Deck Collapse is a Serious Risk

XX-030Temperatures are finally rising in many parts of the country and, if you are like me, you can’t wait to take advantage of it and spend some time outdoors. Before you do, however, make sure that your deck is safe to enjoy.

An Atlanta area deck collapsed earlier this week injuring four people. Two men were standing on the deck and two were below when the deck gave way and fell from the home and all four men were taken to the hospital with injuries. Unfortunately, stories like this are far too common.

The average deck lasts about 10 years before it needs to be replaced for safety reasons. During those 10 years not only will the foundation and structure weaken, but codes will change, often for safety purposes. At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we suggest that decks over 7 years old should undergo a deck safety inspection. You may need to have your deck inspected earlier if it is displaying any issues.

screened porchIf you aren’t sure on how to evaluate the overall condition of your structure, we recommend the acronym BE SAFER.

Boards. Look for sagging or splintering of decking boards that may make it unsafe to walk on.

Every Connection – This may be difficult to check if you cannot see underneath the structure, but try to look at the condition of the metal fasteners that hold the structure together.

Structure – While you are looking under the deck, look at the posts, beams and joists. Is there any sagging?

Attachment – The majority of deck failures happen at the attachment of the house. Make sure it is attached with the necessary bolts and screws, NO NAILS!

Foundation/Footings – This part of the deck’s structure holds the weight. Check to see that it is in good shape, without any sagging, sinking or separation.

Exit – Check the conditions of the exits/stairs of the deck.

Rails – Railings are very important to the safety of your deck. Make sure that each is secure and does not shake/move when pressure is applied.

This past winter has been a tough one for many parts of the country with above average snow and ice. This could have affected the safety of your deck, so please make sure to check it. For questions, concerns or to have a professional deck builder look at the structure for you, please contact Archadeck Outdoor Living.

Patio and Deck Design, it’s all about the details

At Archadeck Outdoor Living, our motto is “better building, by design.” Not only is our construction and building top notch, but our patio and deck design in amazing. When it comes to creating something not only functional (although that is goal number one), but also beautiful, sometimes it comes down to the small details of the project.

Our trained designers think beyond the obvious and that’s what makes some of projects as stunning as they are. Here are just a few ideas of finishing details that can make your outdoor living space go from “nice” to “oh, wow.”

Deck with planterDifferent Decking Patterns – Decking boards are the base of a deck, but they can also be a beautiful design component. Our designers often place the boards in different patterns to define space or to make a deck a little more unique. We may use different color decking boards as well to add visual interest. Take deck for example; the boards were installed at different angles throughout the space. It enhances the space by helping to define each section of the deck.

patio-builder-columbusUtilizing Multiple Materials – This goes along with number one, but outdoor living design isn’t about using one color or material. When designing and installing patios, for instance, we often incorporate different materials into one project either to define or highlight different areas. The gray stone on this patio clearly highlights the step down to the lower portion of the patio. By mixing and matching material the entire space is more aesthetically appealing.

Trimming out a post or a beam. Many decks and patio require a railing to meet building codes and requirements. While they may be necessary, they can also be decorative. Trimming out a beam or a post is adding a decorative detail to make it look nicer.

Sanding rail caps – sometimes the little things make all the difference. Simply sanding down the rail caps and their edges will make everything smoother and cleaner looking. Not to mention you’ll be less likely to get any splinters!

Consider the stairs – stairs are another area for subtle deck design. Whether it’s using different colors for the horizontal and vertical components or placing them at an interesting angle, it all matters. These stairs, for example, are cornered and take up more space, but they create a more open looking entrance to the deck.

The best patio and deck design ideas are often found in the details. Make sure you talk to your deck builder about your style so that he/she can create something that you will love. Please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office if you want to experience our better building, by design.

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.

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.

Archadeck 2013 PhotographyJim 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.

Archadeck 2013 PhotographyOn 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.

Archadeck 2013 PhotographyTo 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.

The Archadeck Grand Prize Winner’s Backyard Design

Posted by: janegwalker

Last week, we showed you the finished patio for the second place winner of Archadeck’s Dream Backyard Makeover contest. We received some requests for an update on the Grand Prize Winners’ home and who are we to disappoint?!

The last time we visited Merea and Rick Bentrott, their backyard looked like this, but Merea’s contest write up was hard to ignore:

Bentrott-Backyard-Nightmare“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 a 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 if a comfortable spot to sit and watch it all happen.”

When the contest voting was over, we were thrilled to surprise the Bentrotts at home to tell them they had won:

Since then, Harold Cross of Archadeck of Central Iowa has been working with the Bentrotts to finalize a patio and deck design that will fit their needs. We are thrilled to announce that the design is now complete, and we should be breaking ground in the next few weeks! But, let’s talk about the design!

1239959_10151706075508649_1342346569_nThe Grand Prize Winners will receive a $70,000 backyard makeover that will include both a deck and patio component, with products from our partnering sponsors, TimberTech Decking and Belgard Hardscapes. Merea and Rick really wanted a place to entertain family and friends so Harold came up with a combination project that includes a deck, covered patio and outdoor kitchen. Doesn’t it look like a nice place to enjoy time outdoors?

Despite the condition of their current deck, the Bentrotts did like having a deck off their main living area and wanted to keep that in the design. Railings will be installed around most of the deck not only for safety (which is very important with four young kids), but also to guide visitors into the lower covered patio portion of the project. The patio has plenty of space for Merea and Rick to prepare meals with their new outdoor kitchen! Harold decided to cover the majority of the patio not only to define the space, but also to provide some shade and coverage from the sun, rain, and in Iowa, snow.

We are thrilled to start the building phase of the project. We will share images throughout the build through their first party on their new space!

If you have any questions about outdoor living structures, please reach out to your local Archadeck office.

Deck and Patio Design Coming Together in Richmond, VA

Posted by: janegwalker

It’s been a long time since we updated you on the outdoor living structure that we designed and are building for our corporate office and we are happy to say that it is 99% finished. The remaining items on the list are primarily clean up. So what’s been going on since we last updated you? In short, a lot.

To recap, this is the boring side yard that we had at our office:

photo

And this is what we have now:

Archadeck-building

It is quite the difference, right? In our last post about the project, we had just finished framing the deck and started laying the deck boards. As you can see, that and more has been completed.

TimberTech-benchThe majority of the deck is a dark brown TimberTech composite material. It was installed at an angle for added visual interest with highlight boards that are a brick red color (I apologize for the shadows in the pictures). The composite material will minimize our need for regular maintenance. Pressure-treated wood, as opposed to composite, needs to be pressure washed and stained to ensure that water, dirt and other debris don’t settle in the wood cracks and cause splitting.

As you can see in the picture, the built-in benches have been added to the space. One of our goals in creating this outdoor living space at the office was to have a space that everyone in building would really use (not just look at). Seating is extremely important for regular use and with a commercial space that does get some traffic, the seating couldn’t be movable. While the retaining walls offer some seating, benches were added throughout the space to invite people to relax and take a seat.

With such a large amount of dark decking, our deck designers decided to complement the structure with white highlights in the form of railings and the pergola. Timbertech vinyl railing was installed around the open edges of the deck for safety purposes. Any deck that isn’t low to grade, meaning that it rises at least 36 inches off the ground, must have a railing by code. Once the railing was up, everyone here started to see the whole the project come together. The crisp white makes it really pop.

When the Archadeck Outdoor Living team discussed what they wanted in the space, a shade structure was a key component. The pergola was added to the design and covers nearly half of the 900 square foot deck. In a space that gets a lot of sunlight, the pergola offers a reprieve.

While the building part of the space is pretty much finished, there are a few finishing details that are still to come. Outdoor lighting is going to be installed for safety and security (as well as beauty). Besides that, we just need to get rid of any construction debris and we are ready to host our first barbecue at the office.

If you have questions on how you can enhance your backyard with a custom outdoor living space, please reach out to your local Archadeck office. Our trained designers will work with you to create something that works for you, your family, your needs and your budget.

Building a Deck at Archadeck Corporate Headquarters

Posted by: janegwalker

It’s been a few weeks since we updated you on the progress of our deck and patio installation at the Archadeck Outdoor Living headquarters, and there has been a lot done! We have a fully installed and functional outdoor kitchen and the large deck is in progress.

installing-outdoor-kitchenWe didn’t show you in the last picture, but there is a smaller patio that is set down beyond the deck. It was installed at the same time as the rest of the Belgard paver patio and retaining walls. We designed the space with this extra patio for our outdoor kitchen as it could be a little removed from everything else. Our team of designers kept the layout of the kitchen simple, with a large grill (yes, we already broke it in) and some counter and storage space. The kitchen was finished with a natural stone to complement the Belgard patio pavers, but we chose a dark black countertop to dress it up a bit.

deck-frameOnce the patio and outdoor kitchen were complete, the Archadeck team of deck builders was hard at work on this 900 square foot composite deck. The footings were dug prior to the patio going down, but the deck frame took a few days to complete before the county inspected it. The frame was built using a pressure treated wood and you can see that each beam and joist were securely put in place with large bolts as no deck can be safely built with only nails (that’s a deck collapse waiting to happen).

After the county inspector came on site and passed the deck frame, we began laying our deck boards. For the decking material, we chose a TimberTech composite from their Evolution line. As we hope to get a lot of use out of the deck, including hosting corporate events, we needed something that would stand up against scratches and wear and tear, which TimberTech does.

timbertech-deckYou notice in the picture of the decking going down that you don’t see a lot of nails, and that’s because there aren’t any. These decking boards have hidden fasteners that lock everything in place without the need for nails, which helps create a clean look.

While building the deck, we also constructed the stairs leading down to the outdoor kitchen and small patio. The framing of the stairs were inspected at the same time as the deck and the decking began shortly after.

Unfortunately, as with many outdoor builds, Mother Nature hasn’t been too cooperative and has put us a little bit behind. The team is finishing the decking and then will begin on the railings. The railings will be white vinyl  from TimberTech that will border the entire deck for safety and code purposes.

If you have questions about designing custom decks, porches, patios, sunrooms or some combination thereof, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.