are too close to the surface being power washed, you can cause unnecessary damage to both your deck and yourself. The water can bounce back at you if you are too close.

Here is a great guide from the Family Handyman on how to use a pressure washer efficiently, effectively and safely.

If you have any questions on care or replacement of decks, please contact your local Archadeck office.

Power Washing Your Deck – the good, the bad and the ugly

With all the warm weather we’ve been having on the East Coast, more and more people are opening their doors and stepping outside. Spring is less than a week away and it’s now time to prepare your outdoor living spaces for the coming months, including, you guessed it, cleaning.

For those who have wood decks, renting a power washer to clean your deck can make a huge difference, but when done incorrectly, it can also result in unwanted damage. We’ve seen some homeowners who had to replace decking boards after trying to power wash their space because they weren’t 100% sure on how to use the machine.

The key word is “power.” It’s called power washing for a reason. That thing is strong! Power washers (or similar machines) are used to clean grimy streets and etch bricks so it’s not surprising that it can do a number on your deck if done incorrectly. Before using the machine on your deck, take it to an area where you can test it and become familiar with the pressure. A driveway, sidewalk or street will work.

The pressure. On most residential projects, you will rarely need a machine that is more than 1500 pounds per square inch. Even that setting may be too much and cause some damage to both wood and composite decking. The only way to tell if the setting is too high is to watch as you clean. If you see more than dirt coming off your deck, turn the setting down.

The nozzle. The nozzle of the pressure washer can be adjusted to different angles so it can be used for multiple purposes. For the standard deck, a 40 to 60 degree fan nozzle setting is best as it spreads out the power over a greater area as opposed to a zero degree setting that would blast your deck too strongly and will damage boards.

Also, it is important to be careful and not stand too closely to the area you are cleaning. You should be able to stand comfortably while spraying the area 3-4 feet in front of you. If you are too close to the surface being power washed, you can cause unnecessary damage to both your deck and yourself. The water can bounce back at you if you are too close.

Here is a great guide from the Family Handyman on how to use a pressure washer efficiently, effectively and safely.

If you have any questions on care or replacement of decks, please contact your local Archadeck office.

Plan Your Outdoor Living Space Now and Enjoy it More this Year

It has been unseasonably warm throughout many parts of the country which makes me look forward to the warm days of Spring and Summer. I’m currently in the process of planning a lot of house projects, trips and events for the upcoming months. Why? Well, for one I’m a type A planner who likes to have things organized, and two, some of these things take time and I want to make sure I can enjoy them to the fullest, like updating my deck. You see, I know my deck needs some TLC and I want to make sure I can spend as much time as possible on it this Spring, so that means I need to get the ball rolling.


If you’re like me and enjoy your outdoor living spaces but are thinking of making some changes or may need to address certain aspects of the space, start now. Depending on what types of updates you would like to make to your outdoor living space, it may take some time.

Do you want new outdoor furniture? Look to see how long it will take to get it ordered and shipped so you have it at the beginning of the season. Some companies may have a quick turnaround while custom orders may take up to 12 weeks.

A custom outdoor living space can take up to three months from the first contact with a contractor through design and permits to the completion of the build. The longer you wait to start the project, the less time you get to enjoy it on the sunny and warm days of Spring and Summer.

Even if you aren’t in the market for a new deck, porch, pergola or gazebo, you may want to have your existing structure inspected for safety. Winter conditions will wear on an outdoor living structure so it is important to have it inspected by a professional if it is older than 5 years. You may not need a full replacement, but you may need some extra screws or a few new boards. A quick inspection now will ensure you can safely use your structure the rest of the year.

Outdoor Living is important to all of us here at Archadeck and we want to make sure you get the most out of your spaces outside. If you have any questions, please visit Archadeck.com.

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.

Tip-toe through the tulips with a custom patio cover by Archadeck that showcases your own patio garden


When you think of the reasoning behind building an outdoor structure such as a patio cover in your backyard you have to really focus on the term “outdoor”. Homeowners make the decision to ultimately add such a structure because of a deep love for the outdoors. It can be the way the wind feels in your hair. It can be the smell of the brisk fresh air after a summer rain. It can be the way you love to gaze upon the clear night sky. Or maybe you love the way the sun feels on your face. Whatever the personal reason, it all comes down to mother nature and all she has to offer us. Among the many reasons homeowners choose to build an outdoor structure maybe the number one reason that comes to mind is the love of flowers, and gardening.

One way to incorporate flowers and the joy of gardening into your lifestyle and bring it closer to your home is by way of the patio garden, and no patio garden would be quite as enchanting without a patio to enhance the beauty and folly associated with cultivating and nurturing your own patio garden. Covered patios, or patio covers are the perfect way to bring the beauty of the patio garden to life and share the beauty of your bountiful blooms within closer proximity than having to venture into your backyard.

Patio covers can also add valuable outdoor living space to your backyard. They can be incorporated into a design that includes a deck, where the deck would spill into the patio cover adding an abundance of added functional space. Patio covers can also be designed to include other luxurious outdoor amenities such as outdoor fireplaces and outdoor kitchens. There is no limit to what can be included into your patio cover design, the choices are as endless as your own imagination. In terms of working in correlation with a patio garden, your structure can be designed with custom planting areas, so you can watch season to season as the colors and textures of your plantings change.

The same artful design elements that go into creating a patio garden, are also used to create the perfect covered patio as well. Patio covers are usually constructed of hardscaping materials. Whether you choose a synthetic or natural stone, concrete, or even pavers; elements like color, shape, size and location all play a major role in a well designed patio cover. The same can be said about the elements you choose to fill your patio garden with as well.


Archadeck uses high quality materials and expert workmanship as the basis for all their patio cover installations. One of our most popular hardscape materials to use when constructing an outdoor structure such as this are Belgard pavers, as well as various natural stone variations and flagstones. These materials, among the many other choices we offer, have a huge style and color selection available for homeowners to choose the perfect size, shape and color as the foundation of their patio covers design.

Of course when you take the facade of the patio cover into consideration you can’t leave behind the beauty and functionality of the interior. We can create a covered patio that will not only complement your gardening skills, we can also turn the patio cover into a place of endearing relaxation by adding ceiling fans for those warm days and even if you so desire, outdoor water features, outdoor fireplaces, and an outdoor kitchen as well. We can finish out the interior ceiling of your patio cover to make it as beautiful from the inside, as it is from the outside, by the use of design elements such as bead-board ceilings, and even open rafter systems to bring out the rustic side of you. Whatever you fancy, we can incorporate your desires into the design of your patio cover.


If you are ready to “tiptoe through the tulips” by creating a serene environment to enjoy the benefits of a patio garden and any other luxuries mother natures bounty has to offer, contact Archadeck to create a patio cover design that is tailor-made for your love of the outdoors.

To find an Archadeck location close to home visit our locations list which is available by visiting our website.

You can also see more photos of patio covers by visiting our patio and hardscapes gallery also located on our website.

Don't let the chill in the air discourage you from enjoying your outdoor living space

The chill in the air is beginning to become more noticeable all around the country. It signifies the end of summer splendor and its long balmy days spent enjoying your deck. Just because summer has ended doesn’t mean you have to cuddle up inside to keep warm and miss mother nature’s splendor that is still unfolding all around you. Many homeowners are considering the ever-popular option of closing in their existing deck, or a portion of their deck and creating a three or four season room or other outdoor structure that can extend your outdoor living enjoyment into and beyond the cooler months of the year. In order to determine if closing in to create an extended season outdoor living structure would be right for you there are several considerations that have to be bought to the forefront.

The first consideration that has to be addressed is the structural integrity of your existing deck. In order to accommodate the weight of a roofed structure. Many decks are not built to withstand the weight of adding a roof. In order for a deck to be able to withstand the weight of a roof. The foundation of the deck will have to extend all the way to the corners of the structure. In cases where the foundation does not extend to the corners, changes must be made to have the foundation extended and new footers will have to be added in order to safely support and hold the weight. Determining whether or not your deck fits conversion criteria can be answered from a quick inspection by a professional outdoor structure builder, and depending on their findings will let you know how you wish to proceed with getting the deck structurally compatible to withstand a conversion such as a three or four season room, a screened porch or even a sunroom.


Once the issue of foundation reinforcements has been addressed, the next step is to decide which type of conversion would best suit your individual needs. Screen porches are very popular and can be enjoyed late into the fall in many areas around the country, but this all depends on your geographical location and whether the area you live in experiences mild autumns or more harsh, cold autumns. Making the decision to convert your deck or a section of your deck into a screened porch will have benefits even in the warm summer months by keeping insects at bay and protecting you from the sun. Screen porches can be in use even during inclement weather since they are roofed. This means that the backyard dinner you had planned won’t be put on hold with a little rain because you would have a roofed screen porch to utilize. Many homeowners also opt to use a sliding window panel system to make use of their screened porch later into the year. A convertible windows like the EZE breeze sliding panel system and the Artistic Enclosures Screen Plus System offer you the ability to convert your screened porch into a three season room on demand. These convertibility systems use sliding glass panels that mimic the function of a sliding door and can be set into place very easily and quickly. By adding a space heater to the structure you can utilize the space for longer periods through even the chilliest season. By using a convertible system on your screened porch you can still feel the warm breezes of summer, and when the temperature drops you have the peace of mind knowing that your screened porch also offers more function with added cold weather protection as well.


Another viable option when making the decision to enclose a deck or portion thereof, is a four season room or a sunroom. These type of structures function as an extension of your homes living area as well as an extension of your outdoor living area. Four season rooms, as well as sunrooms give you an unobscured view of nature by the use of numerous windows that sometimes even feel as though they are window walls. These structures can be used year round, snow or sleet because sunrooms and four season rooms require a HVAC system, or instill the use of a wall mounted electric inversion heating and cooling system that offer individual room control like those offered by Mitsubishi electric. In essence the presence of HVAC, or heating and cooling system creates a dynamic where you actually are getting a room addition when you choose to convert to a four season room or sunroom.


Another benefit of converting your deck into a sunroom or four season room is the freedom of material choices that can be used within it and to finish out your structure. A whole new set of design choices open up to sunroom and four season room owners. All of the same materials that can be used safely within an interior room inside your home can become finish options for your sunroom or four season room. These include sheetrocked walls, carpet, hardwoods and a myriad of other design choices. An added benefit is that the furniture used within your structure won’t have to be weatherproof when considering using it on your sunroom or four season room. The world is truly your oyster.

If you are on the fence about considering an enclosure or conversion of your deck, or a part of you deck into a screened porch or three season room or even a sunroom or four season room Archadeck can make it happen. Contact us today to learn more about improving the lifestyle you lead on your deck.

To learn more and find an Archadeck in your area, see our locations list located on our website.

You can also get more ideas and design inspirations by visiting our screened porch gallery, sunroom gallery, and our three and four season room gallery, also located on our website.

Archadeck of Chester County provides these Kennett Square, PA homeowners with a little less deck and a lot more action


It is time to turn the spotlight on another Archadeck location that is doing spectacular outdoor living designs that are not only beautiful but functional as well. This creation by Archadeck of Chester County includes a sunroom, deck, outdoor kitchen and a custom fire pit located on the lovely patio. It also includes a stone trimmed built-in spa, not to mention a gorgeous pergola for the icing on the proverbial cake. This combination of outdoor structures gives new meaning to the term “stay-cation” because with a outdoor living area as well-appointed as this, who needs to leave the comfort of their backyard home to renew and relax?


When Juan Cardona and the design team at Archadeck of Chester County met with these homeowners in Kennett Square, PA, which is known as the mushroom capital of the world, to create this masterpiece in outdoor design, they had an existing deck that was in dire need of replacing as well as an open deck at the rear of the home with an unsightly concrete slab patio under the deck. The homeowners wish was to create an outdoor area that incorporated a sunroom, less deck and a patio on the lower level. They also wanted to include a built-in cooking area, spa area, and a custom fireplace or fire pit to accommodate their desire to have room and suitable entertaining areas for larger gatherings down below as opposed to having an all-open deck on the second level. The obstacle that had to be overcome was the fact that their yard was on a rather severe slope. In order to deliver the outdoor oasis the homeowners desired, we would have to install some retaining walls to make it happen.

Archadeck of Chester County, PA teamed up with a professional stone mason and together, they quickly put together an integrated plan to totally re-build and re-structure the entire rear of the home. The extensive use of stone walls was used to match the overall look of the existing home, since the entire front of the home was already finished in stone. The suggestion of using stone within the new design offered a dramatic look that harmonized well with the existing property.

The deck was constructed using low maintenance TimberTech XLM in Mountain Cedar which harmonizes perfectly with the old world appeal of the stone used throughout the project. Archadeck of Chester County black Fortress iron railings on TimberTech posts for continuity and fluidity in the deck’s design. On the interior floor of the stunning sunroom they used IPE tongue and groove flooring. The exterior of the room was finished with a stone veneer to match the rest of the patio which includes stone retaining walls, an outdoor kitchen and a custom fire pit. The sunroom also includes Anderson windows. Under the sunroom there is a built-in custom spa also trimmed with stone. The finishing touch to the project was the addition of a maintenance-free pergola of AZEK composite that was painted to match the decking color. The whole design flows effortlessly from structure to structure and looks and feels original to the existing home, which requires perfection in the design and the execution of the design in order to achieve.

If you are ready to turn your backyard into an orchestrated oasis of beauty, style and relaxation, contact Archadeck today and you will be on your way to creating beautiful harmonies within your own little slice of heaven. Schedule a free design consultation or contact us by calling 804.353.6999 or emailing us at [email protected] locate an Archadeck near you to get started.

See more awe-inspiring images of before and after completed jobs by visiting our web site photo galleries

Archadeck invites you take the plunge with a stunning hot tub or spa deck

When those chilly autumn winds start to blow, thoughts turn to cozy and unique ways to get warm but still enjoy the scenic panoramic views and crisp, clean air of the season. One way to knock off the chill of fall and take advantage of mother nature’s beauty is to take a dip, or two, in your very own hot tub or spa. The soothing warm water and sound of the bubbles can not only work wonders on your muscles but your spirits as well. Imagine soaking in your spa with the harvest colors of autumn as you backdrop enjoying a glass of your favorite beverage while wafts of steam mingle into the cool air that surrounds you. This imagery sounds tantalizing enough to the senses but the location and surrounding area around your hot tub or spa can really make or break the whole experience. Incorporating a deck or patio into the design of your hot tub’s location can really improve the appeal and aesthetics of your entire backyard.


Hot tub decks and spa decks help turn the functionality of the hot tub or spa into a total experience. A deck can add valuable outdoor living space for entertaining , grilling and dining as well. When you think in terms of how you will use your spa or hot tub deck it is important to factor in the little nuances that will add to your enjoyment of the spa. Hot tub and spa decks can be built to include storage areas for towels and other accessories you will need when the spa is in use as well as built-in bench seating for sitting and removing your shoes so, if you so choose you can just dangle your feet over the side of your spa if you don’t feel like taking the whole plunge. The variations and range of hot tub decks and spa deck design is endless. We pride ourselves on thinking outside the box when it comes to getting the most out of your deck’s design even moving the hot tub or spa out of the usual centered location on the deck and placing it in a location within the deck that will give you better views while using your spa and create more usable deck space for other outdoor living endeavors.

If you are considering a hot tub or spa deck one important consideration is the decking material and the underlying strength that is needed to properly house a hot tub or spa. When the spa or hot tub is filled with water it will add a tremendous amount of weight. Archadeck pays close attention to these needs and added requirements and builds a spa support deck with many of our hot tub and spa deck installations. The use of a support deck will take the excess load off the deck itself and make the deck and the hot tub or spa safe and free of any areas that might compromise your structure. Archadeck of Fort Wayne recently installed a spa deck for homeowners that wished to incorporate a Micheal Phelps swim spa into the decks design and as you can tell by reading the article about this particular installation, that if you are thinking of buying a spa strong enough for Micheal Phelps then it is important to have a deck that is equally as strong. When considering materials for your hot tub or spa deck you want to choose a material that is kind to bare feet and will not splinter or retain an excessive amount of heat. Another key factor is reducing or eliminating slippage when those bare feet exit the hot tub and are wet. There are many high quality decking choices available for use on spa decks that offer little or no heat retention and decrease slippage.


Some key considerations to remember when you make the choice to build a hot tub or spa deck are you want the hot tub or spa to be where it is 18" above the deck and not flush to the deck so you will be able to sit on the sides and swing around when necessary. You also want to ensure you can enter and exit the deck from all sides with adequate walk-around room at a minimum of 4 feet , by having 6 feet you will have room for bench seating to sit down and remove your shoes, etc. Another key element in good spa deck design is never place your spa deck under a window because it will become an eyesore when looking out from the interior of your home.


If you are ready to take the plunge by building a hot tub or spa deck then contact Archadeck to learn more. We can design and build a hot tub or spa deck that will make you never want to leave the comforting warmth of your hot tub or spa when it is surrounded by the beauty of one of our masterpieces of deck design.

[email protected]

To see more delectable pool, hot tub and spa decks visit our photo galleries

Archadeck of Charleston breathes new life into this deck in Summerville, SC

When choosing the materials for your anticipated outdoor structure it is important to look at things from the “big picture”. I think a lot of times the homeowner makes decisions based on visualizing their completed outdoor structure from afar, like a distant wish or the way we perceive a star in the night sky when looking up above from down below. It is important to try to visualize your outdoor structure from the vantage point where you and your family are most likely to view the structure itself while in use. The main idea is to make design and material choices based on the inside looking out, rather than the outside looking in, after all you are the one who will be using and enjoying the structure. Case in point is a recent upgrade and re-decking that was completed by Archadeck of Charleston, which gives a perfect example of what a huge difference detailing can make.

Clyde Hess and the crew from Archadeck of Charleston were able to breathe new life into this 20-year-old deck for these Summerville, SC homeowners. Their deck not only had a little age on it, it also had been the victim of many amateur repairs during it’s lifetime. The existing deck was treated wood decking as well as the framing which was attached solely with nails. This situation of using “only nails” had turned into a constant problem of having to continually re-nail the structure to try to compensate for the fact it was coming apart. The structure had no joist hangers, no bolting of any manner and no columns to joist. The railing was only tied in by toe nailing and had become dangerous to lean on. This dilemma was not only structurally inept, it carried the potential to become a safety hazard.


Archadeck of Charleston efficiently addressed all the issues present with the existing deck and set out to make it structurally sound and also make it a feast for the eyes. Using 2×10 drop beams for the front and back for free-standing, we began adding support and strength to the deck in anticipation of the re-decking. The beams were supported and double bolted onto notched out 6×6 posts secured in a 16" concrete footing. We then added Cox columns as rail posts in line on the deck, double bolted to the deck band and blocked. We then added stairs out to compensate for the property line setbacks and water runoff due to the steep grade of the lot. We then re-decked the entire structure with #1 premium grade Yellow Pine pressure treated wood. The homeowner decided to upgrade the wooden railing to a metal railing for aesthetics as well as strength, this decision also opened up the view where the homeowners can now take in all the lovely vistas of their backyard. These views were not as visible before with the old wooden railing.

Making the decision to replace the old style railing with the metal railing opens up a world of possibilities for these Summerville, SC homeowners and they are elated. By changing this one simple element of the deck, they feel like they have more room and definitely more of a view. This is a fine example of looking out as opposed to looking in at your outdoor structure#. The new railing and new deck is certainly beautiful from the outside, but from the inside it is breathtaking and adds more style and functionality as well. Making sure your outdoor structure# is structurally sound from the bottom up is crucial, as is the little nuances and changes that can certainly breathe new life into your outdoor structure. Making elemental changes within the design when re-vamping an existing deck can make a world of difference as to how you use and perceive your deck. The addition of railings, directional changes in a staircase or even using built-in benches or planters in lieu of railings if you have a low-to-grade deck can really change the feel and personality of the entire structure.


If you are ready to transform your existing deck into a masterpiece of strength and design contact Archadeck of Charleston to learn more. Get the most out of your outdoor structure today at (843) 873 – 6236
[email protected]

You can also take a tour of other beautiful decks by our Archadeck locations all over the country by visiting our galleries http://www.archadeck.com/pickYourProject/Decks.html
804.353.6999 • [email protected]

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

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.

An old pool turns into a brand new sunroom

When Curtis & Ann Crays of Archadeck of Front Range, CO first talked to their eventual sunroom customer, the empty nesters had nothing but a swimming pool in their backyard and it was something they no longer needed.

What the homeowners wanted was a room addition where the swimming pool used to be. They wanted a room on the back of their home. They also wanted some open outdoor area. So Curtis and Ann designed a 16×18 sunroom with two different decks totaling roughly 330 square feet of decking.

Here is a picture of the backyard after filling in the pool and before building the sunroom.

Before Curtis & Ann got the crew started, they designed a rendering of what the room would look like to share with the homeowners. This serves a couple of benefits. First, the homeowners really can see exactly what they will be getting so they can make any desired changes up front. Then, it leads to everyone’s expectations being fulfilled because the visualization of the project is not left to interpretation. It’s right there in black & white so to speak.

Here is a picture of the design rendering.

The decks included Timbertek Reliaboard decking with floating benches. They used Colorado custom window builders Accent Windows. The sunroom also included skylights by VELUX.

If you live in the Denver/Front Range area and you’re thinking about building an outdoor living area or adding a room to your home, give Curtis & Ann ad Archadeck of Front Range a call (303) 736 – 6739 or email [email protected]

You can also read their blog http://customdecksdenver.wordpress.com/ or visit them on Facebook.

An old pool turns into a brand new sunroom

When Curtis & Ann Crays of Archadeck of Front Range, CO first talked to their eventual sunroom customer, the empty nesters had nothing but a swimming pool in their backyard and it was something they no longer needed.

What the homeowners wanted was a room addition where the swimming pool used to be. They wanted a room on the back of their home. They also wanted some open outdoor area. So Curtis and Ann designed a 16×18 sunroom with two different decks totaling roughly 330 square feet of decking.

Here is a picture of the backyard after filling in the pool and before building the sunroom.

Before Curtis & Ann got the crew started, they designed a rendering of what the room would look like to share with the homeowners. This serves a couple of benefits. First, the homeowners really can see exactly what they will be getting so they can make any desired changes up front. Then, it leads to everyone’s expectations being fulfilled because the visualization of the project is not left to interpretation. It’s right there in black & white so to speak.

Here is a picture of the design rendering.

The decks included Timbertek Reliaboard decking with floating benches. They used Colorado custom window builders Accent Windows. The sunroom also included skylights by VELUX.

If you live in the Denver/Front Range area and you’re thinking about building an outdoor living area or adding a room to your home, give Curtis & Ann ad" Archadeck of Front Range":http://frontrange.archadeck.com/ a call (303) 736 – 6739 or email [email protected]

You can also read their blog http://customdecksdenver.wordpress.com/ or visit them on Facebook.

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!”

Roof decks aren't just in New York - Rhode Island too!

Challenge:

Providence, RI
Roof deck wanted
High-wind zone
Live load restriction
Multi-story building
Solution:
IPE Brazilian hardwood roof deck with galvanized metal rail and steel pipe top rail

While this deck is beautiful, it is even more amazing when you see the before picture and realize what went into making this treasure. Here is the before picture.

What makes for a great project are when the owner and the builder put their heads together to marry the homeowner’s vision, dream, and goals with the building design and craftsmanship that an experienced builder brings to the job.

This Providence, RI owner had a very clear vision of what he wanted but needed the help of Susan Lee of Archadeck of Providence to make it a reality. The owner wanted high quality wood and a nice contrast with the industrial feel of steel. So they chose to work with a Brazilian hardwood for the decking and corrugated galvanized sheets for the railing with galvanized steel pipe for the top rail.

This combination of very different materials provided a deck and rails that were extremely sturdy and also had a unique and very interesting contrast to make this a one-of-a-kind deck.

There were some building challenges. This is why it’s always good to work with an established and very experienced builder who knows and understands building restrictions, codes, permits and all of the critical paperwork that needs to go into the planning and be done for a successful completion.

The next challenge was the placement of the deck – on the roof – as well as the access. Access to the roof was only through a small circular staircase which existed in an old elevator shaft area. So, the deck needed to be built off-site, taken apart, loaded it on a large truck, took it to the site and boomed it up.

Here is a picture of another of the congregating areas of the deck. This section reminds me of a zen garden. The owner had great design flair to go along with his vision.

This roof room was truly a room with a view.

Here is a view of the deck coming out from the stairway. Take a look at the built-in planters using the same great combination of materials.

Here is another close-up of the planters.

If you have a project you’re thinking about in the Providence, RI area, give a call to Susan Lee at Archadeck of Providence – (401) 397 – 6927. The consultation is free.

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.

Outdoor life IS good with an outdoor fireplace on your screen porch

Looking at this photo, I can’t help but notice the sign that says Life is Good. With an outdoor fireplace on my screen porch, life certainly would be good. It offers the best of both worlds – the ability to enjoy the screen porch when it’s cool or even cold outside – and the ability to just enjoy the screen porch when it’s warmer outside.

Perhaps life might even be better with the same setup including a built-in large screen TV!

I love the blankets on the chairs in this photo. I want to jump in one of those chairs, snuggle up with a blanket and enjoy this screened porch year round.

Eric Kent of Archadeck of Charlotte is amazed, but pleased, with the demand for outdoor fireplaces and outdoor fire pits in the Charlotte NC area.

This next outdoor fireplaces includes sitting benches to the sides and a paver patio. This fireplace’s design includes focal geometric tiles along with a traditional stone pattern.

This next fireplace is built using various stones in a unique pattern and adjoins to a custom paver patio. This setup has a very open feel with no other adjoining structures for a different, more outdoorsy feel.

One of the things I especially love about this design is the chimney topper integrating the color red. It’s these small details that Eric’s design team adds to their custom outdoor fireplace designs that truly make their jobs custom.

This next design integrates their outdoor fireplace with a pergola for some shade relief, and a privacy fence over their custom outdoor deck

Outdoor fireplace with pergola and privacy fence over custom outdoor deck fireplace with pergola and privacy fence over custom outdoor deck
Here is a close-up of the fireplace in this design…

This last outdoor fireplace adjoins with a TimberTech deck. This is another more intimate design with the deck rails allowing for a grouping of chairs to sit and talk around the fire.

Eric Kent writes frequently on his blog about outdoor fireplaces, firepits, and kitchens.

Archadeck of the Charlotte area covers these areas and more in the Charlotte area – Albemarle, Charlotte, Concord, Davidson, Hickory, Huntersville, Kannapolis, Lenoir, Lincolnton, Longview, Lumberton, Matthews, Monroe, Mooresville, Morganton, Rockingham, Salisbury, Shelby, Statesville, Waxhaw, Weddington, Wesley Chapel, Wilson, Wingate

In the South Carolina area, they also service Fort Mill, Lancaster and Rock Hill SC.

You can follow @Charlotte_Decks on Twitter and view some videos on YouTube.

For a free consultation, call (704) 944 – 1350 or email [email protected]

A Redwood Deck in Wheat Ridge CO

When Curtis and Ann Crays of Archadeck of Front Range Colorado designed this redwood deck in Wheat Ridge, they had a couple architectural challenges while working with the existing landscaping. The customer had an existing deck that they wanted removed and replaced with a new deck. They wanted the new deck to have privacy walls on both sides and they wanted to build over the rock landscaping to integrate the natural features of the rock and trees into the design of a new deck.

The old deck had been built by the owners and updated over time to afford them the privacy they desired.

The existing deck also had a very small staircase which Curtis and Ann wanted to creatively expand to make access to the deck easier for the homeowners.

Creating the substructure and support required pouring concrete over some of the rocks to create a secure and solid footing for their new deck.

The quality of work and materials used also exceeded expectations. – homeowner

Archadeck maintains an in-house architectural drafting staff that custom designs every deck and outdoor structure to maximize structural integrity, to create design flair for the structure, to accommodate the homeowners desires and to make the structure truly custom. Each of the drafters at Archadeck have designed hundreds and hundreds of outdoor structures to their creativity in designing custom features and interesting design elements comes from their wealth of experience.

With an Archadeck custom deck, you are not just getting a deck selected from a small portfolio of designs and retro-fit to match your existing landscaping and specifications. You are getting a truly custom structure to meet your lifestyle desires and to complement your home and grounds.

One of the unique features of the rock landscaping was the way the existing trees were integrated into that landscaping integrating nature and living space. You can see from this picture that by keeping the existing trees, they added to the uniqueness of the structure while providing wonderful shading for the deck.

As you can see from the pictures above and below, their deck had all the finished details including lattice from the stone up to the deck and even putting electrical outlets on the deck to maximize the homeowners’ enjoyment of their new outdoor living space.

To contact Archadeck of Front Range,

visit their website

call (303) 736 – 6739

email [email protected]

Read their custom decks of Denver blog

Made in the shade with a custom shaped TimberTech deck

At first glance, this two-story deck in Malvern PA looks like the perfect deck. But, what makes the perfect deck?

Above is the “before” deck that was re-architected, replaced and rebuilt by Archadeck of Chester County, PA. Even though this looks like the perfect deck, the owners had two problems and one issue with the deck. The problem with the deck was the damage done by their dog. The first issue was that the deck faces southwest so it is a scorching location in the afternoon and evening. They were simply not able to use the deck until after sunset. The second issue is that the deck had a boring shape. When rebuilding their deck, they wanted to fix not only the sun issue but also make their custom deck truly custom.

Here is the after picture from atop the deck:

Here is the after picture from the back:

The design included both a custom deck structure as well as an octagonal covered porch. The hip roof helped achieve usable area during the afternoon and evening. The octagonal shape of the open porch added dimension to the back of the home as well as a large usable area for entertaining.

You’ll notice that skylights were added to the roof to allow daytime light to flow onto the open porch and into the kitchen. The unique octagonal shape of the open porch created a duplicate octagonal area below on the patio area for extra entertaining and outside living.

With any custom structure, materials are incredibly important. Because of the dog, a more scratch-resistant TimberTech XLM decking material was used using hidden fasteners.

TimberTech’s XLM decking is one of their premium decking planks. It is a cellular PVC decking plank that’s built to withstand tough scratches and mildew and it has very strong stain resistance. So, XLM is a wise choice if your deck will be a heavy traffic area, a heavy spill area, a heavy rain and tough weather area, a play area for kids, an area for your pets and an area that might see heavy spills. It’s also very slip resistant.

The TimberTech XLM comes in 5 colors – Mountain Cedar, River Rock, SandRidge, Desert Bronze, and Rustic Bark.

The railing is a combination of TimberTech Builder Board with an XLM cap and aluminum balusters. The columns are round, tapered, 10” Fiberglass. They are paintable so that the owner can match the trim on the house.

Here is another after photo of the job from afar:

The boards on this deck may have great weather proofing characteristics but Juan Cardona, the owner of Archadeck of Chester County wished the weather would have held off while they were building the deck. They started construction about 4 days after the first of the massive snow falls that hit this past winter. So they had to show up with a snow blower to clear away a path down to the yard and a 20’X40’ area near the deck so that the crew could set up their work site. Now the Archadeck crew has a new tool in their toolbox – a snow blower.

As you think about building the structure for your back yard, think about how you want to use your structure.

Here are some questions:

Do you want to entertain a lot? If so, what times of day and how many people?
Do you want a quiet spot to read? Do you want a romantic spot to steal away and enjoy a glass of wine with your spouse after long days at work?
Do you want to have another spot on the deck for the kids to play or roast marshmallows while you are enjoying that glass of wine over on another portion of the deck?
How does your dog or cat like to use the deck? Do they want shade or just the quickest way to chase down a bird in the yard?
Do you want your deck elevated so you can watch the birds in your trees?
Are you one of those people who can’t spend 5 minutes outside without getting an insect bit? If so, something screened might be the best fit.

If you have an idea of what type of structure will enhance your lifestyle, take a look at some of Juan’s projects online.

Or just give Juan and his office a call at: (610) 696 – 3340, read their blog, or check them out on FaceBook.

Do you have a lifestyle question that you’re looking for an outdoor living space to fit your lifestyle? Comment here and we’ll get back to you with some ideas!

A custom patio, a swing pergola, a flower planter, work bench, custom deck...

When you think custom deck, this conjures up images of a beautiful structure exquisitely designed, architected and built. But a truly custom deck is customized around your lifestyle. This deck/patio/pergola/planter/work bench in Doylestown PA was created as a one-of-a-kind to meet all of the outdoor living needs of this couple and their family.

This couple’s goal was to have a space to sit in front of the fire pit and relax – a place to enjoy their afternoon with the grandkids and watch the flowers grow.

This started with creating a pergola over their outdoor swing for both shade and beauty. Archadeck also built the patio that adjoined to the deck where the swing would sit.

To accomplish their objectives of watching the flowers grow, their project included a custom flower box on the adjoining deck right in front of the swing.

Next came a custom work table to prepare their plantings and hold materials. This planter was made out of the same durable materials as the deck.

To finish the job was a multi-level deck with an area for relaxing and an additional elevated portion for eating. The deck is made out of composite decking material – Timbertech.

Before the job was done, lights were added on the step, posts, and the planter for safety.

Next time you call a contractor to build a custom job for you, start by telling them how you want to use the space and what your lifestyle goals are. A good custom contractor will start there and then build in craftsmanship, design, the right materials, architectural integrity, great service, and the other benefits you receive from using a strong custom contractor.

Rick Conrad – Archadeck of Bucks Montgomery PA
Rick Conrad is the owner of Archadeck of Bucks/Mont PA. He can be reached for a free consultation at (215) 345 – 5130 or via email
[email protected]

Archadeck of Rhode Island endless deck and pool spa

Susan Lee at Archadeck of Rhode Island certainly had her work cut out for her when creating a custom deck overlooking the water that had an “endless” feel and also an “endless” pool spa. From the deck, the owners wanted to make it look as if the deck actually ended over the water.

They also wanted the pool spa to look as if it ended or blended into the water. It’s tougher to see from this elevation and since the spa/pool is covered how it looks endless but from that elevation, you get the same great endless feel that you do from the deck photo above.

The endless design effect in creating this design were a small challenge in comparison to the challenges presented when building the deck. Here is a look from below from before the deck was built.

Here were some of the challenges. Archadeck could not put any footings in the concrete walkway which was a difficult design because it cantilevers 6’. So they worked with a local engineer and the building inspector to come up with a structure that met their needs.

The next architectural challenge was creating a crib for the pool spa which meant building a concrete crib for it to sit on and using a crane to lift it from the driveway to the deck.

Here they are using the crane to place the concrete pool crib.

What was nice is that the look from below was only enhanced by the beautiful stairs and lattice finish work that was done.

Last but not least is one of the final critical components of Archadeck projects – selecting the best quality, best fit products for the job. Archadeck partners with many product companies to ensure the products used live up to the quality of the design and stand the test of time.

The decking is Ipe with Versatex Trim and Permalatt 3-D Lattice and DuraDeck Aluminum Railing.

For these Portsmouth RI owners, their new deck adds the magic and maximizes their entertaining opportunities for their summer home. They love the deck and enjoy their endless pool daily. The owners were great to work with and thankful that we as Archadeck were able to pull it off with the help of the drafting department and our great crew.

To contact Susan Lee at Archadeck of West Rhode Island, call (401) 397 – 6927.

A truly custom deck in the North Hills of Pittsburgh

At first glance, this deck is simply stunning but there is nothing simple about the design or construction of this deck built in the" North Hills of Pittsburgh by Kevin Hilliard of Archadeck":http://north-pittsburgh.archadeck.com/.

This is a project that was done in the North Hills of Pittsburgh. The deck was TimberTech Floorizan in Teak with a Veka white vinyl rail with a Teak deck board top rail and white Deckorator pickets.

Archadeck uses top-of-the-line materials and is a national partner with many world-class materials companies including TimberTech – a premier low-maintenance composite wood product company. The color of this decking board is in Teak. TimberTech has a great color visualizer on their site where you can review colors to envision and prepare for your decking project.

There are several things that make Archadeck unique. First and foremost, what makes Archadeck the best builder for your outdoor projects is the design, artistry and building integrity of everything built by Archadeck.

This process starts with understanding the customer’s outdoor living goals. This customer was looking for something unique where he could entertain or just relax. A multi-level deck is an excellent solution for this objective. In the upper left, you’ll see an octagonal seating area for reading, relaxing or stealing an afternoon nap. With the additional level, this design affords the family space to eat, sit, and entertain while having this somewhat private individual place.

You’ll notice that this deck spans the entire back of the home. This was also the customer’s desire. You’ll see from this aerial view that this full-span deck affords multiple individual gathering areas – perfect for the children playing in one area and the adults relaxing in another area.

The next thing that defines Archadeck as a custom outdoor builder is the attention to small details. You will notice that the bench compliments the bayed doorway of the home. The decking in that portion is horizontal while the remainder of the main deck is diagonal. These small details would never be architected or achieved by companies that don’t focus exclusively on building custom outdoor living spaces.

The railing on this deck is made of a product called Veka. Vinyl railing affords a couple benefits – most importantly durability and ease of maintenance.

The final detail of this project is the lattice work at the base of the deck. When looking at deck contractors and their pictures, notice how they finish their work. Your custom deck should be completely finished down to the ground.

Kevin offers a free consultation. Take a look at some of some photo galleries of some other custom outdoor structures built by by Archadeck of North Pittsburgh -

Deck photos

Contact Archadeck of North Pittsburgh to toss around some ideas for your next outdoor project at (724) 482 – 9090.

Inside, outside, or upside down? How does your interior extend to your exterior?

I was recently reading a great article from John Buenneke of Archadeck of Hennepin County, MN. I would have thought that the decision as to whether to build a deck, screen porch, or sun room would be an easy decision. I would picture myself enjoying additional living space in my home. If I close my eyes, I can see my doing yoga upside down on my yoga mat in the middle of my 3-season room in the middle of the winter. If I close them again, I can see myself lingering over a glass of wine on my screen porch while my husband finishes grilling the dinner outside on the deck. If I close them again, I can see having my June book club on some cozy built in window benches with beautiful fluffy soft cushions and throw pillows in my 3-season room. And I can totally see my kids and all their friends roasting marshmallows on my back deck after a rousing game of flashlight tag.

John contends that there are other considerations to contend with including how will this structure blend into your home and will it look “added on” or like a natural part of your home. After reading John’s article on screened porches and decks, I think I would prefer a screened porch with adjoining deck. Or, perhaps it’s the lingering picture of the lingering glass of wine while DH finishes grilled lamb chops, skewered fresh vegetables, and skewered marinated shrimp on the barby.

Cost is a consideration also but adding to our living space will have tremendous ROI when the housing market rebounds. Of course if we have as much fun with our new larger living area, we may never want to sell. That’s ok too.

As always, when planning for outdoor time in the summer in Minnesota, don’t forget about spraying to keep away those Minnesota mosquitoes, ticks, fleas and other pests.!

Don Engebretson and Archadeck at the upcoming Fort Wayne Home and Garden Show

Catch both Don Engebretson and Baron Biedenweg of Archadeck of of Northeastern Indiana at the upcoming Fort Wayne Home and Garden show.

I had the great fortune of seeing Don Engebretson, the renegade gardener, speak at a company annual meeting last year. He was one of the most dynamic, engaging, and educational speakers I’ve seen. We’ve all seen many a guest speaker at corporate meetings and most are not that memorable after the meeting. I can even remember a couple for trying hard to use a group demonstration that failed miserably. But, two that I’ve seen of late that are tremendously memorable are Don Engebretson and John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing. If you’re not currently following John Jantsch on Twitter, you should. More on John in a future post.

Don Engebretson is speaking at the upcoming Fort Wayne H&G show and he is certainly a must see. I was actually involved in helping to market the speaking engagement Don had at the company meeting last year. Don was speaking at the Archadeck Deck and Porch Builders annual meeting. So, in looking into marketing his presentation, I took a look at his web site looking for a professional headshot. I found the headshot but professional was not the word I would use to describe it. It was downright kooky. I hope he doesn’t mind me using it here since I’m saying such good things about him. His offbeat and “interesting” headshot are true to his personality.

Don’s speaking topic was about designing a great trade show booth. In addition to renegade gardening, he also has significant experience in trade show and booth design. None of my business pursuits have landed me at a trade show any time recently but the principles that Don presented stay with me and I still think about them as they can easily translate to great tips for other business meetings. Here are a couple principles he talked about.

1) Don’t stand in front of your booth

We all know how difficult it is to figure out where to stand in your booth. If you stand inside your booth, you might not be able to make eye contact with the people walking by. Even though standing out front and “soliciting people” feels like the right thing to do, people generally avoid that booth like they unfortunately avoid the door at the grocery story with the charity collectors. You also act as a physical barrier to entry if you stand out front.

2) Utilize your backdrop

Don says nothing takes away from your effectiveness more than a plain sterile backdrop. He encourages you to use color pictures, charts, even old pictures but don’t use the standard drape.

3) Put greenery in your booth

As the Renegade Gardener, it makes sense that he would recommend greenery but it goes without saying that it makes the booth come alive, makes it more noticeable, and makes it more inviting.

4) It’s all about how you address the people that enter your booth

I can’t remember the line he used but most of us can’t stand when someone immediately asks “how can I help you”. When people are at a show, they may be getting ideas, they may not even know what you do, but the probably want to take a gander first and then talk.

5) Don’t ever eat or chat to a co-worker in your booth

Our Archadeck owner in Northeast Indiana, Baron Biedenweg, was fortunate enough to be one of the Archadeck owners at that meeting. Likely Don’s presentation provided great insight as Baron designed his brand new 200 square foot display which will feature composite decking, a pergola and several types of railing. Additionally, there will be other product samples. You will be able to find Baron at booths 127/129. The show is February 25-28, 2010 and is located at the Allen County Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne Indiana.

Stop by and meet Baron at the show. Baron is your local Archadeck builder. Archadeck is a more than 20 year old company and is the premier builder of outdoor structures including decks, patios, screened porches, sunrooms, pergolas, gazebos, 3-season rooms, outdoor kitchens, outdoor rooms – the list goes on and on.

Baron was a born builder. Previous to owning his Archadeck franchise, Baron was a master boat builder, even holding 7 patents related to boat building. In addition to being great to work with, Baron’s teams handiwork is detail oriented, precise, exacting and of the highest quality. After you meet him, feel free to ask him about his free deck safety inspection for existing decks. Or, ask him for a free consultation for your upcoming project.

Take a look at Baron’s Archadeck website. Or, call him at (260) 969 – 8663. He can also be reached by email.

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