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:

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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.

Portico Welcomes Guests in Style

Posted by: janegwalker

We post a lot about the absolutely beautiful backyard spaces that our porch, patio and deck contractors design and build, but sometimes we don’t give enough credit to the front of the home. When I saw the pictures of this front porch I knew I had to share it. It’s classically beautiful that gives the home a true “wow” factor.

The owners of this property needed an updated place to welcome guests and entertain them. They live is a great neighborhood that they wanted to be able to enjoy from their front yard (and then have privacy in the back). Our deck builder in Boston created a space that spans the width of the house and includes both covered and open spaces.

Archadeck 2013 PhotographyWhen designing the space, the Archadeck of Suburban Boston knew they wanted a portico area that provided guests with some coverage. In the cold Massachusetts nights, the homeowners didn’t want friends and family waiting in the falling snow (or rain). The portico only covers the front door because if it too went the width of the house it would block too much sunlight into the home. Many deck and porch designers don’t take the inside of the home into account when creating the space, but an outdoor project can have a major impact on the inside of the house. The front windows wouldn’t allow much sun into the home’s front windows if the porch area were any wider.

Archadeck 2013 PhotographyWhile we didn’t want the covered area to be too wide where it affects light into the home, it is wider than the average portico. Most porticos aren’t much wider than the front door and that can oven make it look cramped. By creating more room under the roof structure, it makes the whole space look more inviting and accessible. The width is kept at the bottom of the front the stairs and then tapers down the to the walkway (which we will talk about below).

The columns, ceiling and railings were finished in white to give a clean look. If a darker color were used, it wouldn’t have the same crisp first impression. It’s so light.

Archadeck 2013 PhotographyWhile many front porches have stone floors, wood decking was used across this entire project. It makes it unique and the deep browns look great with the blue of the home and white of the railings.

I love the front walkway to this home because it isn’t cookie cutter. It’s special. The three colors are the perfect complement to the rest of the front facade. The dark lines bring out bring out the black shutters and door, but it would be way too dark for the entire walkway.

If you have questions on how to make your home more welcoming, please reach out to your local Archadeck office.

Deck and Patio Design that Gives You All You Need

Posted by: janegwalker

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!

deck-builder-BostonThis 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.

deck-design-ideasJim 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.

composite-deckThe 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.

Archadeck 2013 PhotographyThe 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.

Build a Romantic Escape Right in your Backyard With Above-ground Pool Decks

Above ground pools are sure to bring hours of enjoyment for your family, but they aren’t known for looking pretty. A beautiful patio design could transform your above ground pool from an eyesore to a resort.

Add a Deck

Sure, that rickety white ladder allows you to climb inside your above ground pool, but does it make you feel like you’re enjoying a getaway? Adding a deck is how you spruce up your pool design and make it more functional. Pool decks make it easier to get into your above ground pool, they add space so you can sit poolside, and they hide the unsightly sides of the pool.

For a look that really stands out, consider adding multiple levels to your deck. This could be as simple as a landing a few steps off the ground, or you could have a level of the deck that overlooks your pool. Additionally, the finishing touches of your deck are important. Don’t skimp on the rails that surround your deck; they make your space feel private… just like you would feel at a high-dollar resort.

One thing is for sure… if you don’t do anything else to your above ground pool, adding a deck will instantly help it feel more like a vacation.

Add Greenery

Beautiful flowers, hedges, and succulent plants require minimal landscaping but offer maximum appeal. Pool decks are a great space to add some greenery. Flowers and plants in pots or planter boxes around the deck bring softness to the deck and the pool area. You can also plant hedges or flowers around the side of the above ground pool (where the deck doesn’t already cover) to draw your eye away from the pool siding. Highlight it with some mulch and anyone who visits your pool will feel like they’re in a top-dollar vacation destination.

Add Functional Furnishings

A resort lifestyle includes sitting by the pool, and you can enjoy that in your own backyard with functional furniture. Look for fabric that can withstand your climate and fabric designed to catch your eye. Try out the furniture before you buy it to make sure it’s comfortable. After all, you want it to be something you’ll be able to relax in.

Taking money you would invest in a vacation and investing it in your backyard is a great option to enjoy a lifestyle of luxury. Archadeck can help you find your solution to resort living… right in your own backyard.

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:

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This deck in Columbus was built with under decking to create space for both a covered patio and screened porch below. Now the homeowners can use it to enjoy the sun and shade.

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Here you can see the underside of an under decking system. It was finished with beadboard for an added detail.

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Under decking was able to transform a dead spot in this backyard into a beautiful outdoor living room underneath a raised deck.

Notice how the area underneath the deck is dry while the rest is wet? This is how we test if the system has been installed correctly. The water is being successfully taken away from the covered portion of the project.

Notice how the area underneath the deck is dry while the rest is wet? This is how we test if the system has been installed correctly. The water is being successfully taken away from the covered portion of the project.

 

 

 

Enjoy Your Neighborhood from Your Front Porch

I have two rambunctious nephews that cannot sit still. They’re 5 and 3 and as you can imagine, full of energy. They live in a great neighborhood with a ton of young kids. Like clockwork, when everyone is home from school, the kids race outside to play. I was visiting them a little while ago and watched the outdoor antics all from my brother’s front porch.

My brother lives in a newer subdivision in South Carolina. There are five or six floor plans for people to choose from, but it’s the outside finishes which stops them from looking all the same. One of those finishes is the front porch. Some have just a simple stoop, others have a front porch that spans the width of the home and others have wrap around porches.

Front porches and porticos are a great way to add personality and function to your home. My brother’s porch was the perfect place sit back, catch up and still have a clear view of my nephews. Neighbors stopped by for a few minutes, chatted and went on their way. What can I say? Porches make great outdoor living spaces for spur of the moment visitors.

Growing up in Maine (yup, I just made the jump from South Carolina to Maine), our front porch was where we took off our muddy or wet shoes before we stomped our ways through the house. It was essential to my mom’s sanity. When it was raining or snowing, we would slip out of our boots and step right inside. We were safe from the elements and didn’t have to track dirt inside.

Beyond functionality, front porches and porticos add personality to a home. Custom porch designs make sure to add to the beauty of the home while not making it look like an afterthought. The colors, trims and finishes should complement what is already there. Here are some examples of beautiful front porch designs from Archadeck Outdoor Living:

This homeowner in Rhode Island wanted a extra space on the front of your home. The porch and added gazebo were finished with the same roofing and trim that was on the house previously.

This front porch in Arlington, VA is a little different. It’s a low to grade, meaning the drop to the ground isn’t large, so it’s a more open porch design. Instead of stairs, it incorporates a ramp in the front. A fan was added to the ceiling to make the porch a comfortable place to sit and entertain family and friends.

This craftsman style home has unique finishes. When updating the front porch, Archadeck Outdoor Living paid special attention to the details so the porch didn’t look like an after thought. The same shingles line the outside of the project and the rail posts match the posts along the base of the home perfectly.

This front porch is located in Montgomery County, Maryland. It’s curved roof and matching lanterns create a beautiful space to welcome guests. The base of the front porch match the color of the home perfectly and the bright white gives it that special pop.

If you are interested in how a new front porch or portico can enhance the front of your home, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

 

 

 

Sunroom or Screened Porch? Why not have both?!

Deciding on a new outdoor living space is a big decision. There are so many options now, decks, patios, sunrooms, porches, outdoor kitchens and more, and they all have their own benefits. In preparing and budgeting for your projects, it’s important that you weigh what is most important to you. Is it size? Material? Budget? These are all questions that you should be able to tell your contractor when the time comes.

One question we at Archadeck Outdoor Living often hear is what’s best, a sunroom or a screened porch? In short, both are great outdoor living options that can add significant value to your home. But now, you don’t have to make the decision of sunroom or screened porch. You can have them both, in one project.

Our customers love sunrooms as they can use them all year round while still being surrounded (on three sides) by the outdoors. Those with screened porches love to sit in the shade and feel the breeze without being bothered by bugs. And then there are the lucky few that have both.

Sliding Window Panels Central Arkansas

PGT Eze-Breeze in use on an Archadeck of Central Arkansas project

Sliding and removable panels are becoming more popular in the outdoor living category because they provide customers with a variety of ways for their rooms to be used i.e. as both a sunroom AND a screened porch. PGT Eze-Breeze is a vertical sliding panel of vinyl windows that are backed with screens. When the weather is right, slide them down for a screened in porch, and pull them right back up when it’s raining! The panels are custom-made for your project and available in a variety of colors to make sure they complement your home perfectly. The vinyl window is lightweight to make the sliding easy and still provides the same view as regular glass.

Vinyl windows may not work for every location. Some homes need something more durable and insulating. For those customers, we have removable glass panels and windows. In the warmer months, the panels/windows can be removed so that the sides are just screened. And when it gets cold again, just put them right back into place. It’s all about options people!

Charlotte NC screened porch with outdoor fireplaceIf you are planning an outdoor living space and aren’t 100% sure what you want, it’s important to start asking yourself some questions, like how are you going to use the space? What views are important to you? The Archadeck Design Guide can help guide your thinking and prepare you for future meetings with contractors. And, as always, feel free to contact us, or your local Archadeck office for more information.

Among outdoor structures the pergola rises to the top

Archadeck pergola with arched roof that serves as a sitting area for this lovely garden

This pergola has an arched roof that serves as a sitting area for this lovely garden

Sometimes it is the small things in your outdoor oasis that make the biggest statement. Take for example the pergola. Pergolas give you the capability of turning an outdoor space into an outdoor room for very little cost.

The pergola is among the fastest growing elements in backyard building.  In addition to being able to provide a small intimate environment, pergolas provide loads of ambiance to your outdoor living area and landscape.

Gone forever are the days of two posts with a board across the top. Today’s pergolas come in a myriad of shapes, sizes, materials. Today’s pergolas often have all the electrical accoutrements that are available in outdoor areas such as patios and porches. These accoutrements include speakers, lighting, fans and much more.

Remember the pergola of the past that served as a decorative feature at the end of the pool? Pergolas today are used as hot tub covers, swing covers, garden area covers and patio covers.

Composite deck which uses the pergola to create a covered porch effect

Composite deck which uses the pergola to create a covered porch effect

Pergolas can be attached to other structures such as patio covers and even screen porches. On average we see a 50/50 split of stand alone pergolas versus attached. Modern pergolas are being built nowadays to promote the feeling of a room, and a vast majority of them have lighting so it can be used in the evening as well as the daytime.

These double pergolas promote intimacy and space definiton around this hot tub deck

These double pergolas promote intimacy and space definition around this hot tub deck

In order for the pergola to fully function like an outdoor room you want to be able to provide shade as well as protection from the elements. Companion products are the answer and continue to transform your yard by dressing up your pergola and giving it either more sun protection, more wind protection, or both. These are things like shade fabric that is built into the roof of the pergola, curtains made of weather resistant plastic, and drop down weighted blinds to add more shade or wind protection on one side and even awnings. Once you put an awning inside the pergola, you get protection from the wind, rain and a place to provide much-needed shade which is still much less expensive than building a room. The construction of the pergola itself can be made more conducive to providing protection from the elements by the space variance between the cross beams located atop the pergola as well. The closer the beams are set, the more protection your pergola will offer.

This poolside pergola uses heavy timber to provide ample protection from the elements

This poolside pergola uses heavy timber to provide ample protection from the elements

Popular materials for pergolas include unique materials, and material combinations. We are getting more requests for the beautiful rustic beauty of cedar, and redwood. We also use combinations of wood, PVC and even fiberglass columns. Most of the fancy rafter detailing which is hot right now comes from using wood because PVC and other synthetics don’t lend themselves to ornate detailing. One of the unique facets of the pergola’s design is that there are no set standards so your pergola can really become a creative piece that you can add your own personal touches and character into. From shape, size, function, location and materials the world is your oyster.

Contact Archadeck to design and build the pergola of your wildest dreams. When it comes to the design and functionality possibilities of the pergola, the choices are endless! You can find the Archadeck location nearest you by visiting our locations list located on our website.

If you are still yearning for examples of the pergolas beauty and uses, visit our pergola and trellis gallery located on our website.

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

The addition of a dry, or rain deck such as this can create double room for relaxing and outdoor living by taking advantage of the area underneath your deck

The addition of a dry, or rain deck such as this can create double room for relaxing and outdoor living by taking advantage of the area underneath your deck

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.

Columbus rubber membrane installation under framing members

This project by Archadeck of Columbus shows the bare bones of this dry deck system installation

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

Another example of an Archadeck rain deck

Another example of an Archadeck rain deck

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.

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

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Archadeck focuses on the joy of the season with this “Christmas deck” by Archadeck of Greater Atlanta, which is truly a deck for all seasons packed with functionality and style. A deck like this can be yours with Archadeck. Continue reading