Increasing Your Home’s Curb Appeal with a New Portico

Last year my husband and I sold our first home. Just last week I was in the neighborhood and drove past the house. I was surprised that the home looked different. The new owners had built a new portico and it made a big different. It truly did enhance the curb appeal of the home.

Front porches and porticos are great additions to any home when done well. They make the home more welcoming to friends and family as well as increase the curb appeal of your home. When they are not well designed, however, they stick out like a sore thumb because they don’t blend into the existing structure.

Sierra Exif JPEGHere are a few examples of Archadeck Outdoor Living front porch projects that complement and blend seamlessly into the existing home. The owners of this first porch had some unique needs. The house is a beautiful brick and they didn’t want the porch to look like an add-on. Instead of front steps, they also needed a ramp for wheelchair access. Archadeck designed the perfect portico for them. They were able to get a brick patio and ramp that matched the home’s façade perfectly and the columns and eaves were finished in the same color as the rest of the home’s trim. For the ramp, they put it behind a flowerbed so passersby didn’t see the side of it.

To increase the usability of the structure, enough space was created for a small living area complete with and outdoor light and fan for the warm summer evenings. It’s the perfect place to have a drink with a neighbor.

DSC03787Our next example is smaller, but still made a big impact on the curb appeal of the home. Before this front porch was built, the whole front façade of the home was flat across. There was no dimension. Creating this small portico added visual interest and depth to the building while also providing a sheltered space for visitors to stand waiting to be welcomed. The white trim and grey skirting matches the home’s exterior while the stained wood provides a rustic finish.

If you have questions on how to enhance your home’s exterior with an outdoor living space, 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.

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.

Screening in your Existing Porch

Last night my husband and I went out to dinner with a friend of ours. He and his wife purchased a home last summer and learned some of its downfalls throughout the summer. One of the reasons they bought the home was that it has great outdoor space including a great covered porch. Well, they found out that they yard also has a ton of mosquitoes to the point where they couldn’t enjoy the space. They’re now looking to screen in the existing space, but weren’t sure of the process.

Screening in your existing open porch is definitely possible, but it involves more than just putting up some screens.

Building codes change over time to make sure that outdoor structures are safe and secure. Before adding screen panels to your porch, your porch builder will need to inspect and ensure that the existing structure is up to code. If not, it may require more work including additional footings, connections and more.

Depending on the type of existing structure, you make need to do some extra work for your screened porch to fulfill its purpose. For instance, in may cases a screened porch is built to provide a dry, shady space to enjoy the outdoor without bugs. Well, if you have a porch with deck boards as flooring, you’ll need to make sure that mosquitoes can’t come up through the board cracks.

Archadeck 2012When going through the process with your porch builder of enclosing the space, it’s the perfect time to consider updating the porch’s finishes. Take our friend for instance, his current open porch has a concrete floor and smaller columns. The floors aren’t in the best condition, so he’s considering having the floor updated to a more interesting tile option. Additionally, his home has a craftsman look and the small columns don’t really fit. While the porch builder is working on the projects, the homeowner has asked the builder to add some more weight to the columns.

If you are looking to enclose a porch or transform any existing outdoor living structure, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living offices. Our trained designers will work with you to create a space that you’ll love using!

Elevated Deck Creates Two Outdoor Living Spaces

When it comes to designing a new outdoor living space, one thing to think about is what square footage the project gives you. For many of our clients, they want to add to the usable living space to their property, and decks, patios, porches and other outdoor living spaces is a great way to do.

I was looking through some images of some of our locations recent work when I came across this great elevated deck in Des Moines. The homeowners were in need of an updated space when their current deck started to show its age. With their new outdoor living space, they wanted just that: space. Lucky for them, they reached Harold Cross of Archadeck of Central Iowa.

before-deck-des-moinesThe old porch felt and looked like an isolated space. The homeowners really wanted to utilize the elevated space as well as space lower down. Harold redesigned the open porch area to flow onto a deck without a roof and then down to a patio.

The main living area of the home is elevated in the back. They need an elevated space so they don’t constantly have to go downstairs to spend time outdoors. The covered area provides shade and frames a great outdoor dining space, right off the kitchen.

deck-building-iowaOne step down from the covered porch is an open deck where the homeowners can enjoy some sunshine. While the first space just had a covered area had a covered porch and then stairs heading down, this open deck provides an easier transition to the stairs and to the lower level.

The lower level consists of a patio that is partially covered. At Archadeck, we like to take advantage of the space created by elevated decks to craft additional living space. We use a process called under-decking to keep the space dry. Just like the open deck above, the open patio is both usable and a great transitional space. Without this part of the patio, the two levels would be too separate and wouldn’t work together like they do now.

Harold and his team designed and built this outdoor space to not only function extremely well, but it’s beautiful too. The colors of composite decking and the stone complement the home wonderfully.

If you have questions regarding outdoor living design, please reach out to your local Archadeck office.

Converting a Patio to Open Porch

In life, it doesn’t always make sense to start from scratch with something. Working and enhancing what you have will sometimes provide you with the best end result. That was the case with this project from our patio and deck builder in Greensboro.

patio in GreensboroThis home in the Piedmont Triad of North Carolina had a large patio off the back. As you can see, it was a raised patio that was accessible from many parts of the house. It had an area for an outdoor dining room and an outdoor living room. However, the homeowners didn’t feel they were getting much use out of it. They felt it would be better for them if the space had a roof.

Archadeck of the Piedmont Triad’s John Mallard was brought in to design and build the open porch. The existing patio was in good shape structurally, and it would be extremely costly for the homeowners to start anew. Instead, John suggested adding on to what was already there. The space and flow of the layout works well, all it needed was a roof structure.

covered porch GreensboroThe existing brick retaining walls called for the perfect spots to add some columns to support the roof. Only four were needed for the entire space. For the roof, John suggested a few design details to make the space interesting, usable and light. The horizontal beams of the roof were left visible in the space. By simply painting them white, it added a unique design detail that could be appreciated by the family. To me, it also make it cozy.

Open Porch GreensboroOutdoor ceiling fans were added over the dining and coffee tables of the space. While open porches provide shade and a cooler space to relax than out in the sun, they still can be warm, especially in North Carolina. Those fans can go a long way in making the space more comfortable.

Light can be an issue with any covered area, especially one as large as this. Shade is key, but when the sun is blocked, it not only impacts the porch, but also the rooms inside that it is connected to. To allow for more sunlight to come in, John did two things. First, he did not attach the roof structure to the home on the sides. There is still space between the roof of the home and the roof of the porch, allowing light to come down and into the space. Secondly, skylights were placed right above the doors to the main living spaces to the home, allowing more light to come through the glass.

The existing patio of this project was nice, but by enhancing it just a little bit, it is now absolutely beautiful. If you have questions on how you can improve your outdoor living spaces, please reach out to your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Backyard Contest Update: Fire pits and building

It’s been a few weeks and it is time for an update on our Archadeck Dream Backyard Contest winners! Last we checked in with Rick and Merea Bentrott they had finalized their deck and patio design and were ready to start building. Harold Cross and the rest of the Archadeck of Central Iowa have been hard at work on the space!

Before we get to the building update, there was one last tweak to the design. In the last update the design looked like this:

1239959_10151706075508649_1342346569_n

And now, it looks like this:

Plan F1 - B - 3D 1

The Bentrotts decided to enhance the patio portion of the space and add a fire pit and a seating wall. Extending the patio provides for more entertaining space and the kids (they have four) are sure to enjoy roasting some s’mores around the fire pit.

Much like the benches on the deck, we are providing built in seating on the Belgard patio. Retaining walls, when built with the correct height in mind, not only provide the perfect place to sit, but also another way to define the space and create the flow.

With the design plan in place, Harold and his team were set to break ground and start constructing the Bentrotts’ Dream Backyard. Videos of the build throughout the process can be seen on Archadeck of Central Iowa’s YouTube channel.

After six days of finished work, a lot of construction has been done. Demolishing the existing deck and leveling the area for the structure were the first tasks. On day two on site, a lot of dirt needed to be dug out for both the base of the patio and all of footings on the space. The footings are essential to the safety of the structure and were needed for the deck and covered porch.

IMG_7848Unfortunately, there are some things we cannot control, like the weather. A few days of rain delayed us, but we are back on track! The deck framing is finished and the boards have been installs. The decking was provided by our contest sponsor, TimberTech. The color of the boards is Brownstone and they were laid in a diagonal patterns instead of the classic straight version.

The frame and roof of the covered patio have been installed. Underneath and beside the covered area is the patio itself which will be done using Belgard Pavers. What goes beneath the pavers, called base, is incredibly important with respect to the integrity of the structure. Without a good base, the homeowner may notice some uneven areas over time. A base layer of rock has been spread over any area where pavers will ultimately be.

We can’t wait to see the final product and how the Bentrotts will enjoy their new backyard space. In the meantime, if you have questions concerning any outdoor structure, please contact your local Archadeck office.