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To me, fall is the perfect season. The colors are beautiful and the cool temperatures call for nights cozying around a fire. When our deck builder in Rolling Meadows, IL and the surrounding areas shared this project with me that he completed this last summer, I couldn’t help but imagine spending my fall nights on it.
The owners of this home in Mokena, IL wanted to update their backyard with areas for shade, sun and plenty of warmth. The Archadeck of Chicagoland team designed a combination screened porch and patio with two fire features that will allow for plenty of use.
Attached to the back of their home, the owners wanted a roof structure that had room for both a living area and a dining area. The Archadeck team not only gave them what they asked for, but took it to the next level. The large screened porch easily fits a large couch/sectional and dining table for 6, but doesn’t feel at all cramped due to the square footage and the cathedral ceilings. Higher ceilings make spaces feel larger. At one end of the room, a large, and gorgeous fireplace was installed to make it feel cozy and to increase use.
While this room is technically a screened porch, the Archadeck team installed 4-track windows to make it a porch and sunroom in one. Tracks slide up and down as needed. The tracks may be open all spring and summer, but be moved up in the fall and winter as the nights get cooler.
Personally, I love the finishes of this porch. The pressure treated pine-decking complements the brick of the home and gives it that rustic feeling that is so beautiful.
But let’s not forget about the patio design! Right off the screened porch and next to the home are square pavers and then freeform stones were used around the custom fire pit. The two types of pavers work beautifully with the home’s subtle brick and provide transitions from space to space. Instead of a square or rectangular patio, Archadeck designed a curved patio for visual interest and flow.
The homeowners are thrilled with their new outdoor living space. To me, it’s a great example of how design can make all the difference. The combination of screened porch with track windows and outdoor fireplace with a patio with a custom fire pit is the perfect space for the Illinois area. It truly maximizes the amount of time the owners can enjoy it!
At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we love creating the perfect outdoor living spaces for our clients. Not only are no two clients a like, but there are no two properties that are exactly alike as well. Creating a beautiful and functional patio or deck design is something our Archadeck teams take great pride in. If you’re looking to enhance your outdoor living spaces, here are a few things to consider:
1.) Your home’s overall architecture. Any great porch, patio or deck design fits seamlessly into the overall look and feel of your home. For instance, a traditional colonial house would look silly with a deck with ultra-modern lines. The shape, structure and finishes of the structure should complement the existing architecture.
2.) The finishes of the home. The finishes of your home should play a role in choosing the materials and finishes of your deck or patio. For example, take a look at this deck. You can how the vertical deck boards and skirting are the same color as the window frames of the house. We at Archadeck always look to make sure our material choices work with the home. For instance, this same space would look overwhelming with a brick patio with the brick house.
3.) The grade and size of the property. The property itself will play a major role in the design and construction of any outdoor living space, especially for properties on a hill or slope. The size also plays a role, smaller yards call for smaller or smarter design. For those properties that do have a slope, we may need to adjust our recommendations based on the cost or complexity of install. Decks, for instance, are much better for elevated spaces.
4.) Function is everything. At the end of the day, if a space, be is a deck, porch, patio, sunroom or combination there of, doesn’t work for its intend used, it will not be used much. During your design consultation with Archadeck, you’ll be asked how you would like to use your yard, entertaining, dining, reading, cooking, etc. With its use in mind, your designer can create a space with a form and flow to fit the function. For example, this combination project called for both sun and shade with plenty of room to entertain friends and family.
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.
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.
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.
One of the most important decisions when building a new outdoor living space is choosing the right contractor. There are so many factors to deciding who is a reputable company and who will leave you unsatisfied. The following tips will give you the peace of mind that you’ve chosen the right contractor for your project.
1. Think Local
Choose a company with an established reputation in your area. Only someone who has built decks, porches, and outdoor living spaces in our community will have the local knowledge you need to ensure that your project is beautiful and functional. A local expert will know what types of weatherproofing your deck will need, implement the right treatments, and plan for protecting appliances in your particular climate.
2. Visit their Business
Don’t just meet with the contractor at your home, go to their place of business too if possible. Again, this lets you see yourself that this contractor is an established local business that is here and here to stay.
3. See the Work
Take time to personally inspect three or four projects the contractor has done near your home. Doing so will let you have full confidence that a specific contractor knows the local building codes and the landscape of the area. Seeing projects a company built and talking to several references is the only way to know for sure that other homeowners have had a good experience with a contractor. Reading online testimonials and reviews is another good way to see what others think of the contractor.
14. Verify their Level of Expertise
Especially if you’re considering an alternative design or elevation, you want to be sure your prospective contractor has considerable experience with multi-level decks, built-in outdoor kitchens, fire features, and the latest outdoor lighting systems. By looking at examples of their work, you can also see if a contractor has experience with the type of materials you’re considering for your project.
5. Check Regulations
Many states, but not all, require contractors to be licensed and/or bonded. Contact your state or local licensing agencies to ensure a contractor meets all government requirements.
6. Investigate Possible Complaints
Check with the government Consumer Affairs Offices and the Better Business Bureau to ensure they don’t have adverse files on record for the contractor.
By following these six steps, your are more likely to find a deck contractor that will leave you with the outdoor space of your dreams.
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.
It’s been a while since we updated everyone on our Dream Backyard Makeover Contest. Some of the projects are in final design and build, but one second place winner is now the proud owner of a brand new Belgard patio, designed and built by Archadeck of Chicagoland.
This is what the Hall family had to begin with. Underneath the snow there was a small concrete patio that wasn’t the beautiful space they envisioned relaxing on. The family explained in their contest description that they bought this house only days after the birth of their first child. While they love the home, they really wanted a space to entertain friends and family outdoors.
The Halls were second place winners in the Archadeck Dream Backyard Makeover, which means they won a $7,000 patio project with material from Belgard Hardscapes. David Berryhill of Archadeck of Chicagoland worked with the family to design a space that fit the space and worked for their needs. The patio design, as seen in the picture below, was set off of their main family room. Existing walkways both from the other back door and the front yard, were left to work as additional entry points.
The property is on a corner lot which lacks privacy. While the Halls wanted a space that was open, a retaining wall was added to the design for a little privacy and to clearly define that side of the space (not to mention retaining walls make great seating!).
One of the most noticeable aspects of the design is its shape. David created a curved patio instead of the more common square or rectangular patio. Sometimes straight lines can make furnishing the space more difficult (unless the space is very large). Curved lines allow for more creativity.
The actual build of the space took about a week. Demo was the first step. There was a concrete slab off the back of the house to begin with that needed to be ripped out. While the team was chopping up and removing concrete, they also dug the space needed for the patio base and added drain tiles to make sure water doesn’t pool on the surface.
The patio was done in Belgard’s Holland Stone pavers and placed in a random pattern. Below the pavers are inches of base to anchor the space and keep it level and in place. There are 4 to 6 inches of crushed limestone covered with just under an inch of sand. The sand allows the patio builders to lay the pavers in place and keep them sturdy.
Doesn’t the space look great? We think that David did a great job! The Halls are now enjoying their new space, which we are thrilled about.
If you have any questions regarding paver patios or other outdoor living spaces, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.
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.
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….
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!
It’s week two of our patio and deck build here at the Archadeck Outdoor Living corporate office and a lot of work has been done. The once grassy patch to the left of our building is now a construction site with bulldozers, dirt, sand and holes!
Over the last week the construction crew has been hard at work leveling the space and digging the footings for the deck and outdoor fireplace. We mentioned footings last week, but here’s a picture if you can’t quite picture it. Footings, as you can see, are just holes at this point in the build (they have since been filled with concrete since I took this picture).
The largest footing was dug for our outdoor fireplace. The fireplace itself is very heavy, so the ground beneath it has to be supported by the footing (imagine an extra-large hole).
Once the footings were inspected by the county, we were able to start building our retaining wall around the space. Concrete was mixed on site to place in between each and every paver. Without that, people would run off with them they look so good! The retaining wall is serving a few purposes for us. First off, it is used to define the edges of the patio space. The patio is low to grade which means that it doesn’t by code need a railing, however we had to dig into a hill to clear the space for the project. If we didn’t have the retaining wall, everyone would be enjoying the sight of a wall made of dirt. I prefer the pavers. The second purpose it serves is as a place to sit. We are going to have built in benches and retaining walls around the space to make sure everyone can sit when wanted.
Once everything was all set, we were able to move the Belgard outdoor fireplace into its position. Outdoor Fireplaces come in a variety of shapes and styles. Many are gas burning, but we chose to use a wood burning one. Isn’t it pretty? My favorite part is the iron accent on the chimney section. It’s small details like that that give that warm/homey feeling. Overall it’s a very classic look.
The patio pavers are starting to be installed around the base of the patio and then outward. We are very pleased with the progress thus far. We’ve gone from this:
We are all anxious to use the space. Just a few more weeks and I’ll be sitting outside writing this blog!
If you are interested in learning more about outdoor fireplaces and fire pits, please reach out to your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office. I’m confident we could find something that would look great in your yard!
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.
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!
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!
With the first month down, we at Archadeck Outdoor Living are happy to announce the first two finalists for Archadeck’s Dream Backyard Makeover. We had just under 350 entries in the month of February, making it extremely tough to pick just two deserving families.
If you haven’t entered the contest yet, make sure you do at DreamBackyardMakeover.com. Two finalists are chosen for the months of February, March and April. On April 23rd the photo descriptions and photos will be posted for online voting. The winner of the $70,000 makeover will be chosen as a result of panelist votes and Facebook votes. TimberTech Decking and Belgard hardscapes will be used in the final project.
Here are the two finalists for February (full owner descriptions will be posted when voting begins on April 23rd).
The first is out of South Carolina where the homeowners were unfortunately taken advantage of by a lousy contractor. They hired and paid a contractor to build a new deck off the back of their house only to have the contractor disappear in the middle of the project. To make matters worse, the homeowners found out that none of the work was done to code leaving an unsafe structure!
The second finalist comes from the Chicago area. The homeowners purchased this house only 3 days after welcoming their first child. They hope to raise their family in this house, but it needs some work. They plan to host friends, family and neighbors in the backyard of their dreams if chosen for the backyard makeover.
The common denominator to any great outdoor living space is a great design. A great design not only takes the clients wants, tastes and budget into account, but also the existing home and the property that it is being built on. When it comes to great patio designs, the opportunities are endless.
At Archadeck outdoor living, we have built over 100,000 outdoor living spaces, many of which have included a patio structure. Our designers take great pride in creating patios that are gorgeous and functional. There are several pieces to the design that they pay particular attention to:
Shape. Too many homes have the standard 5ft by 5ft concrete slab off the back of their home. What a waste! So much more can be created and built. Many of our clients want a space that has straight lines that mirror the lines of the home, while others want something different. Curving the edges of the patio is a different style that is just as nice. A softer line often creates a more fluid open feel to an outdoor space.
Material. A good patio design takes the existing property into account and enhances it. What the patio is made of is a key component. There are so many different styles of patio products that we are positive there is something for you. If you like a classic look, a brick or rectangular stone may work beautifully in your space. If you prefer a more natural look, there are natural stones, or products that look like natural stone that may hold up better. Stamped concrete is another popular product as it can be colored or stamped with numerous designs.
Layout. If an outdoor living space is going to be utilized for numerous purposes, it is important the different areas are defined. While this can be achieved with outdoor furniture, it can also be done through design. Adding multiple layers is one way to do this. One area may be used for cooking and eating that has an outdoor kitchen and dining table and two steps down there may be a living room set up with couches and chairs. Another way to define spaces is done through the installation of materials. A different finish may be used or the same product may be used but placed in the opposite direction.
Lastly, a great patio design incorporates design features that are practical. Design features can take numerous forms including retaining walls, planters, benches, outdoor kitchens, fireplaces and fire pits. It all depends on what the client wants. These finishing touches don’t always have to be part of the original build, but rather added later.
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.
I periodically visit the college I graduated from (go Spiders!) to see how the campus has grown and changed. Since I was there as a student, numerous changes have occurred including a new International studies building. It’s beautiful, but one of things I found most interesting was actually outside the building. Behind the building there was an outdoor classroom. It has a few rows of retaining walls made for seating and an outdoor chalk board for teachers to write notes.
Outdoor Classrooms, according to Newsday, are gaining in popularity as they provide an opportunity for students to spend more time outdoors instead of constantly inside. Some schools are using their outdoor classrooms as a place to learn about nature and science. For younger students, this could be a great place for some of the messier experiments that usually are done inside.
The designs of outdoor classrooms vary widely. While some, like the one at my alma mater, have rows and a chalkboard, others are a little more unconventional. At Mount Olive College in North Carolina, their outdoor classroom is circular and from above creates a Celtic cross. It was created for outdoor lectures and can hold up to 30 people.
To me, this is an exciting development. I can’t remember how many times throughout school I wished we could go outside for a class.
At Archadeck Outdoor Living, our hardscapes or covered porches would make for great outdoor classrooms. An important design feature is to make sure that anything new on a particular property doesn’t look like an afterthought, but as an extension of the space. If a school, for example, consists of all brick buildings, the finishes on the outdoor classroom should be brick as well.
Another point to consider is how the space will used as some components may not be portable. Should it have rows? Are tables better? Will a chalk board of some kind be necessary for students and teachers to write notes to follow along? These are all things that your outdoor living designers and contractor should be asking you so you get an outdoor classroom that not only looks great, but will be used.
If you have questions about if an outdoor classroom is right for your school, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.
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.
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.
There are certain things that are part of our daily lives that are made to protect us from harm and disaster. Automobiles are equipped with seat belts and air bags to protect us in the event of a crash. Medications are packaged with child-safety caps to keep our children from harmful medications. The list of items that are designed to keep us safe can go on and on. But who would dream a 3-season porch would be on that list? We just added this 3-season room built by Archadeck of Central Connecticut to that list.
In the quiet of a recent Sunday morning at around 1:30 a.m. in Central Connecticut, something happened to these homeowners while there were fast asleep in their beds. A huge tree fell within their yard and was heading straight for their house. Fortunately, the tree hit their 3-season porch built by Archadeck of Central Connecticut first. Although the tree was tall enough to hit the main house. The tree removal people told us that it would have “sliced the house open” were it not for the porch taking the brunt of the tree’s falling force. This means that not only did the structural quality of the porch sustain the blow of the tree and keep it from destroying the home, it quite possibly could have saved their lives as well.
Very often, homeowners will take the easy way out by choosing a less-reputable builder to construct their outdoor living space. Usually this decision is made to save a little money, or to get their project completed sooner. Unfortunately, for many homeowners this decision proves to be a mistake in the long run. Shoddy workmanship, and inferior quality materials may not be visible to the naked eye early on, but after only a short time the faults will come to the surface. As was the case with this Connecticut homeowner, making the decision to hire a reputable professional builder really paid off. Archadeck prides themselves on quality products and expert design and craftsmanship on every structure we build.
Archadeck Unified Structural System governs construction process.
Strict adherence to our proprietary Construction Master File documenting all construction details.
Construction to and above local and national code.
Professional project documentation throughout.
Meticulous attention to finish details assure aesthetic integrity.
Constructed as an extension of your home, not an “attachment.”
Entire process reflects professional craftsmanship and utmost respect for your property.
With Archadeck, you get more than just a well-built outdoor structure, you get the experience and integrity to go along with it. A professionally designed and built outdoor structure from us gives you the peace of mind that you are getting the most from your investment, and peace of mind as well. Contact Archadeck to learn more about the “Archadeck difference”, you will be glad you did. Contact us today to learn more.
Paver patios can be simply extraordinary in terms of design and the rustic elegance they encompass. Paver patios are full of personality and the selection of patterns, textures and hues they come in can be customized to reflect a homeowners personal taste and style. Taking all this into consideration, pavers are even more amazing because of their strength. A professionally installed paver patio can withstand several thousand pounds of pressure. I am sure your average dinner party or family get-together outside on the patio would never put this to the test, but the fact of the matter is the cohesive combined strength which is evident in a paver patio is not only strong but it is versatile. A paver patio can be extended in the future if you so wish, and replacing an individual paver is easy. Many people don’t realize what elements go into constructing a paver patio, but I am here to tell you, they are built tough from the ground up.
Archadeck begins by digging out the area where the patio will be installed. They do this by digging down about 9 inches. Then “roadbase” is brought in, which is basically a rock filler. It is then compacted down with a machine that will bring it to 6 inches of thickness. Once the roadbase is well compacted, sand is put down. The pavers are then placed atop the sand and compacted down using the compaction machinery again, this will cause the sand to come up through the joints of the pavers. Following this step a layer of Polymeric sand is put atop that, which is again compacted and the sand is brushed in. The top layer of sand has an added polymer which when water is applied, acts as a binder, which binds the sand so there is no loose sand. To ensure nothing washes away beneath these layers Archadeck installs a geo-grid to hold everything in place.
In the case of a paver patio if there are any upward pressure points or issues this generally happens early on, within the first year following installation. If this happens it is an easy fix, by breaking out any area that is presenting a problem and fixing it. The key to a paver patio is the base, making sure it is leveled and properly compacted.
Paver patios also pack another punch, they are less likely to fade than a stain-and-score concrete patio and will not show signs of wear. Concrete patios such as a stain and score are also more likely to crack, whereas part of a paver patios charm are the cracks themselves (joints) and any give will affect the joint and the paver itself will not crack.
Pavers can be used in more designs than just patios. Today’s paver is not a one trick pony, it is used to build retaining walls, benches, fire pits, fireplaces# and so much more. Archadeck uses Belgard pavers. Their quality, style, textures and color choices are unsurpassed in the industry. Most of the pavers sold in your “big box” home improvement stores lack the quality to withstand the test of time, and offer very little selection.
If you are ready to take the leap and add a patio to your backyard, contact Archadeck to get you started on your way to a real eye catcher with the muscle to match. 888.687.3325
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
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]
When you think about outdoor fireplaces, your mind probably immediately takes you to a crisp Autumn evening with you and your family sitting around the outdoor fireplace, sitting in Adirondack chairs and roasting marshmallows over a crackling, welcoming fire…did you visualize the fireplace in an outdoor setting? Of course you did. The image in your mind automatically takes you Outdoors.
At Archadeck we think outside the box. We have started to place the outdoor fireplace in a setting we usually think of as indoors. Imagine, how calming a crackling fire would be on your screened porch or covered patio. That’s right, you and Archadeck can design a plan that is innovative and challenges the way we classify the outdoor fireplace.
We have constructed many beautiful fireplaces within beautiful additions to your outdoor space enjoyment. We can add a fireplace to a screened porch or covered patio. Either attached or separate from your home. All of these spaces after all are just an extension of your outdoor living area. When not in use a lot of our clients add a flat screen TV over the fireplace mantel to make a formidable use of the space even when there isn’t a crackling fire abound. Even without a TV, the fireplace, as in every setting, becomes the center and a gathering spot for fun, conversation and a place to make lasting memories with your family and friends.
We abide by all county and state fire codes and setbacks when we build a fireplace in a setting such as this. Safety is our number one priority, so when considering an addition such as this, make sure your licensed contractor has checked with all the proper legalities to obtain important rules regarding a fireplace.
Gorgeous detailing draws you to this fireplace built into the corner of this screened porch
If you would like to entertain the idea of adding an outdoor fireplace to your screened or covered porch, give Archadeck a call, we can keep those home fires burning. 888-OUR-DECK
Imagine your outdoor oasis…a stone fireplace with surround patio floor of contrasting pavers set against the backdrop of nature and the sky. Have you taken a deep breath yet? Or maybe a pool patio hardscape with a covered patio flowing out into the horizon. The dream is yours- Archadeck can make it a reality.
Transforming your outdoor place into an unforgettable space is a lot easier than you think. Archadeck has many hardscapes to satisfy even the most discriminating customer. We now offer the Belgard products in addition to our other hardscapes. Belgard is unsurpassed in quality and style. We custom design each job with your input and we have hardscaping to fit any budget.
If you are considering a change from the deck or patio you have now, or if you are starting from a blank canvas, Archadeck can turn your backyard into a work of art.
Multi-level hardscapes have become a staple in outdoor structures and beautification. The true meaning of a hardscape is the man made part of the grounds surrounding a building, as paved areas and structures, but it is so much more than that. The beauty and variety of today’s hardscapes take on a personality of their own. Hardscapes can be used to create barriers, driveways, sidewalks, walls, floors, water features, railings, fire features such as fire pits and fireplaces, planters and many more structures. The choices in hardscaping materials are as large as all the things you can build with hardscapes. Hardscapes can be natural or man made, such as stone, pavers, concrete, brick and the list goes on and on.