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Sit and Linger a While Longer with Deck Benches

Deck Benches

Deck Benches

Are you planning the addition of a deck, gazebo, pergola or a water feature this season? If so, you may want to think about adding built in seating to your project. Not only do they add aesthetic appeal, they are a definite plus to using space and adding style and comfort to your structure. Many of today’s designs incorporate bench seating.

Built in seating brings more to your structure than just a place to sit down. It can help define space. You can build a bench between two permanent planters.

Deck with bench seating around tree

Deck with bench seating around tree

You can even double a bench as a storage area. These would be a great place to store away seasonal items for you pool or deck, when it is off season, or they are not being used. With built in seating you never have to worry about lugging around heavy outdoor furniture, or storing it during winter and inclement weather.

By adding built-in perimeter benches you can define a deck and also increase the seating. Almost all building codes allow perimeter seating without railing on a ground level deck. On an elevated deck in most cases you will have to add railing behind the seating. Using this method instead of the traditional railing is more beneficial and many satisfied Archadeck clients say it looks more natural.

Deck with bench seating around tree

Deck with bench seating around tree

On multi level decks you can use bench seating to accentuate different atmospheres. For example, you can use bench seating as your railing on your lower deck using built in planters filled with colorful blooms on your corners. On your upper decks you can use bench seating around your spa or fire pit and also just under the railing for additional seating. This example uses the bench seating to provide a flowing structure that is open and soothing.  If you are adding bench seating to an area that people will be lingering, you may consider adding a back to the benches.  A bench with a back set between 5 and 10 degrees will offer quite a bit of comfort. You can also build the stairs in a multi-story deck three boards wide which allows the capability to act as seating.

Gazebo benches

Gazebo benches

When it comes to gazebos, bench seating puts this classic structure in a class by itself. Built-in bench seating with or without rails can really turn the style thermometer up a few notches. Having bench seating in a gazebo or other “garden” structure takes the thought out of using the structure. The space becomes relaxed and inviting with bench seating. There is no need to bring in chairs and furniture, the structure is ready for you to enjoy and linger awhile longer….

You can get as creative as you like when you add bench seating to your structure. You, together with Archadeck can make your structure so inviting you or your guests will never want to go back inside.

From Creosote to Copper

Wood Preservation goes back in history almost as long as the history of using wood itself. There are references to wood preservation treatments way back to Greek and Roman times. Commercial pressure treatment began in the late part of the 19th century beginning with the protection of railroad cross ties using creosote. Wood preservation grew dramatically during the 1970’s when homeowners began to expand their living spaces with outdoor buildings and decks. Today treated lumber has become more innovative, and a great deal safer with the use of safer applications to preserve wood.

Pressure-treated wood deck by Archadeck

Pressure-treated wood deck by Archadeck

The benefits of using pressure-treated wood are that it becomes low maintenance and also the wood becomes impervious to rot or infestation from insects and fungi. There are woods that won’t decay and rot without having to treat them such a Redwood and Cedar, but there are less economical when using them in general construction. In the U.S. depending on your state and local ordinances any outdoor structure and structures built that touch masonry are required by some building codes to be constructed using either pressure treated, composites or non-decaying wood.

What is pressure treatment?

Pressure-treated wood deck by Archadeck

Pressure-treated wood deck by Archadeck

Pressure treatment is the process of applying a pressurized solution to the wood itself to make the wood more resistant to fungi, insects and decay. Up until 2003, the most common solution used to treat the wood was CCA (Chromated copper arsenate). CCA is a chemical wood preservative that contains chromium, copper and arsenic. CCA was used to pressure treat lumber beginning in the 1940’s. The majority of the wood used in outdoor residential construction since the 1970’s was treated with CCA. In 2003 the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) put a transitional ban on the production of CCA for residential use.

Pressure-treated wood deck with benches by Archadeck

Pressure-treated wood deck with benches by Archadeck

The new standard in pressure treated wood is ACQ (Alkaline copper quaternary). ACQ was developed to provide long-term protection from wood rot, decay and insect damage. ACQ contains no arsenic, chromium or other EPA listed hazardous chemicals. ACQ was also developed in response to a growing concern about the chemicals used in pressure treated wood and their impact on the environment.

Pressure-treated wood deck by Archadeck

Pressure-treated wood deck by Archadeck

ACQ is a water based wood preservative which contains copper. Copper acts as a fungicide and insecticide. ACQ also contains a quaternary ammonium compound which provides additional fungus and insect resistance. Since ACQ does contain copper, the amount of copper used in treating the wood can vary and cause the wood to show slight color differences. After time ACQ treated wood without the application of paint or stains will weather to a gray patina.

It is hard to believe how far we have progressed in encompassing safety and sustainability when it comes to wood preservation. Not only have we made it environmentally sound, the choices we have are endless, from treated plywood to tongue and groove treated boards. Alexander the great was said to have soaked the boards to build his bridge in olive oil for wood preservation. We have certainly come a long way to get to the industry standards we have now.

If you are considering your next outdoor project, find an Archadeck location near you and consult with them about the best materials for your next project. Your local Archadeck office will educate you more about the benefits of using pressure-treated wood vs. using alternatives such as composite or a hardwood such as IPE or tigerwood. They will also give you ideas about your next project and work with you to identify the structure(s) that meet your needs.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

IPE Brazilian hardwood roof deck from Rhode Island Builder - Archadeck

IPE Brazilian hardwood roof deck from Rhode Island Builder - Archadeck

So you have decided to build an outdoor structure to enhance your home and your lifestyle. When I speak of “the good, the bad and the ugly”, I am not referring to hanging out in the living room and watching the 1966 western starring Clint Eastwood while munching on popcorn. The good, the bad and the ugly are the things you need to take into consideration when planning your outdoor structure. Without proper planning, and the right contractor your dream of an outdoor structure can quickly turn into a scene from a scary movie.

I am sure you have heard the “construction” horror stories by now…

The contractor without the knowledge or the proper permits that your neighbor chose to build their deck because’ his bid came in the lowest, all resulting in tearing down the structure to get it up to code and starting from square one. There is also the horror of finishing your new structure only to find out  it wasn’t secured properly under the structure and having it fall in while your boss and his wife come over for dinner. Then there is the ever popular “contractor messes” that never get cleaned up, and you, the client are left playing the part of the maid. These scenarios are not fiction. They happen more frequently than people realize. Without careful planning, care and consideration before and during your construction process you could be in the next starring role in a home movie definitely not worthy of an Oscar.

TimberTech Deck by Jim Klingbail - Archadeck of VA Beach

TimberTech Deck by Jim Klingbail - Archadeck of VA Beach

Decks and other outdoor structures are one of the most secure investments when it comes to residential home improvement projects so it is not an investment to go into lightly. A properly constructed and aesthetically appealing structure can add not only years of enjoyment but also can add value to your home.

At Archadeck you can rest assured your experience will be a love story. We make every effort to ensure you are pleased from the planning stage of your endeavor to the finished product. We take all customer safeguards. Our professional  installers are all properly licensed and insured. We use only top quality materials, from pressure treated pine to composites such as Timbertech, Trex and Evergrain. Archadeck follows all local and state building codes. We take safety very seriously and secure all

Detached screen porch with sliding windows

Detached screen porch with sliding windows

the proper permits required for each structure we build. We also make your building experience effortless by making sure we maintain a clean and safe work environment. When your structure is completed we will ensure all construction debris is taken care of and we leave your site clean.

Make sure all these safeguards are taken into consideration when you decide to hire a contractor to build your outdoor structure and  I am sure your story will have a happy ending

Can a back seat car charger be the reason someone buys a $25,000 car?

Sure. Should something as small as a back seat car charger be the reason someone buys one car vs. another? Perhaps. When it comes to vehicles, the difference in price between a “basic” car and the car that fits our lifestyle is really usually not that much as a percentage. So, in doing a financial analysis, we can  have a motor with 4 wheels and scratchy seats for one price and a car we enjoy riding in for 5% more. Take into account that we will use this item every single day for the next 5 years or so, the cost of having all the comfort we really want could be as little as pennies per day.

TimberTech Earthwood Tropical Teak Deck by Harold Cross of Archadeck of Des Moines

TimberTech Earthwood Tropical Teak Deck by Harold Cross of Archadeck of Des Moines

My husband constantly tries to help me see this fact and often it takes a literal financial analysis to help me see it. I tend to get sticker shock – especially during this bad economy. I’m embarrassed to say but I can remember more times than I care to admit when I’ve purchased the cheap item only to have it break or be completely useless and had to buy the more expensive version in addition spending nearly twice as much as I spent originally.

Charlotte NC screened porch with outdoor fireplace

Charlotte NC screened porch with outdoor fireplace

Our Archadeck owners tell me that they often get calls from homeowners who had a “cheap” deck built for them and not much later they realize they should have spent a little more to get the deck that they really wanted. This could be because of the size or the construction or very often as a result of the deck missing one or two critical features to make it an area that they really want to spend time.

As a recovering first-time cheapskate, I urge you to take a look at the product you really want and do a financial analysis to find out how much more the product I want really costs. These days, a new deck can last 30 years or more. That’s a purchase that’s worth spending a little more to get your “back seat car charger” type feature that’s really going to improve your quality of outdoor life in your yard.

Call an expert near you to have your deck built right the first time.

The direction of the stairs is huge!

Stairway direction change by Harold Cross of Archadeck of Des Moines

Stairway direction change by Harold Cross of Archadeck of Central Iowa

The direction of the stairs on your elevated porch or deck is a huge consideration and one that we put a tremendous amount of emphasis on when in the design process with our homeowners. Partly we do this because we realize how important it is but also because of feedback from customers who tell us what a big difference it made to have their stairs pointing toward the area where they would be congregating.

If you look at the photo above, the original stair case emptied out into the side of the yard near the fence. This one was a double whammy because the very long stair case was an eye sore from the back yard. By directing the stairs to have a landing and empty out into the living area of the back yard, it made it easier to carry food and other items to their patio, made access easier and better to the back yard and looked a whole heck of a lot better.

As a mother of 3 children, I often tell my children about ergonomic design as we endlessly try to improve the organizational systems that will lead to a cleaner house. So I tell them things like…

  • Put the spices you use the most on the lower shelf or in the front
  • Put the book you’re currently reading on your night table and keep the other ones in a book shelf
  • Create an approved” place to store your back pack near the door

Here are some examples of stairways that direct the homeowners to the living area instead of into the side yard or away from the living area.

Archadeck of Austin stair re-direction

Archadeck of Austin stair re-direction

The example above was designed by Noelalee Ragle of Archadeck of Austin. Click here to read more about this job. The existing deck had stairs that emptied out into the fence. The new deck incorporated a landing so the stairs emptied right out into the living area.

Elevated lakehouse deck with bi-directional stairs by Archadeck of Northeast Indiana

Elevated lakehouse deck with bi-directional stairs by Archadeck of Northeast Indiana

The deck above was built by Baron Biedenweg of Archadeck of Northeastern Indiana. In this photo, you can see the bi-directional stairs being used on this house to direct traffic into the patio area under the deck and toward the water at this lake house. The view from the lake is also much enhanced by focusing attention on the deck instead of on a very long staircase.

If you’re building an elevated area at your home or even a relatively low outdoor living area, think about where the stairs empty out. Think about carrying food out the door and down the stairs and how far you’ll need to walk after exiting the stairs.

It’s not too early to start planning your outdoor living space for next year!! Call an Archadeck office near you now and ask for a design consultation.

An old pool turns into a brand new sunroom

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

Denver CO sunroom home addition by Archadeck

Denver CO sunroom home addition by Archadeck

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

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

Back of the home after the pool was filled and before the sunroom

Back of the home after the pool was filled and before the sunroom

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

Here is a picture of the design rendering.

Design rendering for new sunroom and deck project

Design rendering for new sunroom and deck project

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

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

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