Creaking Deck? Call for a Deck Safety Inspection

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

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

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

088Is your deck starting to sway or shake? A shaky deck is not a safe deck. It is one sign of an attachment or footing that is weak. Deck collapses can very serious when an attachment or footing fails. If your deck sways, make sure you call a professional deck builder to come perform a deck safety inspection.

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

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

If you think you are in need of a professional deck safety inspection, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Deck Replacement Makes all the Difference

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Structure to Outdoor Living Space

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

Open Porch GreensboroFunction. 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.

WCOL-004The last attribute that makes a deck, porch, or patio a true outdoor living space is furniture or at least a place to sit. People will only go out and stand in an empty space for so long before looking for a place to sit. The furniture that’s added to an outdoor space should reflect its function and design. For instance, if you like to eat and dine outside, you may need a table and chairs, while a built-in bench may be enough for a space that’s just used for happy hours.

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

Considering a New Wood Deck? Go for it!

When it comes to large financial decisions, you want to feel good about your purchases. From cars to renovations, if you are like me, you weigh the benefits of moving forward with the investment now or waiting. If a new wood deck is on your list of renovations, rest assured, you’ll not only get more living space, but you’ll be adding value to your home.

Archadeck 2012Whether it’s adding a new bathroom, updating a kitchen or adding a deck to your backyard, return on investment should be part of your evaluation project. Will it add value to the home? A Remodeling Magazines Cost Vs. Value report ranks wood decks as the second highest Return On Invest project in the midrange cost (a new entry door was number one). According to the report, when homeowners add a wood deck to their property, they can expect to recoup, on average, 87.4% of the cost, adding value to your home.

Decks are great and easy way to increase the usable space on your property. Working with a professional and experienced deck builder, homeowners can have a space designed and built specifically for their needs. It can be as small or as large as you want, but deck design is important. If it isn’t designed properly and doesn’t fit how you intend to use it, you won’t. Make sure you are very clear with how you intend to use your new deck, be it cooking, entertaining, reading, etc. so you get the backyard of your dreams!

WRI-013Over the last several years, we at Archadeck Outdoor Living have seen the composite decking category boom. Don’t get us wrong, composite is a great option for decking, but wood is still a viable and cost-effective option. Pressure-treated wood is getting better too, with new eco-friendly options.

Sometime the look of wood can’t be beat. For the homeowner that enjoys the knots and grain, pressure-treated wood is your best option for decking material. It can be stained in a variety of different colors to complement the finishes of your home, but you’ll still see the detail.

If you have questions on designing or building wood decks, please reach out to your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Adding some Privacy to your Open Deck

When my husband and I were looking at homes, that backyard was important to us. We didn’t need everything perfect right away, but we wanted to make sure that the yard and property was conducive to our overall plans.  While we wanted an open, deck porch or patio, we wanted a feeling of privacy at least in part of the space. While trees, shrubbery and other landscaping can play a major role in creating a private backyard, so can a structure. This deck and porch project from Columbus, OH is a great example of how to have private and open areas in one outdoor space.

Auborn Before (2)This existing deck didn’t have anything wrong with it. It provided the necessary space the owner’s need to both cook and eat outside, but they wanted a private area. The homeowners were looking to purchase a new hot tub, but didn’t want it out on the open deck. Rob Mitchell of Archadeck Outdoor Living, patio and deck builder in Columbus, designed and built the perfect solution.

Auborn Room Finished (4) Rob MitchellThe homeowners didn’t want to lose any of their existing deck space to a private area, so Rob recommended adding on to the space and creating an enclosed gazebo structure. The new space is essentially its own room for the hot tub!

Light and heat were two concerns for the new gazebo. While the hot tub is a place to relax and warm up, if the walls were completely enclosed the room would hold too much heat! To relieve heat concerns, Rob designed the upper half of the walls to be slatted. Additionally, windows with shutter shades were added to allow heat to go out.

Auborn Room Finished (2) Rob MitchellThe slatted walls and windows not only addressed the heat concerns, but also some of the light concerns. As you can see in the picture, light is able to come through the walls and windows. A large lighting fixture was added to the ceiling to provide adequate light at nighttime.

Patio and deck design should fit the needs of the homeowners. As the needs evolve and change, so can the space, just like this example. They didn’t need to tear down their existing deck. Instead, the outdoor living space was updated to add more privacy and the perfect “room” for their hot tub.

If you have questions on how to improve your outdoor living areas, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

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.

deck-design-idea

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 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.

Image (24)beforeThe 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.

0001314The 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.

100_0254Outdoor 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.

Deck Collapse Puts a Damper on any Outdoor Event

Every year there are stories of deck failures. Either there are too many people on the structure, it’s not built to code or it is just too old. The newest viral video spreading online is from a dock collapse in Minnesota that sent an entire bridal party into the lake below as they posed for pictures. Take a look here:

They may have needed some time to dry off before the big wedding celebration, but the bride and groom are lucky that no one was hurt when this dock gave way.

Deck (and dock) safety is a serious concern. People are injured each year as a result of deck footings giving way or the deck detaching from a home. In the case of the video above, it may have been a case of too many people on a small dock. Over the past few years, videos of deck failures at special events, like weddings or proms, have been released online. If you are hosting a graduation party, wedding or other special event at your home, make sure you evaluate the safety of your outdoor structures.

Your deck may feel safe normally, but can it withhold the weight of a large number of people? If your deck has ever shook or felt at all uneasy before, it’s important to have it inspected by a professional deck builder. A professional will be able to look at the structure and tell you the overall shape it is in, what, if anything, should be addressed now or if it should be replaced entirely.

There are certain parts of a deck that are key components of the overall safety of the space, while others can be easily replaced or enhanced in the short term.

The structure, footings, connections and attachment are all very important to the deck’s safety. If one of these fail, it could cause the deck to collapse.  Conversely, decking boards, stairs and rails can be updated or replaced until the entire structure is enhanced.

If you have concerns over the safety of your deck, please reach out to your local Archadeck office.

Keep it Outdoors this Summer

Spring has sprung and summer is just around the corner. At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we are passionate about enhancing our clients’ outdoor living spaces with our designs and builds. Our hope is that after our work is done that our clients spend more time outside.

When we talk to our clients about getting the most use out of their decks, porches, patios and other outdoor spaces, there are certain things we like to discuss and implement:

composite-deckPlaces to gather. When it comes to entertaining friends and family outdoors, a clear area to gather and relax encourages people to spend time outside. This should be discussed during the patio or deck design phase, but can easily be created in existing spaces. Strategically placed patio furniture or built-in seating is a clear way to invite guests into a specific area of your outdoor spaces. You can take it one step further with both living and dining outdoor furniture in different areas of the space.

An area for cooking. The more you can stay outdoors will keep your guests outside too. An area for cooking will keep you and your guests outside on a nice day/night. While a grill is a great place to cook, an outdoor kitchen will allow you to do more than just the cooking. With counter space, you can prepare, cook and serve your delicious cuisine. At Archadeck, we design custom outdoor kitchens that complement your overall outdoor living design perfectly.

Archadeck 2013 PhotographyA fire feature. Personally, I don’t like to be forced inside on a lovely night just because the sun goes down and it gets a little cool. That is just one of the reasons that fire features have been growing in popularity over the last few years. Both fire pits and outdoor fireplaces emit enough heat to keep you outside on a nice night, and who doesn’t love to huddle around a fire, not to mention the s’mores?

If you have questions on how to get more out of your outdoor living spaces, please contact your Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Under Decking Creates Dry Spaces

There is something about the rain that makes me want to cozy up with a book or a glass of wine and enjoy the sound. I especially like it with the windows open, or better yet, when I’m in a dry outdoor space like a screened or open porch.

under-deckingOpen porches are great for enjoying the outdoors from a protected spot. They can be built with a roof structure or under decking to keep the space dry. We often get questions on what under decking is and it is pretty simple. Under decking a both a roof and drainage system for open porches or covered patios that have decks above them.

Decks without usable underneath don’t have under decking as it doesn’t matter if the rain goes underneath it. But if you wanted to enjoy your porch when it is raining, you need to have a drainage system to protect you! That’s under decking, or, as we sometimes call it, rain decking.

elevated-deck-under-deck

Under decking was added beneath this tall deck to create a dry, usable space underneath. Stone was added around the support beams to turn them into beautiful design features

Under decking is installed underneath the decking and framing of the elevated deck. It catches the water as it goes through the cracks between the deck boards and drains it at the side of the structure, keeping the space underneath dry and usable.

Keeping the porch dry is not under decking’s only purpose. It also allows the homeowner to create a space with more amenities, like fans, lights and even televisions. With the drainage system in place, your porch and deck builder and electrician can install power outlets. Without a drainage system, it would not be possible.

At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we use under decking to give our clients more usable space outdoors without taking up more of their yard. Instead of leaving the space beneath an elevated deck unfinished, you can use it for another purpose, dining, entertaining, etc. And if you can’t do it all at once, under decking can be installed after a deck is built. So, if you only want to tackle the deck now and the covered patio or porch later, you can do it.

If you have questions on how under decking can enhance your outdoor living experience, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office. We can help you plan and build the space you’ve always wanted.