Blog Outdoor Living

The Perfect Outdoor Kitchen Just for You

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

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

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

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

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

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

Design Tips to Create the Perfect Outdoor Living Space

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

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

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

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

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

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

Warming up your Backyard for Fall

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

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

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

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

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

What you’ll need:

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

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

Happy Fall!

Creating More Living Space in a Small Backyard

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

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

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

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

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

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

Relax Under an Awning

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

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

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

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

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

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

Warm Up this Fall by an Open Flame

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Structure to Outdoor Living Space

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

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

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

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

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

Increase Your Curb Appeal this Month

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gather Outside to Watch the Game this Fall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is Why you Don’t DIY a Patio

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

An outdoor living space that has it all

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Deck Replacement and Patio to Increase Outdoor Living Space

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

What are the Top Outdoor Living Trends in 2014?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Screened Porch Details Create Warm and Inviting Space

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Winter: the Perfect Time to Plan your New Backyard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trends in Outdoor Living Ramp Up Comfort and Warmth

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

Seating Clusters

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

Fire it Up

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

Landscaping that Fits the Land

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

Get in the Cooking Zone

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

Easy-Care Conveniences

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

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

Christmas Gifts for the Outdoor Living Lover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Defining Spaces in Outdoor Rooms

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get more out of your deck with lighting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One Outdoor Space that has it All

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Multipurpose Deck Design

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

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

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

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

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

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

What to Invest in and what to DIY in your Outdoor Living Space

The best outdoor living spaces provide for just that, living outdoors. But with home and property obligations, it can be too expensive to have the best of everything from the beginning. We’re often asked what to invest in and what you can wait to save for. Well, here are thoughts and some ideas to make your space look fantastic without spending the big bucks.

When it comes to saving your dollars and investing in the outdoor spaces of your home, you definitely want to invest in the actual structure. While you can switch out furnishing relatively easily, you can’t do that with a deck, porch, patio, screened in porch or sunroom. You also want to know that whatever you have is built to code and will last for years.

If you are looking to add on smaller structures, like an outdoor kitchen, fire pit or fireplace, this is something we also suggest investing in because it will add value to the space and be there for a long time. Anything this isn’t mobile, we suggest investing in.

In terms of furnishings, this is where you can save in some areas and spend in others. If you are going to spend over a few hundred dollars, make sure that you absolutely love it and it will last. When my husband and I were looking for a new outdoor dining table, for instance, we set a threshold. We said if we were going to go over $XXX dollars, it had to be great quality and something we both loved. Below that, we could consider purchasing knowing that we may upgrade in a few years.

The smaller items in your outdoor living space are great places to save and create some easy Do it Yourself pieces. Here are some ideas that are cost effective, but also chic…

Plant it in something unique.
Anyone can go into a home improvement store, buy some planters or pots and plant some flowers in it. Some homeowners however may want something a little more special. Look for things that can function as a planter, but have some visual interest. My aunt has a birdbath on her property that she didn’t want birds in (too many mosquitoes) but was too beautiful to get rid of, so she planted some herbs in it. I’ve also seen people plant in old wheelbarrows like this one.

Don’t forget about the pots.
Just because planting in a terracotta pot may be predictable, doesn’t mean you can’t use them in your space. They are great bases for side tables. You can either flip it upside-down and place a piece of Plexiglas on top or sit it upright and do the same thing. If you keep it upright, you can also add something special in it, like shells or sea glass. Pots are also great ways to add color into the space. They not only are available in fun colors, but they are easily updated with spray paint.

Keep those pallets.
Old wooden pallets are as multipurpose as they get. They can be used in so many different ways. Using a pallet as the top of an outdoor coffee table is just one idea. You can sand and stain it or paint it any color you want. They are a great option that fulfills the purpose and looks great while you find something that you love.

Think about it before you throw it away.
Just because something wasn’t initially purchased for the outside of the home doesn’t mean it can’t end up there (this isn’t the case with all things). Take an old bureau or bookcase for example. If you treat it with an outdoor protectant to ensure it doesn’t rot, it could work incredibly well in a covered outdoor area, like a porch. An outdoor wet bar perhaps?

A gorgeous outdoor living space is normally a mixture of some “investment” pieces and some quick finds. The more important thing is that at the end of the day, you love it. If you have any questions, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Fall is the perfect time to build an outdoor living structure

Posted by: janegwalker

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Firepits and Outdoor Fireplaces Most In Demand Outdoor Living Feature

Posted by: janegwalker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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!

We Have an Outdoor Fireplace!

S’mores anyone?

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

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

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

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

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

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

To this:

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

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

Archadeck Outdoor Living Surprises Grand Prize Dream Backyard Makeover Winners

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Congrats to the Bentrotts!

Deck and Patio Installation Begins at Archadeck Headquarters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

Four Days Left to Enter Dream Backyard Makeover!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good luck everyone!

Deck and Patio Design for Optimal Outdoor Entertaining

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March Dream Backyard Makeover Finalists Announced

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Outdoor Kitchen Tools that Enhance Your Cooking and Dining Experience

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

First Finalists Announced in Dream Backyard Makeover Contest

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

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

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

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

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

Congrats to our two finalists!

2013 Outdoor Living Trends

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Outdoor Kitchen Design Ideas for the Ultimate Cooking Experience

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

Archadeck launches contest for $70,000 backyard makeover

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

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

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

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

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

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

DreamBackyardMakeover.com

Patio Designs for Every Space

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

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


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


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


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


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

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

Outdoor Fireplaces: Some Design and Practical Considerations

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

Design Considerations

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

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

Practical Considerations

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

Zoning Regulations

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

Weather

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

Sun

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

Safety

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

Space

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

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

Screened In Porches – Rooms You’ll Use

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

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

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

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

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

Upgrading your Home: Ideas for Outdoor Kitchen Design

Outdoor kitchens bring all the best features of an indoor kitchen into the privacy of your own backyard. While they are a hot trend in landscaping design, you don’t have to build a custom home to enjoy an outdoor kitchen. Materials, appliances, and design plans allow for outdoor kitchens to be possible for just about any budget.

The Benefits

Homeowners who may initially believe an outdoor kitchen to be a splurge soon learn that there are practical benefits, including:

  • Simple entertaining options, especially for large crowds
  • Easy clean-up, because the mess doesn’t spill into your home
  • Lower utility bills, because charcoal and propane doesn’t show up on your gas or electric bill

Three Outdoor Kitchen Necessities

Outdoor kitchens can be installed on an existing patio, or deck contractors can build a beautiful outdoor kitchen as part of a larger home landscaping project. The best outdoor kitchens feature three pieces that are both beautiful and functional.

Grill

It’s not just for hamburgers. Upgraded grills come with accessories like a smoker drawer, a warming rack, and even a rotisserie.

Refrigerator

It’s a convenient place to store drinks you want to serve guests. Outdoor refrigerators are also recommended for food safety, because your raw food can sit in the refrigerator instead of in the sun.

Refreshment Center

This appliance is what makes your outdoor kitchen just as functional as your indoor kitchen. Features available on most refreshment centers include cutting boards, drain boards, sinks, faucets, and towel racks.

Four Outdoor Kitchen Storage Options

When it’s time to choose outdoor storage or counter tops, deck contractors can help you pick materials that are both budget friendly and durable.

Masonry Cabinets

A metal or cinderblock frame is covered in brick, stucco, or decorative stone, which makes this extremely weather resistant.

Wooden Cabinets

Wooden cabinets are available in a wide range of budgets. However, they aren’t weather resistant, so they will fade and break down over time.

Stainless Steel

These cabinets look like metal, but they don’t corrode. Stainless steel will show fingerprints and becomes hot to the touch when the sun shines on it.

Polymer Cabinets

This synthetic material closely resembles plastic, which makes it weather resistant and easy to clean. However, it comes in limited colors.

Your outdoor kitchen is as versatile as you want it to be. If you can dream it, there are outdoor kitchen design ideas to make it happen. To make your outdoor kitchen dreams come true, contact Archadeck.

Pergolas: An easy addition for a new year

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

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

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

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

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

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

Proper Deck Design Leads to Increased Use

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Under Decking Creates More Outdoor Living Space

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

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

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

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

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

Here are some great examples of under decking:

Combinations of Outdoor Living Spaces Define Use

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Decorating Your Outdoor Spaces for the Holidays

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyone else have some ideas?

Archadeck Outdoor Living Named to Qualified Remodeler’s Exterior 200

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

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

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

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

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

Checking Your Outdoor Living Spaces after Sandy

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

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

Here are some things to look for:

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

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

Outdoor Classrooms Gain Popularity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Screened Porches – Perfect for Autumn

Tomorrow (Saturday) brings the official start to my favorite season: fall. I love the changing colors, the smell (yes, fall has a specific smell), football and the crisp cool air. I love to bundle up in a sweater and a blanket and sit in the fresh air in the fall months. And a cup of hot cider doesn’t hurt either.

For me, this is the best time of year for a screened porch. During the day, it’s the perfect temperature to comfortably sit outside and enjoy the outdoors without the bugs and at night, it’s the perfect time to snuggle up in the blanket and enjoy the cool air.

Screened porches are a great way to add value to our home and your outdoor living experience. In most areas of the United States screened porches can be used the majority of the year. Screened porches not only protect you from bugs, but also the harsh outdoor elements like the sun and rain (I love sitting in a screened porch when it’s raining, it’s the perfect time for a nap).

Our Archadeck Outdoor Living franchisees have designed screened porches in every shape and size. Like sunrooms, it’s important to create a usable space that doesn’t detract from the look and feel of the existing home. One of the more difficult design considerations is how it can affect the rooms it is attached to. Natural light into the existing rooms may decrease with the addition of a sunroom. To circumvent that issue, many of our screened porch designers will include skylights in the porch’s roof to keep light flowing into the home.

Ceilings in screened porches come in a wide variety of finishes. While some homeowners may want a wood finish for a rustic/outdoorsy look, others want the ceiling to match the rest of the home’s interior. Whatever your taste, it’s all doable.

Additional features that Archadeck Outdoor Living often include in their screened porches are fireplaces and fans. When designing and building any custom outdoor living space, the designer and homeowner have to consider how and when the space will be used. Ceiling fans are a great in screened porches for those hot humid days of summer when you want be outside without being too hot. On the flip side, homeowners may want to use their porch even when the weather is cool, so adding a fireplace makes perfect sense for them. They can light a fire and enjoy the cool night, and maybe some s’mores, outdoors.

If you are interested in learning more about adding a custom screened porch to your home, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Sunrooms, enjoying the outdoors from the indoors

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Labor Day from Archadeck Outdoor Living

Labor Day weekend marks the unofficial end of the summer. Kids will be going back to school and the nights will start to get longer. At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we don’t think the cool fall nights should force homeowners indoors. Instead cozy up around a custom fireplace or fire pit.

I grew up in a home where family time was spent around the fireplace. I loved it. As an adult, I had to have a fireplace when we were looking for a new home. And as we were looking to update our backyard, my first idea was to add a fire pit. Outdoor fireplaces and fire pits come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and finishes so they don’t look like an afterthought but a natural extension of the home.

Our Archadeck Outdoor Living franchisees design custom fireplaces and fire pits that are sure to enhance your outdoor living spaces. Do you need an edge around the pit for food and drinks? No problem. How about storage along the side of your fireplace for wood or accessories? You got it. Your outdoor project will be designed with you, your home, your tastes and your budget in mind. Take a look at some of these beautiful Archadeck fireplaces and fire pits:

If you are interested in learning more about custom fireplace and fire pits, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Rustic Deck in Colorado brings Australia to America

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

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

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

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

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

Invite Friends and Family Outside with an Outdoor Structure

Archadeck of Augusta’s manager, Tom Leonard was recently interviewed by Columbia County Magazine. While the piece focused on gazebos, pergolas, ramadas and arbors, it was Tom’s quotes that stood out to me; “outdoor structures are a way of drawing people into the yard…they might offer people a different view of their yard or give them a reason to use a certain part of their yard.”

I couldn’t agree more with this notion. Friends of mine bought a home with a large back yard last year. They bought it in large part due to the yard’s size. They saw the potential, but when they bought it, there wasn’t much to the outdoor space. They would host get-togethers where some drinks and food would be outside, but their guests were always indoors. The reason? Besides the food there wasn’t an inviting space outdoors that you would want to sit down and relax in, just grass and dirt. Gradually, our friends have updated their outdoor living space with a large patio off the back of the house that’s perfect for al fresco dining and a fire pit further in the yard. Now when they have people over, their guests are on the patio, out towards the fire pit and everywhere in between. No one is ever inside.

At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we view decks, porches, patios and other projects as more than just structures. They are outdoor living spaces that increase your home’s usable space. When designing a space, “homeowners need to look at the function” of their outdoor living space, says Leonard. Is it a dining area, living area or just a place for you to curl up and read a book? Whatever the function, the size, structure and layout of the space has to mirror its primary use. If completed well, you will want to spend time in it.

A few years ago I visited one of Archadeck of Central Virginia’s clients. They had this beautiful porch off the back of the house which led down to a nice deck. The size of the porch was perfect. Just big enough for an outdoor couch, chairs and space to move around. Sheer curtains were added to the backside of the porch for added privacy as well. Their goal in building the space was to have a homey area outside where they could host friends and family. Trust me, if I was visiting that home, I would want to sit on that porch. And while sitting there, I could take in the beauty of the property (this particular homeowner had quite the garden).

If you are researching the best way to enhance your outdoor living space, take a look at the Archadeck Design Guide. It will ask you all the important questions for you to consider while you are in the planning and designing phase.

Outdoor Furniture- which material is right for you

To make your deck, porch, patio or other outdoor structure into an outdoor living space, patio furniture is necessary. The problem is that there are way too many options! Here’s a quick guide to help you choose the right material furniture for your space, tastes and budgets.

Aluminum

Aluminum is a great outdoor furniture option for many areas of the country. Its powder-coat finish is extremely durable and doesn’t rust or fade, making it perfect for salty or wet locations. Aluminum is easy to clean with some soapy water and it’s easy to move around with its light weight. Because it is so malleable, aluminum outdoor furniture tends to come in a wide variety of styles.

Aluminum’s light weight is both a pro and a con of the material. High winds can move the furniture around so it’s good to protect it by placing it inside when particularly bad weather is expected. Additionally, aluminum does hold heat and can be hot to sit on when left out in the sun.

Plastic

Plastic is often the cheapest option when it comes to outdoor furniture. Sold at most big box stores, it is very portable and usually stackable for easy storage.

Although it’s the least expensive option, plastic is also the least durable option for outdoor furniture. It can fade when left out in the sun and break easily.

Steel

Steel is very durable and, unlike aluminum, won’t move around in hard winds. When protected appropriately it can withstand the elements well.

Steel, because of its heft, can be expensive and difficult to move around in a space. It requires a protective coating of some sort to prevent it from rusting.

Wicker

Wicker can come in both woven wood or synthetic versions (synthetic wickers holds up well in the elements, wood may need to have some type of sealant). It is both lightweight, making it easy to move around your outdoor living spaces and durable. Cleaning wicker is easy with a hose and mild soap.

Wicker outdoor furniture sets tend to be pricey and can be too bulky for a lot of smaller spaces.

Wood

Wood furniture is classic. It’s sturdy and doesn’t hold heat as much as aluminum furniture does. Cedar and Teak are two of the harder woods that are great for the outdoors. They see little effect from rain and actually have enzymes that protect against decay.

Wood furniture can be expensive and there don’t seem to be as many different styles. Softer woods, unlike cedar and teak, can absorb moisture and rot over time. Paint or sealant would be needed to keep water out.

Outdoor Kitchens – the perfect addition to your outdoor living space

This past weekend brought my college reunion. To make sure that we got the most out of having everyone in one place at one time, a friend of mine hosted a barbecue on Saturday. He has a large deck that provides a great place to sit back and relax, but what we learned was it wasn’t great for entertaining 15 or so people.

To make sure that our host wasn’t doing all the work, all of our friends brought food to snack on or throw on the grill. The problem was there wasn’t a convenient place to put it all. There is a small table outdoors that could fit some of the food, but everything else was balanced on the railing of the deck, resulting in some close calls for the burgers.

Whether it’s the lawn, bathroom or furniture, the host of this party is constantly updating his house. During the party we talked about his plans for the future and he mentioned that he’s interested in adding an outdoor kitchen to make it easier in the spring and summer months when he grills out four or five times a week.

Outdoor Kitchens have become more popular in the last few years as people have looked to upgrade their outdoor living spaces. They provide the perfect place to prepare food for friends and family when the weather is nice and can be as multi-purpose as you’d like. While many outdoor kitchens have some counter space and a grill, refrigerators, sinks and ice makers are becoming more popular for added convenience. If having a place for your friends to sit and chat with you as you cook is important, an eat-in bar can be added as well.

One benefit of including an outdoor kitchen in your space is that you can easily incorporate it into your already existing outdoor living structure, whatever it may be. The size, shape and finish can be completely customized to your outdoor space so that it fits in seamlessly. At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we have designed and built outdoor kitchens that include tile, granite, brick, stone and more. Check out these outdoor kitchens:

This L-shaped outdoor kitchen includes a built-in grill, burner and seating to provide a lovely place to prepare food for friends and family. It’s finished with stone and tile for a clean look.

The brick base of this L-shaped outdoor kitchen complements the brick finish of the home perfectly. It has granite countertops for easy clean up and a built-in grill and warmer.

Who wouldn’t enjoy an outdoor kitchen like this? This a classic galley style kitchen. Since it is under a porch providing some protection from the elements, a TV is mounted to the back wall for the viewers pleasure. It has a gas grill, sink and dishwasher so you don’t have to carry the platters, dishes and utensils back and forth. Instead, what’s meant for outdoor dining can stay outdoors.

Lastly, this is a custom-shaped outdoor kitchen with everything that a chef may need. Not only does it have, a grill, sink, burner and dishwasher, it also has a wood burning pizza kitchen for that perfect pizza. Yum!

With outdoor kitchens like this, I’m not sure I would need an indoor kitchen (just kidding). If you are interested in learning how an outdoor kitchen could be added to your space outside, please contact your local Archadeck location.

Low to Grade Patios – attractive and affordable

My husband and I have a small deck off the back of our family room that offers a nice spot to sit outside with guests and grill out when the weather is nice. We’ve been thinking about updating the space since it’s pretty basic and is now showing its wear (it was there when my husband bought the house years ago). When talking about our options, we thought we’d be hampered by budget, but interestingly enough, our space is perfect for a low to grade patio, which is attractive and affordable.

A low to grade patio is a patio that doesn’t have large level changes and is close to the ground. In my case, there is a less than five inch difference between the deck and the yard around it. Because leveling will be easier while building a low to grade patio, it can be an affordable option to updating your outdoor living space. Additionally, railings may not be required if the patio is low to the ground (make sure to ask your patio contractor about code specifications), saving you money on railings and posts.

Low to grade patios are not only affordable in comparison to higher level patios, but are also extremely attractive. Paver patios come in a variety of colors, sizes and finishes. At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we show homeowners which options would look best with their home’s architecture and finish to make everything work together seamlessly.

In previous posts, we have discussed the benefits of staged building, where you build different components of your outdoor living space at different times until you have the backyard that you’ve always wanted. Low to grade patios are a great option to include in a multi-structure outdoor living space as they can be the perfect add-on to a deck, porch, sunroom or screened porch. Furthermore, with all of the finishes available, you shouldn’t have a problem finding an outdoor kitchen or fire pit that complements it flawlessly if you want to add that later.

If you would like to see how a low to grade patio (or deck) can be incorporated into your outdoor living space, feel free to contact your local Archadeck office.

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.

Outdoor Dining Rooms – the Perfect Place to Host Friends and Family

This past Tuesday I got together with a bunch of my girlfriends for dinner. It had been a while since we were all in the same place at the same time, and we decided to take advantage. We all went over to my friend Kerri’s house where we prepared the food together while nibbling on appetizers and sipping on some cocktails. It was a great time until I realized, there really wasn’t a whole lot of room in her dining room for all of us. Just when I was about to say something, Kerri ushered us outside.

Off the back side of their house, Kerri and her husband have small deck that is set up perfectly for outdoor entertaining. It has a large dining table that easily fit 8 chatty ladies and the tree lined fence along the side of the yard provided privacy. It was lovely.

Outdoor rooms, as opposed to just some plastic furniture on a deck, porch or patio, have been gaining popularity in recent years. With all of the furniture and accessories that are now available from both big box stores and specialty store, it is easy to create the same homey feeling you have indoors, out. In the case of Kerri’s outdoor dining room, the table was lovely and she had placemats and accessories that were made to stand up to the natural elements. She finished off the space with candles and flowers that made it feel like a true room.

In warmer months it’s nice to spend time outdoors and the opportunities are endless. Check out some of these outdoor rooms that were created on some Archadeck Outdoor Living Structures:

Add Square Footage to your Home – Outside

A new show that has recently caught my attention is Interior Design with Jeff Lewis on Bravo. If you aren’t familiar with Jeff Lewis (you’re missing out) he is also the star of Flipping Out and a high profile interior designer, house flipper and remodeler. He’s a character to say the least. In Interior Design, he and his assistant Jenny (who is great in her own way) move in to the clients’ home and remodel a room or two (along with addressing some of the clients’ personal issues). It is incredible to see what they are able to accomplish in just 5 days.

In Wednesday’s episode, Jeff and Jenny worked with Ross the Intern and his partner Sal. The couple lives in California in a small house that didn’t have the square footage to accommodate the company they liked to entertain. Instead of remodeling a room inside the house, Jeff decided to redo the garage and driveway (which they didn’t park in) and create an outdoor dining room that could fit all their guests, increasing their living space. Over the course of the week, Jeff, Jenny and their team tore up the existing cement driveway and installed large concrete pavers to create a large, and beautiful, patio. They finished it with an outdoor dining room set and bar. Needless to say, Ross and Sal loved it.

The outdoor living industry has grown over the last decade and has really turned into just that, living outdoors. I have experienced this transition first hand. Growing up, my family and I had a simple deck on the back of our house. We sat outside in a few plastic Adirondack-style chairs for a little while and then would go back inside. Although nice, I wouldn’t say it was a great outdoor living space. Now that my parents are retired and live in South Carolina, that’s changed. They have great outdoor living spaces where we spend a significant amount of time when we’re visiting. They have a great outdoor kitchen for preparing, cooking and serving dinner, a dining area where we can eat and a few different lounge areas to enjoy a nice day.

The reason we spend so much time outdoors now is that the spaces we have are truly outdoor living rooms, not just decks, porches, patios, etc. There are so many options for outdoor living now: outdoor furniture, rugs, accessories and more that create a comfortable, homey atmosphere.

Outdoor structures have transformed into true outdoors rooms where homeowners want to spend time. Additionally, by creating these extra spaces, they increase the useable square footage of their property. Last year, for instance, my husband and I decided that we wanted to have our rehearsal dinner at my parents’ house. This would have been a problem had it not been for the outdoor spaces. The house itself just couldn’t hold enough people, but when the doors were opened, guests flowed inside and out and sat wherever they wanted.

At Archadeck, we’ve helped create thousands of outdoor rooms for our clients. It is important to us to understand how you are going to use the space so we can design the perfect project for you and your needs. For some, a screened porch works, for others, it’s a covered porch and patio. Every space is different. If you are interested in increasing your home’s square footage by moving it outdoors, please contact your local Archadeck office.

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.

Outdoor Living is Here to Stay

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Plan Your Dream Backyard Now - Built It In Phases

We’ve said it before and we will say it again, but at Archadeck Outdoor Living, we want to help you make your backyard dreams come true. You want a new deck? Great! A patio off that deck? No problem. How about an outdoor kitchen for the chef in your family? Sounds wonderful. We can design a custom outdoor living space that encompasses all of that, but that doesn’t mean you have to build it all at one time.


Building new structure or updating old structures in your outdoor spaces can be expensive and something that many people save for for years. Spreading the build across a few years may make more sense for you and your family. This is called staged building and it’s something that we think is an important part of the design process.

When you are looking to change your outdoor living space, designing the dream backyard from the start will save you time, money and frustration later. Although you may not add the second piece to the space until a year or two after the first, you don’t want it to look like an afterthought. Instead, you want every aspect of your backyard to work seamlessly with each other. In the initial design phase, it’s important to see how the pieces work together to make sure everything “fits.”

Developing your backyard design in advance may also save you money in the long run depending on what you may be building. For example, if your end goal includes a fire pit, fireplace or outdoor kitchen, you will want to run your gas lines early if they run under your other projects. Small things like this will save you from having to tear up parts of your existing structures to include others.


When talking to your outdoor living contractor, it’s important to mention everything that you eventually want to include in your yard. Ask for “staged” plans showing you how your space will look after each part of the project is built. If you aren’t exactly sure what you need or want, ask yourself questions like “how do I envision myself using the space?” Our design guide will give you further direction on what may fit your needs and lifestyle and give you the best backyard you can imagine.

If you have any questions on staged planning and building, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Backyards that Dreams are Made Of

I admit it, I’m a HGTV and DIY Network junkie. Although I in no way consider myself a DIYer (does raking your own yard count?), I am a homeowner and constantly dream about updating spaces all the time. My favorite shows? House Hunters, Yard Crashers and The Outdoor Room with Jamie Durie. Two of the three obviously have to do with outdoor living spaces, but outdoor living plays a large role in House Hunters too. How many episodes feature couples who want a great deck with a view or a nice space to spend time outdoors with their kids?


I’m going to focus on Yard Crashers and The Outdoor Room for the sake of this conversation. Why do I love them? 1) Because I love spending time outdoors, 2) our yard has plenty of outdoor space with a lot of potential and 3) it allows me to dream. I dream of a large deck with a lower level patio with a fire feature in the corner. Or maybe it would be better with a covered porch for entertaining friends and family. How about having it all? Oh the possibilities.


The possibilities could be a reality with Archadeck. I work with our Archadeck franchisees every day who tell me about different projects they are designing and building for their clients. And you know what? They are truly DREAM backyards. Whether it’s a smaller deck or a project that has it all, they are all beautiful, custom and perfect outdoor living spaces for the homeowner.

Archadeck turns one deck into two outdoor living spaces with the installation of their dry deck system


Many homeowners ask us what to do with the unused space that is located under their second story, or multi level deck. In many of these cases the area located underneath the deck can be used as an additional outdoor living space that works like a covered patio or covered porch. It can be used when the weather won’t allow you to use your deck, or as an extension of living space perfect for reading or relaxing on those warm sunny days when all you really want is a shaded spot for peace and quiet. Being able to create that special spot is as simple as constructing or re-decking your multi-level or second story deck with the proper solutions to take advantage of your under deck space. Archadeck uses a dry deck system, also referred to as a rain deck to turn the space into an oasis for you and your family.

A dry deck system entails adding certain waterproofing materials and building techniques that facilitate a dry space. This also keeps moisture away from your existing home and your deck’s sub-structure. To do this we us a specialized roofing membrane that keeps moisture from penetrating the surface and enables you to have a complete, cohesive dry roof underneath the deck. By placing the roofing membrane atop the framing members and installing a gutter which can catch and divert rain and moisture off and away from the deck and home. You then have a worry free answer to creating a dry space you can enjoy for many years to come. Archadeck of Austin recently took us to a project where they had recently installed a dry deck system to a second story deck that was built with tigerwood, and we had the opportunity to videotape the details

Along with Archadeck of Austin, many of our locations throughout the country recommend the use of a dry deck system, or rain deck to put the space located under their decks to good use. Archadeck of Columbus wrote an article that showed us the importance of using a rubber membrane to prevent rot and decay, you can read the article by visiting

Using a dry deck system is like having your cake and eating it too. Our dry decking system is perfect for multi-level, second story and rooftop decks as well. Contact your local Archadeck location to learn more about our dry decking system process and to create a double outdoor living area that will double your enjoyment with this simple step. Visit our locations list located on our website to find an Archadeck location near you.

Archadeck uses creative hardscaping to build functionality and style into our designs


When thinking about building a memorable hardscape such as a patio, outdoor fire pit or outdoor fireplace or even an outdoor kitchen, it is the details and subtle nuances present in the design that make it a cut above the rest. Seeking areas to add design oriented touches and beauty can not only make your hardscape a pleasure to look at, but sometimes adding these touches can also add to the functionality of your structure as well.

We like to call these nuances and design details, creative hardscaping. Thinking outside the box when it comes to creating a backyard hardscape takes experience, and design expertise. One example of creative hardscaping is creating a seating or relaxation area with little more than an idea and additional hardscape material. For example, you can create a seating area to complement an outdoor fireplace or fire pit by incorporating a roomy hardscape ledge or hardscape bench seating. With this added seating area, there is no longer a need to bring in outdoor furniture for a place to sit while the fire pit is in use.


Using hardscape materials in an innovative manner is not exclusive to fire pit designs. There are endless possibilities of ways to use hardscapes to enrich and expand your outdoor living enjoyment through design. A simple patio can become a place of enchantment for a child by extending the patio area to include an area that shines new light onto the typical playful sandbox of yesteryear. An outdoor kitchen and grilling area becomes an outdoor bar perfect for entertaining with just a little imagination.


If you are planning an outdoor structure with hardscapes in your near future, contact Archadeck to plan, design and build a hardscape that uses the art of creative hardscaping in each and every design. Not only will you be the envy of the neighborhood, but the functionality it will add to your backyard enjoyment will astound you as well. To find an Archadeck location close to home visit our locations list, located on our website.

See more stunning hardscape designs by visiting our patio and hardscapes gallery also located on our website.

Put a little holiday in your step with a new deck by Archadeck

In many parts of the country a deck is an outdoor structure that can be enjoyed year round. With mild climates and the prospect of an “Indian summer” coming to call, homeowners in many areas of the country can enjoy the holidays outside just as easily as within the confines of their home. Taking advantage of crisp, fresh air and the true sights and sound of the season are a privilege to experience. Watching squirrels gather nuts and berries, feeling the wind blow through a majestic southern live oak tree and tickle your senses and even the smell of a cedar growing close by can all be enjoyed from the ultimate vantage point, atop your custom-built deck by Archadeck.

These Atlanta homeowners are doing just that from their new deck that is truly a deck for all seasons. This Christmas deck is courtesy of the talents of Jeff Mullins and Sol Elisha of Archadeck of Greater Atlanta. This stunning deck is all decked out for the holidays in style. A scene like this gives new meaning to the old saying that there is no place like home for the holidays! This stunning multi-level diagonally installed composite deck has separate areas for lounging, eating or dining, and entertaining. The addition of recessed lighting carefully integrated into the staircases design ensures safe passage from one level of this stunning deck to another, and promotes an essence of romanticism as well.


This already breathtaking deck has been make even more so by being decorated for the holidays. Can you imagine peering out your window on Christmas Eve and seeing this welcoming design of Christmas decorations and lights upon your deck? The homeowners creativity and talents really shine through. I don’t believe Ole’ St. Nick could have pulled it off better himself. The entire creation sets the stage for a perfect spot to make holiday magic come true and is also a spot to create lasting holiday memories.

Archadeck specializes in designing and building many other genres of outdoor structures, including stunning and versatile decks. Can you imagine a covered patio used as an extension of your living and entertaining space complete with an outdoor fireplace integrated into the design? You could even top off the season with stockings hung with care by your outdoor fireplace, or maybe adorn the structures interior with whimsical Christmas decorations and lights. Remember that Santa doesn’t mind coming to call in your exterior room when it is all decked out in style for the holidays to welcome his arrival.

Archadeck also makes the perfect gift this season. A new deck, patio or pergola is the gift that keeps on giving all year through. What could be more amazing than receiving a gift that offers years of outdoor living enjoyment?


To learn more about laying the foundations of creating your own “Christmas deck” much like the ones you see here, or to give the ultimate gift this year. Contact the deck and outdoor living experts at Archadeck. Give yourself and your family the gift of a deck this Christmas, and next year you can stage a scene that will remind you of the magic and beauty of the holidays.

To find an Archadeck location near you visit our locations list, located on our website.

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


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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

Archadeck of Chicagoland gives us two different patio designs, both breathtaking in terms of beauty and function

It all begins with an image in the homeowner’s mind. Excited homeowners who have decided to add to their back yard look to us for guidance and to design the outdoor structure they have been dreaming of. Every outdoor structure is different – as different as each of our customers that incorporates their individual style, and intended function into the design. This week we take a glimpse into two very different patio designs by Archadeck of Chicagoland, and see the way the hardscapes can be designed to suit the individual owner’s needs.


We are featuring two stunning hardscape patios for customers in Wheeling, IL as well as Libertyville, IL. Each of these homeowners were looking to benefit from very different functions in their new outdoor structure and Archadeck of Chicagoland was able to deliver all their needs, wants and desires into two patios that will make both homeowners the envy of their neighborhoods. Here is a glimpse into some of the gorgeous hardscape patio designs from Archadeck of Chicagoland…

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First we take a trip to Libertyville, IL where David Berryhill and his talented design staff were able to create an area that made the homeowner’s existing backyard more accessible and easier to view since this is where the children’s play set is located. The homeowners were only initially looking to have Archadeck of Chicagoland build a deck and create more access to the rear of the yard. We were able to deliver a functional hardscape structure that met all of their needs. The patio is more conducive to the grade of their lot so they created a multi-level patio that followed the natural grade of the landscape and provided flow to their children’s play set area. The patio is constructed from a combination of Brussells block pavers by Unilock and Brussells block dimensional stone for the curvilinear walls.


Our second spotlighted patio by Archadeck of Chicagoland is located in Wheeling, IL. The homeowner’s wish was for a patio, a fire pit and an area outdoors to dine and be able to grill. Their answer was to build a patio that had separate areas for dining, and a separate grill and cooking area, and of course a stunning custom fire pit complete with a custom hardscape seating wall built right into the curves of the patios grand design. For this patio we used Cantebury pavers and Brussells dimensional stone .

If you and your family are looking for the perfect outdoor builder to bring your dream to life, contact Archadeck today. We can meet with you and prepare a design rendering that will capture the very essence of your wants and needs, and then we can begin bringing it to life. In the Chicago area contact Archadeck of Chicagoland at (847) 359 – 8002
(630) 505 – 7688
n.chicagoland@archadeck.net

For more awe-inspiring patio and hardscapes visit our photo galleries on our website.

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


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


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

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

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

If you are ready to turn your backyard into an orchestrated oasis of beauty, style and relaxation, contact Archadeck today and you will be on your way to creating beautiful harmonies within your own little slice of heaven. Schedule a free design consultation or contact us by calling 804.353.6999 or emailing us at info@archadeck.netto 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.

info@archadeck.net

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

Skylights that have come full circle and inspire us to let the sunshine in

The outdoor structure has evolved, now I don’t mean a “Darwin” type of evolution but rather an evolution of style and luxury. Many of the same pampering elements we enjoy within our homes is available in our outdoor rooms as well. Screened porches, covered porches and patios, sunrooms and 3 and 4 season room have begun to receive the royal treatment in terms of the accoutrements that are now commonplace among professional outdoor structure builders. Features such as wrapped beams, decorative columns, detailed ceilings, ceiling fans, recessed lighting and all the outlets, plugs, areas reserved especially for your HD flat screen TV’s, and more multi-media hookups than you could ever imagine are being seen within today’s outdoor structures. These features, make for convenience and are oh so easy on the eyes to boot.


One such element that we often install in our outdoor structures is the skylight. Gone are the days of the skylight just simply being a skylight. Sure, they allow for your structure to receive more sunlight, which really opens up your space and gives the space a feeling of airiness. But today’s skylights offer many other features as well. Velux skylights are the skylight of choice for many of our! Archadeck locations throughout the country, and for good reason. They offer high quality skylights with a myriad of available features with your convenience in mind.

The Velux skylight slogan is “add drama to any space”, and Velux definitely delivers on that promise. With a 10 year no leak warranty and features such as remote control operation, insect screens and blinds that are built right with choices like classic venetian blinds to systems that block the light entirely. Velux skylights also offer an open and close feature that comes with a sensor that detects the first raindrop and automatically closes the skylight so you don’t have to. Imagine sitting on your lovely screened porch enjoying a mild autumn afternoon with your skylights open enjoying the fresh air and the blue skies. A scene like this is reminiscent of that first drive in a Corvette with the T-tops down, a “wind in your hair” kind of freedom that is unforgettable.

If you are ready to let the sunshine in on your outdoor room, contact Archadeck to learn more. We can help you pick the right spot, the right accessories and the right angle to best suit you and your families needs. Skylights not only look the part, they will make you feel the part as well. 888.687.3325

info@archadeck.net

Outdoor Fireplace or Outdoor Fire Pit? Some Considerations.

Fall is in the air, maybe you have noticed it in the wisp of the wind that seem a little crisper than usual, or the way night is upon us sooner with each passing day. There is no denying that the masterpiece that mother nature paints for us each autumn is just around the corner. With cooler temperatures come less insects, less humidity and more time to enjoy the outdoors. Certain outdoor structures just seem to be tailor-made for the fall. Custom outdoor fireplaces and fire pits are among the best candidates for fall focal points within the landscape. Imagine the crackling fire, roasted marshmallows, hot cocoa and conversation. Even though both of these structures offer the warmth and glow of one of natures most intoxicating elements, they differ in many aspects. Deciding which kind of structure is right for you all depends on what you most want to get out of the structure in terms of functionality.

Even though it might seem simple, there is a lot more to it. Most folks think in terms of their budget, they assume that if they have more to invest they will go with the custom outdoor fireplace as opposed to having less, in which case they assume that a fire pit is the lesser investment. Both structures have their advantages, and both structures can be constructed as elaborate or as simple as you wish.


An outdoor fireplace makes a statement within the landscape, or when used in conjunction with another outdoor structure such as on a" patio":https://www.archadeck.com/design-ideas/patios-hardscapes/ or even a covered porch. The fireplace offers a more intimate setting to its users with a typical 90 degree radius of room for entertaining, or to gather around the structure. Outdoor fireplaces require the use of many elements such as design, position, stonework, masonry, gas and plumbing. An experienced licensed builder can assist you in making many of the decisions, but there are many options available with today’s fireplace that can make a simple fireplace an amazing fireplace. From customized mantel pieces, to compartments custom-built within the fireplace to store wood and accessories. Fireplaces can be built in all shapes and sizes and in a variety of beautiful hardscape mediums such as brick, natural stone, and man-made hardscaping materials such as those offered through Belgard. The source of the fire itself can be obtained through gas or propane with a ceramic log that looks like real wood without the messy cleanup , or in some cases a wood burning fireplace may be your best option. Your fireplace design is only limited to your imagination, whether you choose a modern streamlined fireplace with no hearth, or a rustic beauty of natural stone, an outdoor fireplace can really heat up the conversation and the intimacy when entertaining, as a focal point of beauty and relaxation.

Custom fire pits have become a work of art within the world of outdoor structures in their own rite as well. A fire pit can offer you that same ethereal glow and ambiance , and can lend itself to dazzle a larger crowd. Fire pits offer a typical radius area of 180 degrees for entertaining and enjoyment. The addition of a ledge can add seating and a vantage point to enjoy the glow of the fire without having to purchase additional furniture. Fire pits can also be constructed with a large selection of materials, much like the fireplace but can also serve double and even triple jobs that can change from season to season. A fire pit can be easily equipped with a drain which makes it possible to be used as a planter during the summer. It can even serve as a tranquil water feature as long as there is an exterior outlet nearby. Archadeck of Austin wrote a story about a homeowner who created an “all season” structure with her fire pit, you can read the story by visiting" http://austindeckandpatiobuilder.com/2011/03/14/a-flame-of-many-colors-a-fire-pit-with-multiple-personalities-integrated-into-the-design/":http://ww1.austindeckandpatiobuilder.com/ Custom fire pits can also be equipped with a dazzling array of glowing glass fire rocks that come in a wide variety of colors. Fire pits that are powered by gas can even have a gas star installed where the flame is emitted in a unique star pattern.


Even though both these fireside outdoor structures differ greatly, they both have the ability to set a mood and change a mood for the better. Archadeck can plan, design and build a custom outdoor fireplace or fire pit that is ablaze with quality and style, and can turn your autumn into something really “wonderfall”. Contact us today to learn more 804.353.6999 • info@archadeck.net

You can also see more tantalizing outdoor fireplaces and fire pits by visiting our photo galleries at http://www.archadeck.com/pickYourProject/PatiosAndHardscapes.html

Archadeck lays the foundation to your fantasy with the perfect patio.


There is nothing quite like summer. We all wish for an endless summer of sunshine, a landscape of forever green, flowers that never stop blooming and cherished time spent with family and friends among the great outdoors. With a beautiful custom-built patio “Archadeck”:http://example.com you can make this wonderful time of the year even more special. Whatever your mood, walking onto a stylish patio by Archadeck can turn even the cloudiest day into sunshine.


The origins of the patio come from deep within the history of Spain. The actual word itself was borrowed from Spain and means “an inner courtyard or paved area that is adjacent to the home”. With today’s homeowners discriminating tastes, we offer patios custom-built in a manner to express your individuality . From scored and stamped concrete, natural stone and hardscapes such as Belgard pavers. From modern to rustic we can build a patio to suit your needs and complement your homes integrity, creating the kind of backyard you dream about.


Of course, today’s patios wouldn’t be complete without the proper accoutrements to define and complement your space. The perfect patio furniture and accessories create the perfect way to turn up the style on your patio by Archadeck. Patio furniture such as those seen in catalogs like Frontgate offer European inspired outdoor furnishings, and those in Grandin Road offer a more casual, contemporary feel. From Teak, to wrought iron to the elegance of wicker, the choices are endless.

If modern, clean, crisp lines are your style imagine a stain and stamp patio finished with a stunning suite of contemporary metal furnishings with a sleek design. The pairing of carefully chosen outdoor furnishings on your patio can pull everything together like a harmonious work of art.

Maybe a laid back rustic country chic attitude is more your choice. The vision proceeds with rustic old world hardscape detailing underfoot along with washed wooden furniture with overstuffed cushions to wisp you away to comfort. Whatever your taste, whatever your fancy Archadeck can lay the foundations to your fantasy with a custom-built patio or outdoor structure.


Patios, whether covered or uncovered create the perfect place for entertaining, cooking, relaxing and spending quality time with the ones you hold close to your heart. Not only do they provide function, their form provides the perfect complement to your home and landscape. A patio is a wise investment in terms of adding value to your home. Constructed of durable and long-lasting materials that withstand the elements better than wood, a patio is a solid choice in terms of materials and as an investment.

Contact Archadeck today to find out more about creating the perfect patio to fit your lifestyle. 804.353.6999 • info@archadeck.net

You can see more beautiful patios in our photo gallery by visiting http://www.archadeck.com/pickYourProject/PatiosAndHardscapes.html

Belgard introduces Archadeck as a new addition to their authorized dealer network with rave reviews.


Belgard recently introduced Archadeck as a new addition to their authorized dealer network and we couldn’t be more ecstatic. Belgard is one of the industry’s top manufacturers of hardscapes such as pavers and retaining walls. Archadeck is proud to be authorized dealers of Belgard in our locations throughout the country. Our partnership with Belgard reinforces our goal of using the finest materials to create America’s best outdoor spaces.

Belgard uses a multi-step design guidance presentation that incorporates design, color, shape and texture. Their motto is “be prepared for company”, and by using this design guide in preparation for having Archadeck build your outdoor structure, you can rest assured the structure you get will be the envy of the neighborhood.

The design guide helps homeowners with four basic steps.


The first step is to decide what your outdoor structure be used for. Will it primarily be used to entertain? Or will it just be used as a sanctuary for relaxing with the family? Considerations in your personal tastes and how you want your outdoor structure to impact your life will play a key role in what type of hardscapes will work best in your design.

The second step is to consider your owns home’s architecture. The goal with any good outdoor structure is to work in harmony with your existing structures and complement their differences and what they have in common. " You want to work with the grain instead of against the grain" in terms of how your outdoor hardscape structure will affect what you already have.


The next step when creating a memorable hardscape design is to extend the visual line from the corners, doors and windows in order to incorporate your landscape design into the big scheme of things by creating shapes to play up the landscape in your own backyard. The goal here is to see the package in its entirety and not draw the eye to one specific area, a good hardscape design harmonizes with your home, and your yard.

Finally, size matters. When you imagine your perfect outdoor hardscape structure in your mind once it is finished and every little detail is in place, do you see your outdoor furnishings? Are your chairs neatly tucked in? When considering what size structure is best for you always remember that you need ample space to move around when the furniture is in use. Take leg room into consideration, and pull out room for the chairs as well. This is a simple step, but a crucial one in how much enjoyment you get from your structure in terms of “real life” use. Those pretty pictures in magazines are depicting the area not in use. Thinking outside the box will help you achieve optimal pleasure when using your structure.

You can learn more about Belgard’s design guide at http://www.belgard.biz/


If you are ready to enjoy your outdoor to the fullest with a hardscape outdoor structure custom-built by Archadeck and using the beautiful Belgard products contact us today to learn more. With Archadeck and Belgard you get quality and beauty underfoot. 804.353.6999 • info@archadeck.net

You can view our beautiful gallery of hardscape outdoor structures at http://www.archadeck.com/pickYourProject/PatiosAndHardscapes.html

A paver patio by Archadeck is built tough from the ground up.


Paver patios can be simply extraordinary in terms of design and the rustic elegance they encompass. Paver patios are full of personality and the selection of patterns, textures and hues they come in can be customized to reflect a homeowners personal taste and style. Taking all this into consideration, pavers are even more amazing because of their strength. A professionally installed paver patio can withstand several thousand pounds of pressure. I am sure your average dinner party or family get-together outside on the patio would never put this to the test, but the fact of the matter is the cohesive combined strength which is evident in a paver patio is not only strong but it is versatile. A paver patio can be extended in the future if you so wish, and replacing an individual paver is easy. Many people don’t realize what elements go into constructing a paver patio, but I am here to tell you, they are built tough from the ground up.


Archadeck begins by digging out the area where the patio will be installed. They do this by digging down about 9 inches. Then “roadbase” is brought in, which is basically a rock filler. It is then compacted down with a machine that will bring it to 6 inches of thickness. Once the roadbase is well compacted, sand is put down. The pavers are then placed atop the sand and compacted down using the compaction machinery again, this will cause the sand to come up through the joints of the pavers. Following this step a layer of Polymeric sand is put atop that, which is again compacted and the sand is brushed in. The top layer of sand has an added polymer which when water is applied, acts as a binder, which binds the sand so there is no loose sand. To ensure nothing washes away beneath these layers Archadeck installs a geo-grid to hold everything in place.


In the case of a paver patio if there are any upward pressure points or issues this generally happens early on, within the first year following installation. If this happens it is an easy fix, by breaking out any area that is presenting a problem and fixing it. The key to a paver patio is the base, making sure it is leveled and properly compacted.

Paver patios also pack another punch, they are less likely to fade than a stain-and-score concrete patio and will not show signs of wear. Concrete patios such as a stain and score are also more likely to crack, whereas part of a paver patios charm are the cracks themselves (joints) and any give will affect the joint and the paver itself will not crack.


Pavers can be used in more designs than just patios. Today’s paver is not a one trick pony, it is used to build retaining walls, benches, fire pits, fireplaces# and so much more. Archadeck uses Belgard pavers. Their quality, style, textures and color choices are unsurpassed in the industry. Most of the pavers sold in your “big box” home improvement stores lack the quality to withstand the test of time, and offer very little selection.

If you are ready to take the leap and add a patio to your backyard, contact Archadeck to get you started on your way to a real eye catcher with the muscle to match. 888.687.3325

You can also visit our photo gallery to view patio designs that will take your breath away http://www.archadeck.com/pickYourProject/PatiosAndHardscapes.html

Turn your outdoor space into one worthy of celebration with Archadeck

Yes, the July 4th holiday has come and gone once again. As the nation celebrated its birthday, was your outdoor structure worthy of the celebration? Many of us had outdoor get-togethers and cookouts to celebrate the holiday, many of those celebrations were conducted in or on an outdoor structure that is a little worse for wear or is not as functional as you wished it could be.

Don’t let another holiday leave you feeling unfulfilled with your outdoor structures appearance or lack of functionality. Archadeck can transform your backyard into a space worthy of celebration with the help of our new design guide. The design guide covers all the major considerations that go into proper planning and design of an outdoor living space. The first of which asks the question of functionality. What do you want your outdoor space to be used for? Whether the answer to that question for you is entertaining, dining or just relaxing the design guide focuses on the form and function that would work best for you.


Since outdoor structures are our specialty our design guide also asks the question of how “outdoorsy” you would like your outdoor space to feel. Many homeowners like the look of the outdoors and the feel of the outdoors but not the insects and the suns harmful rays that sometimes come along with it. One of Archadeck’s screened porch or covered porch designs might be a solid choice for this scenario. Our design guide outlines key considerations like this in a step-by-step manner outlined to ultimately bring you to the recommendation of what outdoor space would be perfect for you.

Many of us have a “wish list” that we carry around either in our minds or actually written out of ways to make your outdoor space better, or even creating the outdoor space of your dreams from scratch.The design guide shows you how to create the outdoor space you have been craving with an easy step-by-step process that defines key components focusing on your individual needs. With this design guide Archadeck can help you choose the outdoor structure, or structures that is best suited to you and your family and then goes a step further to set the wheels in motion to meet with one of our talented design consultants for a free consultation based on the areas covered in the design guide.


Archadeck is the leading designer and builder of affordable, functional and innovative outdoor spaces since 1980. Whatever your dream, we can build it. Whatever your need, we can build it. Whatever your want, we can build it. The sky is the limit when it comes to the uniqueness and functionality of our outdoor spaces. Our design guide puts you in the driver’s seat. Visit http://www.archadeck.com/guide/index.html to download your free design guide and learn what we mean when we talk about the Archadeck difference.

Don’t let your next outdoor event make you sigh and say " I should’ve". If you would like to talk with one of our talented and knowledgeable representatives you can contact Archadeck at 888-687-3325 or info@archadeck.net

An Outdoor Fireplace Adds Instant Ambiance to Any Landscape

Chilly evenings are still around in some northern US cities and towns. Locations such as Cape Cod, and other northern towns are well-known for their warm days and chilly evenings all the way into the hottest parts of the summer. Even out west, dry arid daytime conditions lead into rather cool evenings. The sometimes-extreme differences in temperature from daylight to dark add to the charm of these locations.

The outdoor fireplace is a perfect addition to those cool evenings. Imagine relaxing with family and friends on the cape with the ocean as your backdrop. An evening of laughter, roasting marshmallows, ocean air, conversation, a crackling fire and making memories that will last a lifetime.

Archadeck can make that dream a reality. We can design and build that outdoor fireplace you have been dreaming of. With a huge variety of shapes, styles and colors to choose from. We can build your fireplace of natural stone or faux stone. We can design a large fireplace that will really make a statement to your landscape, or an intimate fire pit with room to pull up a chair and relax. The choices are only limited to your imagination.

Even if you live in an area of the country that doesn’t experience cool evenings an outdoor fireplace is still a great addition to your summer landscape. Not only does an outdoor fireplace create an instant “gathering” area for conversation and ambiance even when not in use. When in use it deters bugs from entering the area and trying to ruin the fun.

If you are thinking it is time to build that outdoor fireplace you’ve been yearning for, summer is a great time. Contact Archadeck to find out more about heating up your landscape with this beautiful addition.

It Can All Happen Under One Roof

I am sure each one of us would agree that a roof is a pretty important detail in any structure. It keeps us dry and out of the elements. It helps secure other structures that are attached to it. It becomes a component of the stability of a structure it is atop. All these explanations are “no brainers”. A roof is so much more than all of these. A roof can add character and presence to a structure. What type of roof you decide to put atop your structure can really determine how sound it is, and how attractive your structure ends up. That is why it is so important to pick the right roof for the right structure.

One important factor when you decide on the addition of a structure such as a covered patio, screened porch or sunroom is to choose a roof style that matches and fits with the existing architecture of your home. For instance if you have a hip roof, it is usually a good idea to carry that through when building your addition, this will keep the structural integrity of your home and the additional roof will flow into your existing roof. This “flow” is most crucial when the structure is going to be directly connected to your existing house.


The same rules usually apply when you have a gabled roof. If you want to add pizazz and originality to your new addition with a gabled roof there are gable-end designs now available to add a custom look with a lot of flair.

The use of a gabled roof also lends space for higher ceilings which can be a canvas for arched windows, bead-board ceilings, the addition of ceiling fans and unique lighting choices. The design choices available to structures with high ceilings are endless nowadays.


Whether you are anticipating the addition of a sunroom, patio or screened porch Archadeck can show you all the choices and design a roof and living area plan to fit with your home’s architecture beautifully. Give us a call and we can make your dream come to life under one roof.

Take a look at our website at Archadeck.com to see lots of pictures and learn more.

There is More Than Than Meets the Eye When it Comes to Privacy Screens


When you think of a privacy screen you think of a structure whose sole purpose is to block the view of something you don’t want to be seen or don’t want to see. Today’s privacy screens are made for so much more than just privacy. Sure, they still block the view, and add intimacy and privacy in the setting in which you use them in. Privacy screens are also used as design elements and a way to perk up a space without going overboard. There is so much more than meets the eye with today’s modern privacy screens.

There are any number of possibilities for privacy screens depending on your likes and dislikes; any homeowners associations requirements you may have; budgetary constraints; or simply what seems to fit your particular design preferences or your property. Different designs have regional popularity.

The following designs were custom designed and built by our" Archadeck of Chester County office":http://chester-county.archadeck.com/. Owner Juan Cardona and his staff enjoy coming up with creative solutions for creating privacy using a variety of materials and finding the perfect solution for each individual home.

Made from a Brazilian hardwood to match the deck, the privacy screen below uses a shadow-box design.

Similar to above, here is another privacy screen using a shadowbox design however this one is made of composite decking materials.

This privacy wall below uses cedar lattice with an AZEK trim


Cedar privacy fence in solid board style with aluminum balusters incorporated to match the deck railing that was already there.

In this instance, the homeowner’s association dictated this design. This privacy wall uses stained cedar with the slats on a 45 degree angle.

A serving Bar can also provide some privacy as you see in this picture. This particular screen blocks out the heat of the daytime sun to make this area a place of refuge even when the temperatures soar.

The vinyl privacy fence below incorporates a decorative pergola-style top. This decorative element is also great for hanging plants.

As you can see, there are a myriad of options and likely more than one option that can be right for you. The best thing to do is call your local Archadeck office for some ideas and suggestions. It’s what we do all day long.

If you live in the Chester County PA area and you are thinking of building a deck, sunroom, screened porch or other outdoor structure in the Chester County area, give Archadeck of Chester County a call. (610) 696 – 3340. Or, email us a chesterco@archadeck.net

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

Archadeck is Thinking Outside the Box When it Comes to the Location of Your Outdoor Fireplace


When you think about outdoor fireplaces, your mind probably immediately takes you to a crisp Autumn evening with you and your family sitting around the outdoor fireplace, sitting in Adirondack chairs and roasting marshmallows over a crackling, welcoming fire…did you visualize the fireplace in an outdoor setting? Of course you did. The image in your mind automatically takes you Outdoors.


At Archadeck we think outside the box. We have started to place the outdoor fireplace in a setting we usually think of as indoors. Imagine, how calming a crackling fire would be on your screened porch or covered patio. That’s right, you and Archadeck can design a plan that is innovative and challenges the way we classify the outdoor fireplace.

We have constructed many beautiful fireplaces within beautiful additions to your outdoor space enjoyment. We can add a fireplace to a screened porch or covered patio. Either attached or separate from your home. All of these spaces after all are just an extension of your outdoor living area. When not in use a lot of our clients add a flat screen TV over the fireplace mantel to make a formidable use of the space even when there isn’t a crackling fire abound. Even without a TV, the fireplace, as in every setting, becomes the center and a gathering spot for fun, conversation and a place to make lasting memories with your family and friends.

We abide by all county and state fire codes and setbacks when we build a fireplace in a setting such as this. Safety is our number one priority, so when considering an addition such as this, make sure your licensed contractor has checked with all the proper legalities to obtain important rules regarding a fireplace.


Gorgeous detailing draws you to this fireplace built into the corner of this screened porch
If you would like to entertain the idea of adding an outdoor fireplace to your screened or covered porch, give Archadeck a call, we can keep those home fires burning. 888-OUR-DECK

Imagine your Outdoor Oasis with Hardscapes


Imagine your outdoor oasis…a stone fireplace with surround patio floor of contrasting pavers set against the backdrop of nature and the sky. Have you taken a deep breath yet? Or maybe a pool patio hardscape with a covered patio flowing out into the horizon. The dream is yours- Archadeck can make it a reality.

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Transforming your outdoor place into an unforgettable space is a lot easier than you think. Archadeck has many hardscapes to satisfy even the most discriminating customer. We now offer the Belgard products in addition to our other hardscapes. Belgard is unsurpassed in quality and style. We custom design each job with your input and we have hardscaping to fit any budget.


If you are considering a change from the deck or patio you have now, or if you are starting from a blank canvas, Archadeck turn your backyard into a work of art.

Multi-level hardscapes have become a staple in outdoor structures and beautification. The true meaning of a hardscape is the man made part of the grounds surrounding a building, as paved areas and structures, but it is so much more than that. The beauty and variety of today’s hardscapes take on a personality of their own. Hardscapes can be used to create barriers, driveways, sidewalks, walls, floors, water features, railings, fire features such as fire pits and fireplaces, planters and many more structures. The choices in hardscaping materials are as large as all the things you can build with hardscapes. Hardscapes can be natural or man made, such as stone, pavers, concrete, brick and the list goes on and on.

The Perfect Union of Comfort and Beauty- The Pergola Swing

Move that swing off the porch and into the beauty of the landscape by building a pergola swing . You might already own a porch swing. You probably never thought that the swing itself could be moved to work in unison and complement a pergola in your own backyard. It is true, pergola swings are becoming a very popular addition to the American backyard.

A pergola is a structure that provides shade. The origin of the word comes from the Latin word pergula which means a projection or overhanging eave. The pergola’s origins are based deep throughout history and were originally created to support hanging vines ( such as grapes) and to also connect separate buildings by way of this open passageway we now call the pergola.

Today we still use pergola’s in much the same manner. Many pergola owners plant decorative vines and climbing bushes such as fragrant roses at the base of the structure for aesthetic appeal. Many homeowners also use a pergola , sometimes built-in separate levels to serve as a passageway from the yard itself into a porch or onto a deck. The possibilities for uses of this lovely structure are endless and stretch as far as your imaginations allow. The addition of a swing installed into the pergola is not new. The Victorians were the ones whom originally perfected this concept. With the ornate Victorian architecture and detailing we still see in design to this very day.


The idea of a pergola swing is to get the best of both worlds. Not only will the pergola serve as shade and an oasis from the heat on a warm summer day, the swing will entice you to relax and absorb the beauty of nature that encompasses you. The amount of shade that is prevalent in your pergola depends heavily on the style of the pergola you choose. Larger slats, or timbers that are closer together will provide more protection from sunlight than an open design. Determining the proper location when building your pergola is important for shade value too. To maximize the amount of protection from direct sunlight we recommend careful planning to avoid direct afternoon sun, or a location that receives indirect sunlight throughout the day. Other influences can be added such as ornamental flowers or vines and even a new product called Polygal to deflect the hazardous UV rays. Polygal (Polycarbonate multi-wall sheets) is a thin sheet virtually transparent that can be applied to any structure, it keeps out the harmful ad damaging UV rays but still lets the natural warmth of the sun through.


Above all let’s not forget the fact that a pergola swing is a beautiful addition to any backyard. Not only will you have a beautiful place to relax, the addition of a home improvement structure such as this increases the value of your home for years to come.

Archadeck can help you plan, design and build your new pergola swing in the perfect location with comfort in mind. Give us a call for a free estimate today.

Keep The Home Fires Burning With An Outdoor Fireplace

I know you have all noticed the beautiful outdoor fireplaces that are all over town and in every home and garden magazine on the bookshelf. You have probably pictured yourself and your family nestled around the warm, crackling fire under the stars sipping on a cup of something yummy and relaxing in the moment. The appearance of outdoor fireplaces is becoming increasingly popular. The addition of this type of structure can add value to your home and also give you many years of enjoyment. An outdoor fireplace can make the outdoor habits you avoid during the cooler months a welcome end to a long day, even in the winter.

Alongside other outdoor structures the outdoor fireplace is the “glue” that holds everything together. When considering an outdoor fireplace you first have to decide on the exact spot where you want your fireplace. The spot should be far enough away from the home, plants and other flammable structures as possible. This does not mean your fireplace cannot be built alongside or incorporated into a deck or outdoor structure. Local and state building codes have guidelines set for height requirements and setbacks, your professional Archadeck installer will be able to help you with the placement of your outdoor fireplace to ensure it is safe as well as beautiful. You also need to take into consideration your surroundings that will be blocked by the fireplace. A see-through outdoor fireplace is an option for homeowners that don’t want to block the view of that serene garden or tranquil water feature.

You want to choose a fireplace design that fits in scale with the size of your yard and your home. If there is stone or stucco on your home, you may consider incorporating these to complement the surroundings. You can also bring in architectural elements into the shape of your chimney or mantle. You want the structure to blend and become a natural looking part of your outdoor area.

You also need to decide what you want the fireplace to be used for. Are you interested in an intimate area to create ambiance or a focal point to anchor an outdoor room? If you entertain larger groups of people often you will want the scale a bit grander, because people tend to gravitate toward the warmth of the fire, especially in cooler months. In this case you may even consider dual fireplaces places across from one another.

Right now is a great time to plan and even have Archadeck install your outdoor fireplace. With the drier and more hospitable weather conditions afoot, now is the time to start pouring those foundations and gathering the firewood. In many parts of the country an outdoor fireplace can be used year round. Even in the west where the temperatures soar, you can still enjoy some conversation and cocoa on those chilly western nights.

Outdoor fireplaces create a feeling of romance. The glow of the flickering fire invites you to sit down and relax. The flickering fire can be achieved using gas or by burning wood, the choice is yours Today’s fireplaces can even have built-in seating such as curved stone, which is beautiful and functional. Contact your local Archadeck today to see just how easy it can be to keep the home fires burning by carving out your own little slice of heaven.

Outdoor fireplaces and fire pits are the perfect way to welcome the cooler weather

Last night was a very cold Halloween so we carted our very small but wonderful portable metal fire pit out around to the front of the house and made a big fire to keep us warm as we sat out and gave out candy. My husband, not knowing all the beautiful jobs I write about every day, was wishing our portable outdoor dream environment could somehow have a big screen TV. He mused about how nice it would be to have a permanent outdoor room.

Although the portable fire pit does make for one nice evening, an outdoor room is what’s needed to enjoy many evenings outdoors. Our Archadeck location in Charlotte just finished building a screened porch over a deck. Here is a quick video overview of the project.

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This house in Charlotte had an existing deck that needed to be torn down. The homeowner knew they wanted a screened porch with an outdoor fireplace. They also knew they had some drainage issues that they needed addressed during the build.

Archadeck of Charlotte proposed a screened porch with a corner fireplace and Eze-Breeze windows.

Here is an after picture.

You can see that part of the design was also to build an extended portion of the deck that was open. When building an outdoor living space, that’s precisely the time to explore creating a space with multiple “rooms” or multiple unique living areas. This can be accomplished by having a portion of the deck or patio covered. It can be done by having a portion of the deck screened in. It can even be accomplished with multi-level decks and patios. Just the same way different members of your family have their own favorite room of the house, this allows multiple outside living areas for different pursuits.

Here is another after picture from inside the screened porch.

Inside the screened porch with a view of the fireplace
This screened porch is a nice generous size – 17′ × 19′. There’s plenty of room for furniture and to still have some open floor space. The fireplace is a functioning gas fireplace.

Here is an image of the second section of the deck which is the uncovered section.

Again, this area is large enough to easily accommodate furniture and still provide walking and other room.

As I mentioned before, the client was concerned about the slope of his backyard. Archadeck installed some drainage counter-measures to make sure the rain didn’t rush against the house. They installed a catch basin and drain tile to work in concert with river stone placed under the deck and porch.

When looking for a builder for your next outdoor project, it’s important to have them explore all of these different ideas and considerations with you. Tell them how you want to live and if you have concerns about things like drainage. A good builder should be able to explain the choices of materials and give you the pros and cons. They should be able to come up with creative ideas you might not have thought of as well as create to the specifications that are important to you.

In Charlotte, you can call Archadeck at (704) 944 – 1350.

You can visit the Archadeck of Charlotte website here or read their blog here.

Archadeck's new Design Guide puts you in the drivers seat


Archadeck is helping to make backyards in North America more beautiful and functional one home at a time. Archadeck Outdoor Living is inspiring homeowners with some great ideas thanks to our new Outdoor Living Design Guide. This design guide shares our expertise and knowledge and puts it right at your fingertips. It is now available for a free download online at http://www.archadeck.com/guide/index.html


This full-color design guide features outdoor living space photos, ideas, tips and hints to give you a starting point in planning your new outdoor space and make your backyard the best it can be. It takes you on a guided tour of where to begin in planning the backyard you have always dreamed of.

The first step begins with functionality and helps you determine exactly what you want to do in your outdoor space. For example, within the patio and hardscape portion you will be asked to answer questions like do you want to dine, entertain, garden or just relax in your outdoor space. As you answer the questions it will lead you into ways to incorporate nature into your outdoor space because after all that is what makes these spaces so special. Do you want sunshine streaming in? Or maybe an outdoor space free of insects?


The view from within your outdoor space is of utmost importance and Archadeck has made this another point of focus in our design guide as well. This guide also aids in deciding where to place your outdoor space by taking into consideration the direction your backyard faces all the way to your lot and soil conditions.

A well planned outdoor space can complement not only your home’s exterior but the interior as well. With this in mind we show you how to plan a structure that allows for easy transition from interior spaces into your outdoor space.

This wonderful tool puts you in the driver’s seat and puts you in a better position to meet with your Archadeck Design consultant by having a better idea of the outdoor space that will suit your wants and needs. For a sneak peek on how the design guide works visit “http://bit.ly/dreamyards”: today. You can also call us at 888-687-3325 or email us at http://www.archadeck.com/ContactUs.html

How to Increase Home Value

In this market, it can seem impossible to sell your house. There are so many home improvement projects you can do to raise your home value, but which ones help the most? The last thing you need to do at this point is waste your time on projects that only garner a small amount of home value.

Remodeling Magazine has been conducting annual surveys of the most cost-effective home improvements since 1987. In 2007, the winner for a mid-range home was a wooden deck. Homeowners who had a 16 by 20 foot pressure treated deck installed recouped an average of 85.4 percent of cost of the project.

Similarly, patios, porches, and other outdoor areas have a high return on investment, as well. To explore these options and raise your home value, take a look at the Archadeck website.

Fighting Sun Damage

It’s the peak of summer now, and the sun hotter than ever. You can get a sunburn all year long, but did you know you don’t have to burn at all to develop skin cancer? Any type of sun exposure can lead to skin cancer and other types of skin damage.

Whether you’re trying to avoid early wrinkling, age spots, keratoses, skin cancer, or more, protection from the sun is key at this point. Anybody who has applied sunblock or sunscreen knows that they only work for a certain period of time. Having to reapply sunblock throughout the day can be a huge pain and get in the way of enjoying yourself.

Hats don’t always work either, since they only cover part of the face. So what can you do if you want to enjoy yourself in your backyard without worrying about your skin getting damaged? Archadeck has a number of appealing options that can protect you from the sun and make your outdoor living space welcoming and comfortable as well.

Between open porches, patios, gazebos, and pergolas, your choices are endless.

How to Combine a Patio and a Porch

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

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

What Is IPE And Is It Right For Your Deck?

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

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

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

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

Choosing the Right Deck for you

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

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

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

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

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

Making a Porch Casual and Cozy

The Home & Garden section of The Washington Post hosts designers weekly to address decoration problems in and out of houses. Jeff Powell, of Silver Spring, Maryland, was featured in the section to help a family out with their porch.

Sally Erickson and her family have a 10 by 18 foot screened porch off of their dining room. While she enjoys the look of the rustic porch, it’s not a comfortable living space for her family. She wants to know how to decorate it to make it more comfortable and casual for everyone in her home.

So how did Jeff solve the problem? He used:

-Scattered accessories to hold food and drinks or act as extra seating

-A L-shaped sofa, outdoor rug, and attention-grabbing fireplace to create a comfortable seating area

-A lively dining set to show off the family’s personality

To see the finished product, click here.

Decorating a Patio for Ease and Comfort

The Home & Garden section of The Washington Post hosts designers weekly to address decoration problems in and out of houses. Paul Corrie, of Bethesda, Maryland, was featured in the section to help a family out with their patio.

Judith Schomer and her family have a 24 by 15 foot oval patio, desperately in need of new ideas for furniture and garden placement. The couple enjoys eating outdoors and entertaining on their patio. Since they’re no longer in their prime, they want furniture that is easy to move and durable.

So how did Paul solve the problem? He used:

-A durable, teak seating area to promote conversation

-Curved benches for more seating options

-Accessories such as lighting, sculptures, and serving pieces to add appeal

To see the finished product, click here.

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