Building a patio – so much more than you see

Working at Archadeck Outdoor Living, I’ve seen some beautiful patios, walkways, outdoor kitchens, outdoor fireplaces and other hardscaped areas over the years that our offices have designed and built. The beauty of the finished product can be misleading however. At its surface, the patio looks gorgeous, but what lies below is what keeps it looking that way in the long run.

Building a patio that will hold its shape and structure is more difficult than the looks of it show.

The first step is to prepare the ground for the patio. This includes grading and digging footings. Grading is the process of leveling the ground. If the ground isn’t properly graded, it will lead to an uneven outdoor living space. Grading may include removing or adding more dirt to the space and packing it down until it is firm and even.

Digging footings is necessary to keep your outdoor living space safe and sound

Digging footings is necessary to keep your outdoor living space safe and sound

If the patio is a simple patio, footings may not be required while preparing for the build, but if you are adding something with extra weight, like an outdoor kitchen or outdoor fireplace, footings need to be created. Footings are essentially bases for extra large structures. For this example, let’s use an outdoor fireplace. Due to its weight, it needs more support from below. A large hole is dug underneath where the fireplace will ultimately sit. That hole is filled with concrete that, when hard, will be able to hold up the outdoor fireplace for years to come.

After the footings are dug and the ground is leveled, the layers begin. The first layer that is placed on the ground is called base stone. Base stone is key to keeping the patio level over time and seasonal changes. Once the stone is laid in place, it is then impacted down. Like the dirt below it, the base stone will be leveled.

After the base is all set and in place, sand is spread and leveled on top of it. Sand is a helpful as the pavers are placed down on top of it as it helps to keep it all in place before everything is locked in tightly.

Laying pavers can be as simple or as complex as you’d like. It just depends on how intricate you want the design of it to be. At Archadeck, we’ve done some that are simple rows and others with circular or curved patterns.

Patio, deck and sunroom comboOnce everything is in place, it has to be secured. Along the sides of the patio, there will be an edging materials that digs into the ground. It works as a barrier for the pavers. The most common way to lock your paver patio in place is to use polymeric sand. This sand is spread and swept on the surface of the patio, working it’s way into all the nooks and crannies of the entire space. Then it will be exposed to water. When it gets wet, the sand will harden, similar to concrete.

As you can see, building a patio is much more difficult than simply picking out a stone that you like. At Archadeck, we take great pride in our work and take the time to do it all correctly so you can enjoy the space for years to come.

If you have any questions on designing or building custom patios, please contact your local Archadeck office.

Archadeck Outdoor Living Gets Dream Backyard of its Own

We at Archadeck Outdoor Living pride ourselves on being the experts in outdoor living structures. Whether it is a deck, porch, patio, pergola or other project, we design and build the backyards of our clients’ dreams. I hate to admit it, but despite being America’s oldest and largest deck builder, our corporate office’s outdoor living space is lacking. Actually, it doesn’t really exist right now, but we photoare thrilled to say that that will be changing soon!

Since we are currently in the middle of a $70,000 dream backyard makeover contest, we decided it was time to build our dream space too! Our corporate design staff of draftsmen have designed the perfect outdoor living space for our corporate offices that will soon be underway. I, of course, will be sharing photos and details of how it is coming throughout the process. To start, I want to show you what the plans look like.

OLB beforeAs you can see in the first 3D rendering and the photo, our corporate office’s property doesn’t look like a place the outdoor living experts work. We, along with the other companies that we share our building with, wanted a place to enjoy the outdoors when the weather permits. Since we would be the ones designing and building the space, we created a combination structure to show our corporate partners, franchisees and potential franchisees.

deck-patio-richmondThe first step in the process is to get permission from the building owners to make the significant enhancements to the property. Much like our system of porch, patio and deck builders do with their clients, our corporate team presented them with several options to consider. An outdoor living project is a significant investment and it’s important to us that our clients feel confident in their purchase when they sign a contract. To ensure that is the case, our design options are presented in 3D renderings that depict what the space will look like on their property. These renders have our entire office waiting impatiently for the space to be available.

patio-deck-richmondThese renderings show the final design that is currently with the county for permits. The project will consist of a new paver walkway that leads to an upper paver patio surrounded by seating walls and a fireplace. There will be two entrances off the patio to a 900 square foot composite deck loaded with benches throughout. Since Virginia can bring plenty of hot summer days, a large pergola will cover and shade a large part of the deck. On the far end of the deck there will be a set of stairs that lead to a lower paver patio with outdoor an outdoor kitchen (company cookouts, here we come!)

patio-deck-pergolaFor the detail-oriented, here are the specifications of the space: The deck will be a little over 900 square feet. In addition, it will have 105 linear feet of white, vinyl railings, 38 linear feet of composite bench, composite trim and solid board skirting. There will be a total of two pergolas, an entrance one, comprised of 34 square feet and the second one that covers part of the deck will be 484 square feet.

As for the paver component, the space will have a total of 1,020 total square feet of Belgard Holland Stone, 108 linear feet of seating wall and 4 stone columns. On the upper patio there will be a 9 foot wide fireplace and an outdoor kitchen on the lower patio.

We are all excited to build and enjoy the new outdoor living space. We are currently waiting for all of the local permits to go through before we break ground on the space. Sit tight for updates!

First Finalists Announced in Dream Backyard Makeover Contest

With the first month down, we at Archadeck Outdoor Living are happy to announce the first two finalists for Archadeck’s Dream Backyard Makeover. We had just under 350 entries in the month of February, making it extremely tough to pick just two deserving families.

If you haven’t entered the contest yet, make sure you do at DreamBackyardMakeover.com. Two finalists are chosen for the months of February, March and April. On April 23rd the photo descriptions and photos will be posted for online voting. The winner of the $70,000 makeover will be chosen as a result of panelist votes and Facebook votes. TimberTech Decking and Belgard hardscapes will be used in the final project.

Here are the two finalists for February (full owner descriptions will be posted when voting begins on April 23rd).

February Finalist 1The first is out of South Carolina where the homeowners were unfortunately taken advantage of by a lousy contractor. They hired and paid a contractor to build a new deck off the back of their house only to have the contractor disappear in the middle of the project. To make matters worse, the homeowners found out that none of the work was done to code leaving an unsafe structure!

February Finalist 2The second finalist comes from the Chicago area. The homeowners purchased this house only 3 days after welcoming their first child. They hope to raise their family in this house, but it needs some work. They plan to host friends, family and neighbors in the backyard of their dreams if chosen for the backyard makeover.

Congrats to our two finalists!

2013 Outdoor Living Trends

As Spring is just around the corner, it is time to look at what is hot in the outdoor living category for 2013. Every year we at Archadeck Outdoor Living find our clients asking for different finishes or types of projects that would enhance their outdoor living spaces. The America Society of Landscape Architects, or ASLA, recently released survey results on what is hot for this year. Here are some of the highest ranked projects:

outdoor-fireplace-charlotteNinety-seven percent of respondents rated fire pits or outdoor fireplaces as in demand. We’ve discussed the growing popularity in fire features over the last few years. As outdoor living spaces have evolved into true extensions of the home, we see that outdoor fireplaces are being added to include the homey feeling outdoors. Not to mention they allow homeowners to use the space well into the fall. Who doesn’t enjoy bundling up by the fire and enjoying s’mores or hot cocoa? I know I do.

Rated just under outdoor fireplaces and fire pits were grills. Grills have been popular additions to outdoor living spaces for years. When it comes to grills, and outdoor kitchens, the possibilities are endless, but they should also be planned for. We’ve all seen grills that are placed on a deck or patio but don’t really seem to have a place. Even if the grill isn’t built into the outdoor structure, make sure to tell your patio or deck builder to create a space for the grill. When it has a designated space, it increases the flow and design of the space.

porch_drapes1Third and fourth on the list were seating and dining areas and outdoor lighting. This doesn’t surprise us at all. For an outdoor living space to be an extension of the home and to be used, it has to have purpose. No one spends time in the empty rooms of their house, why would they outside? When considering adding a deck, porch, patio, sunroom, screened porch or other outdoor structure to your property, make sure you tell the designer how you intend to use the space. You may find that you want separate areas for different purposes: one place to sit and read a book and another to dine with friends and family. And, if you want to use the space after dark, add outdoor lighting. Outdoor lighting can be added to outdoor living spaces at any time in most cases, but will be more seamless if you plan to add it while the project is being built.

The trends in outdoor living spaces do change, but as Nancy Somerville, ASLA’s executive vice president and CEO explains; “In this uncertain economy, homeowners want to get more enjoyment out of their yards. They want attractive outdoor spaces that are both easy to take care of and sustainable.”

If you are interested in enhancing your outdoor living spaces, contact your local Archadeck office.

ARCH_7117 Dream Backyard Makeover BlockAnd in case you’ve forgotten, it’s not to late to enter Archadeck’s Dream Backyard Makeover Contest! The first set of finalists will be announced in just a few days. Make sure to submit a photo of your backyard and let us know why your yard deserves the $70,000 grand prize!

Low to Grade Patios – attractive and affordable

My husband and I have a small deck off the back of our family room that offers a nice spot to sit outside with guests and grill out when the weather is nice. We’ve been thinking about updating the space since it’s pretty basic and is now showing its wear (it was there when my husband bought the house years ago). When talking about our options, we thought we’d be hampered by budget, but interestingly enough, our space is perfect for a low to grade patio, which is attractive and affordable.

low to grad patio Charlotte

Located in Charlotte, NC, this low to grade patio is a beautiful space to sit back and enjoy a fire outdoors

A low to grade patio is a patio that doesn’t have large level changes and is close to the ground. In my case, there is a less than five inch difference between the deck and the yard around it. Because leveling will be easier while building a low to grade patio, it can be an affordable option to updating your outdoor living space. Additionally, railings may not be required if the patio is low to the ground (make sure to ask your patio contractor about code specifications), saving you money on railings and posts.

Low to grade patios are not only affordable in comparison to higher level patios, but are also extremely attractive. Paver patios come in a variety of colors, sizes and finishes. At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we show homeowners which options would look best with their home’s architecture and finish to make everything work together seamlessly.

low-to-grade-patio-columbus

A low to grade patio was added off this deck in Columbus, OH

In previous posts, we have discussed the benefits of staged building, where you build different components of your outdoor living space at different times until you have the backyard that you’ve always wanted. Low to grade patios are a great option to include in a multi-structure outdoor living space as they can be the perfect add-on to a deck, porch, sunroom or screened porch. Furthermore, with all of the finishes available, you shouldn’t have a problem finding an outdoor kitchen or fire pit that complements it flawlessly if you want to add that later.

If you would like to see how a low to grade patio (or deck) can be incorporated into your outdoor living space, feel free to contact your local Archadeck office.

Deck? Patio? Pergola? Sunroom? Make sure you know exactly what you’re going to get

I had a very interesting set of experiences this week. I’m looking for new carpet for my home. Archadeck is a franchise company so I like to work with other franchise companies. The reason why is because just like a McDonalds, you get a proven process and a well-honed experience. It’s nice to know there are rules, guidelines, and lots of support behind the person who comes out to your home. I saw an advertisement for Empire Carpet on TV so they seemed like a good choice. I went to their web site and found it was very easy to request a consultation.

The nice gentleman came out, explained my choices and measured my home. Several times he told me things like “I could choose to get paid on charging high prices or selling lots of carpet and I choose to make the price good for you and sell lots of carpet”. The price was quite a bit higher than I expected and I had trouble envisioning what the finished job would look like. I then went to Lowes and paid them $35 to come out and measure my home. They showed up on time, measured quickly and told me the store would have my measurements ready the next morning. They did. The gentleman who sold me the measuring called me to give me his hours and encouraged me to come in and pick out carpet the next day.

These are all things you can expect from working with a national company. You have confidence in the quality standards of their work and know you have somewhere to turn if you are not happy.

  • proven process
  • well-honed experience
  • consistent experience
  • efficient timely work
  • say what they’re going to do and do what they say
  • follow-up

After pricing the carpet and much consideration of flooring, I decided I would much prefer to tile my entire bottom level. The problem was that it was just impossible to envision what this would look like.

That’s why at Archadeck, our professional builders are expertly trained on using state-of-the art architectural design software to show you exactly what your home addition is going to look like. We don’t show you pictures of other homes. We show you your home with your exact addition built to your specifications.

Here are a couple of the design renderings we show our clients:

Design rendering of covered patio from Archadeck of Arlington/Fort Worth/Tarrant County TX

Design rendering of covered patio from Archadeck of Arlington/Fort Worth/Tarrant County TX

Here is what this home looked like before, the 3-D rendering and the after picture.

Before building a covered patio, 3-D design CAD rendering, and after the project is completed

Before building a covered patio, 3-D design CAD rendering, and after the project is completed

Here is another before, rendering and after.

Pergola and patio before picture, 3-D design rendering and CAD drawing, and after project completion

Pergola and patio before picture, 3-D design rendering and CAD drawing, and after project completion

For more information on a design rendering for your upcoming project, take a look at the list of Archadeck locations. To reach the office that did the above design renderings and projects, contact Archadeck of Arlington/Fort Worth/Tarrant County, TX or call their office at (817) 496 – 3325.